In our summer interview series we are featuring a number of experts who have recently spoken at the FOOD 2030 High Level Event in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and who all have their unique view on the food systems and the transformation it needs to become future-proof. We are kicking off with Martin Caraher who was a founding member of the London Food Board and of the London 2012 Olympic Food Board. In 2012 and 2013 he was the ‘Thinker in Residence’ at Deakin University, Melbourne and the Australian Healthway’s fellow for 2008 and 2016. His recent research has included the European MDP program, food /sugar taxation schemes, a critique of the English Responsibility Deal and a review of the Australian food plan. He is particularly angered by the high level of food poverty in modern societies.
Why is your specific area of expertise important in relation to food systems transformation?
Despite the advances in the food system many of our citizens are left out of the equation and have problems accessing appropriate and healthy foods. Access to food is determined by social position & income not by the amount of food available. In Europe we have enough food but many go to bed hungry. Some parts of the food system do not always pay a living wage and many food workers are food poor.
What is the single most important issue to be addressed to make our food system future-proof?
Ensuring food workers can earn a living wage so that poverty among producers, growers and workers is addressed. In doing this we can also address the issue of rural isolation and the sustainability of rural communities. This is linked to ensuring that future food systems operate more closed loop or circular economies to ensure health and sustainability agendas are combined.
What needs to be done to make the outcomes of Research & Innovation more impactful?
We need to place equity at the heart of all processes. So all research and innovations should be (food) poverty and inequality proofed.
What can FOOD 2030 do to help you and your colleagues?
See equity as a core issue in food systems, so that the consequences of food system inequality are not picked up elsewhere e.g. in welfare and health budgets. We need more ‘true cost accounting’ so that we can see the real costs of the food system.
Describe a relevant innovative good practice related to food and nutrition security in your neighbourhood/region.
Home delivery schemes direct from the farm.
As a citizen, how are you contributing to food systems transformation?
I buy locally, support a farm box scheme and support locally owned shops. I also believe the nation state has an important part to play in controlling the excesses and ensuring the right to food is met, I campaign and advocate on this issue.
What is your preferred meal and who would you invite?
I would have a vegetarian curry with lots of dishes. I’d invite Bruce Springsteen, James Connolly (Irish patriot ), John McGahern (Irish novelist), Noël Browne (politician/doctor), Nye Bevan (responsible for the UK NHS). Why? All have something to say about poverty.