Eating Better was in Glasgow for the first week of COP26, taking part in the Recipes for Resilience series of events hosted by alliance member, Nourish Scotland.
(from left) Sarah Mukherjee MBE, CEO of IEMA and Director of the Oxford Farming Conference, Simon Billing, executive director of Eating Better and Sascha Grierson of Grierson Organic.
More than fifty guests joined us for our screening, panel discussion and catered networking event, including Sarah Mukerjee MBE, CEO of IEMA and Director of the Oxford Farming Conference; Patrick Holden CBE, CEO of The Sustainable Food Trust and Dimitri Houtart, Executive Editor of Farming Today and the Food Programme.
We screened our new brand films: Producing Better, Serving Better and Buying Better, the last of which we premiered at the event. All three films showcase the businesses and organisations that are putting sustainability at the heart of their operations, to make food part of the solution to tackling the climate and nature crises.
(from left) Sarah Duley, Head of Food at Soil Association and Councillor Kirsteen Sullivan, Deputy Leader of West Lothian Council in front of our new Eating Better banner.
Our all-female panel was drawn from farming, public sector and civil society: Sascha Grierson of Hugh Grierson Organic farm in Perthshire, Councillor Kirsteen Sullivan, Deputy Leader of West Lothian Council and Sarah Duley, Head of Food at the Soil Association, Scotland.
Chaired by our executive director, Simon Billing, the panel examined how we build demand for organic and nature-friendly farming and use the purchasing power of the public sector to source from small, local producers. For Sasha Grierson, this is an opportunity for Scotland to position itself to support food as a solution. Sarah Duley of Soil Association added that setting a target for organic in public procurement would help drive demand. And for Councillor Kirsteen Sullivan it’s about food justice and community wealth-building, particularly in rural economies.
With one billion meals served by the public sector in schools every year, focusing on serving nutritious, high-quality food can drive real change. Councillor Kirsteen Sullivan said that serving local, seasonal produce can save money, reduce emissions and boost the local economy. West Lothian council is a case study in our Serving Better guide, which outlines how local authorities can shift to sustainable menus.
Organic farmer Sascha Grierson agreed on the importance of local supply chains, particularly for Scottish farmers, where a connection to a local authority offers a reliable market for produce. Sascha’s vision would be for “everyone to have the right to access the food we produce.” Sarah Duley highlighted the need to recognise the value of food at all parts of the supply chain and recognise “public food not as a cost, but as an investment.”
If we’re to fix the climate and nature crises, the next decade will require crucial action on how we produce and consume food. Panellists agreed that local authorities, and all levels of government, will have a significant role to play. Sarah Duley said “we need to do everything we can to allow people to have a healthy and nutritious diet,” with Councillor Kirsteen Sullivan adding that also means “no child going hungry.”
A special thank you to our panellists and guests who joined us for a stimulating evening, where new connections were forged and solutions explored.