Sustainable Scotland
Sustainable Scotland

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Sustainable Scotland

5 Food production

Many of us now feel quite detached from the systems of food production that sustain our lives. Therefore, we make no apology for using this section of the course to focus on food production, the changing demands we place on production systems, and how that has impacted on the landscapes and seascapes of Scotland.

Although many other factors affect what we actually eat, just like any other animal we have to ingest food to maintain body function and to develop and grow. It is one of our most basic needs.

Activity 8

Have a look at your shopping basket. What kind of food stuffs does it contain?



It probably contains some more recognisably processed food:

  • ready to eat macaroni cheese;
  • ice cream or frozen beef stroganoff;
  • biscuits and cakes;
  • treats like confectionery.

It probably also contains some products that have been processed a little (but we might think of as being quite natural):

  • cold meats, smoked herring, yoghurt and cheeses;
  • bread, pasta or milk (which may even be soya);
  • pickled onions or beetroot, dried fruit or fruit juices.

It probably contains some relatively unprocessed products, for example:

  • meat, fish and dairy;
  • grains and pulses (lentils and barley for soup, or rice);
  • fruit and vegetables.

We can see that as we move through each category, the source (i.e. meat, fish and fruit) becomes clearer.

Activity 9

Look at this yoghurt case study [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] from Envirowise/ Yeo Valley .



On the surface it seems like a relatively natural product and part of a healthy lifestyle. However, the example showed us that yoghurt production is (or can be) very resource and energy intensive.

What our shopping basket also tells us is that we have developed a fairly sophisticated food culture that draws in diverse raw materials, often transporting them long distances, and we store and process them in complex and ingenious ways.

Food culture

In Scotland most of us do not purchase or consume food simply for maintenance and/or growth. Eating is not simply about survival, we have developed 'food cultures'. That is, particular peoples, in particular places have developed particular styles of food preparation that relate to the food resources around them; olive oil around the Mediterranean Sea, maize in Africa and porridge in Scotland. Today, of course, these cuisines are no longer rooted in particular geographical locales and we can eat our way round the world within larger towns and cities.

Of course, the food culture(s) we are brought up with, our socio-economic status and even where we live affects both our choice of food, and the choices that are available to us.


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