Tag: climate change

Feedback’s response to the COVID-19 crisis

26th Mar 20 by Carina Millstone

The response of communities, civil society and citizens are giving us a glimpse of a more resilient and fairer food system

Feedback, like many fellow civil society organisations, has emerged into this strange, deeply worrying new world somewhat bewildered and disorientated, but with a renewed determination to do whatever we can to help.

We have started to redeploy much of our work towards COVID-19 relief efforts. In Merseyside, our Alchemic Kitchen has turned its hobs and chopping boards to producing fresh, healthy and nourishing soup, which we are sharing with vulnerable people via our extensive network of community groups and service delivery organisations. At a time when many people are struggling to access enough food, there are also large amounts of food at risk of being wasted, and Lucy and her team are rescuing as much as they can from closed cafes and restaurants and wholesalers. We hope to continue rescuing food and turning it into delicious soups and other products for community groups in Merseyside throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

As many of you will know, Feedback has a long history of rescuing produce that would otherwise go to waste from farms: for many years, we have organised volunteers and trained community groups to go gleaning. In the last few weeks, we have spoken to our partner farmers and many of them are facing unprecedented challenges: some supplying the hospitality industry have seen their business dry up overnight, while others are deeply worried about lack of staff to harvest produce, a situation which will gets worse as the year progresses. Already our partner gleaning groups have been organising to recover food from fields in Kent to distribute to those in need in their local community; and we are currently working out how we can best use our networks of farmers, gleaners and community groups to make sure fresh, healthy produce does not go to waste, but instead goes to some of the more vulnerable members of our society in this difficult time.

The COVID- 19 pandemic has starkly brought to the fore the vulnerabilities of our food system. It has exposed our risky dependency on global food supply chains; it has reminded us of the country’s  food insecurity and lack of farming skills The supermarket stockpiling pandemonium has also shown us the inadequacy of individual consumer responses in facing up to the collective challenge of fair access to food – while neighbours, communities, mutual aid groups and NHS volunteers are inspiring us with their determination to make sure no one is left behind.

At Feedback, our work has always been about creating a more plant-based, less wasteful, fairer and ecological food system. The COVID-19 food crisis is showing that our work is more necessary than ever. The response of communities, civil society and citizens across the country are giving us a glimpse of the more resilient and fairer food system we strive for. Inspired by this, we will redouble our efforts over the coming months – on the ground and through our campaigns – to transform the food system, and make sure we do not bounce back but step forward from this crisis, leaving behind a corporate profit driven food system, to one that prioritises health, equity and ecological renewal.

We wish you and your loved ones well. Please stay in touch for updates and consider donating to us if you can– any funds raised now will be committed to our COVID-19 food rescue, preparation and redistribution work.

Carina and the Feedback Team

Help us get good food to those who need it

The global pandemic means that our work in getting fresh, nutritious produce to people has never been more critical. We need your support to help make this happen. Any funds raised now will be committed to our COVID-19 food rescue, preparation and redistribution work.

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Swap salmon for a different kettle of fish

30th Jan 20 by Christina O'Sullivan

With so much diet chat focusing on restriction - what if we opened ourselves up to exploration?

Veganuary? Dry January? The chances are some of you have started the year attempting to change your diet. Changing what and how we eat is necessary to tackle the Climate Emergency. The global food system is responsible for up to 30% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions – the single greatest impact we have on the planet.

My beef (pun intended) is not with shifting our diets in a more sustainable direction but instead with the way this is often communicated. So much diet chat focuses on restriction and promotes the idea that certain foods are inherently good while others are inherently bad. When in reality a sustainable diet is a balanced one. The food system is incredibly complicated, so whenever I see a silver bullet solution being touted I indulge in some healthy scepticism.

Enter the ‘super-food’ (this term doesn’t actually mean anything – it is purely a marketing phrase) that is salmon. Salmon is an incredibly popular fish choice in the UK – purchases of salmon have risen by 550% over the last 50 years and a recent survey showed that salmon was voted people’s favourite fish to eat. Salmon is good for us but our dedication to the salmon is a super-food mantra puts pressure on our ocean.

The salmon on your dinner plate is probably farmed, around 60% of the world’s salmon production is farmed, and in Scotland this figure reaches 100%, with the last commercial wild salmon fishery closing in late 2018. Farming salmon at an industrial scale requires large quantities of feed including wild caught fish. The current quantity of wild fish fed to farmed Scottish salmon, 460,000 tonnes, is roughly equivalent to the amount purchased by the entire UK population.

Even worse, research shows that 90% of wild caught fish used to produce feed are edible – what if we ate that fish instead of feeding it to salmon? Last year we worked with Michelin-star chef Merlin Labron-Johnson to explore that idea. Merlin cooked up herring, anchoveta and whiting – see the video below for a taste.

We are asking you to swap salmon for something a bit different – turns out there is plenty more (interesting) fish in the sea.  Sign up here to receive recipes and ideas for what to eat and make sure to tag us and use the hashtag #SalmonSwaps to show us what you cook up.

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Feedback’s responds to new food waste figures

24th Jan 20 by Martin Bowman, Senior Policy and Campaigns Manager

The government must introduce binding targets to halve food waste from farm to fork by 2030.

WRAP has published a report on food waste reduction over the past three years. The figures out today have shown that while household food waste has dropped by 0.405 million tonnes, a whopping 4.5 million tonnes is still wasted per year, and business food waste has dropped by a mere 0.07 million tonnes over the last 3 years. Read our response to the research below;

“These figures confirm that voluntary business action on food waste cannot solve the problem. Post-farmgate food businesses have collectively cut their waste by a negligible 1% per year over the last 3 years. Despite big promises to halve food waste by 2030, the food industry is planning on achieving less than half that reduction, and the huge amounts of fresh produce left to rot on farms are still excluded from national targets. With food waste a key contributor to climate change, time running out to get our emissions under control and the UN climate summit in Glasgow fast approaching, it is now absolutely clear that the government must introduce binding targets to halve food waste from farm to fork by 2030, and make it compulsory for large food businesses to report their food waste data publicly.” 

Sign our petition – tell governments to make businesses come clean on food waste now.


2020 is here – described by some as the beginning of ‘the decisive decade’ for the climate emergency.

2020 is also the year Feedback enters our second decade campaigning to end waste and create a healthy and sustainable food system, and we are more keenly aware of our responsibility than ever. We rely on donations from our supporters to carry out this vital work.

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Healthy mindset to adapt to climate change? Check.

8th Jan 20 by Claire Woodhill, Food Citizens Project Manager

My next question was to ask what the young people valued – what was the most important thing to them?

Food citizenship is a slippery concept, as I’ve found over the past 18 months piloting new ways to help people in Buckinghamshire think of themselves as food citizens rather than food consumers, and in doing so to waste less food and see the connections between food and the environment. Between September and December 2019, we delivered a series of workshops in the county. We worked with a group of mums at St Andrew’s Church in High Wycombe, and with year 8’s at The Grange School in Aylesbury.

In both sets of workshops, we explored our current food system, dietary trends and the effect our food has on our environment, how it contributes to the climate and ecological crisis.

We also looked at the idea of ‘Food Citizenship’ – how by moving beyond seeing ourselves as passive consumers with no agency, to instead see ourselves as active participants in the system, we can empower ourselves to make meaningful change. Both sets of workshops brought forth encouraging discoveries.

In week 2 of our workshops with the year 8’s (aged 13-14) we stumbled into a conversation on values (always worth exploring when talking about the environment). We had been talking about wasting food in the canteen, how the trend was to ask for more even if you knew you wouldn’t be able to finish it and would throw half in the bin, because the more food on your plate the more you had got for your money.

In this I could see an understanding of the value of money, what was missing was an understanding of the value of food. Pointing this out. My next question was to ask what the young people valued – what was the most important thing to them? Asking this, I was worried I’d be met with shouts of ‘my iPad’, ‘my Xbox’, etc. and that I would have to take them on a journey to find the fundamental answer. I underestimated them.

The instant and resounding answer from all over the room was ‘my family’, ‘my friends’.

If taking personal action, to mitigate the climate and ecological emergency is going to be sufficient to meet the scale of the crisis, for the majority of us in the west this is likely to mean a reduction in our current ‘living standards’. We are therefore going to need to remember what’s truly important for a happy and good quality life. I’m pleased to say the next generation already knows, and it’s the first thing that comes to mind when asked the question. With this mindset already established I know we’re ready and able to make the changes needed: the question is how to catalyse and unlock action from a place which activates these values. There’s lot of interesting research on how to do this, which we will explore as the programme continues.

In our workshops with the group of mums, after walking through the reasons why diet change is integral and likely inevitable in the long run, we talked through how introducing more vegetarian meals to our families might be possible. Although worried about their family’s reception of less meat, all women were keen to make the change – a finding which mirrored Feedback’s experience of talking about reducing meat consumption more widely. People may fear the reaction of others, but they fundamentally feel that this is a good and necessary thing to do. That looks only set to increase, with 29% of 11-18 who currently eat meat wanting to reduce their meat consumption. What the mums wanted and needed to assist in integrating this change was a larger repertoire of vegetarian meals to work with, tasty meals that would win their families over.

Across the UK the message of how urgent the climate situation is has reached people and they are ready to act. What we need now is to encourage and support this transition through new free community initiatives that give people the knowledge and skills to make the changes needed. Beyond providing the practical skills, such initiatives would also help deliver the social and cultural shift needed to bring about sustainable diet change across the whole country.

Our next steps in our Buckinghamshire work include reaching out to a wider audience to test which messages about food and climate have the most impact, and to explore how to help set up practical, locally run initiatives that assists people in increasing the amount of vegetarian meals they eat per week.

2020 is here – described by some as the beginning of ‘the decisive decade’ for the climate emergency.

2020 is also the year Feedback enters our second decade campaigning to end waste and create a healthy and sustainable food system, and we are more keenly aware of our responsibility than ever. We rely on donations from our supporters to carry out this vital work.

Donate now

Into the decisive decade

7th Jan 20 by Jessica Sinclair Taylor

Will the next 10 years see leaders worldwide listen to the truth of the climate emergency - and act?

2020 is here – described by some as the beginning of ‘the decisive decade’ for the climate emergency. Will the next 10 years see leaders worldwide listen to the truth of the climate emergency – and act?

2020 is also the year Feedback enters our second decade campaigning to end waste and create a healthy and sustainable food system, and we are more keenly aware of our responsibility than ever.

There’s no point playing down the perils we face. We see the work to be done – but we also see the huge pay-offs that could be achieved. Good food – good for us and for the planet. Fair food prices and livelihoods for the people who produce it. Ending needless waste and destruction of nature.

As an organisation, we believe in being bold. And if ever there was one, 2020 is a year to be truly bold, with the global climate negotiations coming to Glasgow in December 2020. There is an opportunity – one that may not repeat itself – to put food front and centre of our global response to the climate emergency.

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Looking for Lochmuir

12th Dec 19 by Christina O'Sullivan

M&S win the 2019 Total Bull award for their 'Fake Loch' branding

*** Campaign update – victory! ***

We’re delighted to see on Twitter that M&S are now planning to phase out their ‘Lochmuir’ fake loch brand, which they’ve used since 2006 to promote their farmed salmon. Brands like this are plain misleading – supermarkets choose them to give an impression of how food like farmed salmon is produced which often just isn’t true. We’re glad M&S have decided to drop the Bull and the Lochmuir brand. See below for more on our campaign Fishy Business.

Where does your salmon come from?

It can be difficult to know what to eat – with increasing alarm over the impact that Big Livestock has on our planet and a never-ending parade of opinion pieces telling us what should be on our plates.

But I always thought farmed salmon was one of the good things.  It is marketed as healthy (loaded with Omega-3) and good for the environment (takes pressure off wild fish stocks). Scottish salmon is marketed as particularly virtuous – a local product sourced from pristine waters. Unfortunately, once you dive a little deeper into the Scottish farmed salmon industry its environmental credentials become a lot more murky.

The Scottish salmon farming industry uses hundreds of thousands of tonnes of wild-caught fish from across the globe every year to feed the salmon that ends up on our plates. In the process it dirties Scottish waters and damages local wildlife.

Farming fish requires feed: for the globally booming industry of farmed Atlantic salmon, this means feed containing wild-caught oceanic fish sourced from European, South American and West Africa waters, alongside other ingredients such as soya and vegetable oils. The Scottish industry has a large appetite for expansion – aiming to double in size by 2030.  This expansion would require a massive 310,000 tonnes of extra wild fish a year. For context, the current quantity of wild fish fed to farmed Scottish salmon, 460,000 tonnes, is roughly equivalent to the amount purchased by the entire UK population, and to fulfil growth ambitions this amount would need to increase by around two thirds.

So salmon is not so sustainable after all – but you wouldn’t know that looking at the packaging on supermarket shelves. You often wouldn’t even know it is farmed – with beautiful images of lochs and not a farming pen in site. Around 60% of the world’s salmon production is farmed, and in Scotland this figure reaches 100%, with the last commercial wild salmon fishery closing in late 2018. Marks & Spencer have gone one step further and created a fake loch ‘Lochmuir’ to market their farmed salmon. We think this is a load of bull and that’s why M&S have won our 2019 Total Bull award. Total Bull is the campaign to shine a light on the biggest bull on our supermarket shelves. We hold food companies to account for their misleading marketing and call on them to support sustainable practices before it is too late. Join us and write to M&S now!

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Yes to the Amazon Soy Moratorium, No to soy industry expansion plans

5th Dec 19 by Karen Luyckx, Head of Research

Overall 75% of global soy production ends up in animal feed.

Feedback’s reaction to “An open letter on soy and the Amazon” published on 3 December 2019 and signed by a wide group of industry stakeholders alongside some civil society stakeholders.

Feedback applauds and supports the signatories in their wish to uphold the Amazon Soy Moratorium, which has contributed to reduce deforestation in the regions where it is implemented. However, Feedback wishes to express its dismay at the open letter’s complete disregard of the science on soy production as a driver of deforestation in the Amazon and other South American and African biomes.

While cattle ranching is the major direct cause of deforestation in the Amazon, soybean production is still an indirect driver of deforestation, even within the Amazon Soy Moratorium area1. Moreover, soy is the major driver of deforestation in the Chaco and Cerrado biomes2,3, and global growth of the industry is driving a conflict between soybean production, communities and conservation in Africa’s savannas and dry forests, which contain astonishing biodiversity4,5.

During the last decade, soy traders in the Brazilian market with zero-deforestation commitments – Cargill, Bunge, ADM and Amaggi – have been associated with similar deforestation risk in both the Amazon and Cerrado as companies that have not made such commitments6. In 2018, five traders and multiple soy farmers were fined US$29 million by the Brazilian government for cultivating and purchasing soybean connected with illegal deforestation7. Two of these companies had zero-deforestation commitments.

Evidence of the link between soybean and cattle ranching in the form of pasture-to-cropland conversion is well documented by statistics and remote sensing data8. Linkages between soybean and cattle production are intensifying, and many of the larger agribusiness companies in Brazil and Argentina are commonly active in both soybeans and cattle9. Overall, 75% of global soy production ends up in animal feed10; when livestock production is intensified using less land directly, it is increasing its land use through feed production.

Loopholes in the current Soy Moratorium and the G4 cattle agreement do not prevent some farmers involved in deforestation from selling their products to domestic and international supply chains 1,11–13.

This is why Feedback calls for a 50% reduction in meat and dairy consumption, in particular of industrially produced meat and dairy, because this reduction is essential to combat the climate and biodiversity emergency. In a world where people eat food that is good for human and planetary health, there is no need whatsoever for expanding the global meat industry, and that includes the production of soy for animal feed.


  1. Gollnow, F., Hissa, L. de B. V., Rufin, P. & Lakes, T. Property-level direct and indirect deforestation for soybean production in the Amazon region of Mato Grosso, Brazil. Land Use Policy 78, 377–385 (2018).
  2. Fehlenberg, V. et al. The role of soybean production as an underlying driver of deforestation in the South American Chaco. Glob. Environ. Change 45, 24–34 (2017).
  3. Pendrill, F. & Persson, U. M. Combining global land cover datasets to quantify agricultural expansion into forests in Latin America: Limitations and challenges. PloS One 12, e0181202 (2017).
  4. Action Aid Brazil & Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos (2017). Impactos da Expanssão do agronegócio no matopbia: Comunidades e meio ambiente.
  5. Gasparri, N. I., Kuemmerle, T., Meyfroidt, P., Waroux, Y. le P. de & Kreft, H. The Emerging Soybean Production Frontier in Southern Africa: Conservation Challenges and the Role of South-South Telecouplings. Conserv. Lett. 9, 21–31 (2016).
  6. West, C. D., Green, J. M. H. & Croft, S. Trase Yearbook 2018: Sustainability in forest-risk supply chains: Spotlight on Brazilian soy. (2018).
  7. Byrne, J. Traders, farmers fined over links to deforestation in Cerrado. feednavigator.com (2018).
  8. Arima, E. Y., Richards, P., Walker, R. & Caldas, M. M. Statistical confirmation of indirect land use change in the Brazilian Amazon. Environ. Res. Lett. 6, 024010 (2011).
  9. Gasparri, N. I. & Waroux, Y. le P. de. The Coupling of South American Soybean and Cattle Production Frontiers: New Challenges for Conservation Policy and Land Change Science. Conserv. Lett. 8, 290–298 (2015).
  10. Brack, D., Glover, A. & Wellesley, L. Agricultural Commodity Supply Chains. (2016).
  11. Alix-Garcia, J. & Gibbs, H. K. Forest conservation effects of Brazil’s zero deforestation cattle agreements undermined by leakage. Glob. Environ. Change 47, 201–217 (2017).
  12. Rausch, L. L. & Gibbs, H. K. Property Arrangements and Soy Governance in the Brazilian State of Mato Grosso: Implications for Deforestation-Free Production. Land 5, 7 (2016).
  13. Klingler, M., Richards, P. D. & Ossner, R. Cattle vaccination records question the impact of recent zero-deforestation agreements in the Amazon. Reg. Environ. Change 18, 33–46 (2018).


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Cynicism isn’t wisdom

17th Sep 19 by Christina O'Sullivan

How the youth climate strikes movement helps me hold on to hope in the face of climate catastrophe

Working at an environmental campaigning group can be hard, sometimes it feels like me and my colleagues take turns having an existential crisis about the state of the planet. I have joked with friends about how we should train for the upcoming climate apocalypse and exclaimed that I call it the ‘Apocalypso’ as it is more palatable if it sounds like a retro ice-cream. When I find myself feeling very bleak about the future I remind myself of a piece of graffiti I walked past years ago – it simply read ‘Cynicism isn’t wisdom’. The Youth Climate Strike movement has brought this sentiment to life.

The older I get, the more I feel cynicism seeping into me – despite clear scientific evidence action on climate change is nowhere near good enough. The findings of the latest IPCC report are clear and the situation grave. To meet the commitment to a warming limit of 1.5°C made under the Paris Climate Agreement, widespread, deep ranging and radical transformation is required. The youth climate strikes remind me of the power of the collective, our capitalist society convinces us we only have agency in our individuality (buy this reusable water bottle and hemp tote bag and YOU can make a difference), moreover it is all too easy to fall into the ‘what can one person do’ trap. When we believe we are just one person with limited power that’s when we lose all power. The strikes remind me to stop thinking of myself as an individual and remember that we are a movement. We have agency beyond what we can buy (ethical consumerism will not save the planet), we have our time, we have our labour and we have our voices. The strikes also remind me of a time when I believed so much was possible – maybe we need that belief now more than ever. To avert climate catastrophe we need to essentially change the world in a multitude of ways – that is going to take a lot of imagination. We need to go beyond what society has told us is important, such as going to school, as a society that doesn’t respect the planet needs to have a few rules rewritten.

The strikes have also added joy and humour to the climate movement. A witty sign will not end climate change but it does more than a cynical tweet. They have reignited the urgency of the situation, climate change is happening now. The Amazon is on fire, those of us who are privileged enough to not yet be massively impacted by climate change can not allow ourselves to believe that just because it isn’t happening to us means it isn’t happening. It is tempting to wallow in despair, but those of us who have the capacity to contribute to a better future should do what we can, as the comedian Josie Long reminds me ‘Despair is a luxury’.

Rethinking hope

In a recent piece, the author Jonathan Franzen essentially declares that it is all over and states we need to ‘rethink what it means to have hope’. For me, hope lies in the realisation that we are better than capitalist greed believes us to be. It lies in accepting that nothing we do may ever be enough but we should still do something. It lies in a witty sign that makes me smile.

As Beckett wrote;  ‘You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.’ Even though it may be too late, I’ll go on. Will you join me?

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Stern words, expressions of dismay, twitter spats, threats and incentives won’t put out the Amazon’s fires

6th Sep 19 by Jessica Sinclair Taylor, Head of Policy and Communications

Instead, the UK must ban imports of soy for animal feed.

Yesterday saw concerned citizens across six continents react to the horror of the Amazonian forest fires with a slew of protests calling out a group of 12 global corporations whose business models are responsible for ongoing destruction in the Amazon.

In more muted tones, politicians in Europe have criticised the lax policies of Brazil’s ultra-conservative President Bolsonaro, which have fanned the flames of forest clearance. But are policy-makers in the UK and Europe shouldering our share of responsibility for the role the trade in global agricultural commodities, such as soy, plays in planet-heating deforestation?

The UK imports around 3.3 million tonnes of soy, over 75% of which for livestock rearing. Three quarters of UK soy imports come from countries undergoing rapid and catastrophic deforestation, like Brazil – some of it from Brazil’s Cerrado region. TRASE data shows that Cargill alone imported half a million tonnes of Brazilian soy in 2017. In a sickening spiral, the massive increase in soy grown in the Cerrado has fed the boom in Brazilian cattle ranching, clearing more rainforest to make way for intensive beef farms. Here too we need to face facts: the UK was the 9th largest importer of Brazilian beef in 2017 (though imports have declined since then), with Brazilian beef supplying UK supermarket’s corned beef ranges across the country.

Around Europe, governments are starting to wake up. France has adopted a National Strategy to Combat Imported Deforestation, including a goal to end deforestation caused by importing ‘unsustainable forest and agricultural products’ by 2030.

And last week Finland’s Agriculture Minister Jari Leppa called for Finland to stop importing soy within the next five years, for both animal and direct human consumption, citing the potential of domestic feed production of oats, peas and fava beans to replace it. He’s even suggested banning EU imports of Brazilian beef in response to lack of action from the Brazilian government on deforestation.

Momentum is gathering and it’s time the UK steps forwards too. With an official government target to hit net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (which some say is already too far off), it is crucial that we look not only to greener domestic practices, but also to how the UK exports our climate footprint.

While there’s a host of climate-damaging candidates for an import ban, here’s why soy should be front of the queue.

First, there is no such thing as ‘sustainable soy’. Some industries may have signed up to various commitments or ‘sustainable soy roundtables’ but the fact remains that all demand for soy increases the pressure on land overall, thus helping to drive deforestation elsewhere, if not in that particular field. Even companies who have previously given commitments to zero deforestation aren’t clean: TRASE data shows that during the last decade soya traders in the Brazilian market with zero-deforestation commitments – Cargill, Bunge, ADM and Amaggi – have been associated with similar deforestation risk as companies that have not made such commitments. In addition, in May 2018, five traders and multiple soy farmers were fined US$29 million by the Brazilian government for soy bean cultivation and purchasing connected with illegal deforestation. You guessed it – two of them had zero deforestation commitments.

Second, banning soy imports wouldn’t just tackle a slice of our exported deforestation footprint. It would also pose a challenge to the growth of intensive and industrialised meat sector in the UK. In 2017 the Sustainable Food Trust calculated that almost 90% of the 1.1 million tonnes of imported soy meal is fed to pigs, poultry and farmed fish. The Scottish salmon industry, which markets itself as producing a sustainable alternative protein, uses 50,000 tonnes of soy a year to feed its fish, alongside 475,000 tonnes of wild fish.

There are well over 800 mega-farms in the UK, the vast majority producing chicken and pigs, and their numbers are rising. These are industrial units financed by companies like Cargill, who supply Tesco’s chicken. Cargill, named the ‘worst company in the world’ by US campaign group Mighty Earth (for its lengthy rap sheet of environmental, human rights and financial abuses), is itself financed by Big Finance investors like Barclays, who supported the industrial agriculture giant to the tune of 1.172 billion dollars between 2013-2018 (AmazonWatch).

Third, cutting off the UK’s imported soy dependence could help stimulate more sustainable forms of domestic production. While eating less meat across the board is vital to preserve our planet – Feedback are calling for a 50% reduction in meat consumption by 2030 – animal farming plays a role in a sustainable, resilient and regenerative food system. A ban on soy would create the policy space to support farmers to transition to agro-ecological and silvio-pasture practices which pioneering studies have demonstrated are essential for food and farming that both support climate change targets and the restoration and health of the natural world

Soy isn’t just used in animal feed – soy oil is also an ingredient in highly-processed human foods such as confectionary, soy meal is used in pet food, pharmaceuticals and industrial products (Sustainable Food Trust), and whole soy beans are used to make products like tofu and soy milk. A small amount of  fully-traceable soy could continue to satisfy these demands. At the same time, could the UK ape Finland’s target to increase domestic protein crops, such as fava beans and peas as a replacement for soy?

The Amazonian forest fires are a flashpoint for action in a world tilting into climate chaos. To make the most of this moment of clarity, we need to see concrete policy change that recognises the UK’s global role in planet-destroying practices. It’s not an overstatement to say that each shipment of soy, certified or otherwise, that arrives in the UK for the livestock industry is a direct driver of deforestation. To end the UK’s contribution to the collapse of the natural world, the UK government must commit and act, now, to end the imports of soy for animal feed.

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Will the supermarkets Meat Us Halfway on meat?

13th Aug 19 by Phil Holtam, report author

Find out how the supermarkets performed in our 'less and better' meat scorecard.

Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report detailing the evidence for major and sweeping changes to our agriculture and land use, including shifts to more sustainable diets in places (like the UK) where meat and dairy consumption is already too high. We published our first response last week, looking at how Feedback thinks policy-makers should be responding to this challenge.

But what about some of the Big Food businesses with the greatest power in our food system? Yes, you guessed it, supermarkets.

Supermarkets, as the main provider of groceries for the majority of UK households, have a vital role to play for this dietary change to happen. So we’ve been looking into the biggest ten UK supermarkets and assessed their efforts at both the corporate and store level to support the public in shifting to sustainable and healthy diets. And we’ve found that, whilst there are signs of progress for some stores, most of them have a long way to go.

What did we base our assessment on?

Our scorecard uses two sets of indicators. The first set looks at publicly available information on corporate policies and commitments around sustainable animal feed, deforestation, and science-based climate change targets and reporting. This would include ensuring the climate impact of supply chains is fully recognised in supermarket operations, and a commitment to promoting consumption of healthy, plant-based foods, with a named champion within the business holding this responsibility. We’ve also used existing publicly available data into our scorecard from organisations such as FAIRR, the Carbon Disclosure Project and the Food Foundation.

The second set of indicators looks at the in-store experience, assessed via ‘mystery shopper’ visits to a small sample of stores. Here we were looking for, among other things, a strong offering of ‘better meat’ (i.e. meat which is RSPCA assured, free-range, or organic), prominent shelf position of meat-free proteins, clear guidance on healthy and sustainable meat consumption, and labels that refrain from mis-leading marketing, such as ‘fake farm’ brands. We also drew on Eating Better’s assessments of the proportion of ready meals, sandwiches and salads which are meat-free.

Using these indicators we looked at the major 10 supermarkets and awarded points based on 24 different criteria regarding their progress in shifting their offerings away from meat, as well as looking at the quality of the produce they do sell.

How did your supermarket do in our scorecard?

















We found that across the high street there is a real difference in the efforts retailers are making to respond to the climatic need for different food on our plates. Coming in at the bottom of our ranking, on a score of only 14%, was Iceland.

Despite recent moves to ban plastics in store, as well as their high-profile work on palm oil, Iceland lost points due to being one of just two retailers with no publicly available corporate policy on sustainable animal feed, and for being the only retailer not to have publicly signed up to the Cerrado Manifesto, which supports a halt to deforestation in Brazil’s Cerrado savannah. Despite having some vegan foods on offer, Iceland has the lowest proportion of vegetarian ready meals of any retailer, at just 7% , and their fresh meat offer consists of products meeting only the regulatory minimum, without any provision of ‘better’ meat, such as free range or RSPCA assured. Iceland has a long way to go towards ‘less and better’ meat, but so do fellow low rankers Morrisons, ASDA and Aldi.

Those at the top of the ranking shouldn’t feel complacent though – we’re still not seeing the sort of radical and brave commitments to selling less meat (and more ‘better’ meat) which will be needed for real change.

A recent Eating Better/YouGov poll found increasingly demand for plant-based foods with more people than ever before identifying as vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian. Of course these figures have their geographical and generational nuances, with younger urban-dwellers more likely to avoid meat, but the trend is clear; the UK public is ready for a dietary shift.

It’s time the supermarkets went beyond following the demand and meat us halfway.

By giving customers access to better quality meat and dairy produce, as well as offering meat-alternatives to help people reduce their meat and dairy consumption, they could make a real difference. Ultimately we think any supermarket which is serious about shouldering their responsibility for the impact of the food system on our planet will commit to halving their meat sales by 2030 overall, and stocking a higher proportion of high quality meat, such as year round pasture-fed.

Read the full scorecard.

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Environmental and Economic potential of surplus food as pig feed

31st Jul 19 by Christina O'Sullivan

Feedback's Martin Bowman outlines how Europe is getting closer to finding a safe way to safely process surplus food into feed.

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a Week at Feedback

15th Jul 19 by Ella Jarvis, Feedback Work Experience

A week in the life of Feedback work experience: Ella Jarvis reflects on her time in the office.

Ella Jarvis spent a week on work experience at Feedback, she reflects on her time working with the Feedback team.

Before my time at Feedback I had some knowledge on the devastating effects that climate change is having on our planet, due to my study of A level Geography. However, I had little knowledge on how our current food system has been a major factor that has driven these changes. Through my work experience I have gained so much knowledge regarding the issues caused by the food system and it has given me the opportunity to realise that this system needs to soon change to become sustainable.

The new knowledge and experience gained during my time at Feedback has meant that I thoroughly enjoyed my week here. I was given the opportunity to work with Claire, Food Citizens Project Manager, to help her design programmes which are going to take place in schools and I also worked with James, Project Manager, as he was planning gleans on pumpkin farms for after halloween. This has not only given me the practical skills of using different computer software, such as excel spreadsheets, but it also made me aware of the wider problems that food waste is having on the whole planet and how our current behaviours (like having pumpkins at Halloween) are unsustainable. I was able to explore the different campaigns at Feedback and they have served as a big source of inspiration for the changes that I am now going to make to my lifestyle.

I believe that this desire to change my poor habits is the most valuable thing that I will take away from my work experience here and it has made me realise that action, even by a single individual, does make a difference and that if people work together globally the effects of climate change can be reduced and this is imperative for the planet to continue to thrive. Feedback have also motivated me to want to campaign in my school for changes in the canteen which I will pursue. This experience has made me realise that we must all become active citizens and with a global effort, changes to the food system are possible.

Thank you Ella for your hard work!

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Carina Millstone discusses the problem of food waste on Roundtable

3rd Jun 19 by Carina Millstone, Executive Director

Food waste is not simply a matter wasting money, it takes a huge toll on the environment. Guests discuss this issue on Roundtable.

Carina Millstone, Executive Director of Feedback, features with other guests on Roundtable, discussing the real problem of food waste and its impact on the environment.

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The Steaks are High – exposing the investors and banks propping up Big Livestock

17th Apr 19 by Carina Millstone, Executive Director

The message of what we need to do to save the planet is clear, but who's been financing the earth's demise?

In a week when Extinction Rebellion’s occupation of major London landmarks has focused minds, and even Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England is calling on global banks to face up to the climate emergency, thoughts turn to practical action to stave off climate change and mass species extinction. The message that we should all ‘cut down on meat and dairy to save the Planet’ has brought some comfort – at last, something doable! Yet while the appearance of bleeding beetroot burgers and vegan sausage rolls on the high street are to be celebrated, the best way to cut our national meat intake quickly and at scale is to significantly curtail meat production. That’s because, and I speak as an expert here, you’re not going to be eating many sausages if you don’t have any pigs…

For a while now, many of us working in food and environment have been reluctant to talk about reducing meat production. We don’t want to be insensitive to the difficulties faced by British farmers; we fear further polarising the vegan versus flexitarian versus omnivorous debate. We’ve hidden behind the excuse that it’s hard to convey that not all meat is equally bad, and that in the right farming systems, some livestock may play an important role for soil health and nutrient cycling. But lengthy debate has meant we have failed to point our collective finger to the type of animal farming we all agree we want to see the back of: Big livestock, which can be characterised by industrial production methods and corporate ownership structure.

It’s not just about the USA

The application of industrial processes to animal agriculture is usually thought of as an American phenomenon, and, as an aside, the most firmly impressed memory of my Californian honeymoon is the sorry sight of cows in a huge muddy complex by a highway somewhere near Fresno: thank you Dairy Farmers of America. But Europe has its own industrial meat and dairy: be it the gigantic Danish and Dutch pork industries, pig farming in Northern Ireland or the ‘megafarms’ increasingly blighting the British countryside. Big Livestock’s second characteristic, its entity as a corporation, also gives the industry a global footprint through financial flows, often international and opaque, regardless of where operations are sited. Zambian beef factories are traded on the LSE, which strikes me as a good example of much of what is wrong with a corporate controlled food system.

It’s the industrial processes of Big Livestock that make it such a climate offender; it is Big Livestock that is responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions attributed to the meat and dairy sector, close to 15% of total emissions today. Big Livestock is also driving alarming biodiversity loss and species extinction, soil and aquifer depletion. More terrifyingly still, its reliance on antibiotics, the only way to keep so many animals held in such cramped conditions healthy, is driving antimicrobial resistance so that C-sections and other operations may soon become too risky to carry out. One day, we will wonder why one industry was allowed to so casually squander the gains of modern medicine.

It doesn’t end there

To make matters worse, the corporate structure of Big Livestock means industrial meat and dairy firms exist to maximise their profits – and grow and grow until, by 2050, and according to the seismic report by the IATP and GRAIN, the greenhouse gas emissions produced by Big Livestock will account for 80% of all allowable global emissions to remain below a 1.5 degree warming, assuming other sectors decarbonise. Sure, that’s a rather big assumption, but the salient point is that while other sectors could decarbonise through the energy transition, the climate impacts of industrial meat and dairy are almost entirely due to animal feed production, enteric fermentation for ruminants, and manure. To the lay man: food, burps and farts and faeces – all essential parts of growing animals and producing meat and dairy, which will continue regardless of any possible discontinuation of fossil fuels. What I am getting at is that there is no possible low-carbon version of the industry.

The choice before us is as follows: let Big Livestock get on with their business-as-usual and call it a day on the climate, Planet, and health and wellbeing, or end Big Livestock now. Now give me a moment with that one…

Ending Big Livestock may seem a tall order, but, having spent much of my career working on intractable environmental problems, I am surprisingly upbeat about this one for three reasons.

First, there’s no escaping the fact Big Livestock is not a pretty industry. Let’s not forget the business of industrial meat and dairy corporations is the business of suffering and slaughter of sentient beings on a mass scale, with devastating impacts for human and planetary health to boot. No wonder these corporations keep such a low profile and many of us would struggle to name more than one or two, if any. It’s just very hard for anyone to argue in favour of Big Livestock (slaughterhouse jobs are so poor that even the ‘jobs’ argument is hard to effectively formulate); suffice to say I have never come across someone wearing an ‘I heart Cargill’ T-shirt.

Second, unlike the other industry that must end now to stabilise the climate, the fossil fuel industry, Big Livestock is a small, discreet sector of the economy, not in any way foundational. Shutting down the oil industry overnight would have dangerous ramifications across our economy and society while the impacts of shutting down Big Livestock would be limited to the industry and its suppliers. As for its customers, alternatives to industrial meat and dairy already exist: we already know how to grow plant-based protein and turn it into delicious dishes. Unlike the transition to renewable energy, low-carbon transport or housing, the shift to a food system in line with the Paris targets, where diets are largely plant-based, does not require the acquisition of new knowledge, the building of new infrastructure or the deployment of new technologies. We already have all that we need. The transition to plant-based diets and the end of Big Livestock could happen overnight, tonight.

Third, when we talk about Big Livestock, we’re not talking about an enormous, amorphous industry. We’re referring to a few dozen, gigantic corporations, the likes of JBS, Tyson, Danish Crown, ABP Foods. All it will take to end Big Livestock is for a few dozen companies to go out of business. Simple. Corporate bankruptcies have happened before, they can happen again, especially since we’re talking about an industry whose bloody wares are starting to look a bit 1950s in the age of the aquafaba meringue.

The Steaks Are High

At Feedback, we will shortly be launching our new campaign, The Steaks Are High:The End of Big Livestock to help hurry along Big Livestock’s inevitable demise. Our plan is to bring Big Livestock’s threat to our climate, food, health and medicine to the fore, and expose the banks and investors that are propping up this catastrophic industry though debt or equity. We’ll be taking a close look at university endowments, foundation investments, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, banks. After all, students, charity beneficiaries, pensioners and all citizens have a right to know if they are in any way connected with Big Livestock through their institutions or savings – and to say out loud they don’t want anything to do with such a destructive industry.

Get in touch with us if you’re interested in being involved – and stay tuned, and in the meantime, don’t forget to pledge to reduce your own meat intake.



Image: “A rotary milking parlor at a modern dairy facility, located in Germany” by Gunnar Richter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License
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Too Much of a Bad Thing

11th Mar 19 by Carina Millstone, Executive Director

Just a Spoonful of Sugar Depletes our Soils and the NHS Budget in the Most Delightful Way (for the Weston family and their foundation)

Feedback’s Executive Director Carina Millstone explains why growing sugar in the UK is causing catastrophic soil degradation and how the industry is lining the pockets of one wealthy family and their foundation.

If you’re after evidence that we urgently need to change how we produce and consume our food, look no further than the sugar beet. Sugar beet could be considered the ‘poster crop’ for pretty much everything that is wrong with our globalised, corporatised food system.

Despite the UK’s modest size, it is the 11th largest producer of sugar beet worldwide, behind giants in the top 10 such as Russia, the United States or China. This gives our nation the dubious honour of having the largest proportion of our land devoted to sugar beets of all countries. No wonder Brits have such a sweet tooth – and spiralling rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Whilst the disastrous health impacts of sugar are well-known – thanks to the superb work of Action on Sugar, Sugar Smart and others – yet we are only beginning to understand the catastrophic effects of sugar beets on the environment and food security.

No sugar coating

For evidence of what sugar beet is doing to the environment, two seminal reports released in the last few months come to mind. Firstly, the determinedly optimistic report from the EAT-Lancet Commission and secondly the truly terrifying This is a Crisis report from the IPPR. The former makes it very clear that sugar consumption in countries such as the UK must be reduced by at least 50% if we are to secure healthy diets for all without catastrophic biodiversity loss and climate change. The latter reminds us that global and British soils are now so depleted as to affect our future ability to grow food. Some of the most affected soils are in East Anglia, the very heart of the century-old sugar beet industry.

So why are we still growing and eating sugar when it’s quite clearly a disaster for both our health and planet? To answer this question, I asked myself who’s making money from the stuff? Some cursory googling revealed some truly startling answers.

Who really are British Sugar?

British Sugar is the sole processor of sugar beet in the UK – if you’re a sugar beet farmer wanting to bring your product to market, there’s no escaping the company. Its name may make it sound like a quaint throwback to the era of public ownership, but don’t be fooled. The monopoly is in fact a subsidiary of AB Sugar, itself part of Associated British Foods or ABF, a ‘diversified’ business whose brands include Ryvita, Twinings and, incongruously, Primark.

ABF is listed on the London Stock Exchange, but the corporation is majority owned by holding company Wittington Investments Ltd, which is itself 20% owned by the Canadian Weston family and 80% owned by the Garfield Weston Foundation. The Foundation is one of the largest grant giving foundations around, who, with no discernible trace of irony, give funds to a range of health and environmental causes in the UK (including, historically, and for full disclosure, to Feedback).

Who benefits from UK sugar production?

Put another way: British Sugar exists to line the pockets of a wealthy family, and, to give the Westons credit where it’s due, their undoubtedly generous philanthropic activities. And yet the enrichment of the Westons and of their foundation comes at a terrible cost to our soils, climate and health, which no amount of charitable donations can put right.

The true cost

Whist the environmental costs of British Sugar’s activities are hard to quantify, the cost to the NHS are all-too known. In fact, our fondness (or perhaps addiction) to sugar is one of the great threats to our healthcare system. Shocking fact: the NHS spends more on treating obesity and diabetes than is spent by the government on the police, the fire service and the judicial system combined.

Not only is the public paying for the health ‘externalities’ of British Sugar, it is also subsidising the production of beets in the first place. In fact, a recent study has shown that some 3,500 British sugar beet farmers are currently receiving public subsidies to the tune of €29 million a year to grow their beets (which is, at the same study points out, and in a somewhat pleasingly unfortunate coincidence, the same amount spent by NHS England extracting children’s rotten teeth under general anaesthetic.)

30% of the world’s arable land has become unproductive due to erosion.

Institute for Public Policy Research

British Sugar is a remarkable case of private profit generation at massive socialised health and environmental loss. I was truly shocked and angry when I realised this, and as a parent trying to limit my children’s sugar intake, still am.

Ending the sugar rush

If the government wishes to improve health in the UK, the sugary drinks tax may be a good start but will ultimately not cut it. How can we expect sugar consumption to reduce when the industry is fighting decaying tooth-and-nail to grow? What we need instead is a structured government programme. We need to both reduce sugar consumption and production: the agricultural policies need to work with health policies, not against them.

In the coming months, Feedback will be launching our Too Much of a Bad Thing campaign calling the government to support farmers to move away from growing sugar beets. Instead, support them to grow crops and manage their land to provide good nutrition. We want to see support for re-wilding or afforestation for carbon dioxide removal (possibly throwing in a few sycamore trees for our sweetness fix), in line with Mr Gove’s oft-quoted ‘public money for public goods’ principle.

Stay tuned for updates. In the meantime, British Sugar are asking us to #BackBritishSugar. I would suggest #BackOffBritishSugar is a more apt alternative for a product that is bad for us and bad for the Planet.

Image: David Wright / Sugar Beet Crop on the Saxby to Barton Road
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Desperately seeking climate ambition

12th Dec 18 by Jessica Sinclair Taylor

Why food and the food supply chain needs to be addressed as a part of the solution for climate change.

“There’s a need to raise ambition…”

This phrase seemed to echo in the corridors and meeting rooms of the UN’s latest round of climate change negotiations. This is code for change is not coming fast enough, and it will soon be too late.

The prevailing mood during the first week of the conference, despite many exciting projects and innovative science, seemed to be one of grim determination. Clinging to hope against the odds and against mounting evidence that time is running short to address climate change and prevent dangerous levels of warming.

When we need to be so ambitious, it seemed incredulous that the host government were promoting ‘clean coal’ whilst nearly everybody agrees that the best place for coal is in the ground. The statement of António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, sounded bleak and almost despairing when he said that the time had come for civil society to turn to sub-national governments and cities to take forward the standard for ambitious action.

So why were we there?

Feedback were at COP24 to try to ensure that amid green energy, climate finance and low-carbon transport, the role of the food system and in particular, preventing food waste will be a key part of the conversation about reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions. Furthermore, addressing runaway production and consumption of industrial meat.

Why meat?

We are concerned in particular with the mass production of meat and dairy by large global corporations, who could be termed ‘Big Meat’. If they continue on a business as usual basis, they will gobble over 80% of our carbon budget in 2050 to remain below 1.5° Celsius of warming. Look out for more on this from my colleague Carina Millstone soon.

Food, food waste and climate change

As far as food waste is concerned, halving it by 2050 has been ranked as the 3rd most effective response to climate change in a comprehensive review by Project Drawdown, and preventing waste is literally one of the low-hanging fruits of addressing food system emissions.

Despite the urgent need for action on the climate challenge posed by our food system, we were struck by the conspicuous absence of major food corporations at COP24. Sad to say, it seems that food corporations still aren’t too worried about their role in generating runaway climate change. They also don’t appear to be concerned with what regulators might do to circumscribe their more damaging business practices, such as the colossal waste that occurs in food business supply chains. I discussed this on a panel at the UK ‘pavilion’ (essentially the UK government’s stand at COP), challenging the UK government to push forward the trend towards transparency by businesses on their food waste. Most importantly, this must include waste in their supply chains, particularly on the farms that supply them.

What can policy do?

We need to ask our governments – regional and national – to use public spending to prioritise local, low-waste food chains. Why should a hospital in Devon be contracting a multinational food corporation like Sodexo to supply their patients’ meals, when they could be sourcing healthy, plant-based and low waste meals on their doorstep?

Food waste is only one aspect of how our global food system squanders resources and encroaches on delicate ecosystems, as well as contributing a major whack of GHG emissions. But halving food waste – at least – by 2030, in line with the global Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, is a goal that makes sense on all sorts of levels. One thing COP24 taught me is that it’s time for citizens to take matters into their own hands.

“We are now experiencing a man-made global catastrophe: climate change is the biggest threat of thousands of years” David Attenborough, COP24

Want to get involved?

There are lots of ways that you can get involved. Firstly, you can sign up to our emails to hear about the latest issues and campaigns in food waste and sustainable food industry.

You can make a difference today. Our campaign to address the problem of Big Meat has just launched and you can be a part of it. We’re calling it the “cow in the room” and you can find out more and pledge your support here.

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If you eat, you’re in!

27th Nov 15 by fb_admin

Calling all food waste warriors: Join us at the climate march!

If food waste were a country it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases- just after the US and China.

Food waste squanders natural resources like water, energy and land. It also needlessly produces greenhouse gas emissions, making it one of the largest contributors to climate change.  We need your help to show just how large the problem is and that the solutions are tasty!

Feedback, together with other anti food waste organisations such as This is Rubbish and Olio, will be forming the food waste warriors bloc to take to the streets of London this Sunday, 29 November at the People’s March for Climate Justice and Jobs. We will be joining other food and agriculture organisations to make our voices heard before the COP 21 commences on Monday.

Join the food waste revolution! Join the Food Waste Bloc at the Climate March and don’t miss out on this epic day.

More event details here.

Don’t forget to share on Facebook and invite your friends!

HELP! Let’s redistribute these tasty apples rescued by our fab Gleaning Network UK.

Epic Apple Giveaway – volunteers needed

Every year around the globe 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted, that’s one-third of all food that’s produced for human consumption. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. Solutions to climate change DO exist, beginning with putting a stop to food waste.

In order to highlight the tasty solutions to food waste, we will be handing out thousands of delicious apples that would have otherwise been wasted to demonstrators and the general public. The apples were rescued by our amazing Gleaning Network UK team.

We need volunteers to help hand them out! Email pascale@feedbackglobal.org if you would like to help.


climate march FINAL

We hope to see you this Sunday. If you eat you’re in!


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