Discarded packed lunches galore at City Hall next Monday as it plays host to a World Food Day conference and journalists find out exactly how unethical their food is. World Food Day is actually 16th October but its shelf life has been extended by nefarious means to allow the London conference to take place a day later.
Why 16th October? It was the day the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations was founded in 1945. This year's theme is 'Agriculture and intercultural dialogue' which:
recalls the contribution of different cultures to world agriculture and argues that sincere intercultural dialogue is a precondition for progress against hunger and environmental degradation.
The full text of the FAO's Director General message is a little obtuse, but for us in Britain, it basically means it's about time we started to realise that food comes from somewhere, sometimes ridiculously far away when you could be buying local, and that real people farm and produce it for no great reward, with long-term effects on communities and the environment.
Your average Londonist reader, we imagine, is a pretty sophisticated and aware sort and knows all of this, but it seems food hacks here need a bit more education. The London conference's
primary aim... is to increase awareness amongst leading UK food journalists of the social, environmental and welfare issues that lie behind the food chain from plough to plate. This will include a focus on the positive impact of existing demand for locally-produced, healthy food that provides livelihoods and living landscapes, and the potential for consumers to demand and achieve changes in the food system.
Seems like they've given up trying to convince the politicians and decided to go to the messengers which, to be fair, is not necessarily a bad approach. To appeal to the journalist mind, each conference "focuses on a particular kind of hidden story from the food chain, which our food might tell us if it could talk..."
We suspect this means something different to the occasional lobster ventriloquist act Londonist indulges in when presented with a seafood platter.
The conference features speakers from the UK and abroad, including Sheila Dillon (presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme), Oz Clarke, Jenny Jones AM, Tim Lang, Charles Clover, Joyce D'Silva, as well as speakers from South Africa and Argentina. It is unclear whether or not they will be applying funny voices to crustaceans.
Update: unfortunately, as a member of the public, you can't just swan up and attend the conference but we'll keep you abreast of the foodie news as and when it's interesting enough for us to write about it.
Photo by 'Carobe' used under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Creative Commons licence.