September 24, 2014
The Common Weal is a vision for Scotland based on the principles of sharing our collective wealth for the wellbeing of all. Since the Common Weal was first floated it has attracted widespread interest and those key principles have been translated into a practical vision from many different perspectives. Food is so central to our lives it sometimes gets forgotten. From eradicating the need for food banks to the challenge of climate change, food security has a crucial part to play in our future. Nourish Scotland invites you to explore these themes next month.
Alongside the simple argument for self-determination – “Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands” – the Yes movement began to articulate the policies which an independent Scotland would deliver once it had the powers. Nourish Scotland wrote a Common Weal paper www.nourishscotland.org/reports-positions/ setting our ideas for a better food system.
One recurring theme was the need to get rid of food banks – they would have no place in the new Scotland. More equal societies like Norway don’t have food banks – but even with the oil there’s a generation’s work to make Scotland Nordic. So what are we going to do, here and now, with the powers we have, to base access to food on rights, not charity?
Another theme was Scotland’s role in the world – as a new nation could we be on the right page if not the top table? With world-leading targets for climate change, what are we doing to cut the 25-30% contribution of food to greenhouse gas emissions, and the wholesale destruction of ecosystems in the name of cheap food? What’s our role in reducing hunger and malnutrition, worldwide as well as here?
Nourish’s 2014 conference on October 16th World Food Day tackles these questions by getting the ‘whole system in the room’. Alongside working farmers from Commonwealth countries India, Trinidad and Tobago, Malawi and Scotland, the conference is joined by experts on international food policy from India, California, the UK, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome.
They will be talking about fair access to land and fair access to markets, as well as the disruptive impact of climate change – where experts Pete Smith and Tara Garnett are on hand to explain the global challenge and possible responses for Scotland.
As the ubiquity of food waste and food banks in the UK and other developed countries shows, households can be food insecure in the midst of plenty. Leading authority on ‘rich world hunger’ Graham Riches from Canada will be in conversation with food poverty activists in Scotland and we will be hearing about the effect of India’s grain subsidy for 800 million people.
Presenter of Radio 4’s Food Programme Sheila Dillon chairs an evening debate in the UN Year of Family Farming to ask how family farms can contribute to a better food system.
As well as making your head hurt with new information and ideas, and your heart ache with the need and possibilities for change, the conference aims to create the foundations of an ethical food policy for Scotland. In the final session chaired by MEP Alyn Smith – who represents Scotland on the agriculture and foreign policy committees of the European Parliament – participants will look at how to take this idea forward.
The core theme of the conference is ‘food sovereignty’ – an international movement for a people-centred, planet-friendly system of food governance. With full sovereignty for Scotland, we might have been able to do more, sooner – but we can still do plenty. We can still live as if we are in the early days of a better nation.
For more information about Nourish Conference 2014 click here