Talking about FOOD: Civil Food Resilience

Home News & Events Latest News Talking about FOOD: Civil Food Resilience

Lyn Barham, Trustee for Transition Bath, shares national research on how effectively the UK could feed itself during a state of emergency.

The UK has an extensive planning system around a state of emergency, but food hardly features in it. But we all need food, every day.

Tim Lang, Emeritus Professor of Food Policy at City University, has been undertaking a government study with an imminent report Towards Civil Food Resilience: a focus on risks, security and shock from the public perspective.

Here is an initial summary of the study’s findings, quoting from Tim Lang’s Towards Civil Food Resilience report:

The term ‘resilience’ means the capacity to bounce back from shock. But is it a return to normality or towards something new? I propose that by adding the word ‘civil’ to create the term ‘civil food resilience’ we can begin to focus more on what ultimately matters. The people. Society itself and its dependencies.

The UK official approach to food resilience risks assuming it’s the maintenance of current normality and can be fixed by emergency services. In fact, food is already in a chronic rather than acute state. This chronic normality is already in trouble with geopolitics, ecosystems stress, social and health divisions, land use, cost of living pressures, mass consumer expectations, and much more.

Civil food resilience points to some significant positive change to food systems: better recognition of food risks, a shift from Just-in-Time to Just-in-Case logistics; more diversification and perhaps bio-regional decentralisation; engagement with the public; and more devolved food democracy.

These sound abstract but are very practical. If individualised consumerism has encouraged us to look after ourselves, what happens if there is collective shock? Civil food resilience perhaps requires us to think ‘we, we, we’ not ‘me, me, me’.


The Food Resilience quotations are from an event invitation at City University.