A pioneering Fife food project that attracted £1 million in public funding has folded.
Mike Small, who launched the Fife Diet in 2007 by encouraging people to eat food sourced only from Fife for a year, has blamed “lots of reasons both personal and political” for the decision to close in March.
Mr Small said the initial decision was taken at the group’s annual meeting in February, and has now been ratified, backing the board’s proposal.
He said: “Who needs ‘sustainability’ or cares about climate change when they’re hungry? Who cares about provenance when you have a hungry child? It becomes ridiculous.
“What we’ve realised is that it’s all very well talking about ‘food sovereignty’ but at a much more basic level if you don’t have ‘sovereignty’ then you are open to policies like massive benefit changes that are imposed by a government you didn’t elect holding values you don’t share.”
Defending the receipt of almost £1 million of public funding in recent years, Mr Small said: “We decided we didn’t want to be endlessly reliant on grant funding and we wanted to try and create new and self-reliant projects as offshoots of the Fife Diet.”
He added: “We have completed all of our project and exceeded all of our targets in carbon reduction and other measurements to our funders’ satisfaction.”
Since being launched in 2007, Mr Small said the positives included local food groups being common up and down the land and a “sea change in positivity” about Scottish produce and food culture.
Seasonality, provenance and ethical sourcing had also become mainstream while consciousness about food and health has taken a “quantum leap”, he said.
He said popularity and trust in big supermarkets has been severely undermined while interest in growing your own food has been massive.
But at a structural level, Mr Small said little seems to have changed.
He continued: “The Scottish Government’s food policy seems woefully biased towards exports as the golden goal, food education seems marginal and ill-conceived and there appears to be no coherent strategy to connect food
production to carbon reduction.
“Diet-related ill-health is still at epidemic levels and the political will to make legislative changes and stand up to the corporate culture and influence of ‘Big Food’ is notable only by its absence.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Climate Challenge Fund has funded Fife Diet to deliver specific climate action projects all of which have been delivered in line with the terms and conditions of the grant award.”
The Fife Diet has received almost £1 million in funding in recent years.
Scottish Government figures show that Climate Challenge Fund money was received in January 2009 (£144,060), March 2011 (£211,708) and March 2012 (£448,036).
An award was also received from the Carbon Trust, £90,000 from the People’s Postcode Lottery, £2,500 from Fife Council’s Celebrating Fife fund to help publish a cook book, plus cash from the Coop Community Fund.
Founder Mike Small told The Courier that Fife Diet members saved 1,019 tonnes of C02 by their collective actions in 2011-12.
He said the Fife Diet’s full reports will be published in the new year and closure will come when current funding ends.