Revaluing Food

Revaluing Food

The rise of supermarkets, increased choice, less time in the kitchen and more processed food in our diets...

Just some of the changes in the last 50 years to effect the way we buy, cook, eat and value food.

Community groups in West London have been re-discovering the value of food, and its crucial role in our lives and in our communities. Find out more by clicking on the links below.

Why should I eat more sustainably?

Palladino HouseParents and carers at Meanwhile Gardens Play Hut came up with these great reasons for eating sustainably:

  • avoids damaging natural resources and the environment
  • respects animals
  • provides a decent wage for farmers
  • food is healthier and better quality
  • avoids being over-packaged
  • benefits local communities and their economies.

In Kensington & Chelsea residents discussed the benefits of eating fruit and veg in season for freshness and superior taste, value for money and healthy eating. And in Wandsworth, Palladino House residents (pictured) had a great time together making orange curd with Seville oranges that were in season at the time (January).

How can I eat sustainably?

A really straight-forward sustainable diet, which is good for yourself and the planet, is presented in WWF’s recent Live Well plate. It suggests eating more vegetables, fruit, nuts and pulses, less and better quality meat and dairy and sustainably managed fish. Read Sustain's principles of sustainable food for more useful hints.

Another simple way to eat more sustainably is to look out for food that meets certified standards. Which? recently undertook a really useful guide to standards. Here are some of the main ones...

Fairtrade Marine Stewardship Council Assured Food Standards  Soil Association  Leaf 

The hidden cost of food

Intensive farming and mass food production methods have led to cheaper food. We currently spend about 12% of our budget on food compared to 33% in 1957.

But not all the costs of food are seen at the checkout. For example, the price of eating fast-food does not reflect the true cost to the environment from intensive meat production and rainforest destruction. In Lambeth, The Golden Age group discussed how a poor diet also leads to problems like obesity and heart disease which puts a strain on our health and the NHS.

Organic food is one example of pricing back in the true cost by not allowing the use of certain pesticides or fertilizers (which damage the environment and reduce biodiversity) or antibiotics to be given to farm animals routinely and prohibits animal cruelty. For more information check out our What is Value blog. And remember to eat five portions of fruit or vegetables a day!

A throw-away society

MoorlandsWe buy too much, cook too much and throw away too much. A mammoth 5.3 million tonnes of avoidable food waste is thrown away in the UK each year at a cost of 12 billion pounds to us, the consumer, which could be better spent on feeding ourselves and the planet more sustainably.

Making preserves, be it chutneys, pickles or curds, is an easy and delicious way to make the most of fresh foods. When certain foods are in season they are in abundance, full of vitamins and are cheaper to buy. By making chutney or jam, like The Golden Age group making mango chutney (pictured), you can capture some of that goodness and eat it throughout the year. You can make the most of Buy One Get One Free offers or gluts of produce on your allotment or garden by following a few simple recipes. And by saving up some of those used jam jars, you have a ready-made container for your homemade loveliness.

Food for celebration and much more

Palladino House 2What is the link between food and culture and community? How has multi-cultural food enriched our lives? How is food used to celebrate special occasions? What is your favourite food and why? All these questions got the residents of Palladino House (pictured) thinking and sparking fascinating discussions.

There is a strong connection between food and emotion. Food plays a crucial part in the relationships we build with other people. Food does not just satisfy our physical selves, it can satisfy our emotional feelings too. Bringing people together around food is a powerful way to forge friendships – breaking bread together is worldwide cultural glue!

Get involved

You can also join Sustainable Lifestyles - an online community learning and sharing through collaboration to reshape our values, behaviours and lifestyles to live more sustainably.