Another Meal is Possible Falkirk Workshop

The Friends of the Earth Falkirk food event on the 1 November was an invitation to talk about a meal. You can’t talk about food without getting hungry so the event started with food. Soup made with local. organic produce and Fairtrade tea and coffee. 

The workshop started with an introduction to some of the food campaigns Friends of the Earth Falkirk have been involved in over the past 7 years. The group have explored local food through shared meals where people are encouraged to bring a dish and talk about the food issues which the dish represent. The concept of a LOAF meal. *Local, Organic and/ or Fairtrade The phrase was shared at a talk on the Fife Diet by Mike Small in Falkirk at the start of the Fife Diet project. The six themes of the Fife Diet were shared with the group:

Eat Local (80/20 split)
Compost more
Waste less
Be more organic
Eat less meat
And grow some of their own food

Friends of the Earth Falkirk have campaigned on all the Fife Diet themes. This has included stalls to promote of local food on Falkirk High Street, workshops in reducing packaging waste within the community which led to an action outside Morrison’s Supermarket with group members dressed as peppers wrapped in cellophane with the banner “Let us breath” to highlight that individual peppers were being packaged totally unnecessary in the store.

Over the past 5 years the group has also developed 4 community gardens in central Falkirk, including a vegetable garden just of Falkirk High Street. The highlight of the community garden year is the Soup and Stovies event which produces a meal from the harvest from the vegetable garden. A meal which is rooted in Falkirk and celebrates local  food and volunteering.

There was 9 participants at the workshop 4 members of the local group and 5 guests who responded to the invitation to (talk about) a meal. Norman Philip, who was facilitating the session, explained there was talk about a food event would simply be “preaching to the converted”. It was hoping that everyone at the session were passionate about food and would be willing to share their passion.  The hope for the session was that those present would consider some individual actions they could take and help shape future Friends of the Earth campaigns on food in Falkirk.

At the start of the workshop everyone was given a paper plate and asked to draw their favourite meal. People were then asked to share their favourite meal and explain where they get the ingredients from.

By sharing what everyones favourite meal was within the group there was discussion about the emotional link to food. Someone shared their birthday meal that has become a family tradition, someone else shared their favourite dish which their mother used to make which they now are able to make, including growing all the ingredients them self. Other themes included the pleasure of food and importantly the taste of food. The aim of this first exercise was to highlight that food is not just a commodity which we buy and sell. When people explained were they bought, or for some grew, the ingredients there was a discussion about the lack of local food available in Falkirk. The few shops that have sold local food in Falkirk Town Centre have either closed or moved out of town. Supermarkets have dominated the food market, even for “converted” shoppers who care where their food comes from. There ware some great examples of locally produced food, including flour, veg box boxes schemes and dairy. And some examples of attempts to improve access to local food that hasn’t worked, like the monthly Friday farmers market, which people think is a shadow of its former self.

Using the themes of Local, Organic and Fairtrade people were asked to think of some of the options available that could make their favourite dishes more sustainable.

People Matter
The second exercise involved thinking about all the people who would be involved in the production of their local meal taking into account every ingredient- including herbs, spices, and oils. This prompted a discussion on the hidden people involved in the growing, processing, distribution and retail of food, which is often invisible- both in terms of the conditions of the workers and within the price of the food. Even people who grew a lot of their own food recognised the human web which surrounds their diet. 

How can our food be so cheap, in relative terms, when so many people are involved in the food system which feeds us?

The Environment Matter
The third section of the discussion considered the energy involve in the production of our food and the impact on the environment. 

What are the energy inputs required to get our food to our tables?

Think about the need for oil at every stage of of the production of your meal.

The energy used to produce our food also has an impact on the communities which live by the production of that energy and the agrochemical products used in the global food system. Less than three miles from the workshop there is an oil refinery operated by Ineos and a gas plant operated by BP, with a pipeline direct to North Sea oil platforms.  Also in the town of Grangemouth there is a Syngenta factory, one of the biggest biotech corporations in the world, and Calachem who also produce agrochemicals. Friends of the Earth Falkirk have campaigned on the Environmental Justice issues associated with a community living on the fence line of so many polluting factories in one town. 

The exploitation of onshore oil and gas through Coal Bed Methane and Shale Gas through drilling and Fracking is the latest threat to the communities around Falkirk would be risk   of contaminate of our food system.

Food sovereignty

To finish the discussion Norman introduced the group to a new concept- Food sovereignty 
Norman showed a picture on Via Campesina he took on the streets of Paris during the UN Climate Change Talks.

Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.

The Nyéléni forum collated a set of six 'Pillars of Food Sovereignty' which now form the accepted definition of Food Sovereignty:

1.    Focuses on food for people - values the right to sufficient, healthy, culturally appropriate food, rejecting the proposition that food is just another commodity.
2.    Values food providers - values and supports contributions from all food providers, and rejects policies, actions and programmes that undervalue them.
3.    Localises food systems - brings food providers and consumers closer together
4.    Puts control locally - places control over natural resources in the hands of local food providers and respects their rights
5.    Builds knowledge and skills - supports the passing of wisdom to future generations, rejecting technologies that undermine, threaten or contaminate this (e.g. genetic engineering)
6.    Works with nature - values the contributions of nature, and rejects methods that harm beneficial ecosystem functions, damage the environment & contribute to global warming  

Individual pledges and community action

The session ended with the reminder that even by preaching to the converted there is a hope that everyone who attended would take some personal action following the discussion and inputs. 

Individual Actions

Increase the amount of local food and eat and support Scottish growers more often

I have become too reliant on supermarkets again- commit to move back to alternatives 

Focus on packaging of food

By direct from local shops and local producers 

cook from scratch more

Find more locally sourced veg etc

I will buy grains elsewhere versus supermarkets

What should Friends of the Earth Falkirk Campaign on:        Campaigns Rooted in Falkirk 

I’d like to see a resource of where to buy local food and information on how to start gowing food myself. 

Engage with procurement in Falkirk Council for food to buy specific local organic foods
menu planning so overall budget may actually be reduced.

Community cooking and eating sessions

promote food for free  Rasps, Elders, Rosehips, Haws

More gardening\ food growing




A series of reports published by the Scottish Government today (Tuesday 8 November) contain damning evidence on the impacts of developing a shale gas fracking and coalbed methane industry in Scotland.

The reports say:

Climate Change Impacts: developing an unconventional gas industry will make it harder to meet our climate targets; left unregulated the emissions footprint due to methane leakage could be substantial

Health: there is sufficient evidence to determine that a number of air and water born environmental hazards would be likely to occur as a result of UOG operations; evidence that UOG workers health could be at risk from the use of silica in fracking operations; evidence of other UOG hazards that could pose a risk to the health of nearby residents

Economy: unclear if industry commercially viable; current low oil prices mean extremely challenging climate to develop UOG; central production scenario would only contribute on average 0.1% GDP, see a direct spend of £2.2bn in Scotland up to 2062, and only bring 1,400 direct and indirect jobs

Transport: increase in traffic from could result in more noise, emissions, road damage and accidents; local communities could experience increase in traffic numbers over many years

In his statement to the Scottish Parliament this afternoon Energy and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP emphasised the importance of remembering that shale gas and coalbed methane resources are located in the most densely populated part of country.

Friends of the Earth Head of Campaigns Mary Church said:

"Fracking is bad for the climate, bad for public health and won't do much good for the economy. That's the damning verdict of the independent studies published by the Scottish Government today, echoing the concerns of communities across the country.

"The economic case for pursuing an unconventional gas industry in Scotland simply doesn't stand up, while the risks of doing so could be utterly devastating for communities and the environment. No state has had a moratorium on fracking, looked at the evidence and decided it’s a good idea.

"Support for fracking is at an all time low. People just don't want this dirty, dangerous industry. We are confident that when the Scottish people are given a chance to have their say in the forthcoming Government consultation, the answer will be a resounding 'no' to fracking."

Another meal is possible


How to let go of the world and love all the things climate can't change screenings

Josh Fox, the director of the award winning Gas Lands, brings his new film to Scotland at the end of his UK Tour. On Monday 17th October Josh will introduce his film at two Odeon screenings in Edinburgh - Wester Hailes @ 6 pm & Glasgow - Springfield Quay @ 8.30pm.

see the Trailer here


25 08 16 Soup and Stovies

Soup and Stovies 2016
A celebration of local food and community gardening. 

Bean Row Potato, Sweet Potato, Carrot. Bean Row Onion
Haggis Stovies
Bean Row Potato, Vegetarian Haggis, Turnip
Rhubarb Crumble 
Bean Row Rhubarb, Crumble, Soya Cream
     Fairtrade Tea and Coffee 

Before this years Soup and Stovies meal Friends of the Earth Falkirk had a stall on the High Street during the Falkirk Charities Day. The stall had fresh lavender from our Arnot Street Community Garden which we handed out to local residents. The stall promoted our community gardens, local food, bee friendly gardening and provided information on Unconventional Gas. Hopefully there will be a few new community gardens after the enthusiastic discussions we had on the high street. 

This years Soup and Stovies was our 5th community meal on our community Garden. Despite the rain a tasty three course meal was served up. Each course had at least one ingredient from our Bean Row Garden, just off Falkirk High Street, where the meal was served.

I provided the soup using potatoes and onions harvested the week before when he welcomed visitors to our community garden to take part in the harvest. Traditionally the soup has beans as a main ingredient but for some unknown reason our bean plants weren’t good this year. 

Jean provided the main course, and despite not been able to attend the event in person, she surpassed all expectations with, in my humble opinion, the best stovies ever. They were a Burn’s Supper of a stovies which were just perfect for a wet and windy evening. With the main ingredient of stovies being potatoes it is the perfect dish for the potatoes literally grown under the feet of the diners. 

The Bean Row rhubarb at the corner of the garden can sometimes be harvested be local interest before we can harvest it for ourself. Luckily this year we had a healthy harvest and Neil turned the fresh rhubarb into a very tasty rhubarb crumble. As the crumble was made to a vegan recipe the dish was served with a soya cream so that everyone at the meal was able to share all the dishes together. 

Norman Philip
Local Group Co-ordinator


Soup and Stovies Meal at our Bean Row Garden Saturday 20 August 4.30 to 6pm

The Friends of the Earth Falkirk Soup and Stovies Community Meal will be held at the later time of 4.30 to 6pm on Saturday 20 August, after the Charities Day on Falkirk High Street. Meet at our community garden on Bean Row for Soup and Stovies with produce from the Bean Row Garden itself.  Food will provided on a first come first served basis and Fairtrade Tea and Coffee will be available throughout.

Come celebrate our harvest!