Report Synopsis

Broken Food Systems

Nadine Porter

The global devaluation of food in developed countries due to physical, digital and biological advances has been the catalyst for destruction of both social, cultural and economic systems and New Zealand, in the absence of an ethical humanity centred ‘whole food system’ risks the same deterioration and consequences, other first world nations are attempting to reverse.

Lack of understanding around the role of food as a connector in every facet of our lives not only diminishes the importance of food production – it further industrialises and negates the responsibilities of the process, which in turn reshapes the‘economic social, cultural and human context in which we live’.(1)

At a time when discourse and a disconnect between those on the land and those in built up areas is at unparalleled levels, questions and negative scrutiny has and will continue to be levelled at the New Zealand farming fraternity - the scapegoats and the legacy of citizens who have been progressively severed from their local food systems.

New Zealand’s dogmatic approach to talking about Agrifood products as commodities, instead of food in a sociocultural context emphasizes the lack of connection between the country’s food production and culture, and makes it vulnerable, as noted by Berno.(2)

Although this detachment continues to widen, globally, as evidenced by the author’s studies, there is a growing resonance from citizens (3) (albeit sub-consciously) of the social, symbolic and economic role that food has in their lives, leading many Governments to consider the opportunities this developing conscience might offer.

Other drivers towards a ‘whole food system’ approach include burgeoning nutritional health issues, such as Scotland is experiencing, with two thirds of adults considered obese(4), due to food insecurity and the increase in low cost nutrient poor processed foods.

Although Scotland’s first (and the United Kingdom’s first strategic food policy) National Food and Drink Policy, Recipe for Success (5), was led by the economic imperative of food and drink to the economy, the paradox between producing an abundance of fresh natural produce and having one of the poorest diet-related health records in the developed world led to a whole food human rights holistic system approach to food policy.

Becoming a Good Food Nation (Scotland's updated strategy) encompasses a wider strategy and legislation is currently being consulted and debated upon by the Scottish Government and citizens. It, like Canada and France, articulates new and visionary aspirations around food that are human rights based and is sensitive to the relationships between food, health, the environment and social justice.