More Hands to Feed


A handful of songs from our Food Crime musical “The Hand That Feeds” were performed recently at Birmingham Food Council’s second AGM, hosted at the Impact Hub in Digbeth. Organised and presented partly by myself and largely by New Optimist all-round superwoman Kate Cooper (self-styled ‘the lippy granny’) the evening prompted talks from enlightened specialists (q.v.) about global food security, it’s impact on health/ the economy / political stability, etc. and the opportunities/challenges that exist for Birmingham and its million-stomach-sized food system. Birmingham City Council CEO Mark Rogers then facilitated a second half discussion which covered concerns about food waste management, the difficulties of implementing mandatory Food Hygiene ratings, insuring against agricultural uncertainties and future price hikes as a result of Brexit, etc.

Kate founded the BFC – as she did the New Optimists – as vehicles for bringing together able minds and able motivators to problem-solve the big issues of our time. By her own admission she says that ‘Global Food Security’ was a non-starter for discussion a few years ago. Today, however, in the wake of the furore over Horsemeat, and the  trickle of scandals of ‘lesser’ interest to the media such as the contaminated ‘cutting’ of Paprika/chilli powders, livestock rustling, fraudulent labelling of Manuka honey, etc. the spectre of Food Crime hangs over the health and wellbeing of us all.


Without intervention, without monitoring, without effective policing and without consequences unscrupulous traders will always find ways of cheapening our food while at the same time making profit at every transaction point in the chain; ultimately making millions for the gangsters at the top. In Kate’s words “If it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is”. The evening on the 28th Nov was a small gesture towards raising the profile of Food Security and prompting serious discussion about the scale and impact on our food environment.

“The Hand That Feeds” will be revived in the spring of next year and we hope it will continue to bring the idea of Food Crime, (as Prof. Chris Elliot – author of the Elliot Review, who flew over from Belfast for the premiere – suggests) to life for a truly broad audience in ways that academic articles and reports can rarely do.

Here is the complete performance, as captured by Mat Becket’s River Rea productions.

Saturday 14th May 2016. St.Martin-in-the-Bullring, Birmingham. #StopFoodCrime

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