Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of restaurant chain Leon, has been appointed to lead the first major review of the UK food system in nearly 75 years.
Dimbleby will investigate the entire food system, from field to fork, and consider the changes needed to ensure that it delivers not only healthy, safe and affordable food, but also restores and enhances the natural environment.
“No part of our economy matters more than food, said Dimbleby. “But there are urgent challenges with which we must grapple. Populations are growing, diet-related conditions are harming the lives of millions, and climate change is altering what our land will yield.”
In the next 12 months he will be speaking to everyone from farmers in the field to chefs in the kitchen to ensure “everyone has a say in shaping the future”.
His recommendations will result in a “trailblazing” new National Food Strategy, set to be published in 2020. And, as Footprint reported in May, there are reasons to be optimistic that he can deliver the “radical solutions” he believes are required to put the food system on a fairer, more sustainable path – not least among which is the fact that, in the shape of the School Food Plan, Dimbleby was a key architect of one of the most highly regarded and effective government food strategies of recent times.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said “the time is right for us to look afresh at our food system. Leaving the EU is a great opportunity for British farmers and food producers. But with an expanding population, the urgent threat of climate change and rising levels of diet-related disease, we face many challenges too.”
DEFRA said the National Food Strategy will build on the government’s Agriculture Bill and Fisheries Bill currently before Parliament, alongside the Industrial Strategy, the Childhood Obesity Strategy and the upcoming Environment Bill.
UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “Henry has fantastic knowledge of the hospitality sector and understands its relationship with food and the need for a dynamic and supportive food industry. We hope [his review] is the beginning of a fully integrated and joined-up strategy that supports businesses at every step of the way from farm to fork.”