A food system for the people by the people
05 February 2016
A tax on chemical fertilisers? Subsidies for farms under 5 hectares? Putting food growing on the national curriculum? Start up funds for food cooperatives? A living wage for fast food workers? Land reform?
These are just some of the ideas that could appear in a people’s food policy which has started to collect ideas from across the UK. The initiative is one of the most exciting things to come out of the national food sovereignty gathering last year. It is planning to spend 2016 reaching out to all sectors of the UK’s food system. From the fields and food banks to the factory floor and fast food outlets.
The initiative is following in the footsteps of the Canadian food sovereignty movement who have recently published a revised vision for a healthy, just and ecological Canadian food system. This policy was the first-ever national food policy to be developed by a food movement itself. This is something that the UK food sovereignty movement is trying to emulate. And of course there is already a strong food policy in Scotland which others in England can learn from.
A people’s food policy is important because the problems associated with the corporate controlled food model are becoming increasingly clear. Food poverty rates are increasing, there is a growing link between farming practices and flooding and the age old problem of land inequality continues to impact people both in country and the city.
And when it comes to food the UK is not an island. The way we frame our policies has a direct impact on how the rest of the world produces the food that our money pays for. Not only could we localise production, and support countries to feed themselves rather than producing exports, but we could set clear examples in terms of the products we encourage to be sold on our shores. Perhaps we could have a ban or a tax on importing crops that destroy the rainforest such as GM soya, or create stronger regulations on how supermarkets can treat farmers in their supply chains? Or maybe our government could stop exporting a chemical model of agriculture to other parts of the world and instead our foreign policies could help farmers gain more control over their land, seeds and soil. The opportunity to explore these possibilities has now arrived.
There is currently a callout for people across the country to organise workshops so they can harvest ideas from across their communities. So if you’re keen to host one. Check out how here.
And together we can imagine another food system.