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UK’s Sustainable Food Cities

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Last week, Brighton & Hove, Cardiff, Plymouth and the London Borough of Lambeth became the first places in the UK to be awarded Sustainable Food City status, recognising pioneering work promoting healthy and sustainable food.

A rapidly growing movement is mobilising people in towns and cities across the UK transforming access to affordable and sustainable food as members of the Sustainable Food Cities Network.

The taste of success

Brighton & Hove is the first city in the UK to have food growing written into planning guidelines for new residential developments and to require all Council food procurement to meet minimum health and sustainability standards.

Cardiff is improving availability of land for allotments and encouraging community growing in unusual spaces, while Lambeth has developed edible bus stops and Plymouth has created a cooperative of 30 local food producers that delivers affordable healthy and sustainable food to residents across the city.

Each of the awarded cities is an inspirational example of what motivated people can do to make healthy, sustainable and local food a defining characteristic of where they live.

Food for thought

Through partnership with local authorities, charities, businesses and community groups, cities within the Sustainable Food Cities Network are using good food as a vehicle to tackle some of biggest social, economic and environmental issues today. These vary from food poverty and obesity to the decay of our high streets, the disappearance of family farming, the loss of wildlife and the pollution of our soil, rivers, oceans and atmosphere.

The awards were presented at a two-day international Sustainable Food Cities conference hosted by Bristol, the 2015 European Green Capital, which included representatives from 70 towns and cities from across the UK and Europe.

‘Brighton & Hove’s Silver award and Cardiff, Lambeth and Plymouth’s Bronze awards recognise the extraordinary innovation and effort they have made to change attitudes and perceptions about food and create a more sustainable food system.

‘Five years ago there were only a handful of places taking a united approach to promoting healthy, local, affordable food; today there are 40 and more and more are starting the journey each month through Sustainable Food Cities. In the absence of national government action, cities are taking on the incredibly serious food challenges that face us all and creating one of the fastest growing social movements in the UK today.

‘Food is not only at the heart of some of today’s greatest challenges but is also a vital part of the solution. It will be interesting to see, in the weeks running up to the Westminster election, whether the main political parties recognise the urgency of these challenges and commit to doing what is needed to help tackle them.’

Tom Andrews, Soil Association national programme manager of Sustainable Food Cities

The Sustainable Food Cities programme is led by the Soil Association in partnership with Food Matters and Sustain. It is funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and supports cities to transform food culture. More than 50 urban areas across the UK are expected to join the Sustainable Food Cities Network by the end of the three-year programme in 2016.

Click here to find out more about the Sustainable Food Cities programme.

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