Edible Edinburgh aims to inspire and motivate individuals, groups and businesses across the city to work together to develop new approaches to food.
The way we eat affects the city we live in. The food we grow, the way we produce and distribute it, the distance it travels and the people and businesses we buy it from all have an effect on the place we call home. Food can change the landscape of our city, strengthen our local economy, and improve the health and wellbeing of our population.
Edible Edinburgh’s strength is its partners. Our steering group includes representatives from the Council, NHS, universities and colleges, voluntary and community sector organisations and business and commercial interests. Our role is to capture, coordinate and enhance partners’ actions in support of the Edible Edinburgh vision of a city where good food is available for all, making for healthy people, thriving communities and a sustainable environment.
At Edible Edinburgh we believe the future of local food is in our hands – change will not happen without action within all sectors in the city and beyond. Our vision is of a community that can fairly access and enjoy the pleasures that good food offers and who can benefit from the food knowledge, skills and traditions that make our city what it is; building a thriving, resilient, greener, fairer and healthier Edinburgh.
We want to make Edinburgh a city where good food is available for all, making for healthy people, thriving communities and a sustainable environment.
• More fresh, healthy and sustainable food eaten.
• Fewer people living in poverty.
• Our natural environment and resources are protected and conserved with fewer emissions.
• A thriving economy with greater diversity in local food production and distribution.
• A transformed food culture with greater awareness and skills.
In July 2014 we launched our Sustainable Food City Plan which calls for action in six areas:
Health and wellbeing: Create fair and affordable access to sustainable food, ensure people can use it as part of a healthy and nutritious diet.
Land use: Grow, produce and distribute food more locally while protecting our natural resources and environment.
Environment: Use our natural resources more efficiently to minimise our ecological footprint and reduce food waste.
Buying food: Develop a thriving local food economy based on businesses and individuals buying more sustainable food.
Economy: Develop a diverse, independent food sector that offers a variety of skills, training and job opportunities.
Cultural change: Inspire, enable and support people to connect with food and the cultural traditions of eating, sharing and celebrating.
There is lots of food related activity already happening in Edinburgh, and Edible Edinburgh has taken its inspiration from, and aims to work closely with, the many people and organisations who are leading the way in delivering positive change on the ground by tackling health inequalities, food waste and food poverty, and championing sustainable food throughout our city.
The changes we want to see to our food and our city involve nothing less than a cultural shift and can only happen if individuals, families, groups, organisations and businesses work together to make our food systems more sustainable.
Recent work on food poverty
Now into our third year we launched a comprehensive sustainable food city plan in July last year and are becoming increasingly effective at highlighting key aspects of the sustainable food agenda and capturing and enhancing action by partners.
A topical example of this approach is our recent facilitating role in relation to food poverty. Edible Edinburgh has identified the recent unprecedented growth in food poverty as a major barrier to progress in taking forward the sustainable food agenda. Many of the Edible Edinburgh partners are active in responding to food poverty (e.g. the NHS Lothian representative on the Edible Edinburgh Steering group also leads on the food poverty work of the Health Inequalities Standing Group which includes networking and supporting food banks; similarly our representative from Edinburgh Community Food is instrumental in developing, supplying and supporting community food project responses to food poverty, which have a long history in the city).
There is growing unease about food banks – not least among those who are running and volunteering in the. At Edible Edinburgh we have always been clear about their limitations:
• food banks do not address the causes of food poverty. At an emergency level this is explained by the increased use of benefit sanctions, benefit levels and delays, underemployment, zero hours contracts etc.
• food banks are not a viable or sustainable response. We have been particularly concerned that proposals to use supermarket surpluses are being portrayed as ‘sustainable’ when they are the reverse – food waste needs to be tackled in its own right and at source
• food banks carry clear dangers for the future of our welfare system if they become permanent and could be part of a return to a charity rather than rights based welfare system.
In December Cllr Hinds, as chair of Edible Edinburgh, called a food poverty meeting including key Edible Edinburgh partners, our sister organisation the Glasgow Food Policy Partnership and a number of national organisations (such as the Poverty Alliance, Community Food and Health Scotland, Nourish Scotland, the Soil Association). This meeting suggested to the leaders of Glasgow and Edinburgh councils that a joint council leaders’ statement on food poverty would be a good way forward. The joint leaders’ statement was released at the end of February, to support a Scotland-wide church led conference ‘Beyond Food Banks’, and was followed by a statement from the Directors of Public Health in Edinburgh and Glasgow which emphasised the health consequences of food poverty.
Both statements received useful coverage in the Scottish press and social media.
Councillor Andrew Burns' blog
At the same time Edible Edinburgh has been pleased to see the continued development of work on food poverty across the city often supported by our partners such as Community Food and Health Scotland and the Health Inequalities Standing Group and bringing together poverty, health and sustainability elements. In recent months these have included a Food Poverty seminar organised by Pilton Community Health Project as well as a regular community meal in Pilton/Granton using produce from the Pilton and Granton community growers and Edinburgh Community Food’s work on healthy food banks.
Our challenge for the future is to continue to develop our role in coordinating action on food poverty at community and strategic level in an Edinburgh, Scottish and UK context.
Edible Edinburgh: A Sustainable Food City Plan
The Poverty Alliance
Community Food and Health Scotland
Edinburgh Community Food -
The Soil Association
Edinburgh Local Food Network
Edinburgh and Lothian Greenspace Trust
0117 314 5165
01273 431 707
020 7065 0902
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Sustainable Food Cities is
funded by the Esmée Fairbairn