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A Good Food Nation in Scotland: What is it and why does it matter?

News | Published  18 May 2024

On April 22nd, the Scottish Government’s consultation for a Good Food Nation plan closed. This consultation followed the passing of the Good Food Nation Act in 2022, where the Scottish Government put into law their vision for Scotland to be a ‘a Good Food Nation, where people from every walk of life take pride and pleasure in, and benefit from, the food they produce, buy, cook, serve, and eat each day’

Government

Excitingly, this meant that the Scottish Government would bring forward a consultation for a policy plan on food. ‘Deliver a cross-departmental food and farming strategy’ is the first action in Eating Better’s Roadmap ‘Better by Half’, highlighting its real potential in changing food systems. As demonstrated in Eating Better’s Nations policy review, published earlier this year, this was a sign of progress in Scottish food policy. 

There was a long wait from the passing of the Act until the consultation of the plan was opened in January 2024, but nonetheless, this is an exciting time to be working on food policy in Scotland. For Eating Better, if done right, it could mean Scotland leading the way on progressive food policy in the UK. It could enable the sorts of changes we need in our food system to reduce our meat and dairy consumption in line with environmental and animal welfare goals.

So, is the plan up to scratch? 

Not quite. In our response, which you can read here, Eating Better highlighted a number of areas where the plan needs improving. A key omission, and our main point of feedback, was any target for meat and dairy reduction. The Climate Change Committee recommends that the Scottish Government aim for a 20% reduction in consumption of all meat by 2030, rising to 35% by 2050, and a 20% shift away from dairy products by 2030. At the moment, there is nothing.  

A healthy and sustainable diet, underpinned by reductions in meat and dairy consumption, is one example where the Scottish Government can deliver multiple wins in their ambition to reach their Good Food Nation vision and would help achieve multiple outcomes in the draft plan. Further, by leaving it out of the plan, there is a risk the free market dictates policy, enabling a business-as-usual approach that could worsen dietary inequalities in Scotland.

The Scottish Government should provide leadership and courage in tackling the sometimes thorny issue of healthy and sustainable diets, and put a reduction target for meat and dairy in the Good Food Nation plan. 

What next?

The Scottish Government will sift through the responses, analyse them, and lay a draft plan before the Scottish Parliament. We hope, alongside many others, that the collective calls for improving the plan have been taken on board and a progressive, ambitious and deliverable food plan is proposed that links up all the aspects of food in Scotland, and sets it on a path to healthy and sustainable diets for all. 

With a new First Minister incoming, it’s vital that food and the Good Food Nation policy agenda remain on track, with the Scottish Government taking the consultation responses into their policy development. 

We can see across the UK, perspectives are shifting and people are fixing the food system from the ground up. It’s time policy caught up.

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