Local food 'vital to the economy'
The shadow environment secretary has praised the innovative work of local food suppliers and producers.
Speaking at the Campaign to Protect Rural England fringe meeting at Labour party conference, Mary Creagh discussed the impact that local food production can have on the country, both economically and socially.
Creagh said: "The more we grow and produce in this county, the better. Food is a unifying force in the community and we need a government that supports this kind of rural growth."
Creagh further praised the work of local suppliers in food production innovation.
She said: "The local suppliers are the innovators. Local food webs support this innovation and we need constant innovation in our food."
And Creagh argued that, with food prices having risen by 6 per cent and poorer people spending a higher proportion of their income on food, the government should provide a definition of food poverty to match that associated with fuel poverty.
Also speaking at the fringe, entitled ‘Food for thought: How can localism support local food?' was Neil Sinden, the CPRE's director of policy and campaigns.
Sinden outlined the conservation charity's work on local food webs in more detail.
Describing these as "the network of people who produce, buy and sell food in a local community", Sinden highlighted the variety of different benefits- economic, social and environmental- afforded by food webs.
He said: "Our economy and our environment will be the worst for a lack of local food."
"Local food webs bring a number of benefits including employment opportunities, community spirit and town centre vitality."
Also addressing the fringe, chaired by Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, was Asda's external affairs and corporate responsibility director.
Paul Kelly argued against the misconception of supermarkets not providing affordable, local produce.
"Local food is important to Asda", Kelly said. "We want to develop long-term relationships with our providers and this assists in promoting a healthy, sustainable, affordable diet for consumers."
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