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Going Forward to Our Roots…


Looking backwards, looking forwards... We just can't help ourselves at this time of year can we? Well, the seeds for Issue Eight (out in March 2022) have already been well and truly sown, with a behemoth feature I've been working on to explore our broken food and farming systems, and meeting some of the inspiring folk who are working tirelessly to grow better, fairer, cleaner, healthier, climate-fixing ways of feeding ourselves. Here's a little taster to whet your appetite... and, more importantly, we'd love to hear from any of you who'd like to contribute to/ have ideas for our upcoming ROOTS issue.

By: Helen Gilchrist,   3 minutes

The context (take a deep breath, it gets better after this bit...honest)

95% of UK food retail is sold through nine supermarket chains.

Of all the money spent in British supermarkets, only about 20% goes to the farmer (if they’re lucky).

Food is sold at tiny margins, often at a loss, and workers are paid less than living wages.

Farmers and farm workers are frequently exposed to harmful chemicals and face unfair or unsafe working conditions.

Over one billion people are starving or hungry; while over one billion people are overweight or obese. Diet-related disease is putting an intolerable strain on our nations’ health and finances.

Humanity has wiped out 68% of global wildlife since 1970.

The global food system is the single biggest contributor to biodiversity loss, deforestation, drought, freshwater pollution and the collapse of aquatic wildlife (and the second-biggest contributor to climate change, after the energy industry – responsible for 25-30% of global emissions, swamping the mere 3.5% contributed by air travel).

And for all of this, in the developed world, we throw away 40% of what we’ve bought…

New Dawn Traders, photo by Helen Gilchrist

“Sometimes the best way to fix a system is to start a new one… We’re carving a new industry for sail cargo because it hasn’t really existed in this manner before; using the old tools of sail and ship, but combining that with new technologies of navigation and communication to build a new model that puts planet and people first.”

– Alex Geldenhuys, New Dawn Traders

 

“Our mission is good food for everyone. We’re having debates at the moment about whether to become organically certified or not. Our fight isn’t about sustainability or being organic, or the environmental issues – growing food agroecologically has to be a given. For us, it’s about doing all of those things, but providing it to everybody. One reluctance I have with putting the organic label on it, is that people on low income, or in any sort of food insecurity, may have a stigma on that label. So if they can just be having organic food, without thinking about it, then that’s really great. Our primary mission is to get food to people in food insecurity. But we recognise that people on higher incomes are vital in helping support that system.”

– Laurence Jarrett-Kerr, Soul Farm

 

Image from wefeedtheworld.org

“Smallholder farmers produce over 70% of the world’s food, on less than a quarter of the world’s farmland. We are often told by corporations, governments and the media that without a high-tech, chemically intensive industrial food system, we would soon starve. We Feed the World is a photographic project that cuts through this misinformation to creatively tell the stories of the farmers and fishers who really feed the world.”

wefeedtheworld.org

 

“There’s definitely more awareness of community supported agriculture (CSA) now. In our annual survey in January 2019, people were telling us we needed to create more awareness of CSA as people think it’s the Child Support Agency. We don’t get that anymore. Our number of member farms have more than doubled in the past two years.”

– Suzy Russell, communitysupportedagriculture.org.uk

 

“The soil is the planet’s most vital renewable resource. Top soil is the cornerstone of the prosperity of nations. It acts as a buffer against drought, and as a carbon sink, and is the primary source of the health of all animals, plants and people.”

– HRH The Prince of Wales (I didn’t actually interview him, though)

Quick playlist

 

Kiss the Ground Official Movie Trailer (2020) from Big Picture Ranch on Vimeo.

 

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Have something to say about these issues, or anything else ROOTSy for that matter? Email [email protected] before 20 January 2022 with a quick outline to explain how you’d like to contribute to the next issue.

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