I recently attended a conference were I was on a panel with several other speakers. We were asked to consider two questions. The first, addressed to all of us was: Continue reading
I recently participated in symposium that was considering waste in relation to food. It was put on as a pre-conference event to the 2015 RGS/IBG meetings held in Exeter. The symposium, which took place on a working farm, was both fascinating and very engaging. You can find out more about the event and its participants on the web site developed by the organisers here. I encourage you to have a look at the link as you will learn about West Town Farm and the activities of the day. My role at the symposium was to give a short talk around the issue of food waste and neoliberalism. I chose to use an excellent food re-use project–The Real Junk Food Project–as a mechanism for focusing my questions. I am offering the text of my provocation in what follows. Continue reading
This autumn will be the inaugural year for the Food Security and Food Justice MA that I have been developing over the last 18 months. The University of Sheffield has singled it out as being innovative and is using it as an example of good practice in its guidance for those wishing to start up an masters course. To that end, there is a video of me talking about the course. What got cut from the video was the discussion about the field course module that is a mandatory part of the course. It is to Hong Kong and promises to be very exciting.
On Friday, 8 May 2015 I awoke to discover that not only were we not looking forward to a new coalition government in the UK, but that the overall collapse of the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party has given the Conservative government a mandate in UK politics. While I, at an individual level, am likely to see some benefits from the strong neoliberalism that underpins this government’s ideology, I am concerned by the implications of this for the country more generally and particularly the nation’s poor. Indeed, I see a further deepening of the division between those who have and those who have not. As I will elaborate, this will mean the continued exponential growth in the numbers of people requiring emergency food assistance and increased numbers of children and elderly with inadequate food supply, which will also translate into higher rates of obesity, diet rated illness and malnutrition. These trends as they are situated within the current climate of neoliberal austerity will also mean that we, if we are to continue as a nation with social values (as opposed to only economic values) must find ways of filling the gap, not just for families but also for our communities. Continue reading
The University of Sheffield recently engaged a new form of teaching for level 1 students. Known broadly as Achieve More, all first year students (nearly 2000) in the Faculty of Social Science were given a programme of talks on key issues and undertake some investigative challenges that would be completed in within the week. There are 8 groups of students (with 7 in each group), who are working on projects with me concerning the food landscape of Sheffield. I also gave one of the talks. The video of it is available here.
- The graph of population and food supply is from this link: www.s-cool.co.uk
- The Met Office supplied the image of temperature rise
- Data for the Environmental Cost Estimates are via DEFRA
- Jevon’s Paradox slide was presented by Prof. Tim Benton at the Environment Hearing of the Food and Poverty Commission being undertaken by the Fabian Society and which was hosted here at Sheffield.
- The ven diagram is one produced by Tim Allen of Sheffield on a Plate for a talk to level 1 students.
I am increasingly interested in the ways in which various forms of public engagement can help facilitate change in our food systems. Certainly these forms of interaction throw up surprises both in terms of critical topical insights, but also in the ways they recalibrate what I understand as being accepted knowledge.
My most recent effort at engagement is to host a hearing for the Fabian Society for a commission on Food and Poverty, which will take place on 27 January 2015. The aim of the commission is to influence government action on the topic of food poverty in the UK. My aim, is linked, but also to continue to create critical buzz and to further momentum around the work that is being done both in research but also the public sphere on the important topic of food poverty and to strengthen and extend the connectivities within the network of interested parties within the region.
Within Sheffield and indeed the larger Yorkshire region, there is a critical mass of parties interested and working toward a better food system. This includes public sector actors, voluntary organisations, researchers and private citizens. What has become clear to me over the last year is the lack of connectivity within this network of actors. People know each other as little network clusters, but linking into and being able to visualise the whole of that network is still very difficult to realise. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I do know that providing repeated opportunities for people within this network to interact is not a waste of time, as I see with each event new connections being made between those within the group, which in turn produces new possibilities for innovative collaboration.
It is also clear to me that at some point the critical action occurring at the local scale, must inform and interact politics and action at the national and international scales. While the specificities and sometimes the agendas will vary from place to place, there is a need for the development of case studies that demonstrate and elaborate good practice. These case studies then need to be communicated widely in order for the innovations inherent within each case to diffuse to other networks and places.
If you would like to attend the hearing, it is on 27/1/2015. Tickets are available here.
There will also be further blog posts and a storify from the event. I will post the links as they become available. We will be using the following hashtags for the event if you want to follow on Twitter. #foodandpoverty #FeedingBritain
UPDATE: Please see the storify here, which includes videos of the main speakers.