At four world cafe events at the end of last year, the Closing Loops project team invited the residents of different parts of North Lancashire to join in a conversation about several topics including food and cooking. Here is a glimpse of what was discussed. 

The nice thing about food is that it’s something that concerns everyone, and most of us love it. But when it comes to what we would like to be eating, there’s often less agreement. So the question discussed first was, “What is important to you when it comes to the food you eat?” 

Participants shared a broad range of what matters to them when choosing what to eat. Several mentioned growing their own food, some in gardens and allotments but also in community gardens. It’s important that everyone has access to growing at least some of their own food for several reasons, not least of all cost. In shops, healthy and sustainable choices are not always the most affordable. Growing our own food can solve this apparent conflict. As one participant said, “Local and fresh used to be the cheapest!” 

For those who don’t have a garden, growing food need not be out of reach: community growing spaces are not just free to access, they also come with less responsibility for individuals who may not have time to take care of their own garden all the time. And being part of a local group and being active outdoors can be great for mental health. 

Others brought up the question of time and convenience, so spending time on growing, sourcing and preparing food was recognised as a challenge for some. This makes it all the more important that healthy and sustainable options become much more readily available to everyone, at all budgets.

Participants shared many other points that are important to them when it comes to food, and they can be grouped under the headings of healthy, sustainable, affordable, fair and food culture. 

Many points straddle several of these categories – for instance sharing food can be both a way to reduce food waste and a social activity. Under food culture, some very interesting points such as making food varied and tasty, eating together and knowing where your ingredients come from were shared.

The results of these world cafe conversations will feed into the Tastes of North Lancashire campaign run by the Closing Loops project. 

Title page of world cafe summary report

Download the full report on the outcomes of the world cafe discussions

Would you like to be involved in this work as a chef or by hosting community cooking activities? Or do you have a recipe or local food story to share in THRIVE: North Lancashire’s community food magazine? Head to foodfutures.org.uk/closing-loops to get in touch.

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