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Food Sharing by Jess Acton

Food is a vital part of our lives. Nutritious and healthy food maintains, nourishes and heals us. Food is important to all cultures and the buying and eating of food can be a political act. We share food with those we love, as a ritual, at celebrations and to commiserate. It is an intrinsic part of our lives, beliefs, values, economy, culture and society.

Food also crucially links to many aspects of our environment. Our methods of food production, transportation, processing and consumption directly impact the environment. For example, a kilo of meat can require around 15,000 litres of water to produce, and 25 calories of fossil fuel energy per every 1 calorie of protein. Read more

Podcast: Food Inc; The Film And A Discussion

Food, Inc. is a film about what is happening to our food chain.  Every month, we watch a film, have some food, and discuss what we saw at the Serenity Cafe. The food we had was vegetarian curry made with organic ingredients donated by the Ragged community so we could have a community meal.  The film was about the increasingly unhealthy way our food is produced such that the methods are damaging the environment, abusing workers, and having cruel disregard for the animals.

Made by the Emmy award winning filmmaker Robert Kenner, it’s primary focus is on the United States, however this is now relevant worldwide as the companies which it examines – and the methods of production – are multinational.  These are not American problems, these are world problems.  The corporations which have come to dominate the world production of beef, pork, chicken, maize, soy, potatoes and other staples, are not rooted in any one single country – they have global reach.

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Podcast: Pete Wilkinson Co-Founder of Greenpeace Talks About His Life

I imagine that nearly everyone has heard of Greenpeace.  It is one of the most famous non-governmental organizations in the world and it is reknowned for activist protests to protect the environment.  I did not genuinely know much about the organisation until the other day a librarian at Edinburgh Central Library told me I should go along to the Edinburgh Reads event as one of the founders of Greenpeace was going to be talking.

Two reasons compelled me to go along.  One – that our librarie are very special places and should be as well used as possible, lest we lose all of them in the cull happening across the country (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jul/12/library-campaigners-1000-closures-2016); the second is that I am concerned about our environment and it is always worth finding out more about how the organisations which occupy your landscape started.

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Podcast: International Waste Management; Crises and Opportunities by David Brown

Here David Brown, Waste Development David Officer for Derbyshire County Council, gives a talk about International waste management; the crises and opportunities which are presented to us.  In an age of neo-magical thinking, the culture which has developed is wasteful – that is, we imagine things both have no cost to the environment, and that our waste just magically disappears when it is out of sight.  This is the major crises of our time as we are discovering in quick and powerful terms that the planets resources (of which the ecosystems which keep us alive are included) are finite.

David talks about his work as an environmental officer and examines how waste is managed across the world helping us to understand the complexities and also dispel some of the myths. There are lots of different perspectives taken around the idea of recycling and preserving the environment, from the idea that it is expensive and wasteful in itself, to it is too late to do anything significant about the issues which have been created, and it is too complicated as a problem for us to deal with. Read more

Sustainability in the Curriculum: University of Manchester

I was recently invited to sit in on a meeting of the Community of Practice at University of Manchester which is thinking through how to embed Sustainability across the curriculum. This area of thinking and study is massively relevant as it connects with each and every human and living thing on the planet. How we move into greater synergy with our environment and life supporting bio-systems is an emerging field which is complex and multi-disciplinary. Read more