More than 40 people came along to the initial meeting of Food4Hull, organised by Diana Sandy, Lee-Ann Williams and Hilary Hamer, which took place on Tuesday 22 January 2013. Three excellent speakers gave talks relating to the local food agenda, there was a buffet with home-made soup, and a lot of discussion and networking between people from a variety of backgrounds and organisations.
Graham Ward, the chair of the East Riding Food Network, said how important it was to connect food with where it came from, involving children in visiting farms or growing veg. People were becoming more aware of seasonality and the slow food movement was developing, but cooking could be a challenge for low income families. The FareShare movement was fighting hunger and tackling food waste. Supermarkets had removed the previous distribution chain, causing problems for local suppliers. Money spent locally acted as a multiplier for the local economy.
Adrian Fisher spoke about the Probe Food 360 project, which had taken place in East Hull over the last 3 years, working with people and schools to have fun exploring food, cooking and growing, because urban areas had become ignorant about where food came from, and what to do with raw ingredients. Coming from a farming background himself, he noted the adverse social impact on rural areas of fewer and larger farms.
Discussion following these two presentations made a couple of important points
- Significant amounts of food can be grown in small areas, using containers and (peat free) compost, and chickens can be kept easily
- Food may be produced locally but if not produced sustainably it was not a step in the right direction
Tom Andrews of the Soil Association gave a presentation on Sustainable Food Cities. He cited the prevalence of obesity, diabetes and cancer and the possibility that our kids may live less long than us. Greenhouse gas emissions, declining cooking skills, some farmers earning below minimum wage, food workers stuck in the low pay sector and the approach of food poverty were all drivers in the Sustainable Food Cities initiative. People identify with where they live and the aim was to create a positive food culture based on this identification. Visibility of good local food in markets and cafes was important, as was the need for democracy to ensure community access to assets including land for growing and retail space. He described several city wide programmes (Brighton, Cardiff, Plymouth) involving broad cross-sector partnerships working together to develop a vision and a set of principles ( eg a Food Charter) followed by a strategy/local action plan and public engagement. Many more cities were in the process of becoming sustainable food cities and the Sustainable Food Cities Network aimed to help them, and share good practice. http://www.soilassociation.org/sustainablefoodcities
Discussion following this presentation covered
- Food waste issues and the awareness raising work of Love Food Hate Waste http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/
- The way forward for Food4 Hull – where to go next – to form a working group at the end of the next meeting to discuss the future direction of an initiative such as this. For example – sharing ideas around reduction in food poverty, local supplier encouragement and support, planning and access to food, producing a charter for the city, producing a newsletter and networking with all food projects across the city.
JP, Jan 2013