Thursday, 12 April 2012

Food for thought

‘Food Security’ – what does it mean and how will the concept come into play over the next 40 years? These questions were at the heart of the Earth Debates talk held in the Natural History Museum’s David Attenborough Studio last night.

Apart from being something the interns have not experienced much of this year, Food Security relates to our ability (or inability) to produce and acquire food. We all know that we produce enough to feed everyone on the planet adequately, so something is going seriously wrong when 2 billion people are still starving.

Not only is food distributed extremely unevenly, problems of wastage, health, climate change and development all play their part in creating the complex problem of achieving Food Security for all.

The panel discussing the ways in which we may be able to feed the world’s rapidly increasing population was made up of leading experts and chaired by BBC environment journalist, Richard Black. Sue Dibb, executive director of the Food Ethics Council, Barry Gardner MP, John Ingram, Food Security Leader, Natural Environment Research Council and Camilla Toulmin, Director of the International Institute for Environment and Development made up the panel, all of whom took questions from the audience as well as answering tweets from across the globe.

Apart from all the financing initiatives and potential government policies that were raised, the main consensus centred on changing our expectations. ‘Green diets’ need to be just that, more green - with less red meat and more vegetables and pulses. We need to erode the sense of entitlement people in the West feel they have to eating exactly what they want when they want. If we go to the shops late at night we shouldn’t expect to have the full range of food to choose from, most of which will have to be chucked due to sell-by dates etc.

In another 50 years time will we see steak eaters banished outside restaurant along with smokers  - who also once believed they had the ‘right’ to say exactly what passed their lips?

Thoughtful contributions from the floor and lively discussions over wine and canapés (the irony was not lost) after the debate, in one of London’s most impressive buildings, contributed to an extremely interesting evening.

You can watch the debate online here: 

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