Good food nation
Wellbeing at the heart of the food system
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small NGO (under 50 employees)
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
We collaborate with a wide range of NGOs, faith groups, academics, food producers and community groups through the Scottish Food Coalition and otherwise
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
Land area 80,000 km2
Sea area 460,000 km2
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
My family is from Scotland and I have lived and worked here most of my life. My wife and children are Scottish. For the last twenty years I have run a small (140 acre) farm a few miles south of Edinburgh.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
This is the front cover of Nourish's Food Atlas of Scotland. It is the map of Scotland's diverse soils, with each colour representing a different soil type
Scotland is a small nation of around 5 million people and the northernmost part of the United Kingdom. While it's home to Glasgow and Edinburgh - two world-famous cities - much of Scotland is sparsely populated. 70% of the country is classified as 'remote rural' and is home to only 6% of the population, while 83% of the population live in the 2% of land classified as urban. Land ownership is highly concentrated, with more than half of the land owned by less than 500 landowners.
Scotland is a marine country - its territorial waters are 6 times its land area and it has nearly 800 islands and around 10,000 miles of coastline. It lands around 2/3rds of the UK's wild fish catch.
85% of the land is classified as 'less favoured area' - either too steep, too rocky, too wet or too mountainous to be suitable for cropping, and so livestock farming is the predominant land use.
Although it stretches from 54 degrees N to 60 degrees N, the Gulf Stream means that it has a temperate climate, if a bit wet and dark at times.
Scotland is a country in a second historical transition. From 1770 to 1850 it went from being one of the most rural countries in Europe to one of the most urban, and this rapid change triggered a dietary transition to highly processed cheap food with few vegetables or fruit. Having been dominated by heavy industry from 1850-1970, rapid deindustrialisation in the 1970s and 1980s has left a scar on Scotland's public health and we have the lowest life expectancy and the highest level of obesity in Western Europe. At the same time, devolution of power to the Scottish Parliament has created a new sense of nationhood, with more progressive social attitudes, greater gender equity and a thriving cultural economy. The huge growth of renewable energy generation has allowed Scotland to agree a word-leading climate change policy.
Historically a country from which people emigrated all over the world, Scotland has recently started to attract inward migration from the EU and globally, stimulating greater diversity in our businesses, universities, politics and communities. For these historic reasons, migration is generally seen in a positive light in Scotland, and this in part accounts for Scotland having voted strongly to remain in the EU while England voted to leave.
Scotland is a net food exporter: its main products are whisky and seafood (including farmed salmon), and it also exports beef, lamb, potatoes and soft fruit. At the same time, the Scottish diet is notoriously low on vegetables, and the dietary inequalities between rich and poor are growing. 8% of Scotland's households (and 20% of single parents) reported experiencing food insecurity last year, and food bank usage continues to grow.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
Environment Agriculture accounts for over 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. Farmland birds in Scotland are still in decline. We waste too much nitrogen and use too much pesticide. We import around half of the food that we eat. Supply chain food waste remains high.
Diets Scotland invented fast food in the19th century. The 'jelly piece' - white bread and cheap jam - was thrown out of the window of the tenement flats to feed the 'weans' playing below. Now like the rest of the UK, we have a diet which is too low in fibre and vegetables, too high in sugar, salt and fat and ultra-processed food.
5% of Scots are on the national diabetes register. Diet also contributes to high levels of heart disease, dental caries, stroke and cancer. 65% of adults are overweight.
Economy Around 1 in 7 jobs in Scotland is in the food sector. Scotland's food (and drink) exports are a key part of the Scottish Government's economic case for independence. The current industry strategy aims to double the value of the sector, which is in tension with environment and climate change policies.
Many jobs in retail and catering are poorly paid and insecure, and primary producers also struggle to make a living. Economic pressures may increase after Brexit, either because of trade barriers (90% of Scottish lamb is exported), labour shortages, or changes to subsidies once the UK has control of these.
Culture Scotland has an uneasy relationship with food. We have had a cheap food culture since the repeal of the Corn Laws. There is also a distinctive sense in Scotland that being interested in food is a bit pretentious.
The rural clearances had the effect of disconnecting most city dwellers completely from the land. Most of us didn’t grow up knowing what grows here and when it’s ready, how to pick and cook it.
We have a very weak local food economy. We have high nutritional standards for school and hospital food, but we pay much less attention to the social context of the food, and catering staff are not seen as part of the team with teachers and doctors.
Technology While some Scottish farms are state of the art, others rely on techniques which their grandparents used.
Most farmers in Scotland have learned ‘on the job’ from their parents, and many of those who went to college twenty or thirty years ago have had no training since. Indeed, some of the training and advice on offer to farmers is also in need of updating.
Much of the new technology we need is in the farmer’s head – thinking differently about what farming is for, and seeing herself as an experimental scientist and an ecological steward. The new sensors and robots will help farmers manage complexity such as agroforestry and biodiversity, rather than default to simplicity.
We also need a modern glasshouse sector so we can grow our own Mediterranean vegetables, fruits and nuts.
Policy Since 2007 Scotland has had an overall food strategy, This has evolved from a primary focus on industry to a more balanced approach across departments, but of course tensions remain. The new Good Food Nation bill offers the potential of greater policy coherence.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Our vision will address the challenges above by changing over time the way we think about food and its place in our national life. We are not alone in this work. As well as convening the Scottish Food Coalition which includes faith groups, trade unions, academics, environment and health NGOs, food producers and community groups, we are part of a broader food movement working for change in Scotland.
Our vision is not one particular technique or project. It is building a consensus on the direction of travel for Scotland’s food system, one rooted in social and environmental justice.
The climate and nature emergencies provide an opportunity to focus attention on the food system which is the single biggest cause of these emergencies, and to do some new thinking about what better looks like. There is a tendency to keep thinking in silos. Some people want to regulate calories more, but are not interested in how or where the food is produced. Some people want to cut greenhouse gas emissions by doing the same more intensively, but are not interested in animal welfare or the impact on biodiversity. Some people want to rewild the countryside but are content for us to import more food from other places which are losing their wilderness.
There are technical challenges, but the primary challenge is to repurpose the food system, to be clear what counts as success. If we wanted to design a food system which nourishes everyone, provides good livelihoods, respects animals and restores the planet, it would look very different from the one we have just now. Our task is to work with others so we can all imagine better what that new system would look like, and find the boldness to spend the next thirty years creating it.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
It’s more than 20 years since the last food bank closed in Scotland, and none of today’s children and young people have that memory of shame and anxiety.
Our diet’s changed remarkably. We’re eating more than twice as much vegetables, fruit and nuts, with much of it home grown in the community-owned glasshouses. We’re still eating some meat but it’s all grass-fed organic beef and lamb from Scotland, along with wild venison and game in season. A lot of the beef now comes from the dairy herd where all the calves stay with their mothers. No animals spend their lives in crowded sheds.
Most bread is sourdough from whole Scottish grains, and there’s a thriving network of local bakeries. Rightsize technology means that bakeries can mill their own grain and bake with fresh flour.
All the food we import meets the global stewardship standard – good for people, good for animals, good for the planet
Agroforestry planted in the 2020s has transformed the landscape, reducing flooding, locking up soil carbon, increasing wildlife and improving animal welfare. Scotland went pesticide-free in 2035.
We now have more farmers and growers than we did – with 40% women – and the social contract agreed with the sector means that it’s much more widely valued as a profession, with good training and long-term public support.
Most people are now on a contract for their food supply, rather than pay as you go. There are far more small-medium suppliers, many of them social enterprises. The ‘our planet, our health’ levy introduced on the large caterers and retailers ensured that their overall offer now aligns with the needs of people and planet. People are amazed to see the old pictures with aisles of crisps and sweets.
The biggest change is the community diners - places where community members get together to cook and share meals. Pretty much everyone is a member of at least one diner.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
At a meeting of the South Asia Nitrogen Hub in Colombo, a project Nourish is working on with partners from the UK and the 8 South Asian countries
The community meal at one of our partners in the Dignity Project
The Farming 1.5 panel of farmers, scientists and environmental NGOs co-convened by Nourish Scotland and the National Farmers Union of Scotland
Pete Ritchie from Nourish and Mairi Gougeon Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment at the Nourish conference
MSPs from 4 parties in the Q&A session at the Nourish conference
teams working on their report at the conference
Participants at the Nourish conference 'Game Plan for a Good Food Nation'
The Russian dolls which the teams used at the conference
One of the teams at our Game Plan for a Good Food Nation conference
Our vision is of a food system consciously designed to generate wellbeing - of people, of farm animals, of the planet.
It addresses the many interconnected themes of agriculture and land use, ecosystem restoration, human nourishment and health, secure livelihoods for food workers, food culture and hospitality, food waste and loss. We have described some of the strategies for change in particular parts of the food system in our Food Atlas. http://www.nourishscotland.org/resources/food-atlas/
Our vision recognises that we currently have market failure in the food system. Despite having the technology and resources to nourish everyone on the planet while restoring nature, we are not doing that. Instead, we are allowing high levels of malnutrition to continue and we are continuing to degrade the natural capital on which our food system depends.
So the core change needed is not a new technology introduced into the current model, but a new way of thinking about food and a new approach to food governance - at local, national and international level. Once we are clear about what we want the food system to achieve, then it is possible to have a coherent approach.
A ‘Good Food Nation’ bill will shortly be introduced to the Scottish Parliament with cross-party support, as a result of several years of advocacy by Nourish Scotland and our allies. This is described by Government as a ‘framework’ bill which is intended to provide a coherent approach to food policy, with new duties on government and on other public bodies. Civil society, including Nourish Scotland, is calling for a ‘right to food’ on the face of the Bill and for ambitious sectoral targets such as halving the environmental footprint of the Scottish shopping basket.
Our vision is not all about top down. We do need government to regulate, to invest in changing the system and to provide leadership. However, this is a cultural change as well as a technical and economic change. It is about a different approach to food, a different relationship with food. So cities, communities, businesses, schools and universities all have to be part of this cultural shift. For example, our current model of retail is based on a 19th century model of market stalls, and many of our successful retailers grew from that base. However, as these businesses have grown to have a global reach, they have to revise their purpose - from making a margin between buying and selling to a vital role in nourishing the population.
Closer alignment of public and private goals is needed, along with a clear shared vision of success; and synergy between different levels of food policy from local to global. A (much) better food system is possible
How is this vision informed by people and agriculture in Scotland?
Over the last six years since Nourish Scotland was set up with this vision, we have run and spoken at workshops and conferences involving thousands of people across Scotland. Our ‘Kitchen Table Talks’ in 2018 involved 800 people discussing their vision of a good food nation. 1400 people from our networks responded to the Government’s consultation on a Good Food Nation bill.
We are currently working with the National Farmers Union of Scotland on 'Farming 1.5' - a joint project to align agriculture with the goal of net zero emissions.
At the same time, we work directly with people who have to rely on foodbanks, and engage them in reshaping the services they use, based on the principle of dignity. (see report)
Our recent conference 'Game Plan for a Good Food Nation' had 150 people from many different backgrounds working in 14 teams to develop not just their vision for a good food nation but how to get there. Teams worked through the change equation (Dissatisfaction x vision x Knowledge of the first steps > Resistance) to develop their own game plans (see photos).
One of our 'thinking tools' at the Nourish conference was the Russian dolls (see photo). (This is my original insight which I have used over the years in different contexts).
Everyone sees the outer doll - what the system delivers, the visible physical and financial resources. People always say 'we need more resources, more money, better seeds, more machines' - then we could do the right thing
But you can't change that very much, because it reflects the shape of the dolls inside. So you have to keep looking at the dolls inside. First you come to the skills which make use of the resources: people always see 'we need more training, more education
Then you come to the structures and rules which decide how the resources are deployed and managed. People always say ' we need a new structure, more collaboration, we need to reform the departments'.
And then right at the heart are the little dolls - purpose and inside that values. These shape all the other dolls. What is most important? What is the purpose of our work?
Major change only comes about when we get to the core and redefine values and purpose. Before then, there is tension for a long time as we try to work with a system where the dolls are trying to change shape and they grind up against each other and don't fit properly. That's where we are just now with the food system.
We also work with asylum-seekers and refugees, bakers, world-leading scientific researchers, local councillors, food businesses and members of Parliament.
There is a will for change. People in Scotland know we can do better with food, much better.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?
Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.
Our original vision included key pathways to transformation:
No more foodbanks
A global stewardship standard
The ‘ one planet, one health’ levy on retailers
People having a contract for food rather than pay as you go
During refinement, our team, partners and roundtables brought in many insights, amplified by the COVID-19 crisis and living in lockdown.They asked us to include:
Wild fish and aquaculture
Restoring derelict land
Allotments, community gardens and private gardens
Recycling of organic matter
Farmer education, new entrants
More time (shorter working hours)
Revaluing food and the people who make it
Social and natural capital
True cost accounting
Food as a human right
Diversity and pluralism in all contexts
Local food economy/re-regionalisation
Positive animal welfare
Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).
Charlie Hanks, community baker
David and Wilma Finlay, Ethical Dairy – organic dairy, where the calves are kept with their mothers to suckle
Andrew Whitley, author, baker, founder of Scotland the Bread – a project to grow better grain and bake better bread
Heather Anderson, farmer, owner of Whitmuir Organics, local councillor
Sam Parsons, farm manager
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds – the largest nature conservation charity in the UK
Mhairi Snowden, Human Rights Consortium – the civil society network to promote human rights in Scotland
Open Seas – a charity working to protect our marine environment and its inhabitants
Obesity Action Scotland – a unit providing clinical leadership and advocacy on preventing and reducing obesity
Mary Brennan, Chair of Food Marketing and Society, University of Edinburgh, member of Food Researchers in Edinburgh
Brian Wynne, founding Board member of European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility
Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.
The vision for Scotland as a Good Food Nation has been in development for a decade. It was central to constituting Nourish in 2012. In 2014 we ran a nation-wide consultation roadshow, inviting the public to shape the Good Food Nation policy. In 2018 we engaged over 800 people in Kitchen Table Talks in advance of the Good Food Nation Bill consultation. In 2019 our conference of 150 deliberated next steps towards this transition. Our participation in the Prize is part of this ongoing collective effort.
During the refinement phase we hosted virtual roundtable discussions on the 6 themes with a diverse range of stakeholders from in Scotland and beyond. In total 50 people participated representing farmers, policy-influencers, researchers, bakers, community food initiatives, unions and many others. The full list is attached as ‘stakeholder overview’.
During the meetings participants discussed the challenges and opportunities in their place and work, and were invited to co-create our refined vision by sharing their insight on what Scotland’s future food system could look like and current drivers and signals of change. The contributions of those who participated are traceable in our vision under every theme. These are captured in the attached presentation ‘co-created’.
Nourish Scotland has a broad membership base representing the larger good food movement in Scotland. We invited members to contribute to our vision, particularly to participate in future casting ideas, through our newsletters.
Finally, our staff team of 10 was at the heart drafting this iteration of the vision, bringing to bear not only their individual perspectives from Europe, the Americas, and East Africa, but also the perspectives of the stakeholders they are involved with everyday. These include those who use food banks, smallholders, scientists, NGOs, trade unions, and more. Many of our partners, supporters and friends provided feedback and ideas for our vision over emails and calls.
What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.
Bees reducing pesticide use in strawberries https://bit.ly/3evjnLZ
Robots using electricity to kill weeds https://bit.ly/3diWOds
Scotland the Bread transforming bread from seed to plate https://bit.ly/3gy56jv
The Ethical Dairy doing dairy better www.theethicaldairy.co.uk
Agroforestry built by farmer knowledge https://bit.ly/3gxDbjD
Farming 1.5 building consensus on net-zero farming https://bit.ly/36P2wRS
The EU’s Farm to Fork initiative https://bit.ly/2TQYSSi
Surge in demand for local food as the result of COVID-19 https://bit.ly/2BflXaI
Scotland, New Zealand and Iceland co-operating as Wellbeing Economy Governments https://bit.ly/3gwAUVY
Broad-based support for the right to food in Scotland https://bit.ly/2Mcl4BS
Nordic diets and food culture https://bit.ly/3gEm1kG
Community Food Initiatives as sites for cultures https://bit.ly/36GxiMF
Climate change will lead in Scotland and globally to more dry, wet, windy, cold and hot spells – more extreme weather events. At the same time, farming and food production is the main driver of climate change and ecosystem collapse. This will focus global attention on food systems over the next decades, building resilience and turning food from part of the problem to part of the solution. Good Food Nation needs to place food at the heart of the climate debate in Scotland, especially in the run-up to CoP 26.
Meat consumption Despite the growth in flexitarian, vegan and vegetarian diets in the UK, overall meat consumption is steady, though people are switching to chicken (up 13% from 2015-2019) and away from pork (down 12%) and lamb (down 22%). But cows and sheep eat grass, while chickens eat human edible food. Can Good Food Nation reframe the meat debate in Scotland? https://bit.ly/3dgrKuO
Re-intermediation (airbnb, amazon, paypal) is helping customers buy from a wider range of suppliers but extracting commission and data. Can Good Food Nation help new platforms like Open Food Network support trust and transparency while reducing commissions and avoiding monopoly power? https://bit.ly/2TNk7Ek
Automation could displace some jobs on farms in Scotland, particularly the veg and fruit picking jobs currently undertaken by migrants in rural areas. But the kit is highly specialized. So will the largest businesses who can justify the costs dominate: or will the berries move nearer to the workforce, and businesses sell more direct to customers https://bit.ly/2yKQRGZ
Transport costs continue to fall as part of a long-run trend in the global costs of energy, power and transport and the recent growth of renewable energy. https://bit.ly/2TQzN9L
Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).
I'm the farmer at Whitmuir. First thing is breakfast over TableTalk with the women’s co-op in Ethiopia who supply our organic Yirgacheffe. The smell channel gets us closer to being at a real table together. I’m eating our own sourdough toast and butter but the marmalade oranges come from Spain. Right-size tech and short food chains let us grow grain on a small scale and run a micro-dairy. The machinery co-op gives us equal access to the self-drive combine when the sensors say our crop’s ready. We bake with the perennial wheat, while most of the oats go into an oatmilk dispenser.
Next the farm walk. The sheep and cows have collars which tell my phone if they need help but I like seeing them among the trees. One of the robots has got itself stuck so I power it up with some weeds and get it moving. The P6s are in for their farmschool day. Their first job is a crop walk in the raspberries where they write up their observations and compare them with today’s drone data. Lunch is baked potatoes and stirfry veg in the café with the whole team.
I work in the farm shop in the afternoons. People come out on an ebike or driverless and spend an hour chatting about food which they could have got on their phone in 5 minutes. They’ve all got direct debits with the community owned Edinburgh Foodnet.
Tonight it’s one of our meat days. The grandchildren think we are just gross eating lamb chops and stick to their veg crumble. An organic Malbec to finish – of course we could grow the grapes in one of the farm greenhouses we heat from the wind turbine, but we love their wine and now it comes on sailing ships we’re well within our food carbon budget. Last job of the day is form-filling . Most of our stewardship contract compliance data gets uploaded continuously through SensorNet but I still have to sign it off. There’s time before bed to watch the housemartins back from Africa feasting on insects. Since the 2030 pesticide ban insects are back up to 1970 levels.
Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?
In our vision for 2050 farmers and fishers have become stewards of the natural world. This role is recognised and valued. Storing carbon and treasuring nature are what farmers do on society’s behalf, the vast majority of farmers think this is as important as producing food.
No one talks about organic and conventional farming. Agroecology was established as the default farming method under Scotland’s new agricultural policy developed in 2020. We’ve reversed the loss of farmland and marine biodiversity and we’ve made farming and fishing carbon positive. We’ve stripped waste out of the food system. Food has been plastic-free since 2025.
Agroforestry planted in the 2020s has changed our landscape. It’s unusual now to see cows or sheep grazing a field without trees or hedges. The multiple benefits include carbon sequestration, biodiversity, animal wellbeing, methane reduction through the tannins in tree leaves, water management, and increased biomass production per acre.
Land reform, along with community supported agriculture has led to a growth in small, agroecological farms, everywhere from remote islands to cities – where the shift to Mobility as a Service (shared travel rather than car ownership) has freed up huge areas of cities for nature and food by cutting the space needed for vehicles by 90%
Pesticides are not needed. A combination of ecological methods - crop rotations, resilient plant-breeding, predator-rich field margins, use of compost and biochar to enhance plant-fungi symbiosis – along with robot weeders and ubiquitous sensors and drones to give early warning of plant distress meant that the final pesticides ban in 2035 was no big deal.
Scottish farming locks up soil carbon to slow climate change. In line with the roadmaps set out by the Farming 1.5 enquiry, sponsored by Nourish Scotland and the National Farming Union Scotland, we achieved the target of net zero for all GHG in 2045. Nitrogen waste is now mostly eliminated and methane emissions halved. We retain a smaller herd of ruminant animals eating a grass-based diet and contributing to arable rotations while retaining or enhancing soil carbon, in line with the principle of ‘low opportunity cost livestock’
Peat restoration measures have added a further 150 Mt to the 3000Mt of carbon already stored in Scotland’s soils. Farmers are rewarded for increasing soil organic carbon. Our soil is also a site for biodiversity – full of worms and other organisms, earthworm counts rather than chemicals being most common way of measuring soil health.
Our fish are sustainable too. The three-mile limit re-established in 2021, along with an expansion of Marine Protected Areas and no catch zones created a rapid restoration in marine biodiversity,  while blue carbon projects have helped to lock up carbon in seabeds. In 2050, much of our aquaculture is on land, using closed loop systems that recycle water and nutrients, powered by renewable energy. On animal welfare grounds we no longer farm migratory fish like salmon. Near our cities we have vertical ocean farms, which also produce an active methane-reducing ingredient for ruminant animals. More fish caught in our waters are consumed here.
We understand healthy diets as healthy for both humans and the environment. Public procurement of sustainably produced food has helped make living from regenerative agriculture viable for many. Localised food economies and shorter supply chains have helped reduce the carbon footprint of our diets further.
The resilience of our food system is strengthened through a reduction in food imports. A partnership with the Netherlands led to the renaissance of a Scottish glasshouse sector in the 2020s, which now make use of wind energy to grow ‘Mediterranean’ vegetables. Many glasshouses are public assets owned by some of Scotland’s 250 community development trusts, in cities as well as remote and island locations where fruit and veg used to be expensive and not so fresh.
Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?
In 2050 we understand diets as profoundly relational concepts. They express our social contract with our producers and workers, with our land and environment, with our ancestors and our future generations, with our communities, and beyond.
Therefore, central to the way Scotland’s food system addresses malnutrition is that what we eat, the way we eat and with whom we eat, is grounded in social and environmental justice. We no longer have a two-tier system where only some can afford to eat well and those who can’t are blamed for ‘bad choices’. Good food is understood by all as food that is ‘good for our health, good for the environment, good for the local economy and good for the people who work in the food system’.
What and how we eat
As a result, in 2050 we eat less meat as many people, including young families, identify as plant based. The meat that is still eaten is grass fed. We also eat a little more sustainable fish from Scotland’s aquaculture. Consumption of ultra-processed food, sugar and artificial sweeteners has gone down significantly since the Government initiated serious measures to tackle obesity after the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, we eat a large variety of plant based foods, vegetables, fruits, grains and plant/based proteins, that have become more available and more nutritious due to regenerative and agroecological farming methods.
A significant cause of this shift in diets are the community farms and social diners that make up a more localised food landscape. Here people from many cultures come together to grow, harvest, cook and enjoy food. Whether they have tended to the crops themselves or helped prepare the meal, this connection to where food comes from helps us consider the impact of what we eat on human and environmental health.
Our diets are also impacted by public canteens, including in schools, care homes, prisons and other institutions carrying out public services, where fresh, local and nutritious food is served. The sensory experience of both the cooking process and the meal itself is cherished. As a result we value the social and human-to-human dimensions of food. Eating together and knowing where our food comes from and who cooked it has made food about much more than nutrients. Intergenerational meal sharing, whether in care homes, schools or community diners, have helped overcome isolation, decreased under- and malnutrition, and removed persistent stigma around food.
As part of Scotland’s commitment to education on sustainable development, many school-leavers have a qualification in food systems before going on to be doctors, farmers or cooks.
Many people associate both social diners and public kitchens with the smell of freshly baked bread. Baking with sourdough became the new normal after the pandemic in 2020. Since then, Scotland the Bread have expanded their work with community bakeries and public kitchens. Highly nutritious bread baked with a range of diverse and climate resilient Scottish grains are a staple part of our new varied diets.
Our food environment
One of the most significant changes in our 2050 food system is that ‘good food’ is available to everyone. The cornerstone for this change is the recognition of food as a human right, which was brought about by the incorporation of the Right to Food in the Good Food Nation Law, requiring good food to be accessible and available to everyone.
Consequently, food innovation, marketing, public procurement, planning of food shops, and sale of food is regulated with human health, planetary health and justice at the centre of decision-making.
To achieve this vision, Scotland’s food system has undergone a power shift with decision-making now being shared more equally among food system actors, in particular smaller food producers and consumers. Supermarkets still exist, but they are now part of a much more diverse landscape, enabled by community-driven technologies that link consumers directly with local food producers.
Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?
Wellbeing and equality at the heart of our economy
In 2050 food is no longer seen as a commodity in Scotland, but as a human right and a common resource. Consequently, the way we value the resources, environmental capital, human capital and labour, in our food system have changed.
The pandemic in 2020 shifted our valuing of ‘key workers’, many of whom were in the food industry, were women and were low paid. In 2050 everyone is paid a living wage and workers in the food system are valued as Scotland no longer measures economic success in terms of GDP but rather follows wellbeing indicators. The trade union movement is vibrant, and it is seen by the government and business community as a partner. With better balance of power, the three parts of the economy work much more congruently.
As part of the recovery initiated in 2020, Scotland followed New Zealand and Sweden in promoting short working weeks – 28 hours/ 4 days is the norm – this means that spending time procuring, cooking and sharing food is no longer a trade-off against work. Shorter working weeks are supported by automation and investment in training as part of a just transition, leading to more specialised and valued work in the food industry.
In the new wellbeing economy, a universal basic income means that everyone has access to good food. Universal state supported child and elderly care, and sharing of such responsibilities among genders, has address the barriers women faced in the past to access training and work with equal pay. 
This economic shift has led to greater equality in our 2050 food system, where access to training is equal and where, legally and culturally, inheritance of assets, skills and knowledge is no longer gendered. As a result we have a strong diversity in positions of decision-making, such as on the board of the National Farming Union Scotland and in food policy councils. Greater gender equality is also reflected in land ownership, supported by
the progressive land reforms adopted during the past 30 years: More women own land and farms, including through community organisations.
The Scottish Government and local authorities’ Covid-19 recovery plans included strategies to support the emerging local food economies: With disrupted supply chains fishers and farmers began to sell directly to their local communities. This was the beginning of the localised and diverse food economies that we see everywhere in 2050, in which growers, communities, local businesses and social enterprises work together to supply a significant amount of our food.
Jobs in the good food nation
The shift to a circular economy, improved food standards and thriving local food economies have created numerous new jobs in our 2050 food system, replacing those lost to automation.
The new and expanded roles include:
* Food educators – working with people of all ages to inspire, engage and build cultural capital
* Robot-assisted picking and packing jobs in the soft fruit tunnels which have moved to city brownfield sites from the rural areas where they had to rely on a shrinking pool of migrant workers
* Glasshouse managers and builders, heating and ventilation engineers
* Independent retailers, local food distribution experts, managing supply chains
* Community cooks – running social diners, supporting parents, helping people eat well
* Community- and government-supported small farms and fishing enterprises which offer more secure livelihoods and new places to live  
* Plant-breeding for resilience, phytonutrients and taste
* Making sensors and drones, and helping farmers use the data they provide
* Bakers, cheese makers and artisan producers – the success is no longer to sell to supermarkets and scale up, but to have good customers and make a good living
New circular economy businesses that turn a resource stream into a product, whether that’s cling film from langoustine shells, insect protein from food waste or broccoli stalks into crisps .
Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?
In 2050 the diversity of the population in Scotland is reflected in our food system. New food cultures have emerged as changes in practice, policy and our local food economies have led to a greater connection between people, food, and the environment. This culture shift underpins healthy diets, fairer jobs, environmentally regenerative food production and the ability for everyone to access good food.
Faith communities in Scotland have always had an important role in sharing food and welcoming people at risk of isolation. These inclusive traditions are now a cornerstone of our food culture. Community food projects have truly become places people go to because they want to, not because they have to for lack of income. No-one eats alone all week unless through choice.
Room for many food cultures
The processes that shape our food environments have been democratised, opening up space for a diversity of knowledge to inform decisions such as spatial planning and design, funding and public procurement. We are also looking sideways to include the knowledge of people from different backgrounds within and beyond Scotland.
The Burns Supper is known the world over as a fusion of traditional peasant food (offal and root vegetables) which comes at the coldest part of winter with a cultural celebration of our irreverent and intemperate bard. This tradition still thrives, though most people stick to veggie haggis these days.
This diversity of food cultures is reflected in the abundance of community meals where people from different backgrounds come together to share good food, celebrate traditions, and connect across cultures.
A new relationship with where our food comes from
Our culture of food sourcing and shopping has changed. When the pandemic in 2020 disrupted supply chains, people turned to local producers. Now most people buy their food from local suppliers they trust, often on subscription, or grow some of their own food at a community farm.
Land and planning reform has enabled these farms to emerge with no boundaries to inclusion. Growing fresh food is a part of community life, where the skills and knowledge found in growing spaces are recognised, valued and shared. These are also spaces for arts and spirituality.
This has led to food cultures where fresh food is valued and accessible and has reduced our consumption of ultra-processed food. At the same time, we’ve got away from a ‘them and us’ culture. We’re less preachy about what other people eat, and there’s still a place for fish and chips and takeaway pizza. Carnivores and vegans rub along better.
Public procurement leading the way has had a profound impact. All public kitchens and canteens serve tasty, good food with room for different preferences. Supply is based on relationships with nearby farms and fishers. Food producers are highly valued in society, much like medical professionals and teachers.
Cooking and eating together and sharing food
Food banks no longer exist because higher living wages, universal basic income and solidarity in local communities ensure that everyone has access to good food at all times, including during crisis. As we no longer view food as a commodity, sharing food in this way has become so normal that ‘food insecurity’ is a thing of the past.
Cooking from scratch is commonplace. Whether in public canteens, in community farms and diners or at home, everyone feels able to use fresh ingredients. Cooking and eating together is an integral part of everyday life. It is common for children to cook at home and in school, where this is part of learning - some parents, grandparents and community members join children for tasty and sustainable school lunches.
As people share food with friends, families and community members, spaces are created that can make communities stronger. Through the relationships enabled by the practice of sharing food, our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing is nourished.
Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?
In 2050, our technology will be in the service of human and planetary wellbeing; sufficiency, diversity, connection and participation; operating in the background to enable a sustainable food system where food places are still places of human connection and relationships.
Many of these technologies are already visible in 2020 if not widely adopted; we must accelerate uptake and ensure access by small actors. More people need a say in defining the problems which science and technology needs to solve.
Technology for a regenerative and circular food system
De-carbonisation Scotland will soon produce 100% of its electricity from renewables but it will take time to convert tractors, driers, boilers and trucks to use electricity or hydrogen.
Converting manure into a more versatile resource, or intercropping cereals with legumes to use less nitrogen. Site-specific technologies which reliably lock up carbon in soils, including agroforestry, minimum tillage, grazing management, biochar.
Genetics We need to breed cattle to produce less methane, as shown by current work in Scotland, and breed dual-purpose hens for meat and eggs.
We need more sustainable livestock feeds, like feeding fish from insects grown on food waste or vegetable proteins. We need feed additives to reduce methane emissions, whether that’s seaweed or 3-NOP
We need to better understand the complex interactions between people’s gut health and phytonutrients so we can select and breed healthful plants
We need technology to support circular and symbiotic natural systems. We can think of find smarter ways to kill weeds and pests, like getting bees to spread pesticides or getting robots to zap them. We can also decide to live with a few weeds and pests: drones which monitor crop health and sensors which can hear a crop in distress can provide early warning of real problems.
Growing multiple crops together uses light and nutrients better and provides less of a target for pests, while using woodchip from on-farm agroforestry to make compost which helps the soil’s fungal network which in turn helps plants co-ordinate their defences.
Verification We need technology to verify claims – whether that’s so we can pay a farmer to lock up carbon or encourage curlews or so we can trust food labels. Remote sensing, satellites and block chain all play a part: though in 2050 most trust comes from a relationship not from a bar code.
Local food economies
Platforms similar to the Open Food Network, can help customers place, consolidate, ship and bill orders from local suppliers enabling greater parity between producers/sellers of any scale. Within cities, food can be delivered on electric cargo-bikes, while driverless e-vehicles will reduce delivery costs.
Craft production As good livelihoods for people become more valued than labour-saving for corporations, the skills of human scale sourdough baking, cheesemaking, preserving , brewing and fermenting were seen for the crafts they are. Right-size technologies are emerging to enable these new food producers, from cyclone grain mills to hand-held nutrients analysers and affordable genome sequencers to check the makeup of the bacterial community in a batch of beer.
Decision support We need technology to support policy decisions at all levels from national governments to households. For households, smart shopping baskets can help them measure their environmental impact as well as their calories. For governments, better data and metrics can inform policy choices, for example about the likely impacts of regulation or subsidies.
Technology for equality Development of automated equipment enables our shorter working weeks in 2050. Participatory and human-centred design processes mean that this technology is developed for different genders, shapes and preferences. All of this enables our food system work force to be diverse and equal.
Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?
Food cuts across many traditional policy areas – trade, agriculture, health, environment, spatial planning, social justice – at local, national and global level.
Our policies require horizontal integration – across departments – and vertical integration at city, country and international level. Scotland has control over agriculture, environment, planning, health, education and animal welfare – but not over trade, social security or the minimum wage which are reserved to the UK.
The Scottish Government’s stated aim in its plan for post COVID19 recovery is to build a fairer, greener and more equal society. The Good Food Nation has to be part of this effort.
The Good Food Nation Bill was postponed due to COVID weeks before it was due to be introduced. This was set to be a framework law to set the direction of travel for food policy grounded in the right to food. To enable our vision it must be supported by law and policy many different areas:
Food systems The Scottish Government is keen to remain aligned with EU policy. The EU’s May 2020 Farm to Fork strategy puts sustainable nutrition at the heart of Europe’s Green Deal, making the links with COVID19 and the climate emergency and proposes a legislative framework for sustainable food systems in 2023. 
Currently too many people cannot afford a healthy diet (to eat the Government’s recommended diet would cost 30-40% of their income). Progressive shifts to a wellbeing economy, higher wages and the introduction of a universal basic income are needed to increase equality and end the need for food banks.
Public procurement and food
Copenhagen and other European cities have demonstrated how procuring organic food sends a signal to food producers and the public, creates jobs, shapes food cultures and improves health. Good Food Nation needs ambitious public food policies, with targets for organic and local food procurement.
Too often food education in schools is just about cooking. We need to develop a crossdisciplinary food studies programme which is valued for entry to medicine as well as farming.
Participation needs to be at the heart of policy. Food policy councils and spatial planning reform will enable communities to shape their own food environments. Marketing must be regulated better and retailers and caterers encouraged to make it easier for people to eat good food. Next we need the ‘our planet, our health’ levy requiring retailers and caterers to align with healthy sustainable diets. Beyond food, we need to change the purpose of corporations to benefit the triple bottom line, as is being proposed by UK lawyers.
Scotland’s 2016 Land Reform Act started a generational process of changing how we think about and use our land. The Community Right to Buy helps communities own the land around them. From 2021, Regional Land Use Partnerships will agree how best to use the land in the public interest. The 2015 Community Empowerment Act required local authorities to support allotments and community gardens. By 2050 land reform will have freed land from the commodity market so it benefits all.
Agricultural support and regulation
Agricultural policy must direct public money to tackle climate change and reverse nature loss – but also to tackle poverty and poor working conditions in the farming community, to improve animal welfare and to support urban farming, right-size processing and the local food economy.
Scotland has committed to ambitious targets – net zero for all gases by 2045. With partners, we secured amendments to the 2019 Climate Act requiring Government to set a nitrogen budget and to support agroecology. Next we need a soil carbon scheme and active methane reduction policies.
Scotland has a target of reducing food waste by 33% by 2025, but we are behind schedule. We need much stronger action along the supply chain, learning from countries like Korea.
Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.
Our 2050 food system ‘delivers’ two main things. It heals and restores the environment; and it generates wellbeing. Fairness, compassion, sustainability and kindness lie at the heart of this system and ensure a coherent approach to food policy and practice.
All the growing, processing, distributing, selling, cooking and eating; and all the activities behind that – the investing, the planning and management, the research and development, the technology, the government policy-making – are aligned to deliver those things.
That needs joined-up policies. In our Good Food Nation, there’s a policy-making process in Scottish Government and in local authorities, aligned with international obligations. Law recognises food as a human right and a common resource and spells out what counts as success.
Guided by these values, policy regulates and supports the food economy. The food economy is big – and powerful players like Walmart, Amazon and Tesco want to retain their power. So food policy has had to get leverage internally with the big hitters – health, social justice, climate change: food has to be seen as indispensable in achieving wider government goals.
The food economy provides the ‘foodstuffs’ for people’s diets (which in 2050 reflect what we need to eat to keep ourselves and the planet well). More of the food economy is in the domestic and non-profit sector – we grow about 10% of our own food in our gardens and allotments, and another 20% or so comes through social enterprises. In this diverse economy, the ability to make a living from local, seasonal and sustainable food makes our food system environmentally resilient. Local and circular food economies foster strong relationships and regenerate rural Scotland – enriching our food cultures.
Participatory policy-making makes room for many food cultures to co-exist in our food system. Cultures flourish as foodstuffs turn into wellbeing when they are used in food practices: The connections we make and nurture through food, the planning and preparing, the choosing and sourcing, the eating together are all a source of wellbeing in our good food nation.
Technology facilitates these connections. Where technology used to be focused on making more, cheaper and finding ways to make new food products to sell us, in 2050 it is focused on making better use of the services provided by the environment – soils, water, bugs, sunshine, genetic diversity – and countering the negative impacts of the food system over the last hundred years – on climate, soils, wildlife, water, air and landscapes.
This food system can only exist in the context of a bigger system. It needs a wider economy which delivers good livelihoods, more time, more affordable housing and transport, more caring and connected communities – so food can play a larger and better part in our lives, rather than as for too many Scots in 2020 being associated with loneliness, stress, poor health and guilt.
Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.
Just transition as demand for meat falls and subsidies change, upland livestock farmers in Scotland can’t just switch to grow more of the vegetables, legumes or nuts our local and global diet needs. Abattoirs and feed merchants will lose business. What happens to the makers of Scotland’s favourite sugary drink Irn Bru if health policies halve the demand for it? Unlike when the coal mines and car plants closed in the 1980s, Scottish Government is planning for the impacts of net zero on existing jobs. Good Food Nation won’t convince public or politicians unless it can show a positive future for those in many ways most affected by the change.
Methane it’s a powerful short-lived greenhouse gas, and most of Scotland’s methane comes from ruminants. Agriculture has to cut emissions, and while technical fixes for methane may be in the pipeline, they are not here yet. At the same time, only 15% of Scotland’s agricultural land is arable – the rest is too high, too wet, too rocky or too steep to grow crops but grows plenty of grass which cows and sheep can eat. This is a good example of low opportunity cost livestock, so how much methane can we afford?
Top down or bottom up A lot of people can get behind this change – it’s good for health, good for communities, good for people who are going hungry, good for nature. Still, they can’t change the system – and they can’t shop their way to a good food nation. Government needs to get behind the vision, pull some big levers. Then people might feel they are being done to, rather than being asked to join in. So we need to keep co-creating the vision with people on the ground, not just get laws passed.
Farm size versus cost of production Some farms are just too small to make a living from. Some people diversify, some have a job off the farm – but others just keep going till they are forced to give up. Good Food Nation wants more small farms, but what’s the justification for subsidizing them if bigger farms can produce to the same standards but with half the costs? Devising a fair system is tricky.
Animal welfare versus efficiency Pigs and chickens are not meant to spend their whole lives in a shed. But they use more feed to grow once they go outside and start wandering about. If we just count carbon footprint they should stay in a shed or a cage. We have to have fewer animals but with a better quality of life.
Choice editing versus engagement We see people as capable of making their own decisions. But when it comes to food, the end result is a lot of extra weight and cavities. So far, labelling and campaigns haven’t made much difference. Should we focus on the food environment, making it easier for people to do the right thing, or do we need a better dialogue with the public?
Local versus cheapest Local food may be fresher – but often it’s dearer than food brought in from Spain. What’s the justification for putting money into local food systems?
3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?
The next three years are crucial for progressing our Good Food Nation vision.
The Government is promising a Green Recovery from COVID. Food system transformation should be a key part of that, since food has been such an important part of people’s recent experience and will continue to be a major part of the Scottish economy. Local and national government must reverse the recent huge rise in food insecurity and not leave this to charities.
Nourish is co-organising a high-profile event on integrated food policy at CoP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. This is an opportunity for Scottish Government to promote a joined-up approach to food policy on a global stage, generating political capital for the vision.
Our Farming 1.5 report will be published in late 2020, setting out a consensus roadmap for farming in a net zero Scotland.
The Good Food Nation bill should come back to the Scottish Parliament after the 2021 election, and we need to ensure that each party’s election manifesto backs the Bill. Once the Bill is introduced, we will work with the Scottish Food Coalition and others to stretch the Bill’s ambition and ensure that it brings the Right to Food into Scots law.
A new Agriculture Bill is in parliament just now, and we are working to align this better with the Good Food Nation vision. The farm support scheme to replace the CAP in 2024 is currently being designed by Scottish Government, and we want to see more support for agroecology and the local food economy.
We also need to keep strengthening the Scottish Food Coalition, reaching out into more communities and building partnerships with unlikely allies.
So the most important milestones we have to reaching the next three years are:
A strong Good Food Nation Act, establishing a framework law and the right to food
A new farm support scheme which promotes agroecology and puts significant resources into the local food economy
Decisive action by local and national government to reduce household food insecurity
10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?
Much of the progress we need to make relates to the Sustainable Development Goals. So to be on track with our Good Food Nation Vision we should have achieved:
Zero hunger – an end to people in Scotland having to use foodbanks or having to rely for their daily nutrition on surplus food.
Halving of food waste across the whole supply chain
Major progress in reducing childhood overweight. This can set children up for poor health in later life, and helping children eat well Is part of respecting their human right to healthy development.
Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture have reduced by at least a third, following the roadmap agreed in Farming 1.5
Our coastal waters are more productive and diverse, following the reintroduction of the 3 mile limit round our coasts.
Land reform has enabled hundreds of new farmers, half of them women, to set up businesses
Public procurement has shifted to organic and local food, and public food whether in schools or hospital, is a source of pride for those involved.
Food policy councils will have been running in every local authority, improving their local food system and feeding in to the national food policy council which advises government.
Meat consumption particularly of chicken has reduced by 10% and welfare standards for farm animals have been improved.
All of these are tangible measures of progress which we need to make by 2030.
However, we also need to have achieved an equally important but less tangible change in culture.
We enjoy food more, and we talk about it more: but we’ve stopped making it a them and us thing, where there’s only one right diet, only one right culture. We’ll be getting towards the vision when all of us want to live in a Good Food Nation, and think it’s for us.
If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?
Our priority would be to invest the prize in deepening our relationship with our supporters. Our staff team can never grow big enough to begin to tackle the issues across the whole food system. However, we could ensure that those who support our work – who already work across different areas of the food system – are more effective agents of change. This can be done by strengthening relationships amongst us and providing leadership development within the movement.
Our first step would be to help our network understand how their existing efforts – whether paid or unpaid - fit into our work on the broader agenda. By helping them articulate their work through a wider lens (including the political, economic, cultural and environmental dimensions), we can help them become more effective changemakers.
We would focus on turning this understanding into a form of distributed leadership within our network. Our ambition is for network to shift from being supporters of our work to being collaborators and leaders for change within their sector of the food system.
This substantive shift would have a major effect on the food agenda in Scotland. It does, however, require a period of focused dialogue, of building trust and relationships, and sense of shared purpose. It also requires some capacity building, developing a shared analysis amongst our network, and understanding key concepts behind our work including: the right to food, Beckhard-Harris change equation, Checkland and Scholes work on soft systems methodology.
While strong leadership on this agenda is crucial, it is important for us to reach out and build a broad sense of momentum. To this end we would take our vision of a Good Food Nation on a roadshow across the country. Drawing on inputs from inspiring food system thinkers in Scotland and our existing resources (such as the Food Atlas) we would bring the issues food to the forefront of people’s minds, raising ambition for what the food system in Scotland could look like.
If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?
That the economy we rebuild after COVID-19 must be a wellbeing economy - and that sustainable nutrition must be at the heart of that, so we are physically, socially and environmentally more resilient to deal with future shocks, whether the sudden shock of another pandemic or the slow inexorable shocks of collapsing ecosystems and an unravelling climate. The collective task of food system transformation requires solidarity, compassion, a just transition, courage and leadership. But at its core it must be a movement of people not just a prescription by policymakers, scientists and dietitians. We all want to live in a Good Food Nation, and each of those nations can welcome and include a plurality of cultures, actors and diets.
Please share a visual that communicates the structure and operation of your food system in 2050. Describe the visual.
A systems map for our vision