The Fife diet at Shandon food initiative

After two days in Inverness for my day job’s annual conference I was pretty wrecked, but I managed to negotiate the childcare and drag myself along to the evening meeting on Wednesday. Very glad I did since the main speaker was Mike Small from the Fife Diet and then a couple of master composters gave a talk and Q&A session.

Mike’s an engaging speaker and he gave lots of interesting ideas, illustrated by quotes from Voltaire, Patrick Geddes and Lewis Mumford. He’s got some good insights of his own: “Fife’s not the hanging gardens of Bablylon” and “we need to move from the current model of specialism and passive consumers to active citizens and producers.”

One of the most interesting parts was the fact that, when they put on large scale lunches around Fife, childcare burnt through their grant. Any community food group has to involve children and their parents, and not make it just the parents’ responsibility to arrange collective childcare.

Another interesting theme was the nature of the current food infrastructure. Otas grow in Fife and fish is landed there, but the subsequent production of these foods means that they go straight out of the region for packaging and further distribution. It is, for example, hard to buy Fife-grown oats straight from the supplier in Fife. Because food production is linked to the national (and beyond) food chains with their economies of scale, small bottling plants and abbatoirs that could serve the community do not exist.

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