A key element of the Sustainable Food Trust’s work is addressing one of the most pressing but contentious issues of our time: what should we eat to be sustainable and healthy? We believe the answer to this question lies in linking our dietary intake to the productive capacity of sustainably managed farmland in the country in which we live.

In the United Kingdom, around half of our food is currently imported. The UK will never be 100% self-sufficient in terms of food production; some foods must be imported for legitimate reasons, such as climatic considerations. Nonetheless, in increasing our self-sufficiency by aligning the majority of our diets with what a sustainable UK food system is capable of producing, we can improve food security whilst benefitting the climate, biodiversity, animal welfare and our own health and well-being.

Farming in a sustainable way, and basing our diets on sustainably produced food, has never been so crucial. In the face of the climate and nature crises that threaten the survival of all life on the planet, we are running out of time to ensure that we no longer produce and consume cheap food that costs the Earth. Furthermore, the fragility of the UK’s food security has never been so stark as it is in the current global crisis of the coronavirus pandemic. We need to build up the resilience of our food supply so it can withstand such threats. We need to be able to better feed ourselves as a country, helping others to concentrate on feeding themselves.

Therefore, we are currently working on a study, the objective of which is to estimate the food production outcomes of a nation-wide conversion to sustainable production methods, and calculate the per capita availability of food types based on these outputs.

The approach to this desk-based research study is four-fold:

  1. We will divide the land in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland into categories according to agricultural quality, based on soil type, topographic and climatic factors.
  2. We will apply sustainable farming systems suited to each land category.
  3. We will calculate the projected annual yields from these farming systems.
  4. Finally, we will calculate the per capita ration of each food type.

We hope that the results of this report can be used as a foundation for the dietary choices we need to make in order to ensure we are not only healthy, but also sustainable. The future survival of our planet and all its remarkable forms of life, including ourselves, depends on us making these choices. Please sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear when this study is published.

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