Suffolk food conference looks at how to make UK a healthy eating nation
PUBLISHED: 17:20 19 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:18 21 September 2018
The less-than-healthy diet of UK consumers is set to take centre-stage at a food conference in Suffolk.
Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival Conference will look at the urgent need to change the nation’s eating habits and set us on a fitter path.
The event, which takes place on Friday, September 28, returns after a break to set the scene for the weekend’s annual celebration of local food producers from Suffolk and East Anglia at the world-renowned cultural mecca of Snape Maltings.
The hard-hitting theme for this year’s event, An Appetite for Change - Eating Wisely and Well, will unpick our dietary sins and try to get to grips with what’s required to make us a healthier nation.
It follows on from past conference themes which have examined the need to change eating habits in relation to food security, to the environment and to the sea.
Conference and festival co-founder and food campaigner Lady Caroline Cranbrook suggests it is a timely theme.
“Problems associated with obesity and diet-related disease have become a serious concern for many reasons. Scientific research also shows that there are strong medical reasons for dietary change. The Quadram Institute, which opens this year at the Norwich Research Park, is in the forefront of research into food science, gut biology and health – and these issues will be explored at the conference.”
Conference speakers will look at some of the solutions, particularly in the context of local food and Suffolk.
“The aim is to be inspiring and also to challenge, so that we have a real debate about the need to change our diet and also the difficulties involved. We will also look at the role of the local food chain in helping bring this about,” said Lady Cranbrook.
Among the subjects examined are what consumers are eating now and the drivers of consumer choice, the link between diet and health, why eating habits must change and how that is possible, and the role of short food chains and local food in helping bring about change.
The event, chaired by broadcaster Bill Turnbull, is made up of three sessions, each of which has two speakers and features panellists from local food businesses and education who will debate the issues raised by the speakers and the audience.
In the first morning session, Professor Andrew Fearne of Norwich Business School at the University of East Anglia, will discuss the relationship between intention and behaviour, while Doug Field. chief executive of East of England Co-op and chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), will look at adapting to changing consumer habits.
Panellists are Thomasina Miers, author, food writer and co-founder of the Wahaca restaurant group, and Nick Saltmarsh, co-founder of Halesworth-based Hodmedod, which markets and supplies UK-grown beans, peas and other pulses.
Next up will be Professor Alastair Forbes of Norwich Medical School, UEA, who will examine the relationship between diet and disease, and Bee Wilson, author of The food paradox. How life is getting better yet food is getting worse.
Panellists will include David Eagle, a fourth generation north Essex coastal farmer growing sea buckthorn, a salt tolerant superfood, to help mitigate threats to the land from future climate change.
He will be joined by Joannah Metcalfe. East Anglian author and founder of Greener Growth, which works with schools, prisons and community kitchens and wildlife gardens, helping create gardens and food-growing projects.
The afternoon session features Oliver Paul of Suffolk Food Hall at Wherstead, near Ipswich, who will be quantifying the value of a short supply chain, and Martin Collison, who is involved in the European Union Short Food Chain Network (SKIN) who will be asking whether shorter food chains can help.
They will be joined by panellists Jonathan Crickmore a third generation dairy farmer from the Waveney Valley who has diversified into value-added Bigod brie cheese, raw milk and butter, Aldeburgh butcher Gerard King, and farmer Mike Russell Smith of Cambridgeshire who makes Savoursmith Crisps from the farm’s own potatoes and rapeseed oil.