Food for thought
My first duty as a BBC TV journalist is straightforward - to tell viewers the most significant news from Britain and around the world. At its simplest, we cover events and announcements as they happen and offer additional context and intelligent analysis. But there are also important trends that have the power to change the way we live - but which are not yet marked as news "events".
How much time should a news programme give to covering these big themes?
Four or five years ago, climate change was something talked about by environmentalists and climate scientists - it was not part of the main news agenda. But we were in at the beginning with our reports on its impact across the globe. Now there's an emerging debate about a complex but related subject - food sustainability. Can we continue to consume food - refrigerated and transported from around the globe at a time when we should be reducing our carbon emissions? And what about the impact of using corn to produce bio-fuel? It is directly leading to an increase in the price of food here and potentially could lead to food shortages in other countries.
Two weeks ago, in the first of our 'Mad about Food' series, Jeremy Cooke gave a graphic visual account of the waste of our fishing stocks when he watched buckets of prime cod being thrown dead back into the sea because the quotas for this particular fish were exhausted. Ministers here and in the European Union agreed the rules needed to change.
This week the British consumer will spend a record amount on food in the run up to Christmas and we'll be carrying a series of reports exploring emerging issues around food sustainability.
Supermarkets deliver huge choice, convenience and often low prices - it's where the majority of us choose to buy our food. We'll be reporting on some of the local food initiatives but also the overall environmental impact of the sourcing, transportation and refrigeration of the food industry. But we won't ignore the positive results of the international trade for emerging markets like Kenya - where deals with British supermarkets lead to employment and economic development.
A report from AC Neilson today says consumers here are increasingly concerned about where their food comes from and how far it has travelled. The supermarkets we have spoken to tell us they are well aware of the trend, and some of the biggest have given us unique access to the work they are doing to ensure they find the most sustainable sources of food.
We'll be carrying a range of reports from around Britain on the work being done to grow food efficiently and ensure it travels as short a distance as possible from field to plate.
Further afield we'll be reporting from Chile on how the demand from fresh cherries all year round has led to the growth of a new food chain and we'll be finding out why a major fish producer says it makes economic sense to send prawns on a journey around the world before they return to be sold in supermarkets a few miles from where they were caught.