Cardiff Food Charter

Posted on January 29, 2012


Last Thursday Cardiff Transition had a Show and Tell event to showcase some of the more recent projects that have come out of the movement. Steve Garrett, founder of Riverside Community Market Association, led the presentation about the Cardiff Food Charter.

One definition of a food charter can be found at the website Beyond Factory Farming “A food charter is a statement of values and principles to guide a community’s food policy…When a food charter is adopted by the local municipal council it becomes a public document to guide decision-making.”

The aim of the Cardiff Food Charter is that the council and other major institutions in the city will publicly commit to healthy, sustainable and local food. Steve and the team are looking at others in cities like Detroit, Toronto, and closer to home, Bristol and Plymouth, for inspiration. He said that one thing that has made these so successful is that local councils and large institutions like universities have been on board.apples

Plymouth, in Devon, has had a food charter for nearly a year. They now have Plymouth Food Awards given to people and businesses promoting healthy and sustainable food. Signatories to the charter include Plymouth City Council, the University of Plymouth and the Soil Association.

Steve said he has also been inspired by Incredible Edible Todmorden the local food project in West Yorkshire, the town that aims to be self sufficient in fruit and veg in less than ten years time.

Steve said he thought the major institutions in the city were ‘slow’ and risk averse. He said that although Cardiff University had some of the top thinkers in the world when it came to sustainability, as well as a sustainability policy of its own, there was an “incredible disconnect between lip service and what actually happens.”
Cardiff University has repeatedly performed badly in the People & Planet green league of UK universities. In 2011 they received a ‘fail’ and were ranked 130th for their environmental management and performance.

He said that Wales has all the right policies in place, but at the same time has a ‘healthy stadium’ with unhealthy food sold inside and outside. He also criticised council owned venues around the city for the unhealthy, burger and chips style food he said was available.

He said Cardiff Council could follow the lead of Caerphilly Council who he says have greatly increased the amount of local food they use and said that this is proof that if you want something bad enough you can solve problems in the way.

Steve had a lot of praise for the grassroots projects in the city but said that if we’re always dependent on activists and volunteers it’s hard to make sustainable food economically viable. He said the food charter and the people involved could act as the gap between activists, and the big institutions.

The food charter is currently in draft form and will be being worked on until April 3 where it will be launched as part of the Cardiff: A Sustainable Food city conference at the Glamorgan Building, King Edward VII Avenue. Take Root will be updating on this as it gets closer to the date.

The Transition movement aims to build community resilience in the face of peak oil. With a focus on sustainability, groups have formed in many villages, towns and cities where people are working together on a variety of projects around tackling economic hardships, climate change and sustainability issue, as well as bringing communities together.

Thanks to Imainjohnson7 for the photo