Tamworth black pig

How I Decided Whether to Eat Meat – Part 1: Spiking Vegetarians

Gavin Wren Food Opinion Pieces, Writing

Meat has received a lot of criticism recently, yet, in itself, it’s done nothing wrong. What has served up a big heap of wrong is society’s relationship with meat and the food industry’s pursuit of it, on a global level.

This is the first of a six-part story of meat and how I decided whether to continue eating it.

Spiking Vegetarians

My childhood diet was firmly in the meat ’n’ two veg category. Cooking was the sole responsibility of my mother, who, despite adventurous tendencies, relied on the formulaic meat plus carbs and veg principle. Grilled chicken breasts, sausages, a piece of fish or pork chops, surrounded by vegetables and spuds, or a good smattering of spag bol made with beef mince and slippery pasta.
Birthdays gave the birthdee free-reign over dinner, choosing whatever delicious morsels their stomach craved and my favourite treat was a meat fondue. A…

sustainability awkward

Sustainability — The Most Awkward Word in Food

Gavin Wren Food Opinion Pieces, Writing

Sustainability. What a word, eh? Just look at it, all six of it’s magnificently uncomfortable syllables lined up in a row, begging to be used as frequently as possible in government, the corporate world or as shorthand for anyone who wishes to demonstrate how planetarily woke they are. Making potato peel crisps or porridge patties? That’s REAL LIFE sustainability happening right before your eyes.

In reality, sustainability is a bit dull, you can’t go out on date night for some sexy sustainability, or have a quiet Sunday relaxing on the sofa with some sustainability. It’s not a hobby or a team sport, you can’t get together with your pals on a Tuesday evening at the local leisure centre and play a few rounds of sustainability. Sustainability is like a beautiful butterfly, fluttering around, touching everything we see, yet, should we reach out to grasp it, it will evade our capture…

Food is Complex as Hell and Your Cause is Not the Only Answer

Gavin Wren Food Opinion Pieces, Writing

Yesterday I attended a talk at Hay Festival entitled ‘Feeding the Nine Billion’, which very quickly qualified that the large population growth predicted for the next thirty years will almost exclusively be found in developing countries.

This news is no surprise, it’s long been acknowledged that parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America are growing at a rapid rate and this is where our ‘global community’ will be developing the most. The chair, Jonathon Harrington, an agronomy advisor and fierce proponent of GM crops, began by saying this was the most important question of the day and wanted to see how we could solve it in an hour.

For a discussion of developing world issues, it was acutely amusing that this talk featured the whitest audience I’ve seen at a food talk for a long time, and that’s really saying something, for a genre of events which is famed for…

are you privileged af then use it

Are You Privileged AF? OK, Then Use It

Gavin Wren Food Opinion Pieces, Writing

Have you ever shoplifted food because you couldn’t afford to buy it?

Not because you were drunk and it seemed a giggle, or because you stole sweets from the corner shop when you were eleven years old to impress your friends, or because you were trying to fund a smack habit or because you went through a phase of life where stealing seemed like good entertainment.

Have you ever found yourself in the situation where the only remaining feasible option to stave off hunger remaining open to you, is taking food without paying for it, from a business?

That is the question that Matthew Thomson put to a room of ~150 academics, charity and food workers, many of whom have, or will be, studying food poverty.

The answer was 4 or 5.

The discussion was on ‘lived experience’ and ‘experts by experience’, which are the catchy academic monikers given to…

Unpopular Opinion Cooking is Dull

Unpopular Opinion: Cooking is Dull

Gavin Wren Food Opinion Pieces, Writing

Heretic. Who would dare say such a thing? Certainly not a ‘foodie’, that’s for sure.

Eating is the foundation of life on earth, across continents and through species, but cooking is the technique that homo-sapiens has adopted for it’s unique spin on this primeval process. No other living creature cooks what they eat, it’s unique to us, the humans.

If I had a pound for every time someone told me cooking skills will solve virtually all problems with the food world, I’d be an extremely wealthy man. It’s oft repeated, quoted rote in the face of any question about making the world healthy again. It is, of course, a marvellous skill, perhaps one that I take for granted, because I’ve done a lot of it.

From my young days spent licking cake mix off a spoon in my mum’s kitchen, through being occasionally dumped in a hotel kitchen to…

Is it Time to Make a Withdrawl from Food Banks

Is it Time to Make a Withdrawl from Food Banks?

Gavin Wren Food Opinion Pieces, Writing

I’m back in the world of the living, after two days solid of listening to, and talking about some incredible work at the first UK conference on food and poverty. The over-riding theme was food banks, there were research projects on food banks, lived experiences of food banks, food bank observations, food bank quantitative data, food bank volunteers and food bank organisers, it was a veritable orgy of food bank evidence.

On the last day, in her summing up, Rachel Loopstra reminded the audience that food poverty extends beyond food banks, in fact, food banks represent a thin slice of food poverty, yet they receive the most attention. We’d do well to make sure our academic lenses are trained more keenly on food poverty as a whole, rather than this singular, albeit high profile, avenue of emergency food aid.

Perhaps it’s the tendency for humans to assign pigeon-holes…