Food as a political issue

I recently read this article by Harry Greenfield which tried to answer the question of why food and farming were seemingly absent from most of the political campaigns during the recent General Election in Britain. This raises a wider point of why food, something that all people need to survive and yet nearly 800 million people struggle with hunger every day, 1.2 billion living in extreme poverty, is not seen as a political issue. If politics is about a politics of equity, liberalism and democracy, a vision that most mainstream political parties in Britain would advocate, surely food is a subject that cuts to the core. Yet it is seen as a niche issue. There is a whole governmental department dedicated to the environment and food (and rural affairs – I term I dislike as it suggests it would be possible to have a department for ‘urban affairs’) and yet it is seen as a bit of a political backwater, a place where ministers can practise their field before moving on to bigger and better things. This should not be the case and as the food and environment budget dwindles our politicians are not only diminishing the ability of DEFRA to implement policy, they are diminishing the perception of the environment and food as being the important political issues that they most certainly are.

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