Over the past three months North Lancashire’s FoodFutures has hosted a number of strategy mornings, during which we have dreamed of the resilient and fair food future that we want to create together here in North Lancashire. As part of these discussions, a few people have suggested creating and celebrating a ‘North Lancashire Diet’ – one made up of locally grown, sustainably produced seasonal produce, whilst also embracing heritage farming traditions and varieties of fruit and veg.

This idea becomes interesting when we also start to imagine an accessible North Lancashire diet in 2030 – where we have hopefully averted the worst of climate change and reversed the decline in biodiversity loss, whilst also ensuring everyone in the area has access to healthy food.

WWF has developed a series of Live Well Plates for adults, teenagers, the elderly and vegans – proposing what we need to eat between now and 2030 if we are to meet our Paris commitments and limit global warming below two degrees. These build on the UK government’s Eatwell Guide for a healthy, balanced diet by throwing a range of environmental criteria into the mix.

The Livewell Plates proposed by WWF are estimated to be slightly more expensive when compared to the average current diet (assuming we still have an economic system that rewards bad practice).

Balancing accessible and healthy diets can be tricky, but from an environmental point of view, the scientific verdict appears to be out: in 2030 our dinner plates will contain more seasonal, local and plant based proteins, fruit and veg, with much less but better meat and dairy.

For an area like North Lancashire, where livestock farming dominates, this raises some tricky questions.

Animals can play a role in a sustainable food system, but their role will need to be carefully thought through with local farmers if we are to meet net zero carbon targets.

A meat-eaters’ diet can have double, or more, of the climate impact of a vegetarian or vegan one. Demand for meat and dairy is resulting in more intensive animal farming which  increases biodiversity loss, pollution and resource use. But alternative livestock farming practices can reduce these negative impacts, and can even have positive local ecological impacts.

For an area like North Lancashire our 2030 dinner plate would hopefully see produce sourced from farms that use more pasture based livestock and mixed farming systems that are guided by the principles of agroecology. It would also have produce sourced from an independent plant based food economy – based on wholefoods as opposed to processed foods.

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