If you saw the front page of the Telegraph yesterday, you will have seen an article about food security in Britain, due to 'failing self sufficiency'.  The article makes pretty scary reading.  

But food security is not only about how much we produce.  The world as a whole currently produces enough food for everyone. Billions of people are nevertheless hungry because they cannot afford to buy food, or food supply chains fail to reach them. Increasing total food production is therefore not the immediate priority to improve the global food security situation: the issues to address are political, social and economic.

In the UK it makes sense for us to have a broad supply base – sourcing our food from different places rather than relying solely on domestic production means we have a more resilient food supply.  And some things we’ll never be able to grow here – coffee, chocolate, bananas.  And for the things we do grow here, we need to make sure we are growing them sustainably – it’s no good maximising production now if that means exhausting the soils and destroying the environment so that our ability to grow food is reduced in future.

So food security goes way beyond growing enough food (you can read more about the complex situation on this blog), but whilst I do not entirely agree with the article in the Telegraph, I do whole heartedly agree with two really really important points they made:

  1. We do need to get more from less.  Farmland is much more than a 'food factory'.  It plays an important role in protecting our precious water resources, storing carbon, adapting to climate change, and of course is a vital home for wildlife.  Earlier this year the landmark State of Nature report showed how much of our wildlife is declining, and needs more help.  So we need to get more wildlife ‘production’ out of our farmland, alongside effective food production.
  2. As consumers we should support our farmers through our shopping baskets.  A thriving rural economy is a pre-requisite for a healthy countryside.  So supporting UK farmers where we can is an important way to help that.  Ideally, we want to encourage consumers to make choices that support farmers doing the most for wildlife.  It is often hard to make a well-informed decision about that, but a good place to start is to look for marques such as Conservation Grade and Soil Association.

Another easy way to show your support for wildlife-friendly farmers is to vote in the Nature of Farming Award, our annual celebration of all farmers who give nature a home on their land.  Voting is open until 31st August – so click here to vote today.

Image courtesy of www.sxc.hu