I’d like to begin the second Good Women Innovation Blog by posing you a question: what would the global problems be if everyone had your own personal lifestyle?
Floree asked this of me the other week and it got me thinking of how fundamentally, no matter how environmentally and socially friendly we try to be, there will always be deficits in resource. However, the food crises that faces our world today is not only deeply damaging but also easily reduced if simple steps are taken; knowledge shared and power redistributed.
Few of us grow our own food, most of us buy food, and all of us eat it. So on Tuesday evening we met to learn, to share, and to consider sustainable food consumption and the impact of our current not-so-sustainable practice.
The second Good Women Innovation Lab was a deeply informative evening which left us all reflecting on our own food habits, and more importantly their impact. The evening kicked off with a brief mindfulness practice by our own Good Woman, Pippa. After we had all landed in mind and body in the corner of Impact Hub Islington room (same location as last time but now their wood burner made it smell deliciously of saunas in the wintery climate) Hannah, powerhouse eco-warrior and all round Good Woman shared a startling presentation on the current climate of the global food crisis.
What would the global problems be if everyone had your own personal lifestyle?
In 1980s’ 80% of food in the UK was grown here, whereas today we import 40% of food; ten companies including Coca Cola, Nestlé, P&G and Unilever control most of the worlds food supply. 90% of us only eat one hundred of 35-thousand possible edible plants, and only four(!) provide for 60% of plant calories.
We were all shocked by the level of waste, condition of production and all round ignorance involved in the farm-to-plate journey. One third of global food production is lost or wasted annually, for reasons of unachievable aesthetic standards, poor harvesting practice and food loss during storage and transport. Hannah spoke of how global food production must increase by 70% by 2050 and how the pressures of modern demand are creating issues with crop cultivation and pressures to grow cash-crops, such as coffee and bananas. And this isn’t even touching on the soil damage that is created by modern practice – a pretty bleak picture by anyone’s standards…
Reclaim the Food Chain!
However, there are promising movements to reclaim the food production chain; aquaponics and urban farms such as Growing Underground, FARM:shop in Dalston, and GrowUp are producing veg and fish through simple, energy and space efficient processes. Hannah led us through some simple ways to make a difference: conscious purchasing and consumption; joining the food share revolution with apps such as OLIO and Fare Share, and buying in-season produce. So we learnt that all is not lost!
Following the talk, the conversation kept leading us back to the same thing: education. Stories were shared about how in Latvia, school children are responsible for sections of land, types of crops and, by tending them, they completed assignments. Potatoes not grown? Assignment not passed… In contrary, we reflected on how nutrition and food knowledge has been dropped by the UK curriculum. How now, children design food packaging rather than knowing how to store grains or cook liver. As nostalgic and pastoral as it sounds, there is a lesson in this. With obesity in the UK rising to record heights and the style of food we eat moving more and more to the high-fat end of the spectrum. As Hannah said, it is the first time in history that we have incidences of people being both overweight and malnourished, so it seems logical – obvious even – to reintroduce good food practice into the school rhetoric.
Supermarkets cancel huge orders last minute and throw out mountains of "gone off" food every week
Kate from FeedBack, the organisation making serious waves in the food industry, spoke about some of the projects they run, and some of the absurdities of policy. In spite of continuous offers of donation, Feedback will not accept funding from large supermarkets, which mean they are able to act as a totally non-biased pressure tank. FeedBack, started by Tristram Stuart in 2009, runs ‘Feed the 5000’ a public banquet cooked from 100% waste food, they have an international ‘Gleaning network’ helping to reduce the amount of discarded food from the farming process, and recently they got Tesco to stop cutting their beans at both ends. No biggie. Perhaps the most shocking Kate spoke of was the rate of dumping from large supermarkets, where they cancel huge orders last minute and throw out mountains of “gone off” food every week. Watch more about it below. Kate told us how sell by dates factor in days and days of buffer and as a result FeedBack are campaigning to remove them. They are also making beer from the crusts of loaves used from supermarket sandwiches. It’s called ToastAle, and you can buy it here.
After Kate’s exposé we watched Tristram Stuart, food waste Guru, giving a great TED talk on the global food scandal and what led him to start Feedback that you can see here.
All in all, we left hungry for change and all dispersed into the night thinking a little more deeply about our impending dinners.
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