AUTHOR: HENRY DIMBLEBY
No part of our global economy matters more than food. It is vital for life and for pleasure. It shapes our sense of family, community and nation: cooking and eating together – at home and in restaurants – is perhaps the defining communal act. It involves and impacts all of us.
The former Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, appointed me to undertake a year-long review of England’s food system in June 2019, and to develop recommendations within six months of its completion. Based on this, the UK government then plans to publish an ambitious, multi-disciplinary National Food Strategy, the first one in 75 years.
We are currently in the middle of our Call for Evidence and I’m speaking to as many people from across the food chain as possible –from farmers in the field to chefs in the kitchen. We are consulting experts as well as those whose voices are seldom heard, but have personally experienced the failings of our food system: low-paid workers in agriculture and food production, people with diet-related diseases, farmers living on the margins, and many more.
As a restaurateur, I know that SRA members from across the foodservice sector will have valuable perspective to bring to this process, given the exposure you get both to the supply chain and to consumers directly, gaining insights into changing eating habits and preferences. And through the focus the SRA puts on sourcing, society and environment, many of you are already at the cutting edge of innovation.
So, if you have an idea, however big or small, that you think could change our food system for the better in the UK, I want to hear from you. I want to learn about innovations that you are implementing in your foodservice business and understand what best practice looks like and how it might be scaled up. You can find the link to respond to our Call for Evidence here at www.nationalfoodstrategy.org. This is an opportunity too great to miss: a chance to shape our food system today and for future generations.
Henry Dimbleby was a Co-Founder of the Sustainable Restaurant Association and LEON. He was appointed lead non-executive board member of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in March 2018 and is now leading the National Food Strategy.