Food Heroes

Archive Exhibition – April/May 2021

Julie Howden Food Heroes Exhibition

Back in March 2020 when life as we knew it was turned upside down, when touching surfaces and breathing air inside busy, public places became a dangerous activity, we all still needed to eat.

I couldn’t track down an elusive supermarket delivery slot and the tomato and potato seeds I’d planted in our garden were going to take some time to grow before they could help feed our family.

It was a relief when we came across Stirling Neighbourfood. This online market was founded in 2016 to help make food shopping fun, fair and sustainable by connecting producers with customers in their area.

The market’s food boxes – delivered to our doorstep by ‘saviours’ every Thursday – are local, organic and seasonal, filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, artisan sourdough bread, delicious croissants, pinhead porridge oats, tasty honey, incredible eggs, butter and flavoursome meats.

The brilliant quality of all of this helped fill the dark days of lockdown with light.

I began asking to photograph the people behind the produce out of curiosity and an instinct to focus on something positive.  As the weeks became months and restrictions and seasons changed, I took pictures of farmers, bakers, butchers and foragers. I am hugely grateful to all these industrious people in Stirlingshire who have been working hard throughout the pandemic to keep supply chains moving and the neighbourhood fed.

Living through Covid-19 has brought the way we produce and consume food – and the importance of community in addressing the problems that can create – into sharp relief. My exhibition also includes photographs of managers of food banks. Food poverty and insecurity have not gone away. Neither has the climate emergency. And food is inextricably linked to that too.

I spoke to Zero Waste Scotland, the national body established in Stirling to help end the climate crisis, and learned that food waste is worse for climate change than plastic. That’s because wasting food also wastes all the resources which go into growing, making, delivering and cooking that produce – all of which creates carbon emissions. And if our leftovers then also end up rotting in landfill they produce methane, which is one of the most damaging greenhouse gases.

Each year in Scotland we collectively waste over £1billion worth of food from our homes.
One of the major changes I noticed after switching from doing my main grocery shop at the supermarket to buying from producers in my area was a big drop in our family’s food waste. With local suppliers it is rare for me to end up buying more of something than I want, as it’s easier to order what I need, and food rarely arrives sweating in sheets of single-use plastic.

So now that I make mostly local choices when it comes to food shopping, that cuts food waste as well as food miles.

There has arguably never been a more urgent need to make more sustainable food choices for our own health, and the health of our economy and the planet.

My exhibition is a celebration of the heroic efforts of everyone across Stirlingshire who is helping to do that.

We have a wonderful larder here in Stirlingshire to choose from.

 (Food Heroes was funded by Scene Stirling (in partnership with Creative Scotland and Stirling Council).


Jail Wynd, Stirling, FK8 1DE

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Food Heroes - Gallery

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