Doncaster Food Partnership

Over the last year I’ve been conducting research with Doncaster Public Health to help them understand how to move beyond interventions that target people and try to nudge them into changing their behaviour.  My work has focused on trying to understand how context shapes what people can and cannot do. This post highlights some of the findings from the research and makes some suggestions about how councils can support communities to be more resilient food landscapes. Continue reading

Food Deserts and Unjust Foodscapes

This blog post draws from a forthcoming chapter I have written for The Routledge Handbook of Landscape and Food that is edited by Josh Zeunert and Tim Waterman.  The book will be published early in 2018.  I am drawing on a section that focuses on the food desert concept in order to show how the standard interventions aiming to address food deserts does little to reconfigure the institutional forces that give rise to unjust foodscapes in the first instance.  The excerpt closes by identifying some of the ways that food justice activists are tyring to address the problems. Continue reading

Why SURPLUS food is important for feeding vulnerable people

There have been a number of arguments in the press and on social media arguing that the use of surplus food to feed food insecure people is at best only a short-term solution and at worst harmful (e.g., Caraher 2017).  I would agree that the hunger that is caused by poverty is not only not being addressed by the UK government (see Blake 2015, and a more recent update of the article published by GMPA) but in some cases is being enhanced by current government policy (e.g., a benefits system that has built in delays, draconian sanctions, programme cuts that impact on the most vulnerable). In reading the argument, however, a number of issues stand out as needing further clarification and interrogation.  Firstly, there is a lack of understanding about food surplus in terms of what it is.  Secondly, there is misconception about how food surplus becomes food for bellies as it travels through the charity sector. Thirdly, there is an overly narrow understanding of the value of surplus food both for charities and those whom they support. These issues are explored in this blog post. Continue reading

Building an Unjust Foodscape: Shifting Governance Regimes, Urban Place Making and the Making of Chinese Food as Ordinary in Hong Kong

This is the text from my recently published peer-reviewed paper in the journal Local Environment.  The paper will be part of a special issue on Food Justice edited by Agatha Herman and Mike Goodwin in the future. The e-paper is available, but behind a paywall until May 2018. I am making the text available here as per the copyright agreement, but for correct referencing please see:  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13549839.2017.1328674

DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2017.1328674

Megan Blake ORCID http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8487-8202 Continue reading

Mapping residuals can help identify communities that are resilient: Feeding Affordance and Decent Helpings

IMD as a predictor of children’s overweight status in Doncaster communities where there were more than 75 children measured.

Data for this analysis was provided in anonymised form from Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council Public Health, who was the collaborator on this research application.

The aim of this research is twofold. Firstly to consider the predictors of rates of children who are overweight and obese at community level and to determine if there are contextual factors that contribute to these rates.  Secondly, the research aimed to identify communities that were performing better than would be expected so that a qualitative case study could be undertaken to try to see what might be supporting their resilience.

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Food Matters and Neoliberalism: Talk Transcript for Food Matters Symposium

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