#TNOfood: final thoughts
The final exercise of the New Optimists Forum meeting on 11th June was for each person to jot down their responses to three simple questions. Here are the questions, and what they said:
- What’s the most interesting thing you’ve heard tonight?
The need for the community in Birmingham to have a strategy to feed itself in 2050.
Less availability of energy will eventually force disintermediation of food supply chains and a switch back to local, seasonal food. The only question is whether there will be managed change or a catastrophic one.
Algae is hugely energy inefficient and will not feed us.
Algae is edible – flavours – possible source for the future?
The differences between food cultures for different countries and different times.
Family-owned business takes the long-term view of profitability, unlike the major UK retailers.
That Birmingham couldn’t feed itself — wrong kind of land and not enough of it.
About deconstructing the supermarket system.
“House Bites” initiative in London.
- What’s the most important thing you’ve said tonight?
That technology can be used to achieve disintermediation.
The food sector will go like the music sector.
Alternative supply chains that retain/improve profitability and financial sustainability of UK farming and food production.
What is the right size of the elements in the food system, and what is the right place to push.
The most important innovations we require are social.
Need for joined up thinking with regards to Birmingham’s urban food projects.
That social media can empower the masses but can only be used as a tool. People have to want to change.
That urban people growing food is fun, connects us with where food comes from . . . but does not make a significant contribution to feeding the city.
Need to go back to some of the ‘old’ food supply systems.
If we do not radically change human behaviour as consumers, there is little that can be done to make big changes.
Technology will trigger a major change in food supply when it provides a richer way for consumers to engage with food using digital channels; e.g. a web browser that emits the smell of fresh food or BD printers for chocolate.
Energy is key.
- What didn’t you say tonight that you now wish you had?
Local food agenda and the misrepresentation of its importance promulgated by poorly-structured consumer surveys — bad/inaccurate information
“All of us want to make our mark, most of us make a scar.” This is far bigger and more important than any of us truly appreciate.
Joined-up thinking amongst academic/industry-led projects for the wider good.
That there is hope to change the future food system as long as people keep trying to change it. If we stop trying to answer this question, we have no hope.
That we need to do more research, and invest more in alternative energy.
How does Birmingham compare with other cities in the UK? For food, health, green credentials . . .
How can we teach a more healthy attitude to food and engagement in the food supply and food preparation in schools?
People find it very hard to imagine the world completely differently; there was a lack of imagination.
I’d like to talk more — and to listen more. There’s a lot to learn.
And on the table-cloths and other notes we collected in at the end of the evening, there are these items:
- The development of a complementary form of currency for food exchange
- The requirements analysis for a food-based IT system