‘Feeding Britain, Our Food Problems and How to Fix Them’

‘Feeding Britain, Our Food Problems and How to Fix Them’ by Tim Lang

We currently do not have a national food policy. This book is a call for British Food Democracy. Lang says it is time we stopped telling others how to improve their food systems when we are not doing this for our own. Major challenges are known to be facing the UK food system: climate change and ecosystems stress, public ill-health caused by diet, food poverty caused by social inequality, leading millions to depend on food handouts, and more. We have no political response getting a grip.

Food Security is important. The UK only grows a little over half its food needs, and relies on just-in-time complex supply chains that can easily be disrupted. However there is a belief that we are rich and can buy food on ‘open markets’ and that our modern food system is highly efficient. The UK is not immune from ecosystem stress, and the countries we already rely upon for food will also be negatively affected. We ought to be planning to protect and regenerate land for growing food here, as well as helping others to adapt and prepare.

Food Quality is even more important. There is a need for the UK to create a food culture in which sustainable diets from a sustainable food system are the norm. A new national framework ought to rein back the runaway production and consumption of High Fat, Sugar and Salt that warps not just our NHS but healthcare globally.

A ‘Great Food Transformation’ is, however, needed to realign food production with human and ecosystems health in a socially just and economically sustainable form.

Sustainability is both the key to food defence and an end in itself. The link between human and environmental health is the base on which policy and planning must now be built. Good-quality food requires us to treat ecosystems carefully, not to mine them. Diet is a major cause of public ill-health, not just obesity but a range of non-communicable diseases too. Drug bills and hospital care that arise from failing to prevent food being a cause of poor health are a gross waste of time, money and effort.

The Sustainable Food Cities network, a localist food renaissance, shows a rise of interest in food culture. However, to turn round the UK food system is unlikely to happen unless there is a renaissance of bottom-up food governance to rebalance top-down control.

Th National Food Strategy Review led by Henry Dimbleby has been set up to investigate the intensive farming practices that have caused serious damage to the environment, and the food related disease costing the NHS billions and drastically harming the lives of millions. (further details on the very interesting web site nationalfoodstrategy.org)

Malcolm Davison

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