As we all need to eat, we all rely on a series of relationships to keep us and our families well fed. How our food is grown, distributed, shared, exchanged and eaten can both build community, our own happiness, and shape our local food cultures.
What we choose to eat not only affects our health, but has implications for the health of our planet. In fact ‘unhealthy diets now pose a greater risk to morbidity and mortality than unsafe sex, alcohol, drug and tobacco use combined. Global food production threatens climate stability and ecosystem resilience and constitutes the single largest driver of environmental degradation and transgression of planetary boundaries’.
Supermarkets and the wider industrial food system may have offered many of us relative food security, but this has come at a cost.
The price we pay at the checkout for a range of diverse, out of season and tasty goods does not currently reflect the true cost of food production e.g. the money spent cleaning up pollution incidents linked to industrial livestock farming; the species lost to deforestation; the public health costs linked to nutrient poor diets, or the stress of working long hours on a zero hours contract. In many ways our current industrial food system is broken. This can be highlighted by the following:
- There is ‘…mounting and worrying evidence that the biodiversity that underpins our food systems is disappearing – putting the future of our food, livelihoods, health and environment under severe threat’.
- Approximately a quarter of our global direct carbon emissions are from food and agriculture. This figure increases to 30% when you account for land-use change (the land converted from forest to farm).
- Small scale and ecological farmers are undermined and marginalised in a free market economy that does not account for negative impacts.
- ‘The poorest 10% of UK households would need to spend 74% of their disposable income on food to meet the Eatwell Guide costs – the Government’s official healthy eating guide.’