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May 2, 2012

Food – not just for eating

Anyone connected with the local food movement will have heard of the Fife Diet. Originally a small group of Fifers committed to eating only food grown within Fife, the project has evolved into a key player in the movement to change attitudes towards food in this country.  Their most recent project is the culmination of five years action research into the part that food can play in building community wellbeing – the Food Manifesto.


The Fife Diet is developing a new food manifesto for Scotland as a contribution to the food and drink policy framework. The aims of the new food manifesto are to:

1) Connect the way we grow, produce, distribute and consume our food with our climate change targets

2) To connect the environmental policy framework to our health and well-being initiatives.

3) To look afresh at the values that underpin how we organise our food economy.

We have a food market monopolised by a handful of companies and health and nutrition targets that we’re struggling to meet. These ideas are all about creating more joined up thinking in how we grow, consume and distribute our food and a more diverse economic model. It’s also about creating some real urgency about the real problems we face in our health and in our environmental challenges in Scotland. At the moment there are some great things happening in the sustainable food movement, in community development and in environmental protection. But we suffer from operating in a society of silos: where the crops in our fields and the food on our plates are completely disconnected.

The purpose of the  manifesto is to try and help build a food culture in which communities can begin to be part of a restorative practice for a better food system.  We propose ‘food sovereignty replacing ‘food security’ as the guiding principle of our policy, and explore the opportunities for collaborative gains between the agendas of community food and health, affordability and sustainability.  We are looking at four themes: low carbon communities, culture & education, health & wellbeing and innovation & enterprise.

Here’s 20 ideas to change the way we eat… 

(more details on each of these can be found here)

1. Soup Test – no child to leave school without knowing how to make a pot of soup [CULTURE & EDUCATION].

2. Right to Grow – opportunity from the Enabling Communities legislation and the Land Fund [LOW CARBON COMMUNITIES]

3. A Seasonal 5 A Day – a joint national environmental and health campaign through schools, blogs and GPs / health centres / cafes exploring what a Scottish 5 a day would look like. [HEALTH & WELL-BEING]

4. Sugar Drink Tax – a small tax on the most unhealthy fizzy drinks as has been applied successfully in France[i] [HEALTH & WELL-BEING]

5. Elevate Food to the Climate Change Agenda: develop specific Food Emissions targets. see also Waste & Composting – see the Zero Waste Plan for Scotland] [LOW CARBON COMMUNITIES]

6. Moratorium on Supermarket Expansion (focusing instead on is CSA, urban agriculture and food co-ops) [INNOVATION & ENTERPRISE]

7. Decentralise our Food Infrastructure – encourage and enable development of differing scales of mills and abattoirs [INNOVATION & ENTERPRISE]

8. Blasda– a Terre Madre for Scotland – exploring the vision of food sovereignty [CULTURE & EDUCATION] 

9. A Food Leadership Team – to draw together the strands of food policy, make sure it works and drive it forward. It would also look at wider policy and develop strategies for international issues like palm oil, and bigger challenges like refrigeration. [LOW CARBON COMMUNITIES]

10. Public Procurement – build on East Ayrshire model, making sustainable public procurement ta key corporate objective for LS’s, schools and hospitals.  [INNOVATION & ENTERPRISE]

11. Plastic Bag Tax – hypothecated tax going back in to community food initiatives [INNOVATION & ENTERPRISE]

12.Regional Food Mapping – building on the work already being led by SOAS

13. New Food Indicators – what indicators other than export-growth should we be using to chart ‘success’ in food policy? How many new farmers we attract into the sector? Vitamin intake, soil quality, expansion of organics, food mile reduction, resilience in local economies? [CULTURE & EDUCATION]

14. Farm Apprenticeships – building on work being led by Nourish at Elmwood College [INNOVATION & ENTERPRISE]

15. School Farms – part of the curriculum for excellence [CULTURE & EDUCATION]

16. Farm Corps, Garden Corps – a chance for gap-year, NEET and young people to get work experience [INNOVATION & ENTERPRISE]

17. GM Free Scotland – we should maintain and champion Scotland’s GM-free status [INNOVATION & ENTERPRISE]

18. Queen of the Sea – celebrate and foster our fishing heritage – research project and publication to celebrate our seafood culture.[CULTURE & EDUCATION]

19. Scottish Orchard / Fruit – large-scale co-ordinated re-planting and boost of plant diversity [INNOVATION & ENTERPRISE]

20. A New Food Economy – connecting people with the potential of a food economy (social enterprise in food, sustainable catering and cafes) [INNOVATION & ENTERPRISE]