Monthly Archives: September 2015

BSUFN to launch Hastings Bites Back project at the Hastings Herring Fair

Biting teeth-blog2The BSUFN will be at the Hastings Herring Fair on Sat 31 Oct, at the Stade Hall on the seafront, encouraging people in Hastings to find out about social and cultural food research and get involved in a new project, organised by Hastings-based BSUFN researcher, Abigail Wincott (a.wincott@brighton.ac.uk).

Members of the Brighton Unemployed Centre’s Families Project (BUCFP) and Bella Wheeler of the University of Sussex have just finished a fantastic research project into food poverty. They’ll be showing their art exhibition Art on the Breadline and sharing their experiences of doing a community-university action research project. Visitors to the Herring Fair will get to try out some of the techniques developed specially to enable collaborative research projects like these.

BUCFP beans_blog2There will be collage, a props table and mind mapping activities, all aimed at getting people thinking about what they’d like to research and why. And of course we’ll be trying to sign people up to the BSUFN and to our new community research project in Hastings, Hastings Bites Back.

Abigail will keep all the mindmaps and collages as a starting point for the new project, along with any information sent in by email or on returned postcards, which are being distributed locally.

 

If you live or work in the Hastings area and would like to join the Hastings Bites Back project you can find out more and express an interest in taking part by emailing a.wincott@brighton.ac.uk. Please tell us what areas of food research interest you most.

Putting nutrition at the heart of meals in the heart of the community

One of the objectives of BSUFN is to raise the profile of the work members are undertaking on food-related topics. While this often focuses on academic research being done at Brighton and Sussex Universities, there are numerous BSUFN members working on food initiatives in local non-academic organisations and community groups. One such initiative is seeking to bring good nutrition into the heart of mealtimes while instilling a sense of environmental awareness around consumption.

Nutritional therapist Tina Deubert advocates for viewing food and mealtimes as more than just eating. Through her initiatives she is seeking to raise awareness of the value of a healthy, nutritious diet for good physical health and wellbeing. Tina also encourages environmental awareness and taking a holistic view of the food we eat.

Tina’s Kitchen

One of the ways Tina is bringing good nutrition into the local community is through her cafe in the centre of Lewes, East Sussex. Tina and her colleagues prepare fresh food daily, providing a range of salads, hot meals, and treats which won’t rot your teeth, all made from locally sourced organic produce. One customer said “they do the yummiest salads!” Lunch menus are prepared to be nutritionally balanced and provide a good source of protein as well as other vitamins and minerals. Tina achieves a well balanced, substantial meal without using any produce containing gluten. A local dance teacher said “I’m active all day long but lunch from Tina’s Kitchen is enough to keep me going all day.”

Inside Tina’s Kitchen, 90 High Street, Lewes

Lunches from Tina’s Kitchen are available to eat in or take away. All of the packaging for take away food is reusable and biodegradable, made from corn starch instead of plastic. Tina charges a small fee for take away cultery and gives discounts to people who bring back their packaging to be reused. Through this she encourages people to think about where produce comes from and the resources they use during mealtimes.

Making Food Work for You

Another of Tina’s initiatives to raise awareness of the role of nutrition in human wellbeing is through a five-week course held on Saturdays during term-time. The course provides an opportunity to examine some of the principles of nutrition and how you can use this in your diet. The five week sessions focus on:

  • Blood sugar balancing
  • Fat: the good, the bad, and the ugly
  • Nutrient density and why quality and variety matter
  • Digestion – improving digestion to absorb nutrients better
  • Putting it all together with other aspects of a healthy lifestyle

The course is designed to introduce the topics in a simple manner to enable participants to build it in to daily life. Each week provides a practical element, using readily available foods and simple meals.

Tina Deubert preparing nutritious lunchs at Tina's Kitchen in Lewes

Tina Deubert preparing nutritious lunches at Tina’s Kitchen in Lewes

Tina encourages the local community to think more about good nutrition to support wellbeing and a health lifestyle. She will readily give nutritional advice to customers with queries. Tina’s Kitchen also sells a range of health foods and nutritional supplements and she is happy to advise on the use of these.

You can find more details about Tina’s work at www.foodworks4u.co.uk or contact her by e-mail: tinadeubert@gmail.com

Edible Insects and Global Food Security – new report

This post was shared by Rachael Taylor (University of Sussex) and reflects some of her own views on the report discussed and not necessarily those of the authors of the report.

This month two members of BSUFN published a report based on a piece of research they undertook earlier this year. The report is titled ‘Edible Insects and the Future of Food: A Foresight Scenario Exercise on Entomophagy and Global Food Security‘.

Researchers Dominic Glover (Institute of Development Studies) and Alexandra Sexton (King’s College London) used Foresight methods to anticipate whether edible insects can provide health protein and micronutrients to contribute to future global food security.

One of the methods used in the study was a scenario exercise to identify whether edible insects would potentially feature in future diets according to different economic and resource scarcity conditions. Study participants identified four different future scenarios: A Gated World; New Asia; Mundus Middle-Class; and Bread and Circuses.

The outcome of the scenario exercise suggested that edible insects would feature in future diets under each scenario but to varying degrees. This is perhaps not surprising given that, on a global scale, edible insects already feature in diets so some degree of consumption of edible insects could be anticipated regardless of changes in resource scarcity or economic power.

The researchers recognise that there were limits to the scope of this study. Further, in the scenario-building exercise the participants identified a variety of potential influences on future trends in diet and then selected resource scarcity and economic power as the two which were used for scenario development. Although significantly difficult to model or factor into a scenario exercise, social and cultural influences on behaviour change are likely to have a central role in determining the future of edible insects in achieving global food security.

The full report by Glover and Sexton (2015) is available here. If you have any comments on this report please share them with us using the comments box below or via e-mail to food.network@sussex.ac.uk.

Hastings Bites Back

joke false teeth biting Hastings rock

This post was shared by Abigail Wincott, School of Arts and Media, University of Brighton. A.wincott@brighton.ac.uk

Hastings Bites Back is the working title for a new community-university food research project and I spent a lot of yesterday afternoon taking pictures of a pair of wind-up false teeth to promote it.

Who’s doing the research?

The idea is to get together a group of people in Hastings who want to do some food research with me, a researcher at the University of Brighton in Hastings. If you’re reading this, you might be one of the people I’ve met and badgered into siging up.

To be part of the research team, you don’t have to have any research experience, although obviously some of you will. It’s a totally open and democratic project at the moment. I have no idea how many people will want to join in – it could be 3 or it could be 103.

What’s the research about?

I have no idea what we’ll research. That’s up to us.

It has to be social or cultural because I can’t help you with material sciences. It could be historical. It could be looking at food on film, food banks, fast food adverts, changing food tastes, grocery shopping, allotments, binge drinking. It could be about public health or environmental concerns. Or lost food industries or future food industries. You might want to use research to set up a food co-op or help people with dementia. Or make a short film. And many other things I can’t even imagine.

Anyone who wants to join can email me at A.wincott@brighton.ac.uk or return one of the postcards. Please say what kinds of food-related topics you’re interested in, and we’ll use that to narrow down the topic at our first meeting.

What kind of research is it?

The team will decide its own research methods. I’d like to organise a talk or workshops on research methods, so people can find out what’s possible. We might also decide to split into smaller working groups, according to our skills or interests. So one person might do interviews while another analyses tourist brochures or combs the local archives.

When will we do this?

We have until spring 2016 to put together a detailed plan for the research project, so we can apply for seed funding from the University of Brighton’s Community University Partnership Programme or CUPP . The aim is to produce the research during 2016.

If you live or work in the Hastings area please join us. If you know someone else who might like to join in – please spread the word! Hastings Bites Back: a.wincott@brighton.ac.uk

If you are interested in finding out more and getting involved in Hastings Bites Back, please provide your details using the form below and we will be in touch. Thank you.

Food Policy Needs to Feed Society

In the run up to our Governing Food Policy Workshop on the 25th of September 2015, we are sharing a series of articles to provoke discussion. This post was written by Rachael Taylor and is the third post in this series. Rachael is a Doctoral student at SPRU (Science Policy Research Unit), University of Sussex and is researching small-holder farmers and agricultural development interventions in Northern Ghana.

Food Policy Needs to Feed Society

We cannot ignore the importance of food, we all need it to survive. Food is not only essential for life but also has cultural dynamics and provides a social function. The global food system cannot ignore that the primary objective of the food system is to feed society. This post questions whether existing food policies really reflect the needs and priorities of society.

A Complex Global Food Machine

The global food system is highly complex, with numerous sectors interacting at multiple scales and with different objectives and outcomes. It is complex because the huge number of people, processes, interactions, and influences can result in non-linear outcomes which means they are not possible to predict. It is easy for one cog in an Earth-sized machine to focus so intently on its own particular function that it forgets what the machine as a whole is trying to do. Food policy is the element of the food sector which is meant to manage this so that the food system as a whole obtain the necessary outcome of feed society.

Food policy sees the intersection of other major areas of the global food system. Food policy and governance refers to diverse sectors within the global food system and associated policies act at a range of scales in time and space. If there is any activity which is associated to food then somewhere there is a policy which relates to that.

But perhaps food policy has lost sight of the fact that, ultimately, its objective is to ensure the survival of society through sufficient and nutritious diets. Are food policies and the processes that lead to their development being controlled by the few in order to control the many?

A Food System Dominated by Few

In her recent book, Nora McKeon (2015) argues that even agricultural production is no longer primarily concerned with feeding society, instead being driven towards food as a commodity, food to produce biofuels, and food to feed livestock. Large agribusinesses, governmental policies and subsidies, international trade agreements, and intergovernmental priorities are diverting food production away from focusing on feeding society and towards achieving profit or political objectives. Mass-scale food production within the global system is no longer primarily concerned with ensuring that every individual always has sufficient culturally appropriate food to live a healthy and active life.

Agribusinesses prioritise food production, processing, and marketing in order to make financial profit. International trade agreements secure low prices for buyers and consumers, meaning producers at the other end of the food chain get paid little. Governmental targets to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases have driven demand for biofuels to replace fossil fuels, meaning crops are being used for fuel instead of food.

Changing diet patterns in response to increasing affluence globally has led to an increased demand for meat produce, meaning crops are being used to feed livestock instead of people. It is a widely-cited statistic that it takes ten kilograms of feed to produce one kilogram of beef, meaning an overall loss of nine kilograms of food produce. Peasant farmer organisation La Via Campesina state that less than half of all grain produced worldwide are now eaten by humans, the rest being used for biofuels and as livestock feed.

Over recent decades there have been many voices rising concerns that the food system is not functioning sufficiently to feed society. The volume and number of these voices has rapidly increased in recent years, particularly since the food price crisis in 2007-8. Many organisations, civil society groups, and farmer representative have described the food system as ‘broken’.

Putting Society Back at the Centre of Food

This is where we see the rise in mobilisation and action taken by the food sovereignty movement. Food sovereignty prioritises providing food for people, seeing food as a right and campaigns for food justice and equality. Food sovereignty argues for locally appropriate production methods and focuses on producers and local systems. The food sovereignty movement has its own policies and has produced statements and guidance for policy-makers globally.

Some may see ‘food sovereignty’ as another term and additional elements of a complex global food system. But at the moment the food sovereignty movement is arguably the most dominant voice rallying against big agribusiness and international politics and economics. This movement which considers food as a human right still has negligible influence on high-level food policy and governance but it is the first step towards putting society back at the centre of food systems. Food production is for consumption and the primary concern should be ensuring that every individual can eat enough to live a healthy and active life.

 

Reference:

McKeon, N. (2015) Food Security Governance: Empowering communities, regulating corporations, Routledge, Abingdon, pp246