Fair Food in Scotland by Nourish Scotland

Standard

See here – http://fairer.scot/2015/09/11/fair-food-in-scotland/Scottish produce.

Scotland creates and exports some of the finest produce in the world.

Food in Scotland is often described as a paradox.We produce some of the finest produce in the world, and our grain, fish and dairy products are exported across the globe.

The industry is often cited as a success story, yet despite producing this bounty, many people in Scotland are unable to access sufficient food to feed themselves and their families.

In addition, our levels of diet-related ill health and obesity continue to rise.

Time for fairness with food
While the industry secures many vital jobs, especially in our remote rural areas, many farmers are struggling financially. And many people employed in agriculture, manufacturing and hospitality work long hours and are poorly paid.

Scottish produce on a table.
The industry is often cited as a success story, yet despite producing this bounty, many people in Scotland are unable to access sufficient food.

In addition, current agricultural practices contribute to our carbon emissions and can threaten our biodiversity.This doesn’t seem very fair. Nourish wants to see:

  • more fairness in our food system: for our families, our farmers, our workers and our planet
  • a transformation in how we grow, make, eat and access our food
  • Scotland produce more of what we eat and eat more of what we produce.

We believe that everyone has the right to sufficient, safe, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food.

Food is more than calories, profit margins and quotas: our food system and our food culture surrounding it could, and should, enhance our environment and people’s lives.

We believe that our farmers, producers and people who work with food have a right to a fair wage and to be treated with dignity and respect.

And we believe that it is possible to produce our food while looking after our environment and promoting animal welfare.

Ending hunger and achieving ‘food security’
The Scottish Government has become an early signatory to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 2 commits the Scottish Government to taking action to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”. We fully support this goal.

But how can we make sure this commitment will become a reality and not remain an empty promise?

Food stall in market.
We believe that our farmers, producers and people who work with food have a right to a fair wage and to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • We need a meaningful national minimum wage, which reflects the true cost of living, so we can all afford to pay the bills and to feed ourselves. This should be underpinned by a benefit system that provides an adequate safety net, linked with advice services that can address specific needs.
  • We want to see continued investment in the grass-roots projects that help people grow, access, and cook food.
  • We want to see more development of our community food sector; perhaps by creating community food hubs that can join up food related work in an area and provide these services.
  • We want to increase our skill levels, providing training and development for people working with food and stimulating new food based start-ups, especially ones that deliver sustainably produced, healthy food.
  • We need to invest in – and reward – greener agriculture, reducing nitrate use and lowering carbon emissions.
  • Finally we need to invest in our supply chains, connecting producers with consumers, giving them the ability to develop local markets, and allowing consumers to buy locally and support their local businesses and local economy.
Nourish social media details.
Support good, clean, fair food – get involved on the Nourish website.

Producing our food is not just about inputs and outputs, it impacts on all of us.It can help deliver stronger communities, increased economic growth, environmental protection and a healthier diet – elements vital to any vision of a Fairer Scotland.

But it will only happen if our policy makers join the dots.

Tracey Reilly (Policy Manager, Nourish Scotland)

France to force big supermarkets to give unsold food to charities

Standard

Guardian article highlighting new tactic to tackle food waste in France – see original here.

Legislation barring stores from spoiling and throwing away food is aimed at tackling epidemic of waste alongside food poverty

 According to official estimates, the average French person throws out 20kg-30kg of food a year – 7kg of which is still in its wrapping.

The French national assembly voted unanimously to pass the legislation asFrance battles an epidemic of wasted food that has highlighted the divide between giant food firms and people who are struggling to eat.

Supermarkets will be barred from deliberately spoiling unsold food so it cannot be eaten. Those with a footprint of 4,305 sq ft (400 sq m) or more will have to sign contracts with charities by July next year or face penalties including fines of up to €75,000 (£53,000) or two years in jail.

“It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods,” said the Socialist deputy Guillaume Garot, a former food minister who proposed the bill.

In recent years, French media have highlighted how poor families, students, unemployed or homeless people often stealthily forage in supermarket bins at night to feed themselves, able to survive on edible products which had been thrown out just as their best-before dates approached.

But some supermarkets doused binned food in bleach to prevent potential food-poisoning by eating food from bins. Other supermarkets deliberately binned food in locked warehouses for collection by refuse trucks to stop scavengers.

The practice of foraging in supermarket bins is not without risk – some people picking through rotten fruit and rubbish to reach yoghurts, cheese platters or readymade pizzas have been stopped by police and faced criminal action for theft. In 2011, a 59-year-old father of six working for the minimum wage at a Monoprix supermarket in Marseille almost lost his job after a colleague called security when they saw him pick six melons and two lettuces out of a bin.

Pressure groups, recycling commandos and direct action foraging movements have been highlighting the issue of waste in France. Members of the Gars’pilleurs, an action group founded in Lyon, don gardening gloves to remove food from supermarket bins at night and redistribute it on the streets the next morning to raise awareness about waste, poverty and food distribution.

The group and four others issued a statement earlier this year warning that simply obliging supermarket giants to pass unsold food to charities could give a “false and dangerous idea of a magic solution” to food waste. They said it would create an illusion that supermarkets had done their bit, while failing to address the wider issue of overproduction in the food industry as well as the wastage in food distribution chains.

The law will also introduce an education programme about food waste in schools and businesses. It follows a measure in February to remove the best-before dates on fresh foods.

The measures are part of wider drive to halve the amount of food waste in France by 2025. According to official estimates, the average French person throws out 20kg-30kg of food a year – 7kg of which is still in its wrapping. The combined national cost of this is up to €20bn.

Of the 7.1m tonnes of food wasted in France each year, 67% is binned by consumers, 15% by restaurants and 11% by shops. Each year 1.3bn tonnes of food are wasted worldwide.

The Fédération du Commerce et de la Distribution, which represents big supermarkets, criticised the plan. “The law is wrong in both target and intent, given the big stores represent only 5% of food waste but have these new obligations,” said Jacques Creyssel, head of the organisation. “They are already the pre-eminent food donors, with more than 4,500 stores having signed agreements with aid groups.”

The logistics of the law must also not put an unfair burden on charities, with the unsold food given to them in a way that is ready to use, a parliamentary report has stipulated. It must not be up to charities to have to sift through the waste to set aside squashed fruit or food that had gone off. Supermarkets have said that charities must now also be properly equipped with fridges and trucks to be able to handle the food donations.

The French law goes further than the UK, where the government has a voluntary agreement with the grocery and retail sector to cut both food and packaging waste in the supply chain, but does not believe in mandatory targets.

A report earlier this year showed that in the UK, households threw away 7m tonnes of food in 2012, enough to fill London’s Wembley stadium nine times over. Avoidable household food waste in the UK is associated with 17m tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

Food and farming policy asks for the new Government

Standard

From SFC

Sustain has compiled a list of food and farming policies they would like to see the new Government adopt. They believe Government has an opportunity, and a responsibility, to fix a food and farming system which is increasingly unfit for purpose.

Short-term and long term priorities have been put together to inform decision-making.

Short-term include:

  • Require all food companies providing goods and services in public sector contracts, pay the living wage
  • Ban the routine preventative use of antibiotics
  • Review and strengthen Government Buying Standards for food, to ensure public money is invested in wider social, economic and environmental benefits, and to ensure vulnerable groups such as young children, hospital patients and older people in care receive good food
  • Introduce a 9pm watershed for junk food ads on television
  • Introduce a 20p per litre sugary drinks duty
  • Designate and rigorously protect the 127 UK Marine Conservation Zones
  • and more

Detailed long term asks by theme here.

Support for the NHS – linking health and food

Standard

Extract from Guardian article citing US and UK health professionals writing in support of the NHS:

“As senior public health professionals, we must draw attention to the damage that the coalition government’s policies have done to the health of the British people. First, it placed “responsibility deals” with producers of junk food and alcohol at the centre of its public-health strategy. As its own evaluation confirms, these have achieved almost nothing. Second, it has delayed action on issues such as reducing the salt hidden in food, which researchers have linked to 6,000 additional deaths.

Third, it has failed to implement minimum unit pricing for alcohol, again in the face of research evidence that this would save thousands of lives. Fourth, its austerity policies can be linked to a reversal in the long-term downward trend in suicides, which have increased most where welfare cuts have been most severe. These policies have also contributed directly to a marked increase in food poverty, with growing numbers dependent on food banks. Fifth, it has failed to address the already poor health of British children. The areas where the government has made progress, such as standardised packaging for cigarettes and antimicrobial resistance, show what could have been done.

This reluctance to act, whether due to ideology, closeness to corporate interests or fears of being accused of “nanny-state tactics”, has been damaging to health and has led to many thousands of unnecessary deaths. Whatever government is elected this week, we call upon it to put evidence before ideology. The people’s health must come first.”

A tale of two countries

Standard

Posted by here on Thursday, May 14, 2015

Nourish Director Pete Ritchie on the elections aftermath and the widening gap between Holyrood and Westminster.

the right to food

Whichever side of the Border you live, it is the best of times for the haves, and the worst of times for the have-nots. But the two governments north and south have very different views about why this is happening and what to do about it. Since the Scottish Primavera, it’s not just policies which have diverged; increasingly, there is a different narrative and worldview north of the Border.

Take food: Holyrood’s resolutely anti-GM while Westminster wants farmers to have the choice to grow GM crops. Westminster’s overall approach to food policy is laissez-faire; while the Scottish Government has put together a cross-cutting national food policy to match economic success with long-term action on environment, health and local food.

The gap’s even wider on the approach to food poverty. The All Party Parliamentary Group report on ‘Feeding Britain’ seeks to entrench food banks in the welfare system and to upscale the recycling of surplus food to the hungry poor (many of whom unfortunately are the hard-working people which the new government loves so much). Meanwhile, there’s talk in Scotland about establishing a ‘right to food’ in line with UN conventions, about zero hunger, ending the punitive culture of benefit sanctions, implementing the living wage: and about upscaling the community food movement so that emergency food aid is embedded in an empowering, participatory and inclusive approach to food.

It’s no surprise the first clash is over the Human Rights Act. The Tories don’t do philosophy, preferring to appeal to ‘common sense’. But there’s a long tradition of rights discourse here, going back to Francis Hutcheson who came over from Ireland to start the first Scottish enlightenment.

With globalisation getting under way in the early 18th century, he believed that people were motivated by more than money, and coined the phrase ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’. The first Glasgow University lecturer to speak in English rather than Latin, he argued that people could consent to be governed – but that they retained inalienable rights. When government neglects the ‘public good of the State’ it becomes despotic and Hutcheson advocated people’s right to resist . He said this is ‘when it is that colonies turn independent’.

His books were popular downloads with the founding fathers of the American revolution. As it happens.

Pete Ritchie