July 10, 2012

Home-Grown Curry Tops Green Food Report

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

A new report indicates that the United Kingdom must alter its food industry to maintain sustainability and ensure affordability “at a time of soaring world population growth.”

The study, part of a new initiative called the Green Food Project, was announced today by U.K. farming minister Jim Paice and was commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

"With our increasingly hungry world, every country must place its part to produce more food and improve the environment," Paice said.

"We're not talking about Soviet-style targets but an overall approach in which the whole food chain pulls together."

Drawing from a diverse range of experts and organizations, the report´s authors stressed the results were published with the intent of triggering further debate and collaboration, rather than offering solutions.

The Green Food Project called for a reassessment of agricultural priorities, improvements in crop yields, resource efficiency, and improved wildlife protection, among other things.

Researchers divided their study into four subgroups within the food system — wheat, dairy, bread, and curry. They also studied geographical areas with the goal of considering ways to "reconcile how we will achieve our goals of improving the environment and increasing good production.”

After examining the various areas of study, the group concluded that five strategic steps could be taken to improve the U.K. food system. The first step would be to improve knowledge and technological capabilities. Second, the report emphasized the exchange of knowledge among food science, farming and environmental industries. Third, the study panel said an effort should be made to give farmers and businesses confidence that their investments will improve future outcomes. Fourth, the report cited a need to clear metrics for understanding of the economic costs and environmental risks of inaction. Finally, the panel said solutions to the many problems caused by consumption must be improved, such as the handling of waste.

Organizations, like the National Farmers Union, that were involved with the study were quick to point its importance and how it could be used to achieve the goals of sustainability and meeting increasing demands.

“Last year we made a call at our annual conference for a national Food Plan - a strategy across government and industry that moves us beyond the clichés and starts to map out who needs to do what, where and when. The Green Food Project is certainly a major step forward to achieving this,” said a statement released by NFU.

“But it's not just about government; all members of the Green Food Project will be taking responsibility for actions. For our part, we are committing to work more closely on skills, new entrants, competitiveness and environmental delivery.”

As a timely example of how food prices can affect a national dialogue, Paice came under pressure from legislators House of Commons last week asking him to intervene on behalf of dairy farmers who are doing business under the weight of skyrocketing milk prices.

Paice said he sympathizes with the nations dairy farmers and confirmed he planned to meet with industry representatives this week to hear their concerns.