RSA Salon: The True Cost of Food

RSA Event


Great Room Auditorium, RSA House

  • Economics and Finance
  • Health & wellbeing
  • Environment

"For every £1 we hand over at the till another £1 is quietly taken from us without our consent. The current UK food system thrives only because it doesn’t account for the full costs of production or consumption, which are paid for in hidden ways."

Patrick Holden, farmer and founder of the Sustainable Food Trust 


There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but at the moment we seem to be paying for ours twice. Getting a great deal at the supermarket belies the actual cost of reversing the damage caused by intensive agricultural methods, and bolstering the health service which assumes the costs of treating diet-related diseases.

Leaving the EU will rewrite the equation, shaking up the food, farming, health and trade policies that affect what we pay for at the till, and what we contribute through our taxes. We have a chance to re-write the rule book of food production in the UK - but what’s the right balance? What’s fairest, and what will steer us to behave more sustainably, as consumers, citizens, businesses and farmers?

Addressing these challenges requires meaningful public dialogue. This special RSA Salon is an invitation to a conversation about the sort of society we wish to build post-Brexit, and a collaborative discussion space to spark fresh insights and galvanize civic action. We want your ideas.


This Salon is supported by the RSA’s Food, Farming & Countryside Commission, which is taking an independent look at our post-Brexit future. Alongside its wider programme of work, the Commission will hold three further Salons this year, debating provocative ideas in food, farming and rural policy. Follow its work at @FFC_Commission.

Opening with an introductory section by a leading thinker, RSA Salon events take on a current and formidable civic problem. Followed by a lively, moderated group conversation at round tables, these participatory events welcome everyone and warmly encourage contribution. All RSA Salons take place in the RSA’s extraordinary Great Room - a hub of great ideas and civic action since the 18th century. 

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