The Scottish Government consultation paper Becoming a Good Food Nation set out an aspiration for Scotland to become a 'Good Food Nation'. This would entail a cross-policy approach encompassing - amongst other things - health and wellbeing, environmental sustainability and local food production, as well as the continued development of the food and drink sector. Views were invited on a range of matters relevant to achieving the vision set out. The 229 submissions included written responses, survey responses and feedback from stakeholder events.
The overall message from the consultation was one of widespread support and, indeed, enthusiasm for the aspiration for Scotland to become a Good Food Nation. Respondents welcomed the cross-policy approach, and recognised the benefits that the successful implementation of such a programme might deliver. The Good Food Nation agenda was seen by some as providing an opportunity to encourage debate and bring coherence to this cross-cutting issue.
Alongside this broad support, however, there was a recognition that this is a very challenging and long-term agenda which would require to be underpinned by a clear blueprint for action. Respondents highlighted the complex policy terrain, the array of stakeholders, the many competing interests, and the inherent tensions between different strands of the vision (e.g., in relation to environmental sustainability and economic growth). There was a widespread view that any focus on economic growth would need to be framed in terms of sustainable economic growth. Respondents emphasised the importance of translating the vision into a clear plan with agreed definitions and measurable aims and objectives, specific actions, and adequate funding and support.
The five proposed priorities for action all attracted some support, with 'food in the public sector', and 'local food' both affirmed on a broad basis. 'Economic growth' was a particularly high priority for those involved in the food producer, retail, and enterprise sectors but was thought to be less important by respondents from other sectors. The other priorities - 'a children's food policy' and 'good food choices' - attracted more mixed comments, although respondents from all sectors were clear that improving the diet of children was vital. In terms of the overall coverage and balance of the vision, there was a strongly expressed view across all respondent types that addressing food poverty was essential to being a Good Food Nation.
Respondents wished to see an inclusive, integrated and bold approach which capitalised on the full range of available policy levers. The importance of a robust evidence-based approach was affirmed (both in terms of developing policy and monitoring progress and success), and there was a desire to link to, and learn from, international evidence and experience. The proposed Food Commission was seen as having a clear role in coordinating effort and providing leadership.
The consultation responses indicated a high level of commitment to the Good Food Nation concept. There was a clear appetite to build on the many initiatives (at national, local and community levels) already running in Scotland. Individual respondents also described a range of ways in which they would like to contribute to Scotland becoming a Good Food Nation in a personal capacity.
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Food, Drink and Rural Communities
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