Blitz spirit needed to avoid an impending food crisis

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food Food security

Consumers need to rediscover the spirit of World War 2 Britain in their approach to food consumption to avoid a looming food security crisis,...

Consumers need to rediscover the spirit of World War 2 Britain in their approach to food consumption to avoid a looming food security crisis, according a leading food policy academic.

Tim Lang, professor of Food Policy at London’s City University and government advisor, will urge consumers to take more responsibility for a looming food security crisis. In a lecture at the university tomorrow evening [March 4], he will call for a shift in the focus of policy debate from one of sufficiency of supply to quality, equity and sustainability.

“Would consumers be prepared to consume differently to protect the planet and promote social justice?” Lang will ask. “In World War 2, rationing worked because people recognised the emergency circumstances and saw that rationing was broadly fair: food according to needs. Do we need an update of that ethos today?”

If consumers do not start to engage with emerging food supply constraints they will suffer “policy-making by default”. They will risk surrendering responsibility for food security to a powerful alliance of big companies and the state, Lang will argue.

Consumers barely understand our hidden reliance on fundamental factors such as oil, water and labour in providing us with fully-stocked shelves, he will tell his audience. They must understand these factors and recognise how we all need to consume differently to address these factors.

Only if consumers are fully engaged themselves, can they reasonably demand more action from governments and supply chains, he will claim. “The paradox after 60 years of consumerism is that we have all come to rely on fully stocked supermarket shelves. We have a food dependency culture.

“There is enough food to feed the world, if it was better distributed and less waste. We also know that if people alter their diets, particularly reducing meat and dairy consumption, there is enough to feed us. The crucial issue is do we have the capacity to do so?”

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