Food

8 August 2018Blog entry

A food-centred gathering at Crabapple Community in Shropshire.

Radical Bakers 2018 wasn’t very radical, unless you count learning how to do things for yourself as radical… There were a range of practical skill based workshops. We had sourdough, baking, brewing, fermenting, infusions, ointments, cold remedies, textiles, woodworking, mushrooms, foraging, a team bake-off and loads more, full programme here.

The event was well-attended and made a small profit in the first year. The people…

30 April 2018Blog entry

What is a sustainable diet? Is a vegan diet necessarily sustainable? And what's blocking moves to a more sustainable food system? Ian Sinclair investigates.

Last year public health nutritionist Dr Pamela Mason and Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at the Centre for Food Policy, City University of London, published their book Sustainable Diets: How Ecological Nutrition Can Transform Consumption and the Food System with Routledge.

After reviewing the book for Peace News, Ian…

1 April 2018Review

Routledge, 2017; 368pp; £32.99

Far from being simply a personal choice, our diet is deeply political.

As Dr Pamela Mason and professor Tim Lang explain, the spread of the standard Western diet has had devastating consequences for people and the planet. Worldwide, obesity has nearly doubled since 1980. Poor dietary patterns in rich nations have been the greatest contribution to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. ‘North America and Europe consume biological resources as though…

1 February 2017Feature

Abby Nicol joins farmers, growers & economists

At the beginning of January, I joined farmers, growers, crofters, economists, policymakers, lawyers, scientists, researchers, journalists and community activists in Oxford town hall for the eighth annual Oxford ‘Real Farming’ Conference (ORFC).

First held in 2010, the ORFC was co-founded by Ruth West and Colin Tudge. It aims to explore ‘what the world really needs, and what’s possible, and to show what really can be done’ to make our food and farming system more just. These…

1 February 2015Review

Tangent Books, 2014; 256pp; £12

Featuring a tractor ploughing up the tarmac road of a terraced street, the cover gives you the impression you’re opening a book for the next ‘back to the land’ generation. Not so.

Instead we are offered something far more encompassing: a comprehensive account of the revolutionary politics of Street Farm (SF), a collective founded by three British architect friends (Graham Caine, Peter Crump and Bruce Haggart) in the 1970s.

A visionary ensemble strongly…

21 July 2014Review

Pluto Press, 2013; 232pp; £22.99

Putting food on the table could be considered a prerequisite for revolutionary social change. ‘Grub first, then ethics’, as Brecht had it. So let’s get the grub right, at least. Which isn’t perhaps exactly what Brecht meant, but as the authors of this book recognise, ‘food has become the most prominent area in which people try to realise an alternative economy’.

The current global food system is well known for sucking value out of the social world and bottoming-out natural…

3 April 2014News

Working for european food sovereignty

At the beginning of March, over 50 people, representing 18 organisations from over a dozen European countries, met by a frozen river, in the snow-bound Norwegian town of Evenstad, to develop plans for the European arm of La Via Campesina (LVC), the international peasants’ movement.

LVC, possibly the world’s largest union, with over 200 million members in its constituent organisations, defends the rights of small, peasant, family farmers against the depredations of capitalist…

28 August 2012Review

Just World Books, 2012; 250pp; £14

In this book Rami Zurayk, professor of agriculture at the American University of Beirut, brings to light the intersections of food security, displacement and rural poverty, with the regional and global patterns of state injustice, neoliberalism, corporate control and foreign occupation.

Originally written as a series of posts for his blog (‘Land and People’), the format may challenge the reader at first.

However, what initially feels like a weakness ultimately emerges as a…

13 August 2011Feature

PN interviews the legendary co-founder of Food Not Bombs

Born in 1957, American activist Keith McHenry is one of the founding members of Food Not Bombs, a revolutionary movement that works for nonviolent social change by serving surplus food to the public that would otherwise be thrown away or go to waste. Established in 1980 by eight anti-nuclear activists in Boston, Food Not Bombs has served food to rescue workers responding to the attacks on 9/11, to survivors of hurricane Katrina and the Asian tsunami and to the tent city protestors during the…

1 July 2011News in Brief

Between 1-8 June, 12 members of Orlando Food Not Bombs, in Florida US) were arrested for feeding too many homeless people from their stall. A city ordinance forbids feeding homeless people in city parks without a permit or feeding more than 25 at a time with a permit. (Groups are only allowed two permits per year.) The police said FnB had fed more people than the permit allowed. FnB didn’t have a permit because they refuse on principle to apply for one! The penalty for violating the…

1 June 2011Review

Meat: A benign extravagance (Permanent Publications, 2010; 322pp; £19.95); The Vegetarian Myth: Food, justice and sustainability (Flashpoint Books, 2009, 312pp, pbk, £14.99); Vegan Freak: Being vegan in a non-vegan world (PM Press, 2010; 222pp; £10.99).

These books offer three very different perspectives on the exploitation of animals for food by humans: one from a land activist (Fairlie), one from an angry ex-vegan (Keith), and one written by passionate animal rights advocates (Torres and Torres).

Putting my cards as reviewer on the table, I’m philosophically an omnivore though practically a near-vegetarian; my agricultural experience is limited to growing up in Somerset and tending an under-producing allotment for 10 years; and…

1 May 2011Review

Zed Books, 2010; 182pp; £14.99

This book argues that global warming and bulging human waistlines are products of the same global problems. In Western societies, the car and the television have curtailed human physical activity to unprecedented levels, while a rampant food industry pushes more and more energy-dense foods. The developing world follows our oil-addicted lead, whether it wants to or not.

Fatness is not a personal problem: it is a political problem, as is climate change. Effective, essential action on…

1 April 2010Review

Zed, 2009; ISBN 978-1-848-133-15-0; 160pp; £12.99

Vandana Shiva has a knack of bringing together issues we often see as separate, and linking our awareness to these connections.

In Soil Not Oil she argues that the triple crisis of the title is actually a triple opportunity – in relation to industrial farming, petroleum-based fertilisers and oil-based transportation on- and off-farm.

What better and more immediate way to reduce our CO2 emissions than to change our food habits? Shiva encourages us to power down our consumption…

1 November 2009News in Brief

The number of hungry people on the planet has reached 1billion, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Since 2004, the proportion of people in the global south who are undernourished has risen from 15% to nearly 20%, because of inflation: in 47 developing countries, basic food prices are up 19% since 2007.
The world’s rich countries have cut their donations to the World Food Programme (WFP). The Observer states global food aid is now at its lowest in 20 years.

3 May 2009Comment

In 1996, three vegans, David Stringer and Jane and David Graham, veterans of the peace, anti-nuclear movements, and sometime guests at HM Prisons, decided to start the Vegan Organic Network, an organisation specifically directed to changing the current situation in agriculture, where most food that is available has been grown either using animal by-products (applying blood and bone after animals have been processed in the slaughter house) or using synthetic fertilisers.

This…