At this time of Brexit, it is hard to talk about what is happening in the UK. We do not intend to get into the logic that has led to this situation. We think that maybe insufficient attention was paid to the sense of “abandonment” felt by many who live in rural areas of the UK. Yet there are organizations operating there that are in the forefront of a new model of rural society that is respectful of the environment and of healthy food production. One of these is the Soil Association which we have written about in previous Newsletters.
The SA is perhaps the foremost non-governmental organization in the UK that is promoting healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and soil use. In addition, through their system of Soil Association Certification, they assess and certify farms and businesses that comply with organic standards. The Soil Association also runs the Food for Life Catering mark. This is a guarantee scheme for restaurants and caterers who can use it to source healthy foodstuffs that are freshly prepared and from sustainable sources.
With the aim of guaranteeing “Good food for all”, the Soil Association is working on several fascinating projects: the Sustainable food cities network brings together public, private and third sector organizations and local communities within cities to improve their local food systems; their network of Hospital Leaders brings together hospitals that work actively to improve their food; with community-supported farming they are creating partnerships between farmers and local communities, leading to mutual advantages and connecting people to the land where their food is grown. All of these have been brought together in their Food for Life programme which seeks to give access to healthy food for everyone.
Food for Life brings schools, nurseries, hospitals and care homes, and their surrounding communities together around the core ethos of healthy, tasty and sustainable food.
The programme aims to make good food (healthy, tasty and sustainable meals) an easy and natural choice for everyone. In this way people are reconnected with the provenance of their food, with how it is produced and eventually cooked. Schools, nurseries, hospitals and care homes are the main targets of the programme. Understanding and competence are created through a “global approach” that brings in children, parents, staff, patients and visitors, catering staff and so on. Understanding and awareness are created in order to transform the current approach to food so as to reconnect it to healthy and sustainable attitudes for people, the environment and the soil.
The network that is formed remains open and allows all those operating in the public structures named above to easily become engaged through contacts that the Soil Association can provide throughout the UK. Each of the categories (schools, nurseries, hospitals, care homes) receives complete support in carrying out the programme which respects local priorities for health and wellbeing. To this end the programme collaborates closely with those running the institutions.
We find the Soil Association’s programme brilliant and appealing. Its impact is both direct (thousands of meals consumed every day in the institutions involved) and above all indirect: every child, student, patient and resident has relationships with their own families, relatives and friends. The message they carry is a simple one: “healthy food is possible for everyone”.