Regenerative confusion and the kaleidoscope of food

Various foods shown in a kaleidoscopic pattern with flowers at the centre

I went to an Exeter Food event at the university recently where Jake Fiennes spoke on ‘balancing food security and self-sufficiency for a better environment’. He shared examples of nature-friendly farming on the Holkham Estate, where he leads the conservation team. I met Jake when he was a supportive voice early in our regenerative transition …

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Is it really all about cheap food?

flat lay photography of vegetable salad on plate

I joined the Oxford Real Farming Conference online this year, and despite a slightly shambolic experience due to technical issues (the streaming went down, YouTube was there as a backup option but lots of people were in the chat asking where to go), there were some useful sessions. A playlist of all of the recorded …

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Virtually in Oxford

A room full of people at Oxford Town Hall

On Thursday and Friday this week I’ll be joining the Oxford Real Farming Conference, albeit virtually. Online tickets are still available. I had a great first experience of the conference last year, but I’m opting to save money and travel this time round. Last year’s conference was a great opportunity to see friends and heroes …

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Food systems transformation and poverty – a powerful reminder

AFN+ Network talk with Dominic Watters

This AFN Network+ talk with campaigner Dominic Watters on food insecurity is an essential watch if you’re interested in food systems transformation. It is deeply moving.

Dominic speaks candidly about his own experience as a single parent living in poverty, with food and fuel insecurity. He urges us not to include the voices of those in poverty in an ad-hoc fashion, sending them back home when we feel we’ve ticked that box, but to build sustained and sustainable relationships that value voices of that living experience.

He emphasises the difference between lived and living experience; he is living it every day.

There’s also a reminder of our interconnectedness and to avoid the othering inherent in using expressions like “our world” and “your world”.

I grew up the son of a single parent who worked hard to feed me well with scant resources. I have a little insight into the experience Dominic describes – but only a little. The situation for him and others like him is very different now, and more difficult.

The food systems transformation we need doesn’t work unless it works for everyone, yet at times talk of sustainable food has made it sound a little like an aspirational lifestyle choice. The price for much of this food and the casual assertion that we all need to pay more for our food suggests as much. Dominic and many in a similar situation to him live in food ‘deserts’ where the only shop within a reasonable distance sells expensive, poor-quality, often ultra-processed food and nothing fresh. The cost of cooking food is a factor.

Food, the quality, availability and price of it, how it is prepared, is so intrinsically linked with poverty. Food poverty doesn’t exist. It’s just poverty. But food, the way we produce, buy, prepare, share and eat it is also so central to what it means to live well, healthily and happily. Yet again for me, and seen through the lens of Dominic’s experience, the way we eat is at the centre of so many of the issues we need to fix in our world and why genuine, equitable, sustainable transformation of our food system is probably the most powerful thing we can focus on.

Read the AFN+ Network briefing on this webinar (pdf)

Six Inches of Soil

The new trailer for Six Inches of Soil, the film looking at the regenerative farming movement in the UK, is out. It looks great.

The Six Inches of Soil trailer

The UK premiere of Six Inches of Soil will be at the Oxford Real Farming Conference in January 2024. Further screenings throughout 2024 will take place on farms, in cinemas and many other venues – see the Six Inches of Soil website for screening dates and further info.