In case you missed our meeting on 5th October, here’s a short precis from Ian Baker.
An illustrated talk by Angela Raffle described complex systems. Overall the UK imports 40% of our food requirements. Supermarkets control over 50% of Bristol’s food retail business. The South West of England produces meat and dairy products, most of which are bought up by supermarkets.
Angela focussed her talk on alternatives to purchasing from the ‘Big Four’. She spoke of the eleven local food myths in support of independent food outlets and the manner by which independents can maintain a service of processing, retail and catering. Much depends on the viability of St Phillips wholesale market, which is a regional hub for fruit and vegetables.
Community Supported Agriculture has promoted two farms in Chew Magna and Sims Hill, which depend a lot on volunteer labour and enter organic vegetable produce into box schemes and home deliveries. This labour can be a pleasurable contrast to urban-based work. More locally and as pleasurable is the produce gained from allotments, raised beds and gardens.
These initiatives help to overcome the threats to future energy supplies, degradation of soil and limitations to natural resources. Mostly, we overeat, some to the extent of overweight and obesity. Such consumption jeopardizes land use and food supplies of countries with less energy and resources. Food waste in the UK, up to 40% of that produced, distributed and sold, needs to be diminished.
We are to an extent at the mercy of advertisers who nurse our wants and breaking habits is difficult. Do we the consumer make choices or are they suggested for us? Our food and nutrition is important and a topic which needs a touch more circumspection.
How can the community of Bristol influence land use and food supply, food businesses and staple food availability (meat, dairy, eggs, fruit & vegetables, cereals, grains and bread)? This was Angela’s challenge. It promoted a lively discussion.
Some links to resources which Angela mentioned in the talk:
- “Who Feeds Bristol?” – the report and what the council is doing about it
- “Bristol’s Local Food Update” – excellent local food newsletter
- The Community Farm, Chew Magna
- Simms Hill Shared Harvest – a community supported agriculture project just off the M32, open to visitors Saturday afternoon 8th October
- Bristol Independents - Independent shops in Bristol, keeping more money in the local economy and (often) providing an outlet for local goods