It is time for an honest debate about the culture of food in Britain because it matters in so many ways. It matters to our health, our rural communities, our environment and our economy. Therefore, any change in our attitudes towards it has far-reaching consequences.

One cultural shift I would definitely like to see is support for locally grown produce. Food patriotism, as it is known, can help us meet our environmental goals by minimising transport distances. It can help make our agriculture industry more sustainable and increase our country's food security by encouraging diversification. And it can also help to strengthen local economies by supporting farms, shops, markets and their employees.

What's more, for those that say championing British produce is in some way protectionist or against the principles of trade, I say it is precisely because of market forces and consumer demand that we should be advocating it.

In the 21st century people are less happy to eat second-rate food that is neither healthy nor tastes good. They are increasingly anxious about the amount of pesticides and antibiotics used in agriculture, especially abroad, and like to know where their produce is from and how it has been farmed.

That is why, in recent years, there has been an exponential growth in the organic market, especially in baby foods. A poll in 2005 indicated that one in five consumers would go out of their way to buy British food, with another two-thirds expressing an interest in finding out more.

Supporting local food and responding to this instinct place a responsibility on all of us. Social responsibility means we all - Government, businesses and individuals - have a part to play.

Government has two important responsibilities. First it needs to ensure that this country has far more rigorous and transparent food labelling. Today British consumers can find it difficult to back British farmers because inadequate labelling means food can be imported to Britain, processed here, and subsequently labelled in a way that suggests it's genuinely British. Proper labelling is vital if we are to facilitate informed choice, and if necessary, we should challenge and change rules that prevent this.

A second important responsibility of government is to facilitate a revolution in food procurement. Each year £1.8bn is spent on food for the public sector, yet we have no idea what this money is spent on. The government should be doing everything it can within EU rules to source locally food for schools, hospitals and other public institutions.

Businesses have a responsibility to meet the demand for quality local produce. It is up to farmers to seize the opportunity it presents, and entrepreneurs to match that supply with demand. One example is in Bedfordshire, which is putting local producers and shoppers together and creating a market based on consumer demand.

Finally our social responsibility is also our personal responsibility. All of us as consumers have a responsibility to try and buy quality produce from British producers. This is part of a larger cultural change in which we value the food we buy, the way in which we prepare a meal, and the time we take to enjoy it around family and friends.

Buying local produce can help towards a healthier lifestyle, can uphold rural economies and can enhance our environment. Local food, in more ways than one, can be the great sustainer.