Food Summit: What Happened

Yesterday, 28 September, Nourish Scotland attended the Food Commission’s Summit. The purpose of the event was to scope ideas and ambition for the consultation on the Government’s Good Food Nation Bill.

Hundreds of delegates came together representing a cross-section of government and public bodies, academics and people with lived experience, business – including primary producers, and third sector and community organisations.

The determination in the room was profound, we had a shared vision: through this legislation Scotland can be world-leading, we have all of the resources needed for a fairer, healthier and more sustainable food system.

We didn’t always agree on the best way of achieving this vision, but the benefit of bringing together our collective experience was evident.

The day was hosted by Food Commission Co-Chairs Julie Fitzpatrick and Uel Morton. Events began with opening remarks from Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity who set the scene on the scale of the challenges and need for the need for creative thinking. Sir Kenneth Calman reminded us of Scotland’s legacy of food heroes citing John Boyd Orr’s reflections on the power of advertising from 1946.

In turn, experts on the 7 themes generated by the Commission for the day shared their reflections: on health, poverty, environment, waste, worker rights, public food, and food culture and education. This was followed by 3 sets of theme-specific break-out sessions enabling delegates to put forward their views on programmatic measures.

The final plenary presentations were from a sub-group of Commissioners on governance – creating the infrastructure for protecting and progressing the Good Food Nation priorities. Delegates deliberated over these in the final break-out session. Closing remarks came from George Burgess, Head of Food, Drink and Trade at the Scottish Government who talked about sausages. More on that another time.

To paraphrase one of the Commissioners: The Good Food Nation aspiration in its entirety is one of the most significant ambitions Scotland has set itself.

We await the Food Commission’s textured report of the day with optimistic anticipation, knowing that this will inform the consultation on the Bill. The Cabinet Secretary confirmed that he intends for the consultation to begin before the end of 2017.

Nourish Scotland has long advocated for framework legislation alongside partners in the Scottish Food Coalition. In the run up to and throughout the consultation period Nourish Scotland is supporting organisations and communities to participate through our Food Justice training events. Click through to the project page to see more.