Posted by: Mike Grenville | 4 December 2008

Transition: Food and Farming in 21st century Britain

Last year’s Soil Association conference offered delegates a deep immersion in the peak oil/Transition debates, and was, for many, a seminal experience. This year’s took the discussions deeper and offered delegates an update on progress since and a re-energiser in terms of the scale of the work needed to be done for food and farming to truly be ‘in Transition’.

As well as many inspiring speakers over the two days, including Rob Hopkins, the Soil Association launched a report on Britain’s food security called ‘An inconvenient truth about food’. Based on research by City University London, it concludes that food in the UK is neither secure nor resilient. The current UK food and farming system is ‘not fit for purpose to meet the challenges of climate change, costlier oil, or for providing a foundation for people’s health’

Director of the Soil Association, Patrick Holden, (pictured) called for a national campaign to develop a UK food plan, based on sustainable production rather than industrial models based on rapidly depleting and increasingly expensive fossil fuels. “The only way to get politicians to introduce change”, he said, “was with the pressure of informed public opinion. What has to happen, and happen urgently”, he said, “was to move from an agriculture based on using stored sunlight to actual sunshine.”

He emphasised that “We need to evolve beyond intensive food production systems, which use ten calories of mainly fossil fuel energy to produce each single calorie of food. We have to cut greenhouse gas emissions from farming by 80%. This represents the greatest challenge that has confronted our food and farming systems since the Industrial Revolution. Action at every level – government, local communities and individuals – will be essential if the necessary changes are to be put in place.”

You can download the report ‘An inconvenient truth about food

You can hear podcasts from the whole conference here and download the pdf of the conference programme here: http://www.soilassociation.org/conference

Rob Hopkins’ conference report Transition Culture

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