Page last updated at 11:25 GMT, Tuesday, 5 August 2008 12:25 UK

London gets new 'food champion'

Rosie Boycott on farm
Rosie Boycott gave up editing for life on a smallholding in Somerset

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has appointed columnist Rosie Boycott as the city's "food champion".

Ms Boycott will chair the London Food Board, the group created by former mayor Ken Livingstone to improve access to healthy local food.

Mr Johnson described the former newspaper editor, who now owns an organic farm in Somerset, as being "passionate" about food.

Ms Boycott takes up the unpaid position in September.

It'll be good if there is somebody shouting about what can be done

Oliver Rowe, chef/owner Konstam restaurant

She said the current food delivery system in the city is wasteful and damaging to the environment.

"It simply does not need to be the case that Londoners cannot have access to locally produced, top quality food, but we have to have a radical rethink to find ways to make this happen," Ms Boycott said.

"It is my mission now to help find and deliver these solutions for the capital's homes and businesses."

Mr Johnson said Ms Boycott is "brimming with ideas" for improvements to how - and what - Londoners eat.

"Rosie is as passionate as I am about the importance of locally produced, affordable food to our health and well-being as well as the role food can play in protecting our environment," he said in a statement.

'Higher profile'

Chef Oliver Rowe, owner of Konstam restaurant in King's Cross which tries to source most of its food from within the reaches of the Tube network, said Ms Boycott's contribution can only help London's food scene.

"It'll be good if there is somebody shouting about what can be done," he said of the need to produce more food closer to home.

Mr Rowe said Mr Livingstone had been pushing the issue of growing more food locally since he created the London Food Board in 2003, but he thinks a high-profile figurehead might improve the situation.

At Konstam, Mr Rowe said it is a constant challenge to find local sources for his restaurant.

He said this year some of the seasonal challenges have included finding asparagus and cherries.

Jenny Jones, the Green party member of the London Assembly who used to chair London Food Board, said she was "delighted" with the appointment.

"She's much higher profile and is going to have the energy for the job, she's a fantastic choice."



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