Last night’s meeting at Out of the Blue was cold. Like everyone else Celia and I kept our coats on and held on to hot drinks as long as we could. But the discussion at the Food Summit was so heart warming it reinforced my hunch that food (or how we grow and eat it) offers the best way out of the mess we are making of the global economy and the planet.
So while the government was deciding to coke up the atmosphere by building a third Heathrow runway a mixed bunch of allotment holders, backgreen gardeners, social entrepreneurs, community activists and voluntary groups were peeling off their gloves to vote for greener ways of growing and selling healthy local food in Edinburgh. Or to be precise, Leith. (See Greener Leith Food Summit report for fuller list of action points.)
The Food Summit organised by the very entrepreneurial Greener Leith.
Hugh Raven, Director of the Soil Association in Scotland, urged us to grow our own (organic) food or at least buy local. Pointing out the carbon footprint of intensively reared pork and chicken, he suggested we eat less but better meat. But perhaps it was the activities of small local schemes that brought most hope.
In the tea break Celia and I stamped our feet and marvelled at all this energy and enterprise; so many local groups working on low, sometimes no, budgets to improve quality of life in their neighbourhood. This is what active citizenship means but (quick rant) grassroots do need help from above to help them grow.
Perhaps that’s why so many votes went to idea that the council should employ or fund (probably not quite the same ) a Community Development Officer to help local community gardens, food co-ops etc develop their full potential.
The one with most dots is for Leith Farmer’s Market
I confess I have a personal interest in all this (not just because I am on the committee of Greener Leith who organised the Food Summit ). The recession seems the ideal incentive to change the way we do things. For months now I have fantasised about schemes that would enable people to eat better, spend less and get more fun out of cooking. So we could reduce our impact on the environment, get fitter, happier and create sustainable jobs (for me too please!) all at the same time.
Feed Four for a Fiver seemed a good slogan to sell to farmer’s markets, local shops or even supermarkets. Too late. They’re all at it now. Jamie coaxes customers to Feed a Family for A Fiver at Sainsbury’s. Asda, Morrisons and even Waitrose are all playing different variations of the same theme.
Anyway, noting the growing number of food co-op schemes in my neighbourhood which could make good stories for Leith Open Space website I went along to Out of the Blue last night. The response to the meeting was extraordinary and I hope collaborative community action will come of it. Just for the record, my votes went to the community development officer, a community orchard and a farmer’s market for Leith.
But I haven’t totally abandoned that idea of feeding four for a fiver.
This is a great farm shop, I hope to write more about it very soon.