London Action Hub: soil & seeds

The London Action Hub hosted its fourth event on the 1st of April at Omved Gardens.

Protecting the diversity of our foods is vital to feeding a growing global population. Yet, we’re losing these resources every day. With a 2020 deadline, we need immediate action to safeguard the world’s biodiversity. This is urgent. Adding diversity and colour to our plates is critical for the health of people and planet– but it must also taste good. 

Group shot
@thomas_broadhead for @omvedgardens

 

With this in mind, the London Action Hub held a deep-dive on soil & seeds to explore and better understand their importance for a health people and planet. This content touched on many of the Chefs' Manifesto thematic areas: 2, 4, 7 & 8 and supports 6 of the 17 SDGs. Here are the key takeaways. 

Soil & seeds for a sustainable planet

Healthy seeds and soil are fundamental building blocks in our food system and are required for crops and food, good nutrition, farmer's livelihoods and much more. Sharing the findings of the recently released EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets, Fabrice highlighted that food is failing both health & the planet and, if we are to feed a population of 10 billion by 2050, we need to shift the way we produce and eat food to have positively impact people and planet. 

What does the EAT-Lancet report mean for chefs? Fabrice identified chefs as a key actors in bringing about this food transformation through their work, by demonstrating the possibilities of a tasty, sustainable diet. Here are a few ways chefs can deliver on the EAT-Lancet:

  • Be creative with new dishes
  • Educate consumers at a young age
  • Source ingredients carefully 
  • Support affordability & accessibility of healthy food 

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Soil 

"Everything we do has an effect on the soil, we must understand this" -- Ben, Soil Association

From Beyond GM, Pat explained outlined the main drivers of unhealthy soil: 

  1. Increased use of pesticides 
  2. Use of genetically modified crops 
  3. Climate change altering the nutrient content of our crops 

"Reliance on pesticides is a dangerous, short-term solution that undermines food security. Pesticide use starts at the seed level." - Nick, Pesticide Action Network

Additionally, pesticides not only pollute our soil and water but also drives biodiversity loss. In recent years, pesticide use in food production have decreased 50% of farmland bird species and 75% of insect abundance. 

Chefs can support healthy soil by visiting suppliers and purchasing ingredients from farms that build soil health. In this way, ingredients have the potential to, if grown poorly to drive climate change, or if sourced well, help restaurants to deliver on SDGs. Chef Anthony Myint encouraged chefs to look at how ingredients are produced and its impact on the soil, planet etc. Founder of Zero Footprint, Chef Anthony is one of the few chefs tackling climate change through carbon sequestration, showcasing how healthy soil can be a climate solution. 

Seeds

Not only is the providence of ingredients important but so is that of a seed. We need to understand where our seeds are coming from because, as Paulo remarked, everything starts with seeds. 

There are 30,000 available, edible plant species but humans only use 150 of these varieties. Food Forever 2020, an initiative elevating SDG2.5: maintaining agricultural biodiversity, highlighted their approach to this issue: 

“We are starting with chefs and working their way back to seed banks to tell the story of the importance of seeds. We’re working with farmers to source seeds and then have chefs source these ingredients.” -Cierra, Food Forever 2020

Flick through the seeds & soil content here. 

Snapshot from previous London Action Hub events: