Chef Olia Hercules fronted a fundraising appeal for Ukraine and raised awareness of the human impact of the war. Image Joe Woodhouse.

Most read news in 2022: What just happened?

We round up the top headlines from the year in sustainable food, from August’s drought, cost-of-living and community activism.

A war in Ukraine, the death of a queen and three Prime Ministers – 2022 has certainly been a turbulent year. But what made the news in sustainable food? We round up the headlines, from August’s drought and the impact of the Ukraine war on UK farmers, to bird flu, gene editing and action to restore nature.


Soil carbon and biodiversity credits: Solution or scam?

At the annual Oxford Real Farming Conference, political economists, conservationists and farmers raised concerns over the gold rush to sell carbon and nature credits from farms as corporations race to hit net zero.


The soy saga: Deforestation continues despite new rules

A wide-ranging investigation between The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Unearthed and other partners revealed close links between deforestation in the Amazon and soy used to feed British livestock. Animal feed has been in thr spotlight during 2022 as a result, but remains an emerging area of concern.


Food community rallies for Ukraine appeal

Celebrity chefs Anna Jones and Melissa Hemsley were among those who helped raise thousands for an appeal by Ukraine chef Olia Hercules to help citizens fighting in the war as new charity Cook for Ukraine is set up. Her fundraising continues to raise money for Unicef UK.


Fake meat ‘won’t save the planet’, warns report

Misleading claims around processed meat alternatives are blocking a shift to sustainable food systems, warns a new report, in a story that helped begin to unpick the simplified binary debate over meat versus plants.


Soaring farm costs overshadow excellent crops

Farmers struggle with soaring costs months before price rises start to show on supermarket shelves, caused by higher labour costs after Brexit and the war in Ukraine sending energy and fertiliser prices soaring.


Gene edited crops ‘could go on sale next year’

A move to allow gene edited food to be grown and sold in the UK gathers pace after support from farming minister George Eustice.

Meanwhile, the government rejects Henry Dimbleby’s praised National Food Strategy recommendations to enable a sustainable food transition and tackle food poverty, in what is described as a watered-down and ‘feeble’ response.


Cost-of-living hits green choices

The first research, by tax auditor Deloitte, suggests people are moving away from sustainable choices as the cost-of-living starts to hit. In October, new figures from Nielsen will show organic food sales declined for the first time in a decade.


‘Demoralising’ drought shows climate impact on UK crops

Growers faced one of the toughest years in history as no rainfall and extreme heat leave veg unpicked and reservoirs dry as climate impact on UK farmers becomes evident.


New Prime Minister Liz Truss outlines an overhaul of the UK economy, crashes the markets and leaves Number 10 just seven weeks later. Her new farming minister Ranil Jayawardena was similarly short lived, before Thérèse Coffey took over under new PM Rishi Sunak. Keeping up? During all of that, news broke that the government was planning to scrap the much-anticipated new farming subsidies, which would pay farmers to protect nature.

Meanwhile, farmers called desperately for more attention on the UK’s biggest ever outbreak of bird flu, with flocks being culled or kept inside for protection.


Wildlife populations fall by 70 per cent

A stark report from WWF charts global nature losses and calls on world leaders to agree urgent action at ‘last chance’ biodiversity COP15 summit in December.


Community food efforts recognised in BBC awards

Shops selling sustainable, affordable food, inspiring food volunteers and pioneering regenerative farmers were all recognised in the BBC’s annual food and farming awards in a recognition of outstanding grassroots positive action in food in communities across the UK.


COP27: Forests, nature and intensive farming

A positive note to end the year as Brazil’s re-elected president Lula da Silva ousts anti-environmentalist Jair Bolsanaro and brings hope for global forest restoration.


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