‘Sustainable Food and Drink’ co-hosted by The Future Economy Network and Alec French Architects.
On Tuesday 26th February 2019, The Future Economy Network hosted a Sustainable Food and Drink themed Business Breakfast. The event took place at subscribers, Alec French Architect’s carbon neutral offices in Bristol, with delicious sustainably sourced food and beverages courtesy of the architectural firm.
Director of The Future Economy Network, Katherine Piper opened the event, highlighting the benefits of subscribing to the Network, sharing exciting news about The Future Economy Group’s move to their new sustainability hub, advising of their upcoming Festival of Sustainable Business and introducing new member of the team, Richard Murphy (Director of Recruitment).
This was followed by welcoming Rebecca Burgess, CEO of City to Sea; one of The Future Economy Group’s chosen charities! Rebecca explained some of the current campaigns that City to Sea are implementing (Switch the Stick, Plastic Free Periods, Unflushables) before speaking about their Refill campaign. She explained that 150 bottles per person are bought per annum in the UK despite the UK having some of the best quality tap water in the World. In order to address the plastic waste associated with buying bottled water, City to Sea have campaigned for refill schemes and there are now 140 refill schemes across the UK with 19th June being named National Refill Day!
We then welcomed recent subscribers Grow Bristol to the floor. Award-winning Grow Bristol produce high quality & ultra-local produce all-year-round and are part of a movement that is changing the way we feed our cities by introduced indoor vertical farming methods using hydroponics and controlled environment agriculture, ensuring minimal impact on the environment. Dermot O’Regan and Oscar Davidson explained that 95% of the food we eat comes from unsustainable systems. By contrast, their produce uses no pesticides, is extremely local, has no run off and is very nutritious! The Future Economy Group look forward to welcoming some of Grow Bristol’s vertical farming methods into their new sustainability hub later in the year!
Network subscribers, Bristol Fair Trade Network were then invited to speak with Chair, Elaine Ashely highlighting that sustainable food systems from further afield need to also be given consideration. She drew our attention to the impact of climate change on overseas farmers and stressed the importance of ensuring a fair food system for all food producers, particularly when some lack basic protections such as an adequate roof over their heads. Elaine discussed Bristol’s aspiration to be the first city to achieve Gold in the Sustainable Food City awards and advised that as part of this, Fair Trade will be working with businesses to supply more Fair Trade products, thereby shifting the balance of power down the supply chain.
The presentations were concluded by Tessa Hart, Business Development Manager at The Soil Association. Tessa explained that the Soil Association has 2 remits; campaigning and certification. She stressed that we are entering a state of environmental breakdown with a need for urgent policy change, particularly since industrial agriculture is responsible for a third of total greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The importance of a healthy soil cannot be underestimated, with one teaspoon of soil containing more organisms than there are people on the planet! Intensive farming leaches the soil of its nutrients, cause chemical run-off and crop resistance. Additionally, there is a rapid state of decline of world insect populations with 47% of our food containing pesticides. Alternatively, Tessa explained if all farms were to switch to organic farming methods, 1.3 million tonnes of carbon would be taken up by the soil each year which is the equivalent of taking 1 million cars off the road! Additionally, farms would be 50% more abundant with plant and wildlife! Tessa stressed that it is possible to feed people healthy food using environmentally friendly methods and cited the ‘10 Years for Agro-Ecology’ and the ‘Eat Lancet’ reports.
The event ended with some entertaining 60 second pitches, followed by lively networking over drinks, fruit and pastries. We would like to offer sincere thanks to all of our speakers and to Network subscribers, Alec French Architects for co-hosting the event. Also, a huge thank you to all attendees – we hope you found it an interesting event and came away with some useful insights/collaborations.