Think global, act local (food)

First, I submitted a response to the now-closed BBSRC (biotechnology and biological sciences research council) consultation on Food Security, and then the Herald notes that Scotland could be hit by food shortages. The latter article links to Mapping and analysis of the resilience of the food supply chain in Scotland. As an advocate of local food, a fan of the transition movement and a blogger, how could I not respond to this? But, you know, I have a day job and an allotment to maintain…

The consultation was hard work. Obviously they were interested in research that was applicable to industrial agriculture and technofixes, but the language is quite neutral. It took me some time to unpick the relatively-anodyne-but-paradoxically-frightening statements and argue against their view that bigger is, if not better, at least easier to study. Here is the BBSRC page on Food Security

First impressions of the latter report are mixed. There’s a big piece of work to look at their list of disruptive events, and see how different the vulnerabilities of local food groups and foodzoning are compared with the standard, just-in-time retail food chain. I hope, of course, that the path we’re taking will prove more resilient. The anecdotal finding that remote and island communities routinely hold greater supplies of food at home, thus mitigating this vulnerability to a limited extent is positive. However, the second most critical vulnerability (after pandemic) is land contamination, and so shorter and more localised supply chains may be completely trashed. I guess the challenge is to maintain diversity whilst also shortening supply chains.

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