Food for thought at latest Todmorden U3A meeting

Chairman of U3A Todmorden with  Geoff Tansey. Photo by Roger Howard.
Chairman of U3A Todmorden with Geoff Tansey. Photo by Roger Howard.

U3A Todmorden have a challenging talk this July from Geoff Tansey which has given us much food for thought.

Geoff from Food Systems Academy gave us a thorough grounding in contemporary thinking about how the global human population can feed itself in the future.

Geoff began by asking us to consider a possible consequence of Brexit: if the pound devalues, food prices could rise exorbitantly.

So how do we provide safe, secure, sustainable, sufficient and nutritious food equitably for all? Well, we need first to acknowledge some realities.

For example, 1.6 billion people are overweight, with 300 million obese, 795 million are undernourished and 2 billion suffer from a lack of trace elements in their diet. Agricultural practices are depleting soil health and biodiversity.

Moreover, food is controlled by a very few international players such as Mars, Nestlé, Kraft and Unilever.

Their power can be illustrated by Coca Cola and McDonald’s, each of whose global expenditure exceeded the World Health Organisation’s total budget in the mid-2000s.

And when rules about intellectual property favour the three largest globalised seed companies, we can see how our control over our food resides in the hands of only a few inaccessible people.

A bleak scenario, but Geoff left us with some ideas that would change all that. We need to shift our thinking to think of ‘prosperity without growth’ that conceives of economics in ecological terms, stop expecting aubergines and strawberries in December, support local food production and eat less meat.

And, crucially, co-operation is better than competition. A challenging thought from a challenging speaker to whom we are very grateful.

Our homegrown showcase speakers in July was Jean Pearson who runs the Art Group. Jean’s operates it as a workshop for people who want to ‘do their own thing’ or, as Jean suggested, ‘take a pencil for a walk’ in the company of likeminded people.

Sometimes there are talks (on collage, for example), or someone will lead a group. For inspiration while enjoying yourself, please contact Jean if you’d like to join up.

The meeting was also our AGM which Ernie Rogan conducted with good humour and efficiency.

A detailed report is available on our website. Basically, U3A Tod is in good nick, so thank you to the committee and the convenors for helping it run so well.

Todmorden U3A’s next meeting will be held on Thursday, 17 August in the Central Methodist Church in Todmorden at 1.45.

Our speaker will be Dr Mary Holmes with a talk titled ‘Four Years, Eight Histories and a Dog!’

Our contact details are (website) www.u3atod.org.uk, (email) enquiries@u3atod.org.uk, or (phone) 01706 812015.