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Oxfordshire Council's sustainable food policy achieves cabinet approval

A plan for less-and-better meat and dairy, more local sourcing, plant-based catering in events and more meat free options in schools will go ahead following today's cabinet vote.

Field in Oxfordshire. Credit: Simon Godfrey unsplash

Field in Oxfordshire. Credit: Simon Godfrey unsplash

Oxfordshire Council's policy means that only plant-based food will be served during the seven meetings of full council each year. The policy also proposes to increase the number of plant-based options on school menus and develop a strategy to empower students to make informed decisions about their diet including food-growing, preparation and waste-avoidance.

Sustain has released a statement welcoming the news:

Welcoming Oxfordshire County Council’s new food policy

Oxfordshire Council are to be applauded for recognising the role our food choices make to the climate and nature emergency. Improving the food bought for schools and council catering can reduce greenhouse gasses, whilst promoting health and supporting the local economy.

Eating some meat-free meals is compatible with both plant-based and meat-based diets and continues to offer lots of choice. Food derived from animals has a huge impact on the climate and our health. This is about shifting the balance of what we eat more towards healthier and planet-friendly eating and eliminating waste.

Good Food Oxfordshire has been working with the local farming sector, councils, catering providers and other food businesses to encourage local and dynamic food procurement. This will benefit all local producers – of vegetables, fruit, grains, pulses and beans as well as local farmers of meat, dairy and eggs.

Farmers and people working to reduce the gigantic climate impact of food have a common cause; to stop industrialised agricultural practices and support sustainable farmers.

Our diets and the way we use our land must shift to tackle the climate and nature emergency. In the UK, large-scale industrialised animal agriculture is increasing, with animals routinely kept in small cages. Globally, the land used for animal feed is driving catastrophic deforestation and biodiversity loss. At the same time, more British farmers are adopting agro-ecological methods supporting nature recovery. Organisations committed to Net Zero must shift food buying to help agro-ecological farming make a decent living.

The public sector must do more to support farmers

The public sector currently buys too little high-quality, sustainably produced British produce. National food buying standards are too often ignored. Sustain’s Back British Farmers campaign is calling for public sector caterers to be required to buy from sustainable farmers and to support British farming.

Councils are to be applauded for adopting a less-and-better approach to meat and dairy across procurement, increasing the use of seasonal vegetables and pulses in meat dishes, offering good meat-free options and serving 'better' animal products including free range, pasture-fed, organic and locally-sourced meat.

Published 15 Mar 2022

Food for the Planet: Food for the Planet is helping local authorities, businesses and organisations take simple actions to tackle the climate and nature emergency through food.

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