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What it takes to feed the city


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Presentation to the Birmingham Sustainability Forum by Kate Cooper on 10th September 2012

Published in: Food
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What it takes to feed the city

  1. 1. BIRMINGHAM SUSTAINABILITY FORUM Feeding the City 10th September 2012 Kate Cooper #TNOfood the new optimists forum
  2. 2. Birmingham Sustainability Forum “Living in a city is the already the best of ecological options. The green thing to do.” The death of a national trust. The birth of a sitopia? The Chamberlain Files, 23rd August 2012 #TNOfood
  3. 3. Feeding the City: What’s needed? How much food does an individual need?
  4. 4. Feeding the City: What’s needed? How much food does Birmingham need? now think London, Tokyo, New York, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Mexico City, Osaka, Manila, Mumbai, Delhi, Jakarta, Lagos, Kolkata, Cairo, Los Angeles . . . 9bn in 2050
  5. 5. Feeding the City: With food grown where? Let’s assume a hectare of highly fertile, intensively farmed land can support 10 people . . . . . . and explore where it doesn’t come from United Nations FAO actual figures: ✓1960: average hectare of arable land supported 2.4 people ✓2005: average hectare of arable land supported 4.5 people
  6. 6. Feeding the City: Not from here . . . Birmingham city centre The yellow square represents 4 hectares. i.e. were it highly fertile & intensively farmed, it could support 40 people at most. 160,000+ commuters travel daily to the city centre
  7. 7. Feeding the City: Nor here . . . The Uplands Allotments, Oxhill Road The yellow square represents one hectare. Uplands Allotments are on ~15 hectares. The city has 200 hectares of allotments, plus 3.2K ha of parks and open spaces.
  8. 8. Feeding the City: Nor here . . . The WM conurbation population density ≈ 30 people on a rugby pitch West Midlands conurbation: Population: 2.3M Population density: 3,808 km2 (38.08 per hectare) Birmingham’s population: 1M Population density: 3872 people/km2 (38.72 per hectare) plus their housing & from Portrait of the West Midlands Angela Medland, ONS
  9. 9. Feeding the City: Locally grown food? What difference does eating locally grown food make? estimate that Brighton & Hove’s urban agriculture (incl allotments, gardens, parks, etc) supplies 0.14% of its needs CPRE (2012) From field to fork: The values of England’s local food webs estimate the potential for consumers across the UK to eat ‘locally’ grown food would be 2% max of our spend Dig for Victory? What happened in World War II Half of fruit and veg consumed?? 25% eggs from domestic sources?? But it was a restricted, meagre diet. Malnutrition increased despite food supplements. Rationing . . . & there were 13M fewer mouths to feed.
  10. 10. Feeding the City The Gleaners by Jean-Francois Millet, 1857
  11. 11. Feeding the City: Food from where? Just north of Wisbech . . . 5M ha of agricultural land in the UK is used for crops Cereals make up ~80% of this proteins and sugar beet 13% horticulture 4% potatoes 3% The UK imports ~40% of its food (cf 70% in 1939) Source: Defra 2012 a thought experiment . . . this Wisbech farmer decides to grow & eat all the family’s food
  12. 12. Feeding the City: Feeding the World Tim Benton: UK Champion for Global Food Security ✦ grow yields ✦ reduce impacts ✦ be smarter at making landscapes more efficient ✦ be smarter at using food: ➡buy less ➡waste less ➡eat less ✦ but it is not about being organic, buying locally produced food, or being vegetarian, but about: ➡optimising the land use to provide enough of everything according to the specialities of the place ➡and optimising our diets
  13. 13. local food growing: why bother?social & civic: conviviality . . . it’s fun . . . relatively easy . . . kids love it . . . makes the city look great . . . it’s social glue meeting obesity & other health issues: ‘magic’ happens when communities have food growing in their midst . . . a good day’s work: labour intensive . . . and horticulture is an inherently optimistic activity, often highly sociable . . . a lifetime’s activity where expertise is gifted from one to another & there are career opportunities at all levels decarbonisation: city communities using their waste to fuel their energy . . . & (maybe) growing biomass on contaminated land
  14. 14. local food growing: AND very, very very fresh fruit & veg tastes absolutely fantastic!
  15. 15. Feeding the City: What should Birmingham do? Just north of Wisbech Walsall Road Allotments, Perry Barr which landscape has greater biodiversity ?
  16. 16. Feeding the City: What should Birmingham do? ➡maximise Birmingham (& other urban areas) as a biodiversity engine for the UK ➡set up a Birmingham Food Council or Food Policy Network ➡do NOT write a food supply strategy . . . rather use a food & its supply as a lens through which to see policies and actions
  17. 17. Feeding the City: Useful info & links ➡Food Security: The Challenge of Feeding 9 billion people Godfray, Beddington et al. Science, Volume 327. 12 February 2010 ➡Foresight. The Future of Food and Farming. 2011 Final Report Government Office for Science ➡Green Food Project — Conclusions DEFRA 2012 ➡Securing Future Food Supplies to 2050: Government Response to the Committee’s 4th Report of the Session 2008-09 House of Commons Environment, Food & Rural Affairs ➡ (Tim Benton, Leeds University. UK champion for global food security) ➡ (Hillary Shaw, Harper Adams) also ➡Portrait of the West Midlands Alison Medland, ONS 2011
  18. 18. our thanks to the following organisations for their kind support the new optimists forum @newoptimists