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February 23, 2011

Food habits in need of change

We take it for granted that the shelves of our supermarkets will always be full and re-stocked each day with food from around the world.  At current production and consumption levels, it is estimated that a ‘Western diet’ for everyone will need two or three planets instead of one. Clearly something needs to change. Last week we featured the work of Growing Communities and now we draw attention to a new report –Our Mutual Food – which argues that everything about our food needs to become more ‘local’

The food we eat makes us part of a complex global system of food production, processing and distribution. This system – and the small number of giant companies which dominate it – affects both our health and the health of the planet.

This system has become much more powerful in the last 50 years. However, most of the world’s population are still part of a much more diverse local food economy, with more direct connections between producers and consumers.

Meeting growing demand for food over the next forty years both fairly and sustainably is a key challenge for the world’s governments, food companies, farmers and consumers.

This report describes the benefits of, and barriers to, strengthening the local food economy so we grow more of what we eat in Fife and eat more of what we grow, and sets out some practical next steps to build on what’s already happening.

Fife produces more than enough staple food for its population and is a net exporter of cereals and potatoes. Yet despite a thriving farm shop sector, farmers’ markets and a range of box schemes the local food system is marginal. Creating the supply chains, local processing capacity and predictable demand for local food will not happen by accident.

The key message in this report is:

We have to change what we eat, in parallel with changing how we farm. To connect producers and consumers better we need to develop mutual models for financing, producing and distributing food as a mainstream part of the food economy. For this to happen, government policy has to be enabling at all levels.

For copy of full report – click here