Friday, 23 April 2010

The Future of Food

As part of my job for the Soil Association yesterday I attended the Scottish Food and Drink Federation's Conference on the Future of Food. It was a very interesting conference, covering a wide ranging discussion of the possible futures for our food, with speakers from industry, academia, the Soil Association (not me though, thankfully!) the National Farmers' Union and the Scottish Government.

I was struck by how committed everyone was to environmental issues, though admittedly industry delegates tended to have blind spots about the specific environmental impacts of their own technologies. Techniques such as companion cropping (planting species with natural insecticidal properties next to crops) and minimum tillage were mentioned by more than one speaker. All speakers stressed the importance of reducing food waste (in some supply chains up to 50% of food can be wasted through a combination of spoiling, processing loss and rotting in the fridge) and the importance to local sourcing of as much of our food as possible. So it looks as though environmental concerns are becoming more mainstream in food as they are in politics.

There were a lot of issues to think about and the details will be saved for work but it was a very stimulating day. It's also nice to be in a position to be working for an organisation where I can combine my environmental commitment with my (long ago!) academic science background without having to be a scientist, because I was a really bad scientist as a student.

15 comments:

Deb G said...

It really is interesting to think about the different perspectives...

madhat said...

Did they talk about sourcing food locally?
I think the recent problems with flights was a reminder to us about just how much food is supplied from abroad - and often from half-way around the globe!

Lisa said...

Wow that sounds like quite a great day at work!

Crafty Green Poet said...

good point madhat - I've maneded my post to mention that and food waste

Crafty Green Poet said...

amended I meant

madhat said...

I know what you meant, Poet. :)

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Waste of food is evil. In Italy, as you certainly know, tons of oranges are destroyed because of economic problems concerning their gathering and stocking...

PurestGreen said...

Glad that everyone is trying to come together. With Scotland relying so heavily on tourism, that will also play a part in sustainability in the future.

Rabbits' Guy said...

Big subject! Good to see so much attention and discussion. Exciting to be involved with it, eh?

Chatters said...

Heartening to see so much discussion with attention being paid to food sources locally. You only have to look round the local supermarket to realise just how much so called fresh fruit and veg comes from abroad

Gillena Cox said...

We take a lot for granted; especially now where the "Fast Food" industies have made "food" into luxury items, but there are concerns for the future of food, it doesn't just pop out of the fast food joints; and there are millions of people who have little or no food to eat on a daily basis. A lot of church organizations awaken this awareness in congregations such as ours and we give food to less priviledged families on an on going basis, but even so food doesn't just pop out of the food donors, Conferences such as this preserve the santity of Future food

much love
gillena

Bill said...

science major
her experiments
with haiku

In American universities, a major is a field of specialization or the person (undergraduate, usually) engaged in that field.

Greenearth said...

Good to hear you have such progressive thinking happening in Scotland.

SzélsőFa said...

it does sound promising. i wonder if it is not too late, though.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Szelsofa - I often wonder that myself, but need to hold on to some optimism...