Monday, 28 September 2009

Reflections on food (one of my favourite subjects)

I wanted to express my disappointment at the way Hove Lawns was taken over by stalls and events for Brighton Food Festival yesterday: there was little information around, and most of the food was pretty unhealthy (mostly meat based), expensive and uninspiring. OK there was some music, a bar and a stand talking about the impact of climate change on wild birds, but this was hardly likely to change anyone's attitude to food.

What could have been a wonderful showcase of Sussex food and local producers - and how a little bit of imagination is far more important than money in serving the family a tasty, healthy meal - became little more than a council-supported shopping experience.

And let's be honest: Brighton and Hove suffers from many food-related problems, but opportunities to buy stuff in central Hove just ain't one of them.

While we're talking food, here's some chilling facts, courtesy of the Brighton and Hove Food Partnership:

1. 16% of ten year olds in Brighton and Hove are obese and an additional 14% are overweight

2. On average each of us throws away £420 worth of food a year

3. Two-thirds of local traffic congestion is caused by people driving to buy food

4. More than a quarter of Brighton and Hove's 'ecological footprint' comes from food

I can't imagine the weekend's open air shopping will have made a lot of difference to any of these figures, but here's hoping (raises mug of builder's tea with soya milk to lips...)


  1. From your views, it's a great pity that you didn’t attend any of the other Brighton & Hove Food Festival events showcasing the very best of Sussex local produce. For example The Big Sussex Weekend in mid-September which amply showcased our wonderful Sussex produce; and the launch of Harvest with the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership and all the wonderful special Sussex menus offered by somke of the city's finest restaurants. Why pick on one small (but hugely successful) aspect of a month long programme of festival activities? Let's celebrate how lucky we are in Brighton & Hove... rather than winge about it.

  2. Oh dear Ben. Here you are wanting to represent us in Kemptown and you are busy posting negative ill informed comments for all the world to see.

    The Food Festival has been going for 7 years with the intent of promoting local food consumption and persuading restaurants to highlight their local food source. Look at the dramatic change over the past 7 years.

    We had a huge market a couple of weeks ago all promoting local food. Where were you?

    We had Jonathan Porritt talking about local food in our food debate. Seeing your picture in the blog I didn’t recognise you there.

    City college students cooked a tribute to Terre a Terre at City College. A vegetarian feast sold out and I don’t remember your support.

    We also organised an international food market on Hove Lawns because a festival is about celebration. We would like people to have a complete joy in food. We are about leading the discussions and not sitting on the sidelines carping.

    Roger Marlowe
    Food Festival

  3. Oh come on, Food festival and Accountant! I am passionate about Sussex and the fantastic range of excellent local vegan food produced and consumed here.

    That's why I DID attend several events showcasing the county's finest, including the Big Sussex Weekend and the launch of Harvest in Jubilee Square (unfortunately caring duties meant I had to miss the excellent Jonathan Porritt).

    I recognise the excellent work the food festival, and the Food partnership, have done to promote Sussex food production, and of course I support their work.

    But this 'blog entry wasn't about that: it was about my reflections on a particular event, and my experiences there (which weren't great).

    I am a little disappointed that you have chosen to attack my personal account of the market rather than view my comments as useful feedback from a great supporter of the Food Festival, but hey, that's the blogosphere!