Is the UK National Food Strategy the key to a healthier future?

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The UK Government National Food Strategy, led by Henry Dimbleby the founder of restaurant chain Leon, has submitted a set of recommendations to help the nation become healthier, reduce obesity and become more sustainable. Will the strategy form the foundation of a healthier future? Or do we need to look deeper at key issues that face our dysfunctional food system?

The Table Talk Podcast has spoken to the leading voices in the country to find out how we can fix our broken food system, and build a secure future and whether a UK National Food Strategy will help. In this episode we look back to conversations with Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University London’s Centre for Food Policy, Jo Churchill MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care, Chris Venables, Head of Politics, Green Alliance and Dr Michael Clark, Researcher, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford to discuss the scale of the problems the UK faces, what the government proposes to do to fix them, and whether meat and dairy consumption needs to be dramatically reduced in order to meet climate targets. Join the conversation on Table Talk.

About our guests

Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University London’s Centre for Food Policy

Tim Lang has been Professor of Food Policy at City University London’s Centre for Food Policy since 2002. He founded the Centre in 1994. After a PhD in social psychology at Leeds University, he became a hill farmer in the 1970s in the Forest of Bowland, Lancashire which shifted his attention to food policy, where it has been ever since. For years, he’s engaged in academic and public research and debate about its direction, locally to globally. His abiding interest is how policy addresses the mixed challenge of being food for the environment, health, social justice, and citizens. What is a good food system? How is ours measured and measuring up? His current research interests are (a) sustainable diets, (b) the meaning of modern food security and (c) the implications of Brexit for the food system.

Jo Churchill MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care

Jo Churchill was brought up in East Anglia and, before moving to Suffolk two years ago, lived and worked in the rural county of Lincolnshire, with her husband and four daughters. Her early career started in retail for both regional and global brands and led her into site development and the building industry. Since 1994, she has run two successful contracting companies.

In July 2016, she was elected, with joint highest nominations to join the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). 

In July 2016, she was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Rt Hon Mike Penning MP, Minister of State for Armed Forces. 

In 2017, she was appointed PPS to Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Health. 

In 2018, she was appointed to Assistant Government Whip in HM Government. 

In 2019, she was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care in HM Government.

Chris Venables, Head of Politics, Green Alliance

Chris runs Green Alliance’s Political Leadership theme. He works to build the political momentum for bold and ambitious political action on the climate and nature crises. He manages the Climate leadership programme for MPs and joint UK-focused advocacy work with business and civil society.

He previously worked in the Houses of Parliament as the campaigns and political lead for Green Party MP Caroline Lucas on environmental issues. Before that, he led the work for the global health charity Medact on social and economic justice and worked in Brussels for a foreign policy think tank. He has been involved in grassroots organising and campaigning for over a decade. He has a BA in politics from the University of York.

Dr Michael Clark, Researcher, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford

Mike’s research interests include the environmental, economic, and health impacts of food systems. He uses models to provide quantitative estimates on the current and projected impacts of the food system, as well as the potential benefits of changing the food system (e.g. by changing diets, or the rate at which yields increases).

Mike joined the Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention in August 2018, and is working on expanding the Centre’s food system model to incorporate biodiversity and economic outcomes in collaboration with the Wellcome funded projected “Livestock, Environment and People”, as well as with researchers from other departments across Oxford and international collaborators.

Mike holds a PhD in Natural Resources Science and Management from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, and studied biology and ecology at undergraduate level.

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