Tim Lang Professor of Food Policy at Thames Valley University I am a fortunate man. At home in London, we bike or bus a mile to a good little market with specialist food shops alongside. For quick supplies, there's the cornershop or an excellent Spar. At my ancient mother's house in rural Northamptonshire, our choice is the baker and Londis 300m one way and a great grocer the other. But local food shopping continues to haemorrhage when it could be growing. Retailing falls between too many ministries. It needs a champion. Where is the French or German style support for the local food economy? Why the US style love affair with giant tin sheds? Farmers are up against the wall, yet UK policy pursues globofood for megamarkets, not local food from local shops. It dreams of crushing the small European producers so North European grain barons can compete with US agribusiness. The prize? Feed pigs for China's rising meat aspirations. China has population and land pressure. Great news for agribusiness but hardly a local food retail policy. The Competition Commission is investigating supermarket concentration. Unless it confronts the use of contracts and specifications to control supply chains, and unless it concludes that what matters is the degree of local monopoly (say within two to five miles), the report will be academic. Sustain, the food and farming alliance, has launched a report on community mapping'. People are asked what they want for their area. This is not some token focus group or a distracted person with five questions on a clipboard, but a months-long development process producing a real local vision. The message on local shops is consistent. They need action. Unless government seriously tackles a proper level of local food retailing, neighbourhood renewal and food poverty, care in the community, and encouraging people to walk or bike not use cars to shop, rebuilding civic life will all be hot air. {{NEWS }}