Why Surplus food is important for feeding vulnerable people

There have been a number of arguments in the press and on social media arguing that the use of surplus food to feed food insecure people is at best only a short-term solution and at worst harmful (e.g., Caraher 2017).  I would agree that the hunger that is caused by poverty is not only not being addressed by the UK government (see Blake 2015, and a more recent update of the article published by GMPA) but in some cases is being enhanced by current government policy (e.g., a benefits system that has built in delays, draconian sanctions, programme cuts that impact on the most vulnerable). In reading the argument, however, a number of issues stand out as needing further clarification and interrogation.  Firstly, there is a lack of understanding about food surplus in terms of what it is.  Secondly, there is misconception about how food surplus becomes food for bellies as it travels through the charity sector. Thirdly, there is an overly narrow understanding of the value of surplus food both for charities and those whom they support. These issues are explored in this blog post. Continue reading

Building an Unjust Foodscape: Shifting Governance Regimes, Urban Place Making and the Making of Chinese Food as Ordinary in Hong Kong

This is the text from my recently published peer-reviewed paper in the journal Local Environment.  The paper will be part of a special issue on Food Justice edited by Agatha Herman and Mike Goodwin in the future. The e-paper is available, but behind a paywall until May 2018. I am making the text available here as per the copyright agreement, but for correct referencing please see:  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13549839.2017.1328674

DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2017.1328674

Megan Blake ORCID http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8487-8202 Continue reading

Redistributing food Surplus!

Researchers for WRAP estimate that the UK currently produces 1.9 million tonnes of waste each year from the grocery supply chain[1].  Of this, about 56% (1.1. million tonnes) can be considered avoidable food waste.  mostly because it is surpus and not yet waste.  Wrap argues that after changing processes to reduce the amount of food becoming surplus, redistribution of surplus food to people is the most desirable option for food waste prevention.  They estimate that about 18% is currently redistributed, with food from the retail sector accounting for about five percent of the total volume of redistributed food and the remainder coming from manufacturing. The WRAP report also considers that at least half of all the surplus could be considered ‘readily redistributable’,  while the rest is more challenging because of its shorter life or need for repackaging.  The aim is to increase the volume of surplus food that is redistributed by about four times the current amount (from 47,000 tonnes to 185,000 tonnes); to an equivalent of approximately 360 million meals per year by 2025.  Achieving this goal will involve a doubling of the amount of food that is redistributed from retail to consumers. One of the recommendations of the report is the development of improved guidance and partnership tools that would facilitate food redistribution. Continue reading

Food Matters and Neoliberalism: Talk Transcript for Food Matters Symposium

I recently participated in symposium that was considering waste in relation to food.  It was put on as a pre-conference event to the 2015 RGS/IBG meetings held in Exeter. The symposium, which took place on a working farm, was both fascinating and very engaging. You can find out more about the event and its participants on the web site developed by the organisers here.  I encourage you to have a look at the link as you will learn about West Town Farm and the activities of the day. My role at the symposium was to give a short talk around the issue of food waste and neoliberalism.  I chose to use an excellent food re-use project–The Real Junk Food Project–as a mechanism for focusing my questions. I am offering the text of my provocation in what follows.   Continue reading

What makes our Food Security and Food Justice MA distinctive

This autumn will be the inaugural year for the Food Security and Food Justice MA that I have been developing over the last 18 months.  The University of Sheffield has singled it out as being innovative and is using it as an example of good practice in its guidance for those wishing to start up an masters course.  To that end, there is a video of me talking about the course.  What got cut from the video was the discussion about the field course module that is a mandatory part of the course.  It is to Hong Kong and promises to be very exciting.