Whose food is it? – Looking for a forever food system

I don’t often reblog but I think this post is important. We need to rethink the food supply for our longterm security.

Steven Jacobs reflects on the inflexibility of our food system and says it’s time to make a difference in Wales.

Whose food is it? – Looking for a forever food system

About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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8 Responses to Whose food is it? – Looking for a forever food system

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Helen. Covid has forced us to think about so many things we take for granted – food supply being one of them. I can’t remember the last time I head so many people talk about sowing vegetable and herb seeds, for example.

    • Helen says:

      Thank you for reading, Cynthia. There are still many in denial about our food system (amongst other things) but I hope the COVID crisis will lead to better times….

  2. nanacathy2 says:

    I couldn’t agree more, but was disappointed in this article which is about a conference in Wales- why not do it over the internet, and the need for a strategy. I have been involved in so many good ideas that end up with a strategy which is just a waste of time and effort. We need action and people changing their ways in growing their own, cooking from scratch and sourcing locally will create more of a change than any strategy. I mean why are farmers pouring away milk when there is no cheese in the supermarket, why do they sell to supermarkets at ridiculously low prices? More innovation required.

    • Helen says:

      Some good questions, Cathy.

      I can see there are benefits in a conference over the internet. However, a lot would also be lost. From my experience of going to conferences, the main point of them is network… the incidental conversation with someone over the buffet which leads to something bigger – sending an email to one of the delegates after a talk doesn’t work the same. The bottom line is that humans are a social species which needs to interact face-to-face for trust. Teleconferencing is also exhausting in a way that being in a room with the speakers isn’t.

      Anyway, however people communicate, I’m also frustrated with yet more talk about strategies. It’s been the same with my composting group – in one year we’ve taught about ten people to make a composters out of discarded wheelie bins, inspite of many meetings.

      On the other hand, part of the reason for the lack of results is down to the general public. Most people don’t compost and don’t seem to want to do so, even now. Leeds City Council is pleading with people to compost in view of garden waste not currently being collected. They are begging people to mow their lawns less often or at least spread the cuttings round plants to add nitrogen. But it’s not happening…

      As for milk, it’s not farmers who are driving down prices. Dairy farmers are going out of business because they aren’t being paid enough to cover their costs by the supermarkets. And why are supermarkets charging so little for milk? Because milk attracts shoppers into the store, where they then buy more expensive items as well, so the supermarkets still make a profit. Milk is called a ‘loss leader’ in economic terms.

      I haven’t heard about farmers pouring their milk away but if cheese makers wanted to buy it, I’m sure they could. The milk market has bottomed out, I believe in part because of the closure of restaurants and cafés, hence my local milkman expanding his delivery rounds in residential areas.

      A hard cheese such as cheddar can take time to make and there possibly aren’t enough cheese makers in this country. Additionally, British cheese makers may not be in a position to suddenly produce more, not only because of the time needed but because they don’t have the capacity (machinery, space etc).

      Since people appear reluctant to cook their own meals and to source food locally, it therefore seems, unfortunately, logical that concerned parties would at the very least like to talk about this issue. Policy made without informed discussion is likely to bomb, so a strategy could perhaps persuade government to make some decisions.

      Incidentally, I did write a post recently about a call from government asking for information to help create new policy on food security. So, after the current debacle, perhaps they will be even keener to make decisions. Let’s hope so!

  3. The conference is in Wales because it is primarily for people who are involved in the food system in Wales to discuss their particular concerns and ideas and to network with others who are relatively local. Aberystwyth is accessible from both the North and the South of a country (for me to get from SW Wales to the North by train means going to Bristol, up through England and across the Northern strip of Wales). and has a University so facilites for large meetings.

    You are right Helen that the problems are to do with how the system connects together. Farmers sell milk to huge companies which process and bottle it. If they don’t have enough tanker drivers the milk cannot be collected and goes off. You are right to suppose that small scale local cheese makers cannot suddenly increase their production to use up the spare milk. Most either use milk from their own cows or., more probably from their own goats or sheep.

    The problems come from having massive farms sending truck loads of produce to huge processing companies to distribution warehouses and on to superstores. There is very little resilience in the system and equally it is hard for small producers to find a way in. Keep reading my blog for ways in which the people in this area are trying to set up alternative systems that ARE resilient.

    • Helen says:

      That’s super re resilience in your area. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

      Anyway, I hadn’t considered the tanker aspect but of course collection and delivery must be major issues.

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

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