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Decent Food for Everyone Forever

14/07/2014 13:32 BST | Updated 12/09/2014 10:59 BST

Food is one of the most important things in life, there's no denying it. So why are we so blinkered when it comes to talking about it?

We're constantly innovative and inventive when it comes to creating new and exciting ways to consume it but when it comes to creating a sustainable way of producing it, well, that creativity seems to be crushed by the prevailing policy.

In the UK, government thinking has changed little since the 1950s, when the food challenge was very different, namely: how do we produce enough of it?

The response to this dilemma was to focus on production. Agriculture intensified.

But we don't face that problem today. We live in a world of plenty, where globally we produce enough food to feed up to 14 billion people. That's more than enough to feed everyone now and in the foreseeable future.

The tragedy is we waste so much of it. More than half the food calories produced in the world are wasted; by being allowed to rot, thrown away or in the hugely inefficient practice of feeding human-edible crops to industrially reared animals.

And yet the policy response to a growing population is more of the same. Agriculture must intensify.

This approach leads us down a dead end path. We can't sustain it. The damage to the environment, to people and to the animals in industrial livestock systems is too great.

So where's the fresh thinking going to come from? My organisation Compassion in World Farming is one of 10 involved in the release of the Square Meal report. Along with the others, including the RSPB, the Food Ethics Council and the National Trust, we've kicked off a conversation about the future of our food.

Instead of focusing on the same outdated problem of how to ramp up production we're daring to think differently about food, asking others to get involved in a conversation that takes in a more relevant response than the "more production" model.

The status-quo is not good enough. We need to rethink our food system based on the challenges that face us today, not those of a very different post-war era. We need a food system that provides nutritious food for all, food produced with respect for the environment and for the animals involved; decent food for everyone forever.

I'm convinced we need to stop hyper-industrialisation which leads to a chemical assault of fertilizers on our fields and the feeding of vast amounts of human-edible grain to animals, who waste much of its nutritional value when converting it to meat and milk. We need to get animals back on the farm where they belong, instead of in factories.

I think the Square Meal report is the beginning of a conversation about our food system that could leave it profoundly changed for the better if more groups engage constructively.

I commend the report to you; see it for yourself

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