Redwood and friends attended the most recent TEDxSalon talk in London on 21 March, ‘Feeding the City’. A culinary delight for all the senses, the theme of the evening was the future of food and its relationship with London.
Several of the speakers focused on the power of food to bring people together, whether that be through street food or dining experiences. The timing of the Tedx was apt, with a significant onus on the diversity of food and nationalities that make up and influence London’s food scene. The general consensus was that Article 50 rather takes the biscuit, and with it possibly many of London’s restaurant workers and diverse food offering.
From insights into the culture and identity of food in the capital to food poverty and inequality, the other half of the evening explored the sustainability of feeding a city of London’s vast size.
Only a decade ago food banks were a rarity. Now, 17% of UK adults worry about their food supplies running out before they have enough money to buy more. Instead they often rely on the kindness of strangers to provide emergency food supplies. Martin Caraher, a Professor of food and Health Policy at the University of London, was particularly impassioned on this subject. He lamented the fact that food banks even need to exist in this country and condemned that this food support is charitable rather than a government initiative.
With this juxtaposition between haves and have nots in mind, Claire Hubbard offered an answer to the growth of sustainable food sources that could support a city of London’s size, that is continuing to expand. She works at GrowUp Urban farms, the UK’s first commercial aquaponic vertical farm – that means a warehouse of shelves stacked twelve layers high, growing salad, and irrigated by three tanks of water in which fish live. The farm aims to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture and employ locally. If this kind of food production infrastructure could be replicated large-scale on the often unfilled industrial estates around Greater London, the opportunity to feed thousands if not millions of Londoners both sustainably and independently seems suddenly much more of a possibility.
So an evening of two halves. On the one hand a wake up call to the reliance we have on food production and how close we are to going hungry. Yet on the other hand, a reminder of the incredible food that is right on our doorsteps, and a call to arms to protect it and enjoy it.