Over the last fifteen years or so there has been a huge growth in interest in local food in cities and towns throughout the western world. A 12-month HART research project on ‘Local Food in Lincolnshire: improving access to healthy, affordable food for all’, funded by the University of Lincoln Research Infrastructure Fund, has recently been completed. The research involved extensive mapping of a range of food outlets and ‘healthy food’ schemes in the city of Lincoln, working in collaboration with colleagues in the City of Lincoln Council, Lincolnshire County Council and with a range of local organisations.
Two highly topical food-related concerns were the drivers of the project. Food waste is a particularly pressing issue within the global food security agenda, and proposed solutions involve local initiatives. Globally, the issue is huge: there is enough food waste going into landfill to feed a billion people. A third of all food produced is lost or wasted each year (50% of the world’s fruit and vegetable production); this not only wastes resources but also contributes significantly to global warming.
A further issue that stimulated our interest in local food, is health. Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease are amongst the health problems that often stem from poor diets high in animal (saturated) fats and sugars, and comprising high proportions of processed and ‘fast’ foods, sweetened and alcoholic drinks and over-large portion sizes (Public Health England, 2016, Lincolnshire County Council, 2015).
The project commenced in August 2015, with a multi-disciplinary team comprising: Prof Nigel Curry (Project Coordinator), Prof Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson (PI and Director of HART), and HART members and associates, Dr Claire Markham (full-time post-doctoral researcher), Mr Geoff Middleton and Dr Jennifer Jackson, together with Dr Sarah Chaudhary of Lincolnshire County Council.