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Leon restaurant co-founder Henry Dimbleby to lead food system review


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Leon’s menu is two-thirds vegetarian and it says it wants to talk about having “meat as a side dish”

The co-founder of Leon restaurants, Henry Dimbleby, is to lead a government review into England’s food system so it is “safe, healthy and affordable”.

The review will examine the food system “from field to fork” and address what needs to change in the face of climate concerns and population growth.

Mr Dimbleby said he planned to talk to people “from across the food chain… and ensure everyone has a say”.

He added that he hoped to convene a “citizens’ assembly” on the issues.

“I am very keen to talk to people who have diabetes, those on low incomes, farmers who are not part of the political process,” he explained.

“Populations are growing, diet-related conditions are harming the lives of millions, and climate change is altering what our land will yield. But we can change that,” said Mr Dimbleby, whose success with Leon led him to found the Sustainable Restaurant Association in 2009.

Citizens’ assemblies have become an increasingly popular forum for scrutinising nationwide issues and have been used to effect constitutional change on abortion in Ireland.

Mr Dimbleby, the son of broadcaster David Dimbleby and cookery writer Jocelyn Dimbleby, co-founded Leon 15 years ago.

The chain now has 56 restaurants in England alone, with three more planned to open soon.

The restaurant chain promotes itself as “naturally fast food” and prides itself on its food sustainability.

In 2013, Mr Dimbleby co-authored the government-backed School Food Plan – which set out new rules for school meals in England.

The rules included making salad or vegetables a compulsory part of children’s daily meals at school and reducing the volume of fried foods.

The upcoming review of England’s food system – the first of its kind in almost 75 years – will also address how we can restore and enhance the natural environment, build a resilient and sustainable agriculture sector and contribute to urban and rural economies.

The review will only cover England because environment policy – and therefore food law – is devolved to the four nations of the UK separately.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who was education secretary when Mr Dimbleby worked on the School Food Plan, made the decision to appoint him to the new role.

Mr Gove said the review would aim to ensure “everyone has access to high-quality British food”, regardless of where they live or how much they earn, as well as help protect the environment for future generations.

He added that Brexit gave the opportunity to “look afresh” at the food system, describing leaving the EU as “a great opportunity for British farmers and food producers”.

The recommendations will form a new national food strategy.



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