What I want for London: a healthy and sustainable food system
Last month we launched Greener London with eight other environmental organisations, a set of 20 practical actions for the next mayor that together would make London a greener, fairer and better place to live and work.
While mayoral candidates are outlining their plans for the city, we also asked people from organisations active in the capital to tell us the one thing they’d like to see for a greener London.
Today we hear from Sofia Parente, London Food Link Officer at Sustain.
- What do you like about London?
I grew up in a rural village in Portugal and moved to London ten years ago after stints in other European capitals. There is no other place I imagine myself living because of the diversity, optimism and multitude of things to do and see. It’s also a great place for my children to grow up.
- What’s the one thing you’d do to create a greener London?
I would focus on food by supporting food growing, food enterprises and encouraging better food choices, as promoted by London Food Link. I would help urban farmers and promote organic produce, sustainable fish and eating less but better meat. I would find ways to make good food more accessible and affordable; and I would ensure less food is wasted, to reduce the environmental footprint of food in the capital.
- How would it change the city?
Just imagine a city where healthy and sustainable food is the norm in schools and all around us, in the food culture and places we shop, cook and eat. More food being grown and better food being eaten would not only help to reduce the environmental impact generated by what Londoners eat but would also provide an opportunity to improve our health too.
- Why is it such a good idea?
How food is produced has impact on pollution, habitat degradation, depletion of fish stocks and climate change – as well as our health – and small changes can make a big difference. For example, meat-rich diets generate 2.5 times more emissions than vegan diets, so even a small reduction in meat consumption in public procurement contracts and other sectors could lower the city’s emissions. Another reason is waste. London households throw away 890,000 tonnes of food (of which 540,000 tonnes is perfectly avoidable), so getting this number down makes sense and it really resonates with the public.
- Where is your favourite green spot in the city?
I often walk, cycle or run along parts of the Wandle Trail, which follows the route of the River Wandle from Croydon to the Thames at Wandsworth. It crosses a heavily industrialised landscape but it offers an oasis of calm to residents. You can find a city farm, parks, a nature reserve and several allotments and growing spaces along its margins. It is green spaces like this, spread around every corner of London, that make life more bearable in our busy city.