Food, Values, Fairness: How values influence the food system and life in Wales
People across Wales think that fresh, healthy food ought to be available to everyone - whatever their social status. Good food shouldn't be a luxury commodity. People also care about where their food comes from and more and more of us want to get in touch with growers and the skills involved in producing good food.
These are just a few of the findings from a new report on values in the food system jointly produced by Organic Centre Wales, Aberystwyth University and the Public Interest Research Centre, who used a series of community food events to investigate the values that people express when they talk about food.
Explaining the inspiration behind this research, Jane Powell of Organic Centre Wales said:
“Organic food is based on a vision of a healthy soil supporting a healthy society, not just food production as an economic activity. We wanted to see if people in Wales shared that view of food, and I think to some extent they do. It's not all about price, and I think people do want to see a fairer food system that is in balance with nature.”
The report draws on a body of work called Common Cause, which seeks to apply an understanding of values to strategies for inspiring social change. Values are the guiding principles which underlie attitudes and behaviour and include, for instance, broadmindedness, security, social justice and ambition. They are expressed in the language we use when talking about food – is it for instance a commodity, a pleasure, a human right or a badge of identity?
Rebecca Sanderson of PIRC said:
“Everyone shares values and society can shape these values by reinforcing particular messages. Values are not set in stone, they can be strengthened like muscles the more we engage them. This is important because we need to ensure our institutions and policies actually reflect and engage the values that people care about – otherwise we can unwittingly undermine them.”
The report also looked at Welsh Government policy and found that food could have an important role to play in grounding the agenda for sustainability in Wales.
Dr Sophie Wynne-Jones of Aberystwyth University said:
“Food will be central to implementing The Well-being of Future Generations Act. Food matters to everyone. It connects issues like poverty, well-being and environment - across different government departments. All too often we deal with these separately, but by finding connections through the values that underpin our choices and concerns we can see the bigger picture and work together more effectively.”
The report was launched on 3 June at a conference in Cardiff, where Peter Davies, the Sustainable Futures Commissioner and Jane Davidson of the University of Wales Trinity St David led a discussion on what a better food system for Wales might look like and calling for a Food Manifesto. A working group is now being set up to produce a Food manifesto for Wales.
Jane Powell, 01970 621530 or 07929 857173 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sophie Wynne-Jones, 01970 622595 or email@example.com.