Tag - Jim Parle

One touch of nature: The value of urban agriculture

Why does local food growing matter? What’s its value to a city?

How can we explain its impact? Indeed, how can we assess its impact and value to our society?

These matters are explored in One touch of nature: The value of urban agriculture, one of the Birmingham 2050 Scenarios series.

Here arguments from

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What’s going on in your GP’s brain?

The wiggly red lines on the big screen (left) are the workings of a highly trained, very experienced medical man. Jim Parle, Professor of Primary Care at Birmingham Medical School.

His head is in the MEG scanner at Aston University, and there’s a video stream of the experiment on the smaller screen.

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Growing Birmingham — the Forum’s first spin-off

At the very first New Optimists Forum meeting last November, the notion of encouraging and celebrating local food growing was aired.

And so a few weeks ago, the city parks boss Darren Share, Jim Parle and I met to talk about what we could do to celebrate the great stuff that’s already going on, and encourage much, much more. 

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Semantic web, distributed energy, Growing Birmingham . . .

There’s a diagrammatic summary of Forum activities here (includes the list of all the brilliant profs and others involved), plus the April newsletter is now out.

We’ve completed the first, divergent phase of the scenarios we’ve generating about food futures for Birmingham 2050; i.e. what we’ll be eating in here in forty-odd years’ time.

As part of the next convergent phase, we’re running three more Forum events in the next couple of months:

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New Optimists Forum: What’s happened so far

We’ve run three events: on 2nd November, on 9th February (specifically on food poverty) and on 1st March.

The outputs (recordings, transcripts from the conversations, blogposts, interviews, tweets) from these events are analysed under the guidance of Warwick Business School, and will be posted soon.

Meanwhile, here’s a one-pager summary of the impact of the New Optimists Forum: NewOptimistsForum-27thFeb2012.

Top of our impact list is that food and food issues are rising smartly up the agenda in the city. Indeed, there are more than a few intimations that food security will be part of Birmingham’s long-term strategic planning.

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A response to “They Moved Like Fish: The Birmingham Riots of August 2011”

Peter Latchford asked for responses to They Moved Like Fish, his intriguingly entitled, insightful interim report how Birmingham City Council responded to the riots of August 2011, commissioned by Council itself. The full report, with recommendations for action will be made in March 2012.

What could the New Optimists contribute? I’ve written a draft response to it: They Moved Like Fish-Draft Response by KateCooper — your comments please!

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What choices technology and planning give us with supply and consumption of food. #TNOfood

What choices does technology and community and planning give us with supply and consumption of food?

Supply and demand: Are we efficient in the way we buy food #TNOfood

Is the way food is supplied to us the problem with out market or is the way consumers shop the issue?

  • If we  take over the food market what would that look like to for supplies?
  • Supermarkets play a huge part in making food safe – they have to protect their brand.
  • If we kill off food miles by growing all our own food will kill off economies in other countries and negate the changes we’ve made for the world.
  • Could we kill off our own market place by making it too hard for companies to import food with tough quality standards about the appearance of our food?

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Limits, Choices and Affluence: Do these affect our relationship with food #TNOfood

Limits, choices and affluence. Do these affect our relationship with food?
There is not going to be enough food to feed everyone on the planet so is biotechnology the way forward?
But if  this fortifies food with vitamins and minerals due to the speed it will be produced, would that also mean we’d lose something fundamental in the process?
  • Are disposable incomes changing the way we eat? Fish and Chip suppers used to be a luxury, now it’s the norm for some.
  • Will the gap between those with disposable incomes and those without widening – and will it get wider as food prices rise?
  • Have we got a long way to go before we have civil unrest based on the cost of food? It’s already happening in other parts of the world.
  • Costs will rise, choices will be limited will this make food boring.
  • Education – there is no reason why kids should be taught the basics of cooking.
  • As out incomes have risen we’ve marginalised food as a the percentage we need to spend to eat has reduced.
  • There’s a link between Fuel Poverty and Food Poverty – if we can insulate and reduce heating costs can we improve diets.
  • Fuel shortages result in panic buying and hoarding.
  • Distribution of food is deeply linked to fuel supplies
  • If fuel supply stopped today we’d have worst case scenario 7 – 14 days before we ran out of supplies.
  • We rely more than ever on pre prepared food …
  • ….microwaves are a very energy efficient way of cooking but lack of education means people see it as a way to reheat food rather than cook it.
  • Sociable eating in foods and the ages we are introduced to food effect our eating habits.
  • Supermarkets are noticing a change in peoples shopping habits – value packs, smaller portions.
  • Have we gone through a “bonkers” stage with what we eat  – do we need 3 full meals a day and why are we obsessed with meat and 2 veg  – we used to eat beans on toast and that was a meal.
  • Economics of feeding a family play part in demand for cheaper options, we may know the impact of battery hens, food miles but we need to do what’s best for us.
  • We live in a democratic country and we have choice, but choice can be influenced through design – if there are 3 sets of stairs and one lift – people will walk – reverse the choices to 3 lifts and one set of stairs people will take the lift. Choice editing.
  • Have we been influencing peoples choice in the wrong way towards convenience?
  • Could mass unemployment change the way we prepare food as they have more time to learn how to do it?
  • But then could they afford to make the right choices for healthy eating?



How accessible is fresh food: Could planning for better communities help people eat healthier? #TNOfood

Jim Parle recapped on the idea of Food Deserts and it started a conversation with Nick Booth, Jayne Bradley, Norman Leet, Parveen Mehta, Kate Cooper, Lucy Bastin, Sandy Taylor and Jim about what else that could actually mean and what factors would contribute?

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