The way we eat has an undeniable impact on our environment. The state of nature and wildlife is influenced by how we produce food. RSPB Scotland's Anna Brand talks about how we can make Scotland a Good Food Nation.

Food for Thought

Food has a massive environmental footprint. Depending on how we produce food, we can both help and endanger wildlife.

Take palm oil, for example. It’s included in lots of the things we eat, and it’s been a hot topic in the news. Many of us are aware of the impacts of the way palm oil is produced today, like deforestation, and devastating impacts on orangutans.

But these issues don’t just take place on the other side of the world. We should celebrate the many brilliant Scottish farmers and crofters who do great things to help save wildlife and pioneer nature-friendly farming.

But across Scotland, how we farm, and therefore how we produce food, has had a big impact on wildlife over several decades. Take for example waders, who have seen big changes in their habitat, birds like the corncrake, which rely on specific farming practices that are less common today, and on insects like bumblebees, who rely on fast-disappearing wildflower meadows. 

This is why RSPB Scotland is part of the Scottish Food Coalition and has been pushing for a new law on food – a Good Food Nation Bill – for some time. Along with the coalition, we are asking Scottish Government to lead the way on halving the environmental impact of food with a new law that would make Scotland’s food system greener, fairer and healthier.

Images Credit (including header): Jonathan Grey

Right now, Scottish Government are consulting on how we can make Scotland a Good Food Nation.

The Scottish Government’s proposals are a step in the right direction, but don’t quite go far enough.

As part of the Scottish Food Coalition, at RSPB Scotland we agree that we need a new ambitious law which would tie together all of the areas related to food: the environment, health, social justice and food insecurity, animal welfare, and so on.  

We would like a law to set ambitious goals for Scotland’s food system, for example to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the food system, and ensure that how we produce food gives wildlife the best possible chance.

We would also like a new law to place obligations on our decision makers and public bodies to lead the way. We want to make sure that someone oversees the food system so that we don’t accidentally take backward steps from becoming a more sustainable nation when it comes to food and farming. And we’d like to make sure that we enshrine everyone’s right to sustainable, healthy, good food in Scottish law. You can find out more about the Scottish Food Coalition’s 5 asks for a new law here.


More broadly, we are working with members of the Scottish Food Coalition to make sure that all food is sustainable and produced fairly, that food helps to nourish us rather than make us ill, and that we eliminate food insecurity and make sure we can all eat well.

Food - what we eat, how it’s produced, and how much we waste - is one of the biggest factors that influence our environment. Raising your voice for a Good Food Nation, one where all food is sustainable and nature-friendly, is vital.

What can you do?

  1. Respond through our online e-action - Answer two questions about what you think of Scotland's food system to make your voice heard.
    You don’t have to work on food to respond – your experiences of eating food, growing food, buying nature-friendly food all matter. The consultation sets out four questions, but you don’t have to answer all of the questions; you don’t even have to answer any. 
  2. Respond to the Scottish Government’s consultation. A consultation just means that the Scottish Government have proposed some changes, and welcome your views anytime before March 29th, 2019. 
  3. Write to your MSP, or visit their open access surgeries where you live. Let them know that you care about becoming a Good Food Nation, and the environmental impact of food.