Wednesday, 6 January 2010
The Westminster government has today announced it's twenty year food strategy. Finally, there is recognition that we will not be able to take food for granted in the future. Since government adviser Professor John Beddington predicted a climate change-induced "perfect storm" of food shortages, water scarcity and insufficient energy resources, people have been waiting to hear how the government plans to respond.
One of the best ways to prepare ourselves for rocketing food and oil prices, which many scientists believe we will see in the near future as a result of peak oil, is to enable as many people as possible to grow their own food. There are long waiting lists for allotments in all areas of Wales. Whatever demand is there should be encouraged.
I welcome any moves to increase the land available for food production, and I know that Plaid's Rural Affairs Minister in Wales, Elin Jones is looking at ways to increase the availability of land for allotments and community gardens. I also welcome today's indications from Westminster that the government also wants less food waste, more food bought in season and for people to buy sustainably-farmed food. It would be useful to have tight timescales and targets for these aspirations, but we also need to go much further and faster in terms of reducing food imports and tackling a wasteful food/supermarket culture. This strategy is a good start, but food price problems could hit us quickly and without warning, as some countries saw in 2008 with horrendous consequences. Surely it makes sense for governments to help and enable communities on as small a scale as possible to build up their own resiliance to cope with a potential food or fuel crisis.