Square Meal: why we need a new recipe for farming, wildlife, food and public health’ is a new report published today that aims to start a collaborative discussion in the run up to next year’s general election, and influence future government policies on these issues.
Jointly published by The Food Research Collaboration, the RSPB, Friends of the Earth, the National Trust, the Food Ethics Council, Sustain, the Wildlife Trusts, the Soil Association, Eating Better and Compassion in World Farming, it focuses on four key connected areas.
Improving health: Getting a grip on a growing crisis. Thirty three percent of under 18’s in the UK are overweight or obese. There are soaring costs to the NHS due to diet-related ill-health. More must be done to tackle health inequalities, promote healthier sustainable diets, ensure food and water safety and enable people to reconnect with nature.
Good food for all: Food prices have risen by 12% over the past six years, and more rises are expected. On 913,138 occasions in the year to the end of March 2014, people in crisis across the UK were provided with three days emergency food by the Trussell Trust alone. Tackling poverty and inequality must be a priority - alongside ensuring transparency, traceability and fairness in supply chains - so that we all see the benefits, from field to fork.
Sustainable Farming: Seventy five percent of the protein fed to our livestock in the EU is imported. 25% of all UK farmers live in poverty. Investing in a resilient farming system is crucial to securing our food supply in the face of the shocks to the system likely from climate change, rising populations and dwindling resources.
Enhancing Nature: In less than 50 years we have lost over 44 million pairs of breeding birds. We need to bring back colour to the countryside by protecting the soil upon which we all depend, creating a strong and connected ecological network and championing effective regulation and rural and urban planning policies.
The organisations involved have joined forces to highlight the overwhelming evidence that demonstrates the need for major changes to national food and farming policy.
Square Meal aims to start a collaborative discussion in the run up to next year’s general election and to influence future government policies on these issues. It calls for stronger government leadership in planning the future use of land, food policy, farming and conservation in England and for wider public engagement on issues that affect the whole of society.
We’re keen for as many people as possible – from all walks of life – to join the debate. To get involved, visit the Food Research Collaboration website, where you’ll also find a full copy of the report.