Talking about FOOD: the priorities

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Lyn Barham, Trustee for Transition Bath, highlights issues around the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission’s conversation around food.

The UK government works from the assumption that people want cheap and convenient food. The pervasive narrative is that ‘people don’t want a nanny state telling them what to eat’ and ‘all people want is cheap food’. The government focus is entirely on the supply chain through food producers and supermarkets, who they assert can meet this requirement. I believe that this is fundamentally wrong.

Going further to the heart of this, the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC) started a Conversation in 2023 about what ‘real’ people, not politicians and food business magnates, perceive to be the priorities. They conducted robust qualitative research and national polling, and the initial headline findings are these:

The following points quote from the FFCC findings:

Citizens tell us they want:

  • A healthier, greener food environment, including restrictions on junk food advertising, higher standards for catering in spaces like schools and hospitals, and tighter controls on the availability and marketing of ultra-processed foods (UPFs)
  • Support for farmers to farm more sustainably, going beyond existing policies with more investments and incentives to do the right things
  • Taxes and regulations to hold big food businesses to account – such as adopting the polluter pays principle for environmental harm – and to reduce production of unhealthy foods
  • Practical help for citizens to eat more healthily and sustainably – for example, the redistribution of revenues from taxes/fines on food companies so those on low incomes can afford healthy and sustainable food, better information campaigns about the impacts of the food system, and better labelling
  • Visible political leadership when it comes to food, and a plan of action that brings together the different parts of government, building on the National Food Strategy

The National Food Conversation continues in 2024, and Transition Bath will be working with FFCC to arrange a number of local conversation groups in Bath and NE Somerset. If you are interested in being involved, email us here.


FFCC quotations are from the September 2023 report.