At the Oxford Real Farming Conference earlier this month, one of the most exciting and groundbreaking reports was released during a talk by the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission. It vindicated everything that Slow Foodies hold close to their hearts: it declared that the UK could feed itself using entirely agroecological farming practices, dispelling the long-standing perceptions from conventional academia and industries that alternative farming methods were just fanciful visions that could never be affordable or “feed the world”!  

The report is called “Farming for Change: Mapping a Route to 2030” , which aims to create a realistic model outlining how to sustainably grow enough food for the anticipated 17% increased UK population of 2050. The results are remarkable (honestly!):

–   The UK could be entirely food secure, without offshoring production or environmental impacts.

–    Agricultural greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by at least 38%, and 60% more could be offset.

–   1.2 million hectares of land could be taken out of farming.

–    Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers could be entirely removed.

–    Areas for nature (hedges, ponds etc.) on farmland could be doubled.

–   Diverse and mixed farms with more breeds, crops, enterprises and landscapes could be supported.

In order to facilitate these outcomes, our diet and farming systems need to change. Over time we will address a different domestic food need, and imagine what an entirely self-sufficient UK diet, which is sustainable environmentally, economically, socially and nutritionally, and good, clean and fair, might look like. Where will we get our sugar? Or our fats? How far removed from our current food system will we need to be? Let’s explore what our food culture might look like in 2050! 

Will Farr is a student at Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences at Pollenzo, in Italy, undertaking an MSc in Agroecology and Food Sovereignty. Born into a farming family based in the rolling hills of Northamptonshire, he is passionate about topics as wide-ranging as biocultural diversity, indigeneity and identity, rewilding and ecology, and loves badgering on about how food is the most important thing in the world!

Follow him on Instagram williamjfarr

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