Birmingham Sustainability Forum: Feeding the City — locally grown food & the semantic web?
Then I went scrumping with a friend, a jam-maker and bottler extraordinaire.
Several people stopped and asked what we were picking off two trees near the old fire station in Harborne. Mirabelle plums. Delicious, more-ish things. some red, some yellow.
An unformed idea for a New Optimists Forum meeting was sparked by a surfeit of these plums last autumn. The idea was shaped when Dr Christopher Brewster spoke about the semantic web at the November 2011 meeting.
A full-fledged event about the semantic web, and how locally grown food could enter the supply chain was held on 11th June 2012 following on from a EU SmartAgrifood project meeting at Aston Business School.
There’s talk aplenty about the semantic web disrupting the food supply chain in a similar way to how Amazon has disrupted the publishing industry.
Rick Robinson of IBM, one of the participants at that New Optimists event, took me to task when he saw an early draft of my presentation for Birmingham Sustainability Forum, saying that I should’ve included something about the semantic web.
Here’s what I replied to him:
“I debated with myself whether or not to mention local food webs & technologies and decided not to. This was for two reasons:
- First, local food is such a small part of what we eat — what most people eat in the Western world. As my presentation says, in the UK, CPRE figures for the potential for local food growing is a mere 2% — they’re not known for underestimating local food growing! Indeed, the Brighton and Hove figure is a mere 0.14% of what’s consumed.
- Secondly, talk about disruption to our food supply is a very serious matter. Get the supply wrong, and people die, and die in very large numbers. Get a hint of it wrong, and there are riots and, often, massive geopolitical change. That is to say, if such a disruption is on the cards, which thankfully currently it is not, then that’s a whole new topic . . . and not part of a blogpost!I doubt many people understand what it takes to feed a population. I’m doing my utmost to get some stats and facts out in (‘scuse the pun) digestible form. Hence my most recent blogpost about Todmorden’s unwise title of their brochure — “aiming” to be self-sufficient in food by 2018.Not just no (Assam) tea, there’s be no chocolate!”