Women in Food & Agriculture Industry Digital Festival
“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the next best time is now”
Earlier this week I attended the Women in Food & Agriculture Digital Festival, hosted online the as all such events have been in 2020. The first session which I engaged with was given by Barbara Bray entitled “How can the food and agriculture industry step up to feed the world?”
With her expertise in food safety and broad international experience, Ms. Bray outlined that now is the time to act to increase public awareness and understanding of the importance of healthy and sustainable eating. Communities, businesses and individuals all have a part to play in promoting and enforcing sustainable practices. All must engage to ensure that healthy choice is the easy choice, affordable choice and sustainable choice.
Firstly, this year has brought great challenges to the food & agricultural industry, with enforced safety controls due to the pandemic, trade tensions and global fires. However, there have also been positive development with people reconnecting with nature and buying from local stores. Entrepreneurship has aided local communities with the example of distilleries re-purposing their machinery to make hand-sanitiser.
Secondly, we must focus on improving nutritional levels. Whilst 90% in the United Kingdom have heard of the Public Health guidelines to eat 5 fruit and vegetable a day, only 30% of the public abide by this. Education plays an important role and an improvement of these levels and sustainable eating is equally the responsibility of food manufacturers and distributers to ensure that the healthy choice is the affordable choice.
Ikea provides a good example of a business seeking to focus on sustainable nutrition and sustainable food production. They have focussed on reducing the amount of saturated fat in their meals and have diversified away from red meat-based dishes.
Finally, the agri-food industry needs to be a part of the solution for a healthy lifestyle. This can be achieved by the minimisation of food waste and ensuring that animal welfare standards are upheld. I look forward to what other insight I can gain from the rest of the event!