AUTHOR: TOM TANNER
It’s not often you get to have your say in how the whole UK food system works, but that’s precisely the opportunity you’re about to get with the announcement of a year-long review from field to fork, culminating in a National Food Strategy, led by one of the SRA founding directors, Henry Dimbleby.
There’s never been a more important time to address the challenges facing our food system and the government should be applauded for appointing someone with Henry’s experience – creator of the School Food Plan, co-founder of successful restaurant group LEON to this hugely important task.
Today (27 June) he spelt out his approach and terms of reference and appealed for input from absolutely everyone involved in the process.
And it’s hard to argue with anything Henry said at the announcement of the plan: “No part of our economy matters more than food. It is vital to life and shapes our sense of identity.
“But there are urgent challenges with which we must grapple. Populations are growing, diet-related conditions are harming the lives of millions, and climate change is altering what our land will yield.
“From farmers in the field to chefs in the kitchen, over the next year I’ll be speaking with people from across the food chain to address these challenges and ensure everyone has a say in shaping the future.”
For the first time in over 70 years, since the 1947 Agriculture Act, there’s a fantastic opportunity for anyone with a vested interest in food – any yes that of course includes everyone working for an SRA member, to actually have their voice heard. When we spoke to Henry back in January for our Tastiest Challenge on the Planet report, he said two things that really resonated.
- “UK restaurants alone use a tiny amount of global resources. But their ability to make the weather and influence how people feel about sustainability and food is massive. What we do, others in the world will follow.”
- “The biggest challenge by far is educating people that they can eat well and eat less meat. Everything else is secondary.”
The first highlights the importance of our industry contributing to the process of creating the strategy. The second raises a question about how far any government backed strategy can push the meat reduction agenda. In one of the many press interviews Henry’s given around the launch, he told The Times: “It is clear that beef produces greenhouse gases…it would be a good thing, in general, for us to eat less.” Will that translate into policy?
Either way, we’d urge each and everyone one of you to engage in this process that will shape what we grow, produce, cook and eat for many years to come. Details of the consultation process and how to get involved will be revealed in the coming weeks and we’ll be sure to share those.
To help ramp up the interest in the process do please
Tweet about the launch: tagging @food_strategy and using the hashtag #foodstrategy.
The key messages to get across are that:
o No part of our economy matters more than food
o It isn’t easy but we need to ensure our food system is fit for the 21st Century
o Improving the nation’s health, tackling climate change and building a more resilient agricultural sector will be at the heart of this
o The public will get a say in shaping the future of our food system.
Signpost people to the site www.nationalfoodstrategy.org where they can find out more information and sign up to get involved