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Museum of Oxford - City Stories

Sustainable Food Locally

Sustainable food is produced in a way that has a positive impact on the environment, the economy and the consumer, now and in the future.

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Therefore, sustainable food must be:

  • healthy
  • affordable
  • reliably available to all (known as ‘food security’)
  • able to provide a viable business for food producers, workers and retailers
  • produced in a way that has a neutral or, ideally, positive impact on the environment
  • produced in a way that doesn’t reduce the ability of future generations to enjoy food security

Producing, packing, transporting and cooking food uses energy and produces carbon dioxide. In fact, the global food system is thought to be responsible for up to a third of all greenhouse gas emissions. If we all switch to more sustainably produced food it could have a big impact on the environment.

In this exhibition we consider what we can do locally, and the food producers, community groups, shops working hard locally to make our food more sustainable.

According to Good Food Oxford, the carbon footprint of the food consumed in Oxford is twice as high as that of all of the cars v2.jpg

What can I do?

If you can, try any of the following:

  • Buy local food that hasn’t been transported so far
  • Eat less meat
  • Choose organic or sustainably produced foods
  • Grow your own food - super local and you know exactly how it has been produced!
  • Get involved with a community allotment project like Marston Community Gardening
  • Consider harvesting or foraging your own food (make sure you have permission and you go with someone who knows what they're doing)
  • Investigate local farm shops at Big Barn
  • Avoid or minimise buying foods that have been flown on a plane
  • Support local markets such as South Oxford Farmers’ Market, Wolvercote and North Oxford Farmers’ Market and East Oxford Farmers’ Market
  • Visit some of the other local sustainable organisations shown below

Local ideas sustainable food ideas

Click on the images for more details:

What is the problem with food waste?

When food is wasted the resources used to produce, pack and transport it are wasted too. Globally 33% of all food is wasted, which amounts to a very large amount of emissions. In addition, when wasted food rots it produces green houses gases, particularly methane, which is more than 20 times worse than carbon dioxide.

The huge impact of food waste on the environment means if we can reduce it we can have a major impact on the environment.

What can I do?

  • Plan your meals to minimise food waste
  • Recycle your food waste so that its resources are harnessed to produce energy
  • Compost your food waste for use on your garden
  • Take unneeded food to your local food bank
  • Watch our video of local people’s food waste tips
  • Try some family-friendly food waste ideas from Replenish
  • Try these recipes to use up waste food from LoveFoodHateWaste

Local organisations tackling food waste

Click the image for more details:

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Shopping in local shops and markets can minimise packaging

What is the problem with food packaging?

Plastic packaging takes a very long time to degrade and often ends up in our oceans, harming wildlife. According to the Ocean Conservancy, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish!

Only 9% of plastic is currently recycled. Producing plastic and recycling it both produce lots of green house gases. If we can reduce the amount of plastic we use this will benefit both the oceans and the climate.

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Oxford Community Action support food security by delivering emergency food parcels

Food Security

A sustainable food system can benefit people as well as the environment. Many local community organisations rely on Food Banks and food surplus projects to support their vulnerable members. Oxford Community Action, for example, provides emergency food packages to local people as part of its work to promote community development, social inclusion and social justice for diverse, multi-ethnic BAME communities. The Oxford Community Soup Kitchen feed and help people in need in Oxfordshire by a twice-weekly 3 course hot meal. By donating food, time and resources we can help to make Oxford a happy and sustainable place for all.