Urban Food Governance and Translocal Assemblages in the UK

By: Helen Coulson

Collaborative food partnerships have proliferated throughout the United Kingdom (UK) over the past decade in an attempt to strategically ‘scale-up’ civil society activities to create spaces of deliberation in the form of cross-sector participatory food system governance coalitions (Moragues-Faus and Morgan 2015). In the absence of an integrated and comprehensive UK-wide national food policy, cities, towns, counties and boroughs are developing various partnerships orientated around participatory and holistic place-based food policy, contextualised by multi-scalar, however, always locally embedded and experienced socio-ecological inequities and injustices.

In this sense, urban areas are positioning themselves as key food policy actors, and strategic sites to reimagine and enact innovative governance configurations as a way to inspire a more participatory, inclusive and emancipatory politics around food (Moragues-Faus et al. 2013). Continue reading “Urban Food Governance and Translocal Assemblages in the UK”

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Harnessing the power of public money for FNS

By Brídín Carroll

As the project TRANSMANGO is coming to an end, we now focus on lessons learned. Public procurement had been selected as one of five key areas of concern and for a deeper analysis in work package 5. As public procurement relates to all goods and services purchased with public money, it is a subject particularly important for food governance (for a detailed look at this analysis see D5.2).

Public procurement accounts for a significant proportion of GDP (17% in the EU) and this has led to the recognition of public procurement’s power to affect changes towards greater sustainability. In addition, it inhabits a unique position whereby it can affect demand-side and supply-side change. It addresses the former by targeting groups which are most vulnerable to food poverty by providing nutritious food. It impacts the latter by creating new markets for smaller and often more sustainable producers Continue reading “Harnessing the power of public money for FNS”

Public catering as an effective food policy measure in Finland

By: Ville Tikka & Tiina Silvasti, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

It is surprising, how small and occasional attention public catering as a modern food policy practice ensuring food and nutrition security in Finland has attracted. After all, it is estimated that one in three Finns of working age belongs to the clientele of public or subsidized catering and, when explored from the life course perspective, everyone in Finland enjoys public meals in some phase of her/his life.

It is estimated that a third of the Finnish population use public catering services on a daily basis: Coverage of free school lunch is 100 per cent in the age group of 7-16 years and approximately half of the children below the age of seven eat for free – or to be precise, at taxpayers’ expense – in day care, kindergarten or preschool. Also upper secondary schools and vocational institutions serve free school lunches. Continue reading “Public catering as an effective food policy measure in Finland”

A food dystopia: Is Britain sleepwalking into a crisis?

Terry Marsden and Kevin Morgan, Cardiff University

Back to the future?

The historical ability for the UK state to periodically create self-inflicted harm upon its own food system seems to be raising its head again as the country triggers Article 50 to remove itself from the European Union. We should remember that the repeal of the Corn Laws in the 1840s, opening up the UK to cheap food imports (based indeed on subsidised imperial preferences to its colonies), in exchange for colonial penetration of its financial and manufacturing interests and sectors, created the conditions for a long- running agricultural and rural depression in the UK, lasting well into the 1930s. That Imperial regime of ‘free trade’ created much harm to the British food system, its rural areas, and indeed shaped a dependent food diet based upon imports from colonies and other Logo_brexit_new_size2.pngEuropean nations (like Danish  Bacon and Dutch eggs and pork). What is ironically labelled as the ‘full English’ breakfast up and down the land derives from the successful import penetration of its component parts from overseas. The decline in our food-based infrastructure was so bad that, by the onset of the 1st World War, Lloyd George had to go ‘cap in hand’ to the likes of Henry Ford to plead concessions on building his tractors on these shores in order to resolve food and rural labour shortages. Even by 1941 the national farm survey found the agricultural situation in a parlous state, even before the U-boat campaign further disrupted food supplies and led to a  period of prolonged public food rationing until 1954. Continue reading “A food dystopia: Is Britain sleepwalking into a crisis?”

Brexit: Towards building a new consensus for an Integrated Food and Rural Development Policy?

TransmangoJust as increasing calls and debates occur regarding the need for a more integrated and comprehensive Food and Agricultural policy across Europe we now have the Brexit result, which  whilst not changing the urgency for the need  to debate the shape of European policy beyond 2020, certainly adds another dimension and potential ‘opportunity space’ for such developments. Whilst specific instruments and policy programmes might indeed increasingly vary across Europe, this result does not quell the need to debate what sort of founding and common principles upon which such policies should be based.

Here I would like to set out some of the issues and reactions to the Brexit vote for the agri-food policy arena, some of which I presented and discussed at the recent UK Food Research Consortium held at City University, London in July. I also draw upon the recent policy paper we have written, entitled ‘Food Policy and Public Policy’ for the Welsh Minister for Farming and Food [1]. In addition these arguments here draw upon the research and discussions associated with the ongoing (and increasingly policy relevant) EU funded research project, TRANSMANGO [2] . Continue reading “Brexit: Towards building a new consensus for an Integrated Food and Rural Development Policy?”

Towards a Common Food Policy for the EU – a 3 year reflection led by IPES-Food

Rural Sociology Wageningen University

March 17 2016 IPES-Food (Twitter @IPESfood) launched a three-year process of reflection and research entitled: Towards a Common Food Policy for the European Union. IPES-Food will convene scientists, civil society groups, grassroots organisations and policy-makers from various governance levels in order to identify the policy tools that would be needed to deliver sustainable food systems in Europe. Kick-off meeting will be on April 17 in the European Parliament. A concept note Towards a Common Food Policy for the EU can be downloaded. Olivier De Schutter, co-chair of IPES-Food, will lead the process and explained the need for an EU food policy in an address to the European Economic and Social Committee on March 11th in a video:

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From food futures to food action – investigating the link between foresight and policy

In the face of an uncertain future, more and more people working on the challenges of future food and nutritional security are turning to foresight – a field encompassing various methods for exploring diverse future worlds that might come to be.  However, while foresight can often help think about the future, it does not necessarily provide a link with planning and actions. This link between exploring future contexts and considering future actions has to be created somehow. If foresight is used without any understanding of the best way to combine exploration and action, policy makers, researchers, leaders in the private sector and societal organizations who use it run the risk of repeating common mistakes and missing out on the full potential of foresight processes. Continue reading “From food futures to food action – investigating the link between foresight and policy”

Syria and Sustainability: Bombs, bullets and bio-diversity, let’s move beyond ‘precision’ warfare and ‘precision’ farming.

In light of current debates on climate change negotiations, but also on warfare in Syria, Terry Marsden wrote an opinion paper on moving beyond a technological ‘fix’.


The current debate about bombing again is really so tiresome. At the same time the Climate talks are starting. The overwhelming evidence shows (for well over a century), that bombing never works and creates far more problems than it resolves. It just creates an elitist movement of memorials; and it generally pleases and satisfies the politicians. But it is old-fashioned ‘fordist’ technology relying upon old -fashioned nation states. We don’t need to rehearse the arguments again here; but I would like to suggest a way of progressing a far better link between war, terror and bio-diversity. In fact reversing the order of these three words would really help.  Continue reading “Syria and Sustainability: Bombs, bullets and bio-diversity, let’s move beyond ‘precision’ warfare and ‘precision’ farming.”

Identifying main vulnerabilities and policy priorities to deliver FNS: Results from a Delphi survey with experts

What are vulnerabilities and transitions in the European food system at EU level according to international experts? This is one of the things we aim to explore in WP5 of TRANSMANGO. As part of this WP, we conducted a Delphi method, where 45 international experts participated to identify global drivers of the food system affecting EU food and nutrition security.
This method consisted of three rounds. The first round contained open-ended questions to gather as much diversity as possible. The analysis of the answers to these questions led to identify a set of drivers, vulnerabilities and policy priorities that participants ranked throughout the second round. The results of the second round were shared in the third and final round asking for reactions, comments or suggestions if any. You can read the full report here. To help us gather more information on how to prioritise drivers, vulnerabilities & policy priorities for FNS, fill in the form found at the bottom of this post. Continue reading “Identifying main vulnerabilities and policy priorities to deliver FNS: Results from a Delphi survey with experts”