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Image shows the transformation of a Monarch caterpillar to a butterfly

What is the Food system?
The food system is a complex web of production, manufacture, delivery, consumption and health; it encompasses the entire process that it takes to put food on our plate from farm to fork. It is heavily influenced by many factors such as the choices we make and the demands we put on the planet and the economy. The FixOurFood team takes a food systems approach, which means we don’t think of each element on its own, we consider how changes to one aspect of the system can impact on another; both in a positive and negative way.

What is a regenerative food system?
The current food system is broken and no longer fit for purpose. The evidence is all around: there is food insecurity (we can’t always be sure we will have the food we need, when we need it); food poverty (too many people going hungry with an over-reliance on food banks) and there is rising obesity (especially in children). If these challenges weren’t enough, we are also causing irreversible damage to the planet with our habits and choices. By 2050 our food system will need to meet the demand for food from a human population projected to reach nearly 10 billion, while adapting to climate change and managing accelerating loss of biodiversity.

A regenerative food system (RFS) seeks to address these problems, it reallocates current resources spiralling up environmental, social and economic benefits using approaches that aim to reduce harm and build beyond sustainable levels. Regenerative approaches aim to provide food and nourishment for all, improving public health and prosperity while replenishing and restoring the planet.

What does transformation mean to FixOurFood?
Transformational change is more than adjusting or improving existing systems. It includes fundamental pattern shifts of activities, approaches and beliefs, creating new interactions between values, nature, technology and behaviours. An example is a butterfly; the caterpillar does not just become a faster, fitter caterpillar but radically transforms its body using the same resources, reformulating itself as a beautiful butterfly.

Why is collaboration so important to FixOurFood?
Transformation to the food system cannot be achieved in isolation, it requires the combination of ideas to be addressed with a collaborate spirit and significant motivation. We are working with stakeholders from across the entire food system in Yorkshire combining knowledge, expertise and innovative minds to achieve our aims. Co-creation is at the heart of FixOurFood, and will be an essential component of our success.

What is the Three Horizons tool?
To transform the food system, we need to be bold and have big goals. FixOurFood is inspiring others in the Yorkshire food system to envision and transform together towards a viable future food system. The way we are doing this is by using the powerful Three Horizon’s (3H) futures tool to guide our journey of transformation.

“It helps groups explore systemic patterns to identify which of the domina patterns are no longer fit for purpose, how the emerging trends can shape the future, and what visionary action is needed to collectively move us towards a viable future” (3HUni).

It frames our thoughts into three perspectives:

  • Horizon 1: the current system and business as usual
    If you want to transform a system you need to first analyse the one you have – how it currently functions (or doesn’t), what the barriers to change are and which elements you might want to keep.
  • Horizon 3: your vision of the future system
    To transform a system, you need think about how you want the new system to be – you envision the perfect system – this is horizon 3 and will become the new normal. How does it feel? How does it look?
  • Horizon 2: the route planning and innovation needed to get us from H1 to H3
    To get from the system not fit for purpose (horizon 1) to the transformed system (horizon 3) you need to go through a process of change – this is horizon 2. Change can be messy and ideas won’t always work. It can be tempting to latch onto ideas that are really only amended versions of the current (horizon 1) system – these can drag you back to where you started. The trick is to find the ideas that take you forward to horizon 3. If you look closely, you can find evidence of other people pushing boundaries and heading for the third horizon. These are your people – the visionaries, the revolutionaries, the entrepreneurs and the fixers.

Key people: Prof Ioan Fazey, Sam Buckton, Suzanne Om.