Monday, July 16, 2018

How changing food cultures challenge agriculture

One of our leading rural studies experts, Professor Michael Winter looks at the challenges and opportunities agriculture faces from changing food cultures: Food cultures

His report considers how changing food cultures and the need for a healthier human diet might impact on agriculture in the UK. He says, 'I look at what people are eating, where and how, and I consider some of the key trends in food consumption behaviour, that clearly feed back into what UK farmers produce and where and how their products are marketed.'

The chapter on agriculture looks at the ‘fitness’ of the industry to adapt to change and examines some of the market and science-derived opportunities for farmers to diversify the food commodities and products they produce including the breeding of improved varieties of cereals and reviving ancient varieties, and increasing the production of fruit and vegetables. Key to the approach required is for Sustainable Intensification, as the way ahead for agriculture in a resource-constrained world, to bring human nutrition more fully into its orbit.

He concludes (and I agree), 'There is a need to develop a food and farming strategy for the delivery of safe, nutritious and affordable food in the UK, which will allow UK farmers to respond with confidence to the concerns and opportunities presented by civil and consumer society. There is a clear policy imperative to support farmers through the transition to post-Brexit agriculture and policy needs to be designed to ensure that a strong, competitive and food health oriented industry emerges. Agricultural policy should be more focused on health and nutrition. Nutritional security should be seen as a "public good".'

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