Foreword by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands
Simply put, food sustains us. It clearly provides us with the energy and nutrients that we need to live, but it also nurtures us emotionally. It is at the centre of our social relationships as we sit down to a meal with family and friends. Producing food is at the heart of our coastal and rural communities, providing jobs, community and a way of life. Our fantastic food industry provides employment from the local farmers' market to the export of Scotland's finest produce across the globe. Food enables a healthy population to enjoy life to its fullest. Our establishment of the Good Food Nation body of work recognises this.
In fact food is so central to everything that we do that it can be taken for granted, and the supply chain that produces it sometimes overlooked. What we must do is provide it with the stewardship and care that it needs and deserves. Our food system faces challenges that we must tackle head on, and opportunities that Scotland is so well placed to take advantage of given our wonderful natural larder.
We have seen global food security threats stemming from the illegal invasion of Ukraine, and how trade in food with our neighbours in Europe continues to be disrupted and harmed because of Brexit. We saw the importance of the people that work in our food supply chain during the Covid-19 pandemic, as the people who picked fruit, drove lorries, and stacked shelves were rightly recognised by all as critical workers. The health of the people of Scotland depends on improving our relationship with food. The twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss can only be met if all parts of the food supply chain work together to make important changes.
Our solutions to these challenges need to recognise how interconnected and interdependent the food supply chain is. Every meal we eat is the result of the actions and decisions taken by countless individuals in farming, fishing, government, processing, transportation, retail, disposal, and other areas. Changes made in one part of the supply chain have far-reaching effects elsewhere. That is why I, and my colleagues in the Scottish Government, are committed to working ever more closely in a cross-cutting way on all aspects of our work that relate to food.
This first Good Food Nation Plan represents how the Scottish Government intends to work collectively together with the supply chain and with all parts of society in meeting our Good Food Nation ambitions. In our Good Food Nation, the people of Scotland can access and enjoy locally produced food that keeps them happy and healthy. Our food industry continues to thrive and grow. The environment is protected, biodiversity loss reversed, and our net zero ambitions achieved. A Good Food Nation enables flourishing rural and coastal communities.
Of course, the changes that we need to make to address those challenges and to take advantage of our incredible food producing capabilities will not happen overnight, not least because without the powers of full independence we do not have complete control of all the levers of food policy. Our approach to the Good Food Nation Plan recognises this. Here in this Plan we have brought together all of the work that the Scottish Government intends to carry out in the coming years and set our ambitions for the future. Future iterations of the Plan will build on this foundation. Since becoming the Cabinet Secretary in the Scottish Government responsible for food I have been struck by the passion, inventiveness, and determination of those that work across our food system. From farm to fishing boat; abattoir to factory; cooperative to board room; large business to charity; I have seen first-hand the incredible capability, skill, and potential that makes the Scottish food system something very special. It is by working together in delivering this Plan that we will take this next step on our Good Food Nation journey.
Mairi Gougeon MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands
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