Skip to main content
Search Results

Soil Association urges Government to encourage shift to healthier & more sustainable diets

15th May 2024 - 07:00
Soil Association Certification chief executive Dominic Robinson
The Soil Association Certification joined key food and farming businesses at the Farm to Fork Summit held at Number Ten Downing Street, which brought interested parties together to discuss the challenges the industry faces.

Farmers and food supply chains have had a difficult two years as they have dealt with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and cost-of-living crisis as well as climate change with record-breaking droughts and floods.  

Soil Association Certification chief executive Dominic Robinson represented organic and nature-friendly farmers at the summit and championed the vital role of wildlife and soils in delivering food security.  

He said: “Climate change and the loss of biodiversity are the biggest threats to food security and farmers are already seeing how catastrophic drought and flooding can be for their crops, land and animals. If we want to truly secure our food supply, we need more nature-friendly and organic farming that works in harmony with wildlife. It’s clear the status quo of intensive farming is not achieving food security.  

“Today we urged ministers to help more people to eat well with more, long-term support for farmers to shift to resilient practices that protect soils and don’t rely on harmful synthetic pesticides and fertilisers. By shifting to healthy and sustainable diets – with more fruit and veg and less meat produced to better standards – studies suggest that farming with organic principles can feed our population and slash farming emissions.  

“The Government’s push to back British farmers is welcome – they must now back British wildlife and healthy diets to deliver a sustainable, secure food system in the UK.” 

The Soil Association is calling for action on diets through schools and hospitals: 

  • The Government spends £2.4 billion every year buying food – for schools, hospitals, the Armed Forces, prisons, and Government offices. This must be diverted to put more British food, produced by nature-friendly and organic farmers, onto the public plate. 
  • The UK population isn’t eating enough fruit and vegetables: only 33% of adults and 12% of 11–18-year-olds are eating their 5-a-day. The cost-of-living crisis has reduced household purchases of vegetables to their lowest level in 50 years. 
  • This is having a devastating impact on public health – an estimated 31,000 premature deaths could be averted per year in the UK if everyone ate enough fruit and vegetables. 
  • Studies show that the Soil Association Food for Life Served Here scheme, which helps caterers to serve meals that are more sustainable, local and healthier, contributes a social return on investment of £4.41 for every £1 spent. Independent evaluation of Food for Life shows that if all schools in England followed this approach, a million more children would be eating their five-a-day.    
Written by
Edward Waddell