Scroll down the page for the Live blogs of the talks.

Videos about Food

Danny Dorling on TED.com

See the world anew and discover hope for the future says Danny Dorling as his TEDxExeter talk is featured on TED.com.

We are delighted that Danny’s powerful talk has been featured on TED.com, the 6th talk from TEDxExeter to be featured on the main TED site.

“There are a huge number of good news stories in the world,” says Danny Dorling in his 2016 TEDxExeter talk: “Maps that show us who we are (not just where we are)”. And now his talk is on TED.com many more people around the world will hear about the constant, incremental changes for the better that rarely feature in the print and broadcast media.

Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford, challenges us to examine some of our beliefs about the world and open our minds to a new, often unreported reality. Using beautiful and unfamiliar world maps created by Ben Hennig (and shown in colour for the first time) he shows us that in many ways life is slowly getting better and there’s much to be optimistic about, as long as we continue to connect with each other.

“I’m very glad TED has decided to feature the talk I gave at TEDxExeter,” said Danny. “In it I examine new ways of viewing the world, its future, and how we can be a little less afraid if we do not see other people as being our enemy as much as we currently do. We currently fear people from other countries too much, we fear that those in faraway places are taking ‘our jobs’, we fear what we do not know. But if we begin to see the world as a whole, as the place from which we all get our food, as the place that we all pollute, then as our global population begins to stabilise we can learn to become less fearful. Some people learn faster than others. The British Prime Minister, Teresa May, recently said that ‘if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere’. It is not her fault that she was taught geography at time before we could map all the citizens of the world and see that we are each just such a citizen.”

“I hope you watch the talk if only to see the weird and wonderful ways in which Benjamin Hennig has remapped the planet. Seeing the earth shaped in proportion to the amount of rain that falls, and how that changes over a year, shows the planet as a single entity that almost appears to have an annual heartbeat. Seeing all the humans of the world drawn on a single projection can help us realise that imagining all of humanity as one is not beyond the scope of our collective imaginations. Let’s see the world anew!”

Ben Hennig has also used this method of remapping the world to map the result of the US presidential election and show that not only did most voters who voted not vote for Trump (which people know), but also that an even larger majority of Americans live in areas which did not vote for Trump. See more on Ben’s website Views of the World.

Democrat areas are coloured blue on Ben’s map of the election result. On the traditional map it looks as if Trump had a great deal of support. On the map adjusted to correctly represent the number of people living in an area it is made clear that only a small minority of Americans supported him and that he has only won office due to the US voting system and because there is so much disaffection there (so many people don’t vote).

Danny’s TEDxExeter talk was based on a book he wrote with Carl Lee called ‘Geography’.

His new book A Better Politics can be downloaded as a PDF here. The book was timed for publication on the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s book ‘Utopia’ which is this month (‘Utopia’ was originally published in Latin in very late 1516).

You can find out more about Danny’s work at dannydorling.org and @dannydorling.

Live blogs about Food

Carmel McConnell talk

CarmelMcConnell_portrait

CarmelMcConnell_portraitCarmel points out that we live in the 6th richest economy and a great loving country, but we are living towards the end of the worst economic downturn in 80 years. Prices have gone up and wages down, which has led to a problem of child hunger, and this is a real problem for education.

0.5m children in the country go to school too hungry to learn. Children get a great lunch, but the most important lessons are usually in the morning.

Carmel was researching a book on change activism, during which she spoke to headteachers about inequality. They all said that they had hungry children, and across the country, 55% of teachers are bringing in food for children. She asked why the parents aren’t feeding their children… and was told the parents are hungry too. Children were late or not attending school, because they were foraging for food, and they had behavioural problems.

So she started bringing food to five schools every day. And that made a difference. Children were attending and on time. They could focus, and behaviour and social interaction improved. Carmel therefore had a hard decision… continue to advise big business on making a difference, or make a difference herself.

She chose the latter, so now Magic Breakfast is delivering breakfast to 17,000 children every day, at a cost of 22p per child per day, or £45 per year. They want to reach the 0.5m sustainably, tackle holiday hunger, and make the case for change. They are only a small team, and need to be catalytic on the ground. Ofsted is on board, as the project is driving improvements in school performance.

Carmel tells the story of Zara, who is seven. She often needed to ask for food at cafés on the way to school, but often didn’t get any. She was at risk of being excluded for being naughty and affecting the whole school. But after a bagel and a glass of milk, she was settled and the whole school was ready to learn. She visited No.10 with the school, and sat in the PM’s seat. Perhaps Zara or one of those 0.5m could be PM one day?

Patrick Holden talk

Patrick Holden portrait

Patrick Holden portraitOur final session is about looking to the future, and feeding the future is a key issue.

Patrick wants to discuss food, so as has already been said, we’re all in. Farming has become more and more intensive, industrial and unsustainable… and unfit for purpose. His credentials for speaking draws on his decision, with 5 other possibly naive young people 40 years ago, to go back to the land in west Wales. And they put their organic principles into action.

Although the commune didn’t last, the farm did. They have had a herd of Ayrshire cows, and grew carrots for Cranks Restaurant and latterly for supermarkets and wheat milled on the farm. Now his son is turning the Ayrshire milk into cheese on the farm. So Patrick has been able to watch the land over a long period of time.

He has come up with a set of unifying principles which can be applied across scale, continents and climate: soil, health, diversity, resilience, culture and economics.

  • Over time it is possible not only to maintain but to build soil fertility.
  • Re health: pests, parasites and diseases reveal to us our management deficiencies. Instead of treating the symptoms of disease, we should be investigating the causes of health.
  • Diversity: if we farm with the grain of nature, it should be possible for biodiversity to work in harmony with respectable yields. The modern conservation movement mistakenly tries to protect nature against agriculture, and will always lose because big agriculture is the stronger force.
  • Resilience is about being able to weather sudden shocks. One way is to minimise exposure to fossil fuels.
  • The social, spiritual and cultural dimension is really important, otherwise we won’t be able to persuade young people back to farming.
  • The rest of the talk is about economics…

Forty years ago, the Common Agricultural Policy subsidised all sorts of unsustainable practices. So Patrick got involved in writing up organic and sustainable principles. Very valuable, but organic still only makes up 5% of the total market, not enough to break through into the mainstream. Why? Because the polluter isn’t paying, and the right practice isn’t getting rewarded.

True cost accounting is what’s needed. He talked with his mum a few weeks ago about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s failure to persuade people to buy better-reared but more expensive chickens. If all the hidden costs were factored into the equation, the cheap bird wouldn’t be cheap at all. His mum asked Patrick what was the real price of the cheap chicken… He didn’t know, but he is on the case, and is meeting soon with a group of experts to understand what all the externalities are, put a price on them, and work towards policy making the polluter pay.

What are we going to do in the meantime to tackle big agriculture not in the public interest? We should change our buying criteria for staple foods. Go into your supermarket (not too often!) and only buy your staple foods which are local, regional or at least national, and whose story of production is known and certified sustainable. It will be difficult, but don’t give up. Go to the customer services desk, and ask them to change their offering. And if they don’t, take your custom elsewhere. If everyone here changes their actions, then they will encourage others, become scaled up, and we will have taken a final step in creating a much more sustainable food system. Thank you.

More Information

Sustainable Food Trust

The Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit

Foresight report into “The Future of Food and Farming”

Patrick’s Do Lecture on “Why local is the answer”

Pam Warhurst talk

Pam Warhurst portrait

Pam Warhurst portraitImagine you’re in charge of Planet Inc. Billions are dependent on its success, but it’s in real trouble. You’re worried about your stakeholders. You’re worried about the story leaking to the press. What are you going to do? Not commission another bunch of reports. Urgent action is needed. Just maybe your business plan is wonky. So you ask your head of research to find case studies of how things could be different.

That’s when you find Incredible Edible Todmorden. It’s a market town up for actions not words, and it’s not going to ask permission from anybody.

There are three spinning plates – community, learning, business – putting local food at the heart. Propaganda gardens start springing up – veg along canals, back garden fences come down, edible landscapes at the police station. Little children are learning new skills and believing they can do something that’s really practical. Local traders are selling local everything you can name. There are new businesses. Environmental damage in the town is down 80%. All because people are willing to take on a ‘forever experiment’. And the town is buzzing. They know in their bones it is time for positive action.

Contrary to popular wisdom, people really are part of the solution, not the problem. There are many obstacles in the way of leading kinder lives. But Todmorden isn’t waiting for authorities’ permission or cheques to fall through the letterbox. They are rolling up their sleeves and getting on with it. As they see shoots growing from the ground, the shoots of power are growing within them.

It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen if you don’t want to do it. It’s captured the imagination of the police and the job centre. Positive positive positive is what it’s about, creating hope. The infectious spirit is spreading. The scouts have produced a  Grow It, Cook It, Eat It badge to go national. The local authority has created a land register. The school has put local food at the heart of the curriculum, and children are getting qualifications they wouldn’t have otherwise. Sheffield University found benefits to the local economy – 49% of local businesses had increased takings as a result, and the town has received £1m worth of free advertising through media stories, not to mention veg tourists.

All through spinning three plates.

There are now 40 more communities involved, and for those who might be interested: “If you eat, you’re in”. But fundamentally, for the executive of Planet Inc, “believe in the power of small actions.”

More Information

Incredible Edible Todmorden

Another of Pam’s talks at TEDSalon London: “How we can eat our landscapes”

Matt Harvey performance

Matt Harvey portrait

Matt Harvey portraitThe poet and Wondermentalist Cabaret presenter all the way from Totnes (twinned with Narnia), for the first of two slots.

His first poem, living the questions: “If love can build a bridge, can affection put up a shelf?”

(Laughter)

This is not his shortest poem, which is Botox: “Early onset taxidermy”. He hopes people weren’t offended by that poem, but if they were, how could we tell?

(More laughter)

The Love Food, Hate Waste campaign asked Matt to write a love poem to the potato, to the whole potato. We clapped his first effort, but the campaign didn’t. So he wrote effort number 2: “No spud is dud. If you get all sprouty, don’t go all throwy-outy!”

(Even more laughter)

Less is More: if we have less of something, we have more of something else. That’s physics – trust him. “Less haze, more stars; more community, less isolation; less passive listening, MORE PARTICIPATION!”

(Laughter and applause)

More Information

Here’s Matt Harvey’s website, Less is More, and a very pertinent poem on slugs.

Wondermentalist Cabaret