Introducing Food & Agriculture

12th November 2021

Erin LynchErin Lynch

Hi! In case you missed it, we've added Food & Agriculture as a cause area on Tythe, so you can now support two amazing and complementary initiatives in the space: The Good Food Institute & The Sustainable Food Trust.

Food, agriculture and the climate crisis are inextricably linked. The production and consumption of food and drink accounts for a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, and a quarter of all emissions globally. Food and agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation around the world, as we’ve discussed in previous blogs.

We believe that one of the most powerful ways we can individually and collectively make a difference to the climate crisis is by changing our daily habits — the food we consume, the waste we produce, the way we travel, and the energy we use to heat and power our homes.

However, our ability to make any of these changes depends hugely on the extent to which these activities are subsidised and supported by government, industry, and society. The importance of reforming the vast and complex systems behind our food is apparently still not appreciated by world leaders. In recent weeks campaigners urged Boris Johnson to ‘get food and farming on the menu at COP26’, pressuring the UK Government and the COP Presidency to 1) to promote and reward farmers for agroecological approaches to farm management 2) advocate for higher global standards in agri-food, the environment, and animal welfare, and open up UK trade talks to more parliamentary and public participation, and finally to 3) implement the recommendations offered by the ‘National Food Strategy’ which includes: mandatory reporting for large food companies, a budget guarantee for agricultural payments until at least 2029 to help farmers transition to more sustainable land use, an investment of £1 billion in innovation to create a better food system, and strengthening Government procurement rules to ensure that taxpayer money is spent on healthy and sustainable food.

All of this is quite overwhelming to think about. Even when it comes to food, most of us have little insight into the processes and people behind the food on restaurant menus and supermarket shelves. This makes it virtually impossible for the average consumer to know which food items were grown sustainably, and how to support more environmentally friendly farming practices. The same is true for larger purchasers and suppliers too.

This is where The Sustainable Food Trust comes in. They’re a UK-based organisation whose mission is to accelerate the transition to more sustainable food and farming systems on a global level. Their programmes include the Global Farm Metric (GFM), an unbiased, science-based approach to evaluating sustainability and land management that helps consumers and customers have greater clarity over the food they buy, and enables farmers to receive benefits for delivering strong environmental outcomes. Their sister initiative, True Cost Accounting, has generated significant impact across the world, as has their policy advocacy, helping push for the need to support regenerative and circular systems of production in preparation for the UK Agriculture Bill.

It’s likely that humans will continue to eat meat for a while, but to reduce global emissions, it’s important we reduce our consumption of mass-produced, factory-farmed meat. To do this, we need to both radically rethink the way we farm, as well as generate attractive, affordable, and tasty alternatives for the mass market. Plant-based burgers and lab-grown cultivated meat might be our best hope of getting there. The Good Food Institute is a world leader in the push to accelerate alternative protein innovation. GFI are a ‘highly effective’ advocate in policy and legislative advocacy and in engaging large food companies to increase plant-based options. This is important because vegetable proteins have significantly lower carbon footprints than meat and dairy; plant-based meat uses 72-99% less water, and 47-99% less land. By reducing meat consumption we can repurpose land to sequester carbon, a move that the National Food Strategy believes could have a tremendous global impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

We’re really proud to support these two organisations in their efforts to foster the conditions for a more sustainable food system and for helping make it easier for us as individuals to make more sustainable choices when it comes to the food on our tables.

Do you want to lend your support to the cause? If so, click below: