episode 5

Food in an uncertain world

Where does our food come from? How can we change our shopping, cooking and eating habits to be more resilient to risks to food supply and also better for our health, wealth and the planet?

In this episode we focus on the food system, adaptation planning, life cycle analysis, food miles and touch upon market pricing and public goods

The first COVID19 lockdown in the UK made us more aware that we are part of a very complex food system. It is a system that is increasingly subject to more shocks – not only Covid19 but also climate change and Brexit. In fact, given that the UK imports nearly half of its food (and, in the process, exporting the impacts of production), the whole system is worth exploring even in the best of times.

In this first of two food episodes, we discuss our reliance on a small number of food sources; how to weigh up the environmental, health and cost considerations and how we can provide for ourselves in times of uncertainty. We also touch upon how good nutrition and equal access to food are public goods that deserve government support.

We cover

  1. Storing
  2. Growing
  3. Re-thinking sources – food miles and country of origin are important but so is how the food is produced – about which there needs to be more information for the consumer
  4. Eating differently – adding variety to the meals you cook
  5. Wasting less – learning to cook differently, and being mindful of best before and use by labels; false economy of bulk buying that leads to waste

In the next episode on food, in December, we will look into what we eat and its impacts.

*** The views we and our guests express in this podcast are our own ***

reference list

Click the links below to find out more

Authors on Food and Life

“Eat food – not too much, mostly from plants” is the advice from Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life – by Barbara Kingslover

Marion Nestle on the politics of food, nutrition and health

The Food System

What is the food system? Information on the elements of this complex system from the University of Oxford

Healthy and Sustainable Diets and Food Systems: The Key to Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2?

Statistics about the Global and UK food supply – did you know we import 45% of our food?

Wheat, rice, and maize provide just over 50 percent of the world’s plant-derived food energy – sorghum, millet, potatoes, sweet potatoes, soybean and sugar provide another 25%

Access to Food

Data about global food insecurity and undernourishment

Trussell Trust estimates a 60% increase in people needing food aid in the UK compared to autumn 2019

COVID-19: Latest impact on food

Responding to COVID-19: Making food systems more resilient

Food Security in a Pandemic

The rise in food poverty in the UK – by Oxfam UK and Church Action on Poverty: Walking the Breadline: The scandal of food poverty in 21st-century Britain 

How to Eat Well When You Can’t Buy Your Usual Groceries

Growing your Own

To reduce the pressure on food supply during WWI and II, “Victory Gardens” planted on public and private land produced up to 41% of all vegetable produce consumed in the USA

City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America 

Dig for Victory! New histories of wartime gardening in Britain

Digging for Victory: Stories from wartime gardens in pictures

Gardens and health: Implications for policy and practice

One in eight households in Great Britain has no access to a private or shared garden during the COVID-19 lockdown, rising to over one in five households in London

“Use by” and other labels

Storage and labelling advice applied by the food and drink sector

UK households waste 4.5 million tonnes of edible food waste a year

Tomatoes! The impacts of British and Spanish tomatoes

The role of reducing food waste for resilient food systems