Nearly 250 people crammed into Manchester Town Hall to ask: Can we balance food accessibility with sustainability? The evening began with Monty Don welcoming everyone followed by three passionate and inspiring speakers.
Firstly, Deborah Doane (from the World Development Movement) spoke about the need to re-balance our relationship with the Global South, that they must be allowed to put their Food Sovereignty before the profits of large multi-national corporations. She spoke about the purchase of a pineapple for £1 and the impact this has on communities and individuals around the word and she urged us all to embrace the La Via Campasina – the international peasant movement.
Tim Lang spoke about the fragility of the present food system, but how successful it was in the narrow definition of success that our market system requires. Tim explained that he was the only professor of food policy in the world and in the UK only the MOD was thinking strategically about food – because they are the only department who think long term – and end up picking up the pieces. And he shared this frustration at the new government: that after years of fighting for a quarterly meeting of ministerial heads (from Environment, Trade, Health etc.) just to talk about food, it was one of the first things to be stopped. In his words it was disgraceful.
And Julie Brown introduced their Hackney-based project: Growing Communities and explained that we must all start by paying farmers the true cost for their food and only then can we build alternative sustainable food systems. Julie also made a passionate case for being transparent about the cost, explaining how much of a food's price goes back to the farmer and how much remains with the seller.
The whole event was filmed and so we will get the audio and video footage on-line as soon as possible.
Despite a few technical problems the evening was a great success with lots of questions and discussion afterwards.
Kindling got so much out of the evening and we can't thank enough the speakers, Unicorn Grocery (who organised the event with us and provided the refreshments) and the Soil Association who provided the opportunity for a public event for Manchester.