On 10 October 2019, Terre de Liens, the French Federation of Organic Farming (FNAB) and the activist think-tank BASIC launched a new tool to promote resilient, local food systems.
This new online modelling tool - PARCEL (for Promoting resilient, civic local food systems) - was conceived as an engagement tool, to enable consumers, citizens, inhabitants, civil society organistions, and local authorities to better understand how the forms of farming and farm land use directly impact jobs, food provision, and the environment.
PARCEL helps build and illustrate different scenarios, at a local, national or regional level. Users can change different variables:
the distance between production and consumption of food produce,
the type of farming (partial or total organic production), and
the type of diets (more or less meat consumption).
As a result, users can readily see how much farmland is needed to produce organic food for local food consumption everywhere and how a change in one or several of these criteria directly impacts local farming, communities and climate change. This kind of visual modelling helps underline the vital message that we do not have enough farmland in France to feed the population with local organic food, unless we change our diets, and in particular reduce meat consumption.
Theoretically, if France was to re-localise all food production, shift to organic production, and reduce its meat consumption by 25%, it would double the number of farmers and reduce its carbon emissions by 30%. It would, however, need 12 million more hectares than the current agricultural utilised area. Only a change towards a more plant-based diet with a reduction in meat consumption can free up enough land to meet not only food needs, but other needs such as clothing, heating, housing.
PARCEL shows that it is possible to transition our food and farming systems in a way that will be beneficial for the climate, the environment, rural development, and give a renewed balance between urban and rural areas.
The PARCEL tool is available on-line for all to use:
Terre de Liens, FNAB and their colleagues will use it to engage particularly with local councils and other local decision-makers. Citizens, community groups, and organic businesses can use PARCEL to engage with local councillors who will be elected during the Municipal elections, due in March 2020. The scenarios resulting from PARCEL will show local councillors how they need to – and can - take responsibility for preserving farmland and organising sustainable farmland use so as to ensure food sovereignty and combat climate change.