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Food for Thought: response from Peter Jackson University of Sheffield ippr Food for Thought seminar 6 December 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "Food for Thought: response from Peter Jackson University of Sheffield ippr Food for Thought seminar 6 December 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 Food for Thought: response from Peter Jackson University of Sheffield ippr Food for Thought seminar 6 December 2007

2 The working paper a thorough, systematic and thought-provoking review, living up to the mission statement (ippr north produces far-reaching policy ideas, stimulating solutions… shaped from our research [and] strong democratic engagement) a worthy sequel to IPPRs path-breaking study of the social, economic and environmental costs of food retailing and the hypermarket economy (Off our Trolleys? Raven, Lang & Dumonteil 1995).

3 My brief To focus on food cultures and consumption issues Based on my recent research on retail competition and household change (ESRC, 2001-4); commodity chains and food cultures (AHRC-ESRC, 2003-7); and current role as Director of the Changing Families, Changing Food programme (Leverhulme Trust, 2005-8).

4 The challenge: to coordinate policy on… international trade and development CAP reform (subsidies, quotas, tariffs and rural economies) land-use planning, agriculture and rural development carbon emissions (transport, packaging, waste, recycling) retail competition food safety and risk food security and inequalities public health and nutrition health and safety of farm workers animal welfare … all in a context of multi- level governance.

5 Starting point: reconnection Our central theme is reconnection. We believe the real reason why the present situation is so dysfunctional is that farming has become detached from the rest of the economy and the environment. The key objective of public policy should be to reconnect our food and farming industry: to reconnect farming with its market and the rest of the food chain; to reconnect the food chain and the countryside; and to reconnect consumers with what they eat and how it is produced Curry Commission report on Food and Farming: a sustainable future (2002).

6 Framing the question: political and moral economies Reconnecting producers and consumers along a (more- or-less linear) chain from farm to fork? Academic critique of linear chains, with arguments for more complex systems, circuits and networks The working paper argues for a focus on the food system with three key issues: sustainability (people, planet and profit), risk and food security (and inequalities) Underlying need to connect questions of political- economy (in the global agri-food business) with the moral economies of food and farming – the missing dimension in IPPRs analysis?

7 Moral economy how economic activities are influenced and structured by moral dispositions and norms, and how those norms may be compromised, over-ridden or reinforced by economic pressures (Andrew Sayer, Studies in Political Economy 2000) in relation to food, compare heroic histories of British sugar beet with selective amnesia regarding role of slavery in production of sugar cane moral questions with direct consequences for contemporary food industry (reform of EU sugar regime, food marketing and public health issues).

8 Moral economies of food and farming relevant to many of the questions raised in the report (relations between the global North and South, animal welfare, public health etc) why food is different from other sectors of public life (strongly invested with meaning; embodied identities; closely connected with notions of self, family and nation…) the meanings of food matter – they have social, political and commercial consequences.

9 Consumption cultures are socially embedded, hard to change… Scottish Diet Action Plan, ten years of concerted effort with little nutritional improvement FSA research: 67% of consumers know about 5-a-day but only 30% achieve targets food deserts where arrival of new superstores has negligible impact on diet school meals where healthy eating seen to undermine the intrinsic meanings of normal childhood; food as social camouflage in a culture of conformity (Barnardos Burger Boy report, 2004) loss of consumer trust when food arguably safer now than ever before, with big differences across Europe (Kjaernes, Harvey & Warde Trust in Food, 2006).

10 Not just barriers to change… the moral economies and social embedding of food require less didactic approaches to healthy eating (more than an information deficit) informed choice as an inadequate way of understanding consumer behaviour, an ideological not an explanatory term in context of monopolistic retail environment wider social and cultural dimensions are beginning to be recognised in contemporary policy circles e.g. in OST obesities report: policies aimed solely at individuals will be inadequate … a whole system approach is critical... together with wider cultural changes to shift societal values … [requiring] action by government, industry, communities, families and society as a whole (Tackling Obesities: Future Choices, October 2007).

11 Do we need a (UK) food policy? current lack of coordination has consequences many drivers for change: food insecurity and inequalities, recent food scares (and new threats), climate change… UKs post-productivist agricultural regime requires different response devolved authorities have taken a lead, shown whats possible (e.g. Welsh Assembly food strategy) whether to push for a unified food policy or better coordination of existing policies is a practical matter (the art of the possible) need to address the moral as well as the political economies of food and farming.

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