Category - Forum

Save 30% off your food bill, pay less tax . . . be healthier!

scrabble-chocolateIf the average person spends 30% less on their household food bill, they’ll save money — and pay less tax and be a lot healthier.

Here’s the how and why of it:

Most of the food we buy is VAT-exempt; i.e. we don’t pay tax on it. But some ‘food’ products do carry VAT, including confectionary, most drinks including booze, biscuits and savoury snacks such as crisps . . .

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Sustainable Food for Cities? It’s a numbers game, not community food growing game

Lincolnshire_croppedWe’re facing urgent challenges with regard to sustainable food supplies, the stuff people were talking about at the Warwick Climate Forum earlier in the month.

The Sustainable Food Cities Conference I went to in Bristol last week was a stark contrast to the Warwick gathering. 

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Food Futures . . . in rehearsal at the mac

Last Friday photographer and film-maker George Rippon spent a few hours at the rehearsals for the Narrativium Project Food Futures show — this is the video trailer he made.

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The New Optimists Summer Update

FrontPage_TNO_Update_2014I did some totting up in compiling this latest Update. Over 220 people have taken part one way or t’other with The New Optimists.

As you’d expect, a fair few (over 130 and counting) are scientists. Have they had any impact? But of course. They have a book, a Kindle, 27 reports and papers (including the substantial Birmingham 2050 Scenarios Project Report), podcasts and video-interviews to their collective credit.

Plus four great spin-offs — and here they are in order of appearance:

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Elliott Review: Workshop outputs


The Elliott Review was set up by HM Government in response to the horsemeat scandal; they asked the Prof to lead it. A great choice; he’s Director of the Global Food Safety Institute as well as a top-notch molecular bioscientist.

The Prof asked us to help him and his Review team draw a case study of how a major UK city could tackle food crime for inclusion in their final Report.

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The scientists, the scenarios, the forum: What’s coming up

The November 2013 update from The New Optimists takes in everything that’s happened since the publication of the book. . . and, even more important, sets things out for what’ll be happening next.

in the immediate future, we’re recruiting rising young scientist stars in the Midlands for a series of brief video interviews over the next few months.

Know someone, perhaps a PhD or postdoc researcher doing interesting stuff? Do encourage them to get in touch with me here.

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The brilliant impact of the Birmingham 2050 Scenarios Project to date

Nearly two years ago, I wrote a blogpost about why The New Optimists Forum took food as its topic for the Birmingham 2050 Scenarios Project.

I’m pretty used to good things happening as a result of putting scientists and other well-informed people in a room together, especially if you give ’em tasty food and an important topic to bend their minds upon.

Ideas tumble out, analysis of what’s been said reveal yet more interesting stuff and then . . .  new shiny things emerge.

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Linda Hindle on tackling childhood obesity, at Birmingham Sustainability Forum

Linda Hindle‘s presentation at the Birmingham Sustainability Forum was about tackling childhood obesity – incredibly, one in four children in Birmingham are obese by the time they leave primary school.

The aims Linda discussed in her presentation include:

Adrian Morley on establishing the Food-Smart City project, at Birmingham Sustainability Forum

Adrian Morley gave a presentation at the Birmingham Sustainability Forum about the Food-Smart City Project. You can read the full presentation above – in it, Adrian talks about what a food-smart city is and the goals of the project. It aims to forge relationships between West Midlands universities in support of “economic, social and cultural well-being.”

You can read all the posts about this Birmingham Sustainability Forum event elsewhere on the blog, or read tweets from @newoptimists and @bhamfoodcouncil.

Roger Harmer on the development of a Birmingham Food Charter, at Birmingham Sustainability Forum

At the Birmingham Sustainability Forum Roger Harmer gave a presentation about the development of the Birmingham Food Charter.

The presentation covers a lot of interesting points, including the key considerations and aims which factored into its development. But the priorities are particularly worth noting:

  • teach children where food comes from, how to grow/cook food, and what healthy diet consists of
  • make sure every adult can cook a healthy meal which is quick, low-cost and tasty
  • tackle barriers to healthy eating especially for people on low incomes
  • halt childhood obesity
  • radically reduce food waste
  • encourage participation in individual and community growing projects
  • ensure institutions and businesses serve healthy food to staff and customers
  • encourage entrepreneurs to get involved in the local food industry

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