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Friday, 26 September 2008

John Gummer talk on the future of food and farming

To the Brudenell Hotel in Aldeburgh on a sensational September day to hear lunchtime talks from John Gummer MP (Suffolk Coastal) and former environment secretary and Professor Jules Pretty of the University of Essex on Suffolk's role in feeding a future world of changing climate. It was a very civilised occasion with about sixty people gathered in the bright restaurant of the Brudenell restaurant and we had a great lunch.

MC for the day was local mover and shaker William Kendall: farmer and serial entrepreneur - Covent Garden Soup and Green & Blacks are just two of the businesses he has transformed. He farms at Maple Farm, Kelsale.

I've uploaded some video of highlights from the talks . One of the most interesting thoughts came from Jules Pretty: as human beings we need stories to help us identify with food and stop it becoming a commodity where price is all that matters. H
e spoke eloquently about the effects of convergence and how important it is that we develop a divergent food culture. Part of this is helping consumers make a stronger association between the food we eat and where it comes from. The Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival and Food Safari are both part of an effort to bring out the unique stories behind the producers who supply us with the food we eat.

John Gummer spoke on a wide range of global issues, of their intersection with the local Suffolk food scene but on a more personal note about the opportunities for greater levels of micro food production in gardens and allotments, railing against the decision to grub up allotments in densely populated Ipswich to allow more room for housing. Surely the two can go hand in hand? A widely publicised case of east London allotments being lost to Olympic development is charted in Sam and Sam Clark’s most recent Moro East recipe book. Gummer cited the pride he now takes, and his father before him, in producing most of his own vegetables. Gummer also dismissed biodynamic production and organics as rubbish. What do you think?

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