The Cornwall Diet – can Cornwall feed itself in the 21st Century?
Why the Cornwall diet?
- Reduction in carbon emissions from the reduction in food miles (25% of emissions from food in the UK is from transport and food transportation accounts for 25% or all UK road traffic)
- Better quality, fresher food – less nutrient loss from prolonged storage
- Better for local economy – more of the money spent in local outlets stays local, money spent in chain stores ‘leaks’ out of the local economy. Also more skilled jobs created.
- Increase in food security and local resilience
- Better animal welfare
- Increased awareness of food provenance
- Better for social cohesion
- Better value for money
- Better deal for farmers and local producers
- Re-skilling in traditional food preparation, including food preserving – use the wisdom of the older generation
- Less fossil fuel use if organic, low impact systems are use
Challenges of The Cornwall Diet
- Can enough food be produced to feed over half a million people?
- What about the visitors?
- Is there enough high quality agricultural land left? And how can we find out where it is – information on land use and grading hard to access.
- What about competition from other land uses – housing, roads, bio-fuels?
- Who owns the land?
- How can we find information about gardens/allotments etc?
- Will the food produced locally fulfil our dietary requirements – for carbohydrates, protein, fat, trace elements?
- Will people be willing to forgo foods such as bananas, avocados, citrus fruit?
- Can the Cornish economy afford to forgo the revenue from commercial growing for the supermarkets etc?
- Can we create the demand – change public purchasing habits away from the supermarkets to local outlets?
- Are there enough skilled agricultural workers and can others be trained in time? Numbers of people working on the land are steadily declining and the workforce is ageing. The work will become more physically demanding as fossil fuel availability diminishes.
- Can farmers be persuaded to operate in different ways eg Co-ops and Community Supported Agriculture?
- There will need to be a change in the planning system to allow for the increasing ruralisation of the workforce.
- Can we maintain biodiversity? How do we avoid destroying even more of our wildlife’s habitat?
- Are there enough facilities for processing eg mills for cereals, dairies for milk products?
Information – DEFRA, NFU, Cornwall Agriculture Council, Soil Association, Permaculture Organisation, UKCP 09 (climate change predictions), Geofutures, Agroforestry Research Trust
People – farmers, gardeners, allotment holders, ourselves, transition network
Permaculture eg Simon Fairlie’s work ‘Livestock Permaculture’
Other models eg Food Zones (www.growingcommunities.org)
Don’t forget the sea and, also, what about nut trees?
Check out what is already available in Truro eg in Archie Brown’s, Farmers’ Market, nearby farm shops.
Use existing resources eg TCN, Taste of the West.
If interested in a local bulk buying co-operative, keep a record of all food purchases for a 6 month period and then these can be set up – 6 people in each and buy from Essential, SUMA etc