The Food and Fairness Inquiry

The results of our year-long inquiry into social justice in the food system has been published. Food Justice: the Report of the Food and Fairness Inquiry presents the finding of the Food and Fairness Inquiry committee, made up of 14 respected and influential figures from across the food sector, including Fairtrade Foundation CEO Harriet Lamb, Andrew Opie from the British Retail Consortium, Paul Whitehouse, chair of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, and Jeanette Longfield who runs the campaign group Sustain.

The Food Ethics Council commissioned the Food and Fairness Inquiry because we were concerned that issues of social justice were being underplayed in debates about food policy. In June 2009 we made a public call for evidence on the issues that were within the Inquiry’s remit of ‘fair shares’, ‘fair play’, and ‘fair say’. More than 100 pieces of evidence were received as a result of that call. We went on to hold three Committee hearings in autumn 2009 to discuss this evidence, and hear first-hand about injustices in the food system from witnesses, including a vegetable packer, a food producer, environmental organisations, public health experts and an economist.

Food Justice: the report of the food and Fairness Inquiry presents the findings of the committee. It finds that injustice is widespread throughout the UK and global food system; and it shows how a fairer food system is central to achieving wider sustainability and health goals.

The evidence presented in Food Justice leaves no room for doubt about the scale of the challenges that face us. However, it is equally clear that we have no choice but to confront those challenges, and to that end the report makes a series of far-reaching recommendations towards a sustainable, healthy and fair food system.

The key messages from the report – the need for urgent action to address social injustice, the centrality of social justice to today’s most pressing ecological concerns, the fact that ‘business as usual isn’t an option’ – represent a consensus reached despite the diverse perspectives of the business leaders, academics, public servants and campaigners who made up the Inquiry committee. This is a shared voice that demands the attention of anyone with an interest in a fairer future for our food system.

The report, generously funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, is available to read as a PDF. If you would like a paper copy, please contact Lisa Unsworth.

Food Justice: the report of the Food and Fairness Inquiry

For more information on the Food and Fairness Inquiry, including details of the three hearings, please see below:

Food and fairness: the third hearing
The Inquiry committee heard evidence about ‘Fair say: Autonomy and voice’ on 26 November 2009.
26 November 2009

Food and fairness: the second hearing
The Inquiry committee heard evidence about ‘Fair play: inequalities of opportunity’ on 23 October 2009.
23 October 2009

Food and fairness: the first hearing
The Inquiry committee heard evidence about ‘Fair shares: inequalities in health and nutrition’ on 16th September 2009.
16 September 2009

Fair shares: food security and safety (forum)
Our food system is unequal: some people eat healthily and work in safety while others do not. What causes these inequalities and are we already doing enough to address them?
5th August 2009

Fair play: power, access and resilience (forum)
What shapes people’s opportunities in food and farming – their access to markets, land and resources? Is power used fairly or abused?
5th August 2009

Fair say: accountability and food sovereignty (forum)
Do people outside boardrooms and government offices have enough influence over food and farming? Are ethical consumption and elections enough, or is direct participation the answer?
5th August 2009

Background to the Food and Fairness Inquiry