How far will your harvest supper travel?
This was the question that concerned Coventry Diocesan Synod when they discussed farming, pollution and animal welfare in the summer of 2006.
The following motion was passed unanimously:
“This Synod, conscious that:
1. Local farmers should be supported at a time when incomes are still falling and subsidy payments delayed;
2. Seasonal food produced locally reduces mileage travelled and therefore pollution; and
3. Animals reared for meat in this country have higher welfare standards than most imported meat.
strongly encourages all parishes when holding meals to use as much local produce as possible and requests that the Forum for Social Responsibility promote this initiative for harvest”
Parishes were provided with clear information as to why this should happen.
Local farmers should be supported because of falling incomes and the delay of subsidy payments. Farmers’ share of a basket of food staples is estimated to have fallen by 25% between 1988 and 2004. UK self-sufficiency in indigenous type food has dropped from 86.2% in 1994 to 74.2% in 2004.
Seasonal food produced locally reduces the mileage travelled and therefore pollution. If all food was consumed within 20 km of where it was produced it would save £2.1Bn in environmental and congestion charges. For example asparagus imported from Peru travels over 6,000 food miles. 37% of our food is
imported compared with 27% in 1995. At a time when we should be focussing on global security and the environment it makes sense to cut food miles and support local food.
Animals reared for meat in this country often have higher welfare standards than most imported meat. For instance British pig farmers do not use tethers and stalls in contrast to some of their foreign competitors. British beef farmers do not use veal crates, massive beef lot feeding systems, or hormone injections. All three are often used abroad. Also all meat reared and sold in this country can be traced back to the farm of origin.
There are many resources available to encourage and source the use of locally produced food:
- find your local farmers market.
- put in your post code and the site brings up details of where to buy a wide
range of produce grown locally to you.
- directory of farm shops and more.
p - gives twelve simple steps on how to reduce food miles.
m - will calculate how far your food has travelled
The test is to expand the harvest supper challenge to a complete policy of buying locally produced food for all church events. This can start from something as simple as making sure you buy British butter. A more difficult challenge might be to source all food for church meals from within a 20 mile radius. How far will your harvest supper travel this year?
Revd Barbara Clutton
Rural Life Officer, Diocese of Coventry
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