Food Strategy chief Henry Dimbleby has said he wants to carry out a fundamental change of the UK’s food system which will stand the test of time.
Mr Dimbleby claimed the dynamics of the current system, which was designed to produce maximum food after two world wars, ‘do not work’ in the modern era.
Speaking at the Financial Times Global Food Systems Summit in London this week (November 19), he confirmed the ‘issue of meat’ was being considered by his team.
His own restaurant chain, Leon, from which he has taken a year off managing to put the strategy together, has moved from serving 70 per cent meat 10 years ago to being 60 per cent vegan now.
“We have a system where the unexpected consequences of doing a good thing are people are getting sick from the food we eat, biodiversity has been impacted, there is too much nitrogen in our rivers, too much ammonia in our air, and we now realise the food system creates 30 per cent of our carbon,” he said.
“Those are problems we have to resolve.”
Though Mr Dimbleby was clear he did not want to be radical ‘for the sake of it’, he said the scale of change the system needs is ‘very large’.
At the moment, he envisages Government will need to use two or three ‘big policy levers’, such as paying for certain outcomes and regulating or banning as yet undefined things to bring about such a transformation.
Talks have been taking place with all the major parties to try to ensure the strategy can survive any future political storms, especially given the ‘high passions’ around certain issues under consideration.
A Citizens’ Assembly will be convened in the new year to give any proposed changes democratic consent.
Citizens Assemblies give members of the public, chosen to reflect the wider population, the time and opportunity to learn about a topic to arrive at workable recommendations.
It is not yet clear who will be speaking to the assembly, but Mr Dimbleby claimed ‘the most important thing’ would be who decides what gets said at it.
“These are quite fundamental things, and in order for the Government to act on a lot of them, they need consent, otherwise you will have the Gilet Jaunes,” he said.