Young people set out their priorities for the food system

THE Food Ethics Council is celebrating its 25th anniversary, but rather than simply looking back, they are taking the opportunity to look forward to the next 25 years of food system change.

Writing on the Food Ethics Council (FEC) website, Tesni Clare explains that FEC curated a panel of three people aged 25 or under, who are all working – from very different angles – for fairer food systems. “We heard from Lucy Tarbox, a new entrant farmer who operates a cow-with-calf dairy in Hampshire with her partner, and invites schools and the public onto their farm to buy raw milk and learn about the cows. We also heard from Paige Hunt, Sustainability Executive at a major food retailer, and Christina Adane, founding co-chair of BiteBack 2030 and food justice campaigner fighting for young people’s access to nutritious food.”

Each speaker was asked about the biggest challenge for food and farming.

Clare writes “For dairy farmer Lucy, it’s a lack of financial security. With no control over ever-fluctuating farm gate milk prices, she’s unable to commit to investing back into the health and sustainability of her cows and farm operation. She described their choice of running a cow-with-calf system as a ‘massive leap of faith’, that isn’t currently matched by the price they receive for their product.

“Lucy also mentioned the huge disconnect between people and food. ‘How can things begin to change if people aren’t even aware of the issues?’ She feels that farmers need to get better at bridging this disconnect by opening up farm gates and inviting the public in.

“Food systems education is also vital for Christina – ‘young people don’t realise what the food system really is, where the power lies and how they’re being exploited by it.’ However, we often go wrong with food education by teaching children about nutritional values, sustainability and ‘good choices’, whilst ignoring the food environment that young people in urban spaces are exposed to – rampant junk food marketing and cheap chicken shops, countered by unaffordable restaurants. Education about food should be geared toward an awareness of the food environment.

“For Paige who works in retail, the biggest challenge she sees is a lack of urgency. There is a real resistance to doing things differently, because we’ve been doing things in a certain way for a very long time. There is so much information and conversation flying around, with business execs and decision-makers feeling that they need to be certain about all the answers and all the evidence before making a change. Instead, Paige suggests we should “be comfortable with being uncomfortable and moving forward into an unknown space.”

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