Food and The Climate & Ecological Emergency

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The food system is fundamentally broken. Join us to hear Vicki Hird and Miles King discuss what's wrong and explore some of the solutions

About this Event

The food system is the main link between the Climate and Ecological Crises. Our speakers are two of the UK's most important voices on the science, politics, and social costs of the food we eat.

Vick Hird is an award winning author working at Sustain, The Alliance for Better Food & Faming. She is Campaign Coordinator for Sustainable Farming and provides evidence to the Government on food and farming policy - currently for the Agriculture Bill. Along with Kate Raworth and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Vicki is named in the the top 5 of onalityca's list of global influencers who are driving the debate on Environmental Sustainability topics.

Vicki will talk about what a sustainable food and farming system could look like in the UK and discuss who/what is blocking change.

See some of her work on the Sustain website: www.sustainweb.org/blogs/jun20_green_and_pressured_land_report/

A report commissioned by COP25 named Miles King as a key journalist influencer on the Climate and Ecological Emergency. Miles is a conservation ecologist with specialist knowledge of grassland and agricultural habitats. He has worked at the conservation charities Plantlife, The Grasslands Trust and Buglife. He will be discussing how we might change land use to tackle climate chaos as well as issues around waste, animal farming and bioenergy from crops.

Miles is interested in the relationship between nature and people and founded the charity People Need Nature (PNN): www.peopleneednature.org.uk

Over the past 40 years the production of processed foods in the UK has increased dramatically. Two thirds of the food consumed by the average British family is now highly processed*. Processing foods has become the UK's biggest manufacturing industry, importing huge quantities of environmentally damaging palm oil, sugar and soya as well as causing profound changes to our landscape as farmers have intensified production of arable crops such as wheat, barley and maize along with huge numbers of livestock. By 2018 the UK population of 66 million was sharing these islands with almost 240 million farmed animals, requiring vast tracts of land.**

The UK is 72% farmland. The vast majority of this land doesn't feed people directly, it produces commodity crops and raises livestock. Meanwhile the amount of land used to produce fresh fruit and veg has steadily reduced to less than 1%.**

The transformation of the food system has had disastrous consequences: For health causing epidemics in obesity and diabetes; for the environment with unprecedented declines in wildlife and the natural systems that can help us tackle the impacts of climate breakdown; for the climate - contributing 20% of UK emissions.***

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed extreme vulnerabilities in the system: The consequences for health - almost a third of all coronavirus deaths are people with diabetes, and for food security as the long 'Just in Time' supply chains fail, causing shortages in supermarkets, particularly of fresh produce, and leaving local producers to ramp up supply to keep communities going during lockdown. There has never been a greater need or a better time for change but can farmers adopt agroecology and diversify into fruit and veg if our biggest retailers won't stock it, preferring instead to grow sales in highly processed food?

*The Food Foundation, Force Fed

**Defra, Agriculture in the UK 2018

***20% emissions figure excludes food & fodder imports

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