Brilliant turn-out for the Food for a Greener Future conference!
The yearlong preparation was worth the effort on Saturday 8th February, when it became obvious that our Food for a Greener Future conference was a resounding success. With 82 tickets sold, 6 free places, another 30 free places for the wonderful volunteers (who said they would have paid to come anyway!), 11 stallholders and 7 speakers, there were 136 of us in the building. Most of the workshops were booked up well before the day.
We had a fabulous series of speakers: Jess Halliday from City University, who told us in her clear and informative keynote address exactly what that slippery term “sustainable food” means, was followed by Dan Iles from the World Development Movement, who explained the social justice issues around global food systems and introduced us to the exciting concept of Food Sovereignty. Before the absolutely delicious home-cooked, locally-sourced lunch, Duncan Williamson from WWF talked very engagingly about WWF’s projects, including the fascinating EU Livewell project, which shows that the best diets for health are also best for the environment.
Mike Small of the Fife Diet could not come at the last minute, but we were lucky enough to get psychologist Sandra Boegelein from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, who gave a most entertaining talk on how to carry through with those good intentions to eat more sustainably. Julian Cottee, of Landshare Oxford, ran a very popular workshop on Food Footprints. As well as these high-profile external speakers, we had some excellent home-grown workshop leaders: Tine Roche of the award-winning Cambridge Cookery School, ran a sell-out workshop on February Food, Marie-Ann Ha of ARU led on the scandal of Food Waste, and Ann Mitchell of the Transition Cambridge Food Group ran a practical workshop on how to make the most of meat. In addition, there were seven 5-minute flash presentations by local food producers, suppliers and community groups, as well as a talk by Dr Amita Jumiarti of ARU about the results of the dietary analysis she had undertaken of participants in Cambridge Carbon Footprint’s sustainable food challenge.
It was a wonderful day, buzzing with interest, excitement and enthusiasm. There was great interest in the stalls: COFCO’s local organic box scheme, together with Paul Robinson’s Waterland Organics; CamBake and Bread on a Bike did a roaring trade in their home-baked bread (which was also used for the fabulous lunch), as did Hodmedod’s Great British Bean stall. There were also stalls from the Transition Cambridge Food Group, Cambridge Carbon Footprint, the Liberated Feast and Food Cycle.
The day also saw the launch of Cambridge Sustainable Food City, a new alliance of over 30 different public, private and third sector organisations with a passion for promoting Cambridge as a Sustainable Food City. (The group has just been accepted as a member of the national Sustainable Food Cities Network.) Bev Sedley gave a short talk about the project, announced the launch of a consultation about the Cambridge Sustainable Food Charter (open till April 18th), and invited people and organisations to join Cambridge Sustainable Food City. Two of the final discussion groups were looking at issues the alliance will be working on in the coming months: Food Waste and Creating a Cambridge Food Hub.
The messages for the day came out loud and clear from all quarters:
• eat less meat and dairy; ‘Meat for a treat’
• eat local, seasonal vegetables, organic where possible
• enjoy cooking from scratch and avoid heavily processed food
• when importing food, buy Fair Trade where possible and think about the conditions in which that food was produced
• food that is good for our health is also good for the environment! Win-win!
The organisers, Cambridge Carbon Footprint and Transition Cambridge, are determined to build on the energy and enthusiasm of the day and will be developing the Food for a Greener Future project over the next month or two, in particular with a food challenge with a difference, so watch this space!
We can’t sign off without saying another enormous thank you to all the volunteers who worked so hard to make the day so effective and special, in particular the five volunteer cooks, Brand, Oscar, Penny, Silvia and Tehnuka, who cooked from scratch the wonderful vegetables so kindly donated by Duncan Catchpole of COFCO and the delicious Hodmedod’s black badger peas donated by Josiah Meldrum. And an equally big thank you to Elaina Roilo, the main organiser at Cambridge Carbon Footprint, who held everything together so brilliantly.