Dora Clouttick from Forked! catches up with Tara Garnett from The Food & Climate Research Network (FCRN)
Forked: What do you think is the biggest food challenge facing us here in the UK and Globally?
Tara Garnett: The biggest food challenge is how to produce food in ways that don’t incur further land use change and associated deforestation, biodiversity loss and carbon dioxide release, and how to shift diets away from rising meat and dairy consumption.
Forked: Do you think enough things are being done to address these issues?
TG: Well No, in brief, No!
There is some very interesting work looking at how to improve the efficiency of production in ways that don’t require additional inputs, precision agriculture and that sort of thing, and I think those are interesting and useful but not sufficient.
I think there is a need for greater understanding of how yield gaps can be closed in low income countries, whilst getting off the ‘we need to produce more food’ kind of juggernaut that developed countries seem to be on. There needs to be a rebalancing in food production so that places like sub Saharan Africa will be developing sustainable ways of increasing productivity and people in high-income countries need to be reducing their consumption of high impact food like meat and dairy.
In transition economies such as China, Brazil and to a certain extent India, the demand for these foods [meat and dairy] needs to be moderated and in low income countries like sub Saharan Africa ect there needs to be a focus on producing a more diverse range of foods sustainably. I think the developed countries need to stop going ‘we need to produce more food’ and justifying it because we’ve got 9 billion people on the planet, and to step away from the more food needed to feed the world agenda. I don’t think the consumption issue is at all there in the discourse on agriculture and food security.
Forked: Is there anyone, person or organizations working in these fields that you find particularly inspiring?
TG: There’s lots of inspiring people, lots of people are working on it, from academics through to NGO’s. There’s lots of research being done in this area, there’s advocacy being done at the UK level, but at the policy level pretty much nothing.
Forked: Could you try to sum up the current food system in three words?
For more information: www.fcrn.org.uk