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.