Rosie Boycott, the Mayor of London’s “food tsar” and an ambassador for this year’s Real Food Festival, insists there is more call than ever for ethical food
In a recent episode of the Archers, one of the characters said something about London food. “They couldn’t find anything to eat in London; they’d have to survive on pigeons.”
I laughed at this because, in my new job as chairman of London Food, growing food inside the city is one of our prime objectives. To that end, we recently launched a new scheme, called Capital Growth, with the aim of finding 2,012 new growing spaces in London by 2012. So far, we’ve signed up 90 new spaces and have around 300 pending.
Some of these spaces are on rooftops; some in the concrete areas between tower blocks; some are in churchyards, doctors’ surgeries and schools. What they all have in common is that they are communally run and communally managed. We see the project as more than something that simply provides a few free vegetables. It’s also a scheme which will help reconnect city-dwellers to how food grows and how it can help bind a community together.
And that’s one of the reasons why The Real Food Festival is so important to the capital. The festival’s aim is to promote the small producer, traditional techniques and food production methods that are both greener, more organic and with better standards of animal welfare – in short, ethical food that we can all be proud to eat.
Many complain that with rising food prices, ethical food is now out of their financial reach, but, actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth. A good free-range or organic chicken can be turned into four or five meals – roasts, risottos, soups.
Linked in with our work at London Food is lots of training in schools where we are encouraging kids to relearn the skill of cooking along with their parents. I’ve been amazed at how many people want to be involved.
It’s not just that we’re making the city prettier and nicer to live in, but we’re helping Londoners rediscover the joys of growing your own, which, in this credit-crunch time, goes a little way towards helping with the bills.