What is Food: Field to Table all about?
Our research group is about exploring the food system – from the generation of food, to its distribution through trade and commercial networks, to the decisions that consumers make about what food they buy and eat, and on to the issue of food waste. We want to challenge traditional views on the food system and looks at new technologies and attitudes that affect the food system.
What are the big issues and themes that you are dealing with?
The big issue we hope to discuss in looking at the food system is the idea of food security. Food security is a bit of a buzz word at the moment in academic and policy circles. At a basic level it is looking at ensuring safe, secure and stable access to adequate and nutritious food. The issue of ensuring food security is interlinked with many other global challenges – for example, eradication of poverty, obesity and other over-consumption and malnutrition-related conditions, climate change (agriculture is one of the big contributors to greenhouse emissions) and attempting to stem the tide of biodiversity loss.
Who will it be of interest to?
We hope that this group is of broad interest – not only to those that work on the food system and food security in particular, but more generally. Food is a fundamental part of every persons’ life and it is something that we all can have an opinion on.
How did this research group come about?
The research group was the idea of several PhD students in the Department of Plant Sciences. We wanted to have an interdisciplinary platform to discuss the issue of food security and thought that a discussion group looking at the food system would be an interesting way of doing this. We have also set up a more permanent forum for interdisciplinary discussion on food security – the Cambridge Food Security Forum.
Tell us about the seminars and events you have planned
Our next meeting will be a reading group where we challenge one of the main claims in the food world at the moment – that we need to produce more than double the amount of food that we are currently producing in order to feed a growing population. We will then move on to a discussion of how the production of food conflicts with other land use (for example, to produce biofuels and land use for conservation purposes). We will finish Michaelmas term by considering how the food system interlinks with climate change. In Lent our focus will be on market forces at work in the food system – for example, forces that exclude women and smallholders from full access to the market; the multinational companies that control the distribution networks across country borders; and the political and trade issues that were the foundation for the 2008 food crisis. In Easter we will look at consumer choices and issues such as food labelling, consumer waste and how the food system overlaps with preventative health measures.
How can people find out more about Food: Field to Table?
- People can sign up to our mailing list here: http://cfsf.soc.srcf.net/contact/
- We are on Twitter: @CamFSF
- We are on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cambridgeFSF/
- And we can be emailed on this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The next Food: From Field to Table is on 18 November: Land Use Conflicts: They’re Not It Anymore by Jeremy Woods (ICL) and David Nally (Cambridge). Previous events have been filmed and you can watch them on the Food: From Field to Table section of the CRASSH website.