Ways to feed the world sustainably.
Sir Gordon Conway is Director of Agriculture for Impact and a Professor of International Development at Imperial College London.
This subject grabbed my attention, as bartlett mitchell (parent company to Inn or Out Events) is passionate about all things related to sustainability, ethical sourcing, reducing carbon footprint and environmental awareness. Also being in the food industry myself and a foodie, I am inquisitively interested, on a personal level, to learn more about a subject which ultimately affects us all.
The lecture started with the challenges and issues of malnutrition, drought, soil degradation and global warming. (I did notice daffodils still around last December-Sir Gordon mentioned that last December was the hottest and wettest December since records ever began). One major challenge is the growing consumer demands for a more western diet in emerging countries such as China and Brazil. To meet this demand, there has been an increase in the number of cows bred and therefore an increase in the amount of soya beans produced to feed them, this in turn has seen a lowering in the soil quality. The cycle repeats.
Other subjects mentioned were the issues of waste, chemicals and social issues. Such as where farmers cannot sustain their own families let alone provide for others. Education is one of the keys; conservation farming is also a very popular practice, which once implemented has been life transforming. I also learned about a fantastic plant called ‘Faidherbia,’ which gives back in so many ways. (I will let you google it). Fascinating.
How can we help?
Sir Gordon talked of simple ways which can help.
We can go meat free twice a week, just making this simple adjustment will make a huge difference to the number of livestock bring produced.
Eat ‘faux meat’. This looks tastes and smells like meat but is made of pure plant. Bill Gates talks a little about this in his blog.
Reducing food waste in developed countries is another way of tackling this issue. I loved reading about a restaurant who won their first Michelin star recently called Al’s Place in San Francisco. Owner, Aaron London, makes his frozen oils from fruit peels and rinds; he is adamant that nothing goes to waste, from pods to stems. He sees this as an opportunity to be creative with his cooking whilst being environmentally responsible, but also ensuring flavour is king. It was fascinating to see how he created this beautiful bed of salad, then thought ‘oh, I think I’ll just put some meat on the dish, then thought why not have the meat as a ‘side’ dish instead of a main? This so fits the bill with a trend which is set to grow in an ‘eat more legumes’ year.
‘Al’ as he is known, has a passionate outlook on sustainability and seeing his menu is believing!
Sir Gordon concluded by saying, ‘this is not a call to despair, only ‘a call to action’. Back at home, we have achieved quite a number of ‘actions’ which have translated to a few awards; the journey has begun and an exciting one to say the least.
Until next time…
Business Development Manager