Food is essential to our everyday lives, but the way the majority of our food is produced, processed, transported, sold, consumed and disposed of is damaging our health and the environment. Brighton & Hove households waste 39,000 tonnes of food each year (over 60% of which is avoidable food waste). It is estimated that more that 30,000 tonnes of food waste was disposed of by businesses in Brighton & Hove in 2012. 26% of the city’s ecological foodprint is related to food and obesity costs the NHS in Brighton & Hove £78.1 million pounds a year. With rising food and fuel prices, high housing costs alongside reductions in many people’s income levels, food poverty is a concern (reference Chapter 6.4.6 of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for detail). Data related to premature deaths in England shows that Brighton & Hove ranks 98th worst out of 150 local authorities. Cancer, liver disease and heart disease are key contributors to premature death with poor diet and obesity a key factor in the cause of these deaths.
The current food system is unsustainable in the long term and many of the challenges we face as a city poverty, health inequalities, economic development, climate change and waste have a food dimension. But food is also part of our city’s identity, it is plays an important part in our culture and often central to life’s positive and enjoyable experience.
Our diets are influenced by many factors including culture, personal finances, knowledge and skills. The good news is that food that is good for the planet is often also good for us and making small changes to the way we eat – at home, in public institutions and when going out - can make a big difference.
Brighton & Hove is leading the way nationally in our approach of having a strategic framework for sustainable food work that unites different sectors via our Food Partnership.