Posted by: Mike Grenville | 3 November 2009

A Transition Food Strategy

Having recently help develop ‘A Sustainable Food Strategy for Bristol’, Claire Milne is now helping Edinburgh do the same.

Our love affair with food is so beautifully captured in Tamzin Pinkerton’s recently launched Local Food handbook: what an amazingly inspiring celebration of the collective genius and passion we hold around food. What’s more, what a fantastic testament to our collaborative power and determination to transform our food system to nourish our bodies, minds and souls.

Despite demand for local, low carbon food already being high and on the increase, its availability remains scarce. This makes it extremely challenging for people to make their preferred food choices. Various projects like the Fife diet, Beth Tilston’s 100 Mile Diet and Transition Bristol’s Eat the Change have highlighted just how challenging it is to choose local, low carbon foods even for those already committed to these choices and despite the greatest of efforts.

In true Transition style though we’re rising to the challenge … around the country local Transition groups and other community groups are stepping up to our unprecedented environmental, social and economic challenges with appropriate passion, creativity and zeal. Collaborative efforts have started to create systemic solutions to transforming the global food system that has managed to get a stranglehold on all our relationships with food. Around the country communities are starting to figure out how they can create the interconnected web of resilient local food systems that will meet our nutritional and social needs within the natural constraints of our ecological system.

Local Food Movement

It seems ironic that the task has become such a huge one. This is not because food is complicated, but because we have created this monster of a food system that shamelessly puts profits ahead of the needs of people and the planet. But the reality is delicious nourishing food grows naturally from the earth and is a fundamental human right and need.

The local food movement has been working tirelessly for decades to support communities to reconnect with food and the recent and rapid proliferation of Transition groups represents a pivitol part of this reconnection. The vast numbers of us coming together are excitingly discovering the immense collective power we hold to make this change a reality. We can do this! We know what we need and it is actually very simple. We need to reconnect with those producing and selling our food and work out together how we can start to recreate the local food systems that we need to not just to transform our health but our communities and society at large. What’s more this reconnection with our food is an important step in our wider and deeper connection with the earth and universe at large.

Bristol Food Strategy

I have been working with the Transition Network to explore how local groups might start to make this transformation a reality. Three years of work with a wide range of food stakeholders in Bristol have given way to a sustainable food strategy for Bristol. A group of organisations are now working together to solicit funding to deliver the strategy and we remain optimistic that funders will see the potential it holds for significantly transforming food across the South West and for sharing good practice nationally.

The Bristol Food Strategy, whilst developed with a city in mind, outlines what are hopefully useful initiatives for any Transition or community group to learn from and make relevant in their community – no matter how large or small. Much of it you will have already thought of yourself as we all hold the answers and knowledge within ourselves, however this strategy will hopefully help to piece together the process of change and how you might go about starting it in your community.

Bristol Food Strategy document – updated 27 October 2009 402k pdf

Edinburgh As A Food Hub

I am now working with Transition Scotland to develop a programme based on the Bristol strategy to develop an alternative distribution system to make it possible for Edinburgh to become a thriving hub of nutritious, nourishing local, low carbon food – learnings from which will be instrumental in supporting other Transition groups to do the same in their community.

I hope the Bristol Strategy will inspire and support groups to kickstart this process in whatever way seems to make most sense for your community. The Transition Network is currently trying to raise the funds to create a post to provide support to local Transition groups to this effect but in the meantime if you have any specific questions about the strategy or kickstarting the re-localisation and de-industrialisation of food in and around your community then please post comments here or email me at and I will endeavour to feedback as far as time allows.

Claire Milne



  1. Transition Initiative Newcastle have a local food quiz, which by its very nature needs modifying to make it relevant to other areas. It involves local maps and a pile of food related statements, a true and a false heading to place them under. Also needed are lots of pictures of (UK) food items, representing an area of land, which are stuck on the map after answering a question. If you do the sums right, at the end of the quiz, the map has an area covered in food items which represent the area needed to feed the population.
    Contact us if you want to discuss it further. ( ) It doesn’t sort out your food strategy, but it helps you visualize the scale of the issue and learn a lot along the way in an entertaining fashion.

  2. […] A Transition Food Strategy « Transition Network News […]

  3. Excellent stuff – will direct people here in Manchester to your work.

  4. […] Article on a food transition project in Edinbrugh […]

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