Feedback believes we need a food system that can feed everyone fairly, without trashing the planet in the process. Help us push the boundaries of our future food by investigating the potential of perennial agriculture in the UK.
Our current food system is a major driver of climate change, soil depletion, freshwater depletion, and pollution of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Challenges centre on how we use land and in particular the runaway expansion of our food system onto pristine land, to fuel the widespread adoption of modern western diets, which are high in meat, dairy, sugar and crops with low nutritional value.
Beyond reducing consumption of foods like meat and dairy we also need to develop new diets which allow humanity to live healthily within our planetary boundaries. This project will explore a possibly transition away from annual to perennial crops.
To move towards a food system that nourishes both people and our planet will require significant changes to our food culture, the food economy and its governance. We are seeking to bring about these changes through a unique combination of campaigning and advocacy, citizen engagement and pilot programmes.
We expose systemic problems that have led to unsustainable use of resources within the food system. We act as a critical friend to industry and policy makers or, when more appropriate, we launch creative campaigns to achieve the changes that we seek
Annual crops currently account for roughly 85% of the human population’s food calories. However, to successfully grow annuals farmers need to use high levels of intervention to prevent competition from weeds: the soil contains 2 to 3 times more carbon than the atmosphere - disturbing the soil through ploughing results in high levels of soil carbon loss, which ends up in the atmosphere as CO2, and chemical herbicides cause nitrogen pollution.
Perennial crops, on the other hand, do not have to be replanted every year, so do not require soil disturbance through ploughing, or large quantities of herbicides. Perennials protect and improve soil carbon levels, and contribute to climate change mitigation. Examples of perennial crops which are currently commonly eaten in the UK are asparagus, tree fruits and olive oil.
Feedback would like to work with a Beyond Me team to develop our future programme of work on promoting perennial food crops as the foods of the future.