Back to: What we buy, and land use, food and farming agenda
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Tim Hughes: Okay, So our final speaker of the weekend is Professor Tim Lang from City University. So over to you Tim.
Tim Lang: Hello. Hello. That's me. I've put my messages first and then I'll whizz through some slides. I've done. I've done two. Hello. My name's Tim Lang. I put my key messages first so you've got them. It's basically echoing what my colleagues have said. I think I'm here more to talk about consumption than anything else. But essentially the idea I'd like to give you is that there is a fundamental mismatch between production and consumption. And climate change is one of the key problems we've got from that. But lots of other things as well. Biodiversity, water use, culture. None of us have talked at all about social aspects. But Britain has a dreadful problem of inequalities over food. We have major, major social inequalities and so on. There are a whole number of features. Food is at the the intersection between the mismatch of production and consumption. We're producing food, we're processing it, we're selling it. I walked from Birmingham New Street to here last night and I actually stopped counting at 50 of the eating out opportunities and that was just in Birmingham New Street Station. There are about 50 outlets. There is an overproduction problem of food. If no one said that to you. There's too much food in the world, too much food in Britain, too cheap, wrong salts, too processed and just pushed at you with vast amounts of money pushed by the food industry. A £1,000,000,000 a year is spent on advertising. A £1,000,000,000 a year is spent on Avatar. You read it? Good. I've done too many slides so you can look at them later. But I was, Lorraine has been a wonderful a sheep dog of us getting us to go in places we didn't want to go. But I put this up really to show you there's been a big change in Britain. The actual figures are in 1950, about 35% of domestic expenditure went on food. Now it's about 9% including eating out about 12%. You can see that on the left, but when you start looking on the right, I'm flagging my food inequalities theme and the poor spend more of their income on food. So you've got to think in terms of climate change about not rich people like me, I'm a rich professor, but I'm poor compared to the billionaires. But the bottom 20% of the population has absolute difficulty to eat a decent diet. It's getting the wrong messages and has got all sorts of problems.#
I just want to flag that to you with that slide. I want to pursue that. If you look out where there's outpouring of messages is, this is studies that I've put in a book it's coming out next next month, which actually perish the thought I say read it, but get them to buy one and share it, but this is figures from that that I've had done especially for me by the excellent team at Cambridge University. (Inaudible). Go to Blackburn. I know anyone here from Blackburn? I know Blackburn very well. It's a depressed ex-textile town. High, high problems on every single front. It is Britain's fast food takeaway spot. Okay. Then you go to Kensington and Chelsea, I live just South of there the other side of the river, you know, it's got only 13.9 takeaways, for Blackburn, three times more. Okay. And those takeaways, by the way, are selling lots of food very cheaply, much cheaper than you can possibly cook it yourself. Okay, so it's not just nasty takeaways. Bad, cook it yourself. Sorry, good, cook it yourself message. There's a really important issue for you to look at. Britain (inaudible). I've mentioned this. Forgive this table, but you can see there we are in red, the UK, we have the highest, what we call in my world - ultra processed diets. This term ultra processing is used now by people like us in academia, to mean foods that are just produced, processed completely unnecessarily. They're processed to look like food when actually, they're just whatever is the cheapest commodity thrown together with additives and colouring and that can be sold with good branding. This is an extremely elegant study looking at 19 of the 27 member states in the European Union, I found that Britain had the highest percentage of eating ultra processed foods. We've got one of the worst diets of the rich world, by the way. And here in one slide it explains it. On the left hand side are low income countries, in the middle are middle income countries, on the right are rich countries. We're a rich country, Britain, even though we've got massive inequalities and you can't - I've gotta move camera I'm sorry - but the blue is ultra processed foods. Red is ordinary, kind of ordinary processed foods and the green is soft drinks. Basically, as countries get richer, they start eating more of this crap, if I may use a scientific term. And we do that, we do that. And we have done that for 100 years. Britain went through what we call the nutrition transition in the beginning of the 20th century and accelerated. So now it's stabilizing. There's a limit to how much rubbish food we can eat basically. So the companies that do that are now going abroad and getting the low income transition to the middle income countries. This is, it gets me out of bed actually as you can probably tell, I'm extremely angry about this. And this is what we've got to reverse. And climate change is in the middle of all of this, I'm sure some of you are nodding. If you want the boring stuff, I've spent the last four years of my life working on this, (inaudible) that came out exactly a year ago. It took us three years to do. If you need one table to look at, for me this is probably it, different foods down on the left and then you can see greenhouse gases, land use, energy use, acidification and eutrophication. That's sort of damage to water systems you get flow of excess nutrients ends up in the sea, in the rivers. So there's a very complicated ecosystems impact of how we eat, and the problem is, and I speak as an ex farmer - I'm an ex farmer - I bred pedigree wash black cattle. Okay, so I'm not someone who just thinks food comes from the air or comes from Mr Tesco. It comes from the land or the sea. The problem is, the big impacts are associated with meat and dairy. We've got to do something about that. You must come up with some suggestions how Britain can reduce what we produce, get it better and eat less of it. That's got to be part of your story and that's the data for it.#
This is from the (inaudible). Basically we concluded we've got to produce less meat, that's the red. We've got to reduce globally. This is global figures, at about 75%. But the good news, that Rosie and I, the last speaker, we're here as health people. The good news is vegetable production needs to go up 75%, fruit 50%, fruit, seeds and nuts. My granny was from Kent, I was brought up eating hazelnuts. If you look at the figures on hazelnut production in Britain it's collapsed. There are lots of good news stories and they're all about horticulture. Even though I came out of agriculture, I would say forget agriculture, it's horticulture where the good news is. I'm going to skip that. And here's why. This is the latest figures from DEFRA. Britain has a cropable land, about six million hectares. Horticulture is using precisely 165,000 acres, hectors. We do hardly any. If you notice all the slides my colleagues have presented, beautiful slides at Committee on Climate Change. Horticulture doesn't even feature in it and yet it's the good news. So you've got to come up, I urge you, that's why I'm here, to recommend more horticulture as we transition out of a climate change inducing agricultural food system.#
I'm going to drop all of that - yep you can.#
It's growing plants, growing plants, fruit veg. I'm going to skip that. Okay, I was asked by Lorraine very quickly. Where's Tim? I'm looking. I'm now answering the things she wanted me to do as well. Just bear in mind this explosion of the eating out market. Bear in mind, we've got on the right hand side, this battle that's now going on between food retailers and the fast food joints as to who feeds us. We eat all the time by the way, the British eat all the time. We've got to cut down when we eat and how much we eat. And here's this. Lorraine asked me to talk about portion size in one slide. This is the best I can do. It's actually used, only from one study from the British Heart Foundation. Just looking at the slide, how everything has got bigger. You know, you don't need any any data. It's just got bigger. Everything's got bigger, everything's got bigger. One of the things you could recommend is for everything to get smaller again. Portion size, dead easy. Food waste Lorraine asked me to talk about. Actually, this is a tricky one. We're all consumers. Mostly food waste is now us. It's we consumers when we buy it, we're not using it we're throwing it away. And that's something very clever has gone on. I work on this partly. I was the government commissioner on waste at one point. Um, retailers have basically got it. They've got everyone else to waste it, but not them. But they're the powerful people who set the contracts. Okay? So don't be seduced by this slide. Retailers look like there's no waste. That's because they get the farmers to waste it by not accepting that they'll buy it off him and then it's sold to us in massive incentives to try and buy more so then we waste it. We consumers are now wasting about 30% of the food that we buy.#
I'll end with this. I wanted to end with this. This is the Nuffield ladder of intervention. I'm trying to think what model of thinking about change. We're all asking you to consider a change. This is a very neat graphic that I've got from the Nuffield Council. But the bottom is basically you can do nothing, and the next rung up the ladder is you can just say Well, let's give them the information. Then it's their fault if they haven't done it. Actually we know that interventions work best if they go up the ladder. Laws, regulations, contracts. At the moment we've got a culture in Britain which puts the responsibility on you as the consumer without giving you any information. If we want quick change on climate change, we're gonna have to go up the Nuffield ladder. Ah, miss that. I'll end with this I think, Tim is hovering. I'll echo what Rosie did and I think was implicit in all of us. We could do a fiddle about. I sat in my study at home and just thought what would be the things that I would say to them and these are it. I think you've got to think about a really big redesign. There is a redesign thinking going on in DEFRA at the moment called the National Food Structure. Have they been told about that? They're here, okay. You're here. Um, that you need to connect into that. I think we could do an AIDs type campaign. You know, if Britain needs to change it's gotta be gotta grip with. One of your recommendations I think could be to have a massive, really seriously massive public engagement campaign. Price signals. I'm with Rosie. Prices have got to change. I was one of the people who pushed for the sugar tax and the soft drinks levy. It's working. If you change prices, people change their behaviour. I think very strongly, Rosie and I agree, we need sustainable dietary guidelines. We've got, I think, very pathetic nutrition guidelines which in the bottom left hand corner say, Oh, please eat a little bit less meat. We actually need to integrate. One of your recommendations could be better integration of climate change with nutrition and then make that the basis of all contracts. Not just hospitals, but everything. It's gotta have some teeth behind it. So sustainable dietary guidelines is a critical policy intervention. I'm stopped. That's it. I've gone.
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