Food Security and Sustainability

I attended Professor Tim Lang’s presentation at the Royal Society of Edinburgh last evening.

Fascinating and shocking.

I took a lot of notes and I intend to write something of my thoughts here at some point in the near future. Meantime, the real job and future engagements get in the way…

Professor Lang is enthusiastic and passionate about his topic of food security and sustainability. Far as I can tell his main beliefs include.

: Fixing food production will not help. He calls it “productionism”. We have to fix the demand side.
: It is wrong to import food into the UK
: What we eat is no longer up to us
: We must eat less to allow others to eat more
: We should grow up and not behave like Americans
: We must be “low carbon” and “healthy”

My observations (and horror):

: he does not describe the risks, e.g. “because of [this], [that] will happen, leading to …”
: he does not propose any mitigation actions directed to these risks
: he does not outline any benefits or costs
: he shows lots of “data” in graphs with psuedo scales
: while using the word frequently, he does not “elaborate” on what sustainability actually is and how it can be measured
: …

The question that popped into my head this morning upon waking that I do wish I would have asked him is:

“Professor Lang. Thank you for an enlightening lecture. As is clear, the purpose of food is to sustain the lives of people on this planet. Do you think the population of people is now optimum, and if so, why? And if not, why?”

He needs to read Matt Ridley’s recent book.

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3 Responses to Food Security and Sustainability

  1. […] 5. Musings on Interesting Things on Food Security And Sustainability […]

  2. fujirobin says:

    Well the western perspective is probably very different from an African (say) perspective I guess. How do they feel working their nuts off for a subsistence wage so that we can have french beans all year round? In fact that’s probably a good litmus test question for the whole food issue – do you think Kenyan beans in UK shops are a good thing? yes or no.

    I have seen arguments that it makes more energy sense to grow warm-weather crops like tomatoes in Spain and ship them here rather than waste energy heating UK greenhouses. And that it takes 8 calories of oil energy to produce 1 calories of food energy… loads of fascinating issues. But I think that the energy question will impact food prices for sure.

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