Can food be a major vehicle for driving a steady state in Greater Manchester?

There is an amazing amount of wonderful work going on around sustainable food issues in Greater Manchester and a lot of exciting events in the month ahead. These  include  Feeding Manchester’s  workshop on Saturday 9th November where participants will be creating a strategy for transforming Greater Manchester into a Sustainable Food City and Food Futures Forum on 25th November: Is Manchester a Sustainable Food City?*  

So why did Steady State Manchester want to do something as well? Because there is still an awful lot to do to ensure everyone has access to healthy, safe, food from sustainable sources both now and in the future.  Food does not have the political clout it needs and we are determined to do what we can to change that. We believe food might be an excellent vehicle for driving forward steady state ideas in Greater Manchester and are promoting this in our collaborative work with Manchester City Council’s Environment and Sustainability Overview and Scrutiny sub-committee and elsewhere. So we wanted to bring interested people together to collaborate and dialogue for shared learning.

20 people spent the afternoon together on Saturday 2nd November 2013.  Two were young people (under 16) and several were over 50 and many in between.  We came from political organisations, trade unions, Climate Change Survivors, the Kindling Trust, Food Futures, the Food Ethics Council and as individuals.  Most had not been to a Steady State event before.

We had a myriad of relationships connected to food.  We all eat it, most of us buy it, some grow it and farm it, some make a living from it eg participants included a chef .  All have a passionate interest in ensuring that good, healthy, safe and sustainably produced food is available to all.  Some are most active at a grassroots level while others worked at a strategic level and some do both.

Having shared personal success stories in relation to food we watched an inspiring film of Tom Andrews from the Sustainable Food Cities talk about some of the amazing things that are going on across English Cities towards more sustainable food. (The film can be seen here;  Part 1  and part 2 ) He will also be speaking at the Food Futures event on 25th November and will be well worth hearing.  We then looked at what is happening in Greater Manchester.  The second part of the workshop involved small groups working on burning issues identified by participants.  They were:

  • Public Sector Procurement
  • Involving children and young people
  • How to build a bridge between positive experiences in the 3rd sector and mainstream political debate
  • The Food Ethics Council (FEC) and going beyond business as usual
  • Promoting food growing in under used gardens

Each group came up with suggestions of what we can do next which are written up in a report which will be available shortly.

Participants left hopeful and encouraged by the breadth of people who came and all the things that are going on that they did not know about. Tey had gained new ideas or confidence about their ideas being achievable, were more convinced that food can be a driver for economic and social change and that it needs to be higher up the political agenda.

Some wanted to go away and do grassroots work such as get growing projects off the ground in their street or Unemployed Workers Centres, and cook with teenage Mums, others wanted to work with Steady State Manchester or read our reports. Some wanted to get sustainable food discussed in their political organisations.  For Steady State core group it clarified research we want to do, questions we want to ask politicians and ways we might develop conversations with groups including businesses.

It was an afternoon well spent.  For more information, or if you would like a copy of the forthcoming report, contact ipogworkshop@gmail.com

Stop Press:  Manchester City Council’s Environment and Sustainability Overview and Scrutiny sub-committee held on 6th November agreed to work with Steady State Manchester to develop a recommendation linking poverty, food and economic development!!!!

*For more information or to book contact l.laidlaw@manchester.gov.uk

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One Response to Can food be a major vehicle for driving a steady state in Greater Manchester?

  1. Pingback: Manchester City Council passes resolution on sustainable food. | Steady State Manchester

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