23rd August 2010

New Forest Food Challenge

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Richard Barnett of New Forest Transition explains how Britain’s food self sufficiency is decreasing and what they are doing locally to increase resilience through the New Forest Food Challenge:

Nine meals from anarchy: yikes, we need a strategy!
Rosie Boycott’s now famous statement giving a reality check to the fact that the UK only has food to cover any three day period sums up, for me, the perilous state of our food system.  Each year we decrease our self sufficiency and the country is now importing 90% of our fruit and 50% of our veg.  Clearly this makes us very vulnerable when world food prices sky rocket (as they are now) and energy issues begin to bite.

So what’s to be done?  The Transition Towns movement believes that we must act to increase our resilience to cope with future shocks to the food system and here at New Forest Transition we have commenced a big project to do that locally.

The New Forest Food Challenge is designed to make people think about what they eat, where it comes from and how the local food production system can be strengthened and supported.  It challenges people to see how much local food they can get into their daily diets and we have video diaries from a group of people who have taken up the challenge.

We also want to kick start the development of a Local Food Strategy that begins to make efficient use of the resources in the area and gets everyone working together.  To get the process going we are holding a Local Food Summit on 30 September to which we have invited everyone who has an interest in local food.  We have the support and backing amongst others of the New Forest National Park Authority, the New Forest District Council and the National Farmers Union.

The aim is to use the event to agree where the problems and blockages are in terms of boosting local food supply.  And then to work out how to tackle them.

We are looking at three aspects of the supply chain; production, distribution and consumption.  All thoughts are welcome – we’d love to hear from you!