Few issues are more divisive within the environmental world than the genetic modification of organisms (GM). For some, they are a threat to the natural world and to people’s livelihoods; to others, they are the key to a secure and equal future. This article will tackle both sides of the argument, focusing on genetic modification for food production.
What are genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?
Generally, GMOs are defined as organisms that have had their genome modified by humans via genetic engineering techniques. Broadly, GMOs can be split into two categories: cisgenic organisms, which involves the transferral of genetic material between members of the same species; or transgenic organisms, which introduces genetic material from different species. The latter are often more controversial.
Did you know the world produces enough food to feed 9 billion people? Considering there are only 7 billion people on the planet, it seems strange then that there are still 1 billion going hungry… This effect is seen at a national level too: in the UK, the average household bins £470 worth of food yearly, yet 4 million people in the UK are living in food poverty. Those that need food can’t access it, whilst it goes to waste elsewhere.
Cambridge Sustainable Food is, in a very local way, attempting to address this issue, with the launch of our new Community Fridge in September 2017. Funded by Sainsbury’s, this fridge will help to simultaneously reduce food waste whilst also providing a source of food for those who require it – and who knows, maybe it will strengthen the community spirit on the side as well!
How will it work?
Anyone can put good but unwanted food into the fridge, or take it out to take home and eat. The fridge will be monitored to make sure nothing is kept past its use-by date, and to make sure nothing inappropriate gets put in the fridge. Simply weigh the food and record the exchange, and you’re good to go! Tell all your friends – the more people that use it, the more successful it will be.
Alex Collis, known for her invaluable contribution towards FoodCycle Cambridge, has now become FoodCycle’s East of England Regional Manager! After four years’ volunteering in Cambridge (and famed for her banoffee pavlova), she has this to say about her move:
Organic food has been rising in popularity for quite a while now. Objections against applying chemicals to food have been voiced for almost a century, but it is only relatively recently that these have gained commercial traction. These concerns include the effects of conventional farming on health, the environment, or animal welfare. For these reasons and more, organic food has become preferable to many – but not all. Although many feel prohibited by price, there also exist those, even within the environmental movement, who argue that organic food is not the paragon of sustainability that it may claim to be.
Have you heard of Hodmedod’s?
Hodmedod is a local pulse and grain producer and supplier, working with British farmers to bring beans and associated products to the British market. They were founded in 2012 following the innovative ‘Great British Beans’ project, run by Provenance for East Anglia Food Link, which distributed British-grown fava beans via community groups and local shops, along with a call for feedback on the product. Response was ‘overwhelmingly positive’, leading to Hodmedod’s foundation.
And they’ve gone from strength to strength – and are now 2017 BBC Food & Farming Awards finalists in the Best Producer category!
Now that the WWII Rationing Challenge has ended, we thought it would be the perfect time to take a look at all the best bits of the challenge! There were 90 participants in total this year, with many of you sharing your thoughts, recipes and advice throughout the 4 weeks.
BY LYNDA BRYERS
Hoorah! Obviously it’s not the overwhelming celebratory hysteria of VE day or the resigned relief when rationing was finally lifted on 4th July 1954… BUT we made it to the end of the challenge!
I wish I owned a set of scales so I could have weighed myself before and after. I’ve definitely lost several pounds over the four weeks, while having pleasingly saved some pounds in my purse too. I feel more energetic and healthy, and am surprisingly not craving things I’ve had to cut out – except the egg issue of course!
The End of the WWII Rationing Challenge
BY ANN MITCHELL
We’re now at the end of the rationing challenge, and have found it much easier than anticipated!
On the whole, the rationed allowances have more than met our needs. The only exception was oil, which we would have used in preference to margarine or lard for cooking.
We have eaten well, and the fact that there is such a range of fruit and vegetables available at this time of year has helped tremendously. I have lost nearly 2 kg, probably due to less chocolate and red wine as well as the reduction in animal fat!
Keep Calm and Jam On
BY LYNDA BRYERS
We’re now well into week 2 of the challenge and still enjoying the fun of living within our rations and thinking about the source of our food. This week’s focus is on the Dig for Victory campaign, so I’ve focussed more on the fruit and veg part of our diet.
Suprisingly, we’re finding that keeping within our rations is pretty easy! We have significantly reduced the portion of meat used for some of our regular family favourites such as Spaghetti Bolognese, Cottage Pie, or even a roast chicken dinner. Our eating pattern and recipe choice hasn’t changed that much, but the meat meals are better balanced and food is stretched much further. A simple tomato Ragu makes a pasta Bolognese one night and transforms into chilli con carne the next.
BY IZZIE BRAYSHAW
When I imagine World War 2 rationing, the first few words that come to my mind are: difficult, despairing and dull. So when I was told that as an intern with Cambridge Sustainable Food, I was making bean burgers to publicise their rationing challenge, I was rather confused…
Personally I associate bean burgers with barbecues on the beach, not a time of hardship and restriction. And anyway, did people really eat bean burgers in the 1930s? Why on Earth was I being asked to make them?