Britain’s food production system must transition away from an ‘oversimplified’ growth of commodities, in order to strengthen food security.
Speaking at an Oxford Farming Conference (OFC) webinar on self-sufficiency, Essex agro-ecological farmer George Young highlighted the UK’s food system had pushed farmers ‘down the route of growing simplistic commodities in large scales’.
He said: “Our production system is crying out for diverse cropping, pushing for all parts of a nutritious diet, which means that we need to be massively increasing the production of homegrown vegetables, alongside staples such as wheat and barley.”
Mr Young reinforced the ‘key’ to this transition was incentivising short, local supply chains, which ensured new producers were able to produce different types of crops in a mixed farming system.
“Crucially, this deviates from the broad agri-cropping system we have now and is, therefore, vital to ensuring a more resilient food system,” he added.
Prof Tim Lang, who specialises in food policy at City, University of London, echoed this and claimed Britain had the potential to grow a higher percentage of ‘real food’, adding: “Not commodities, which can then be turned into ultra processed foods, which contribute to the health burden.”
Reinforcing the need to shorten supply chains, Prof Lang claimed any deviation would be ‘impossible’ without the decentralisation of power.
He said: “We need to see the reactivation of a regional push to build a proper food system at a regional level.
“That is why we need a Food Resilience and Security Act, which decentralises this debate and places food at the centre of policy.”