Convivial Food Discussions: Food Thinkers Lunches in Oxford

Disclaimer: Expect better food and more people

Every fortnight during term-time, a gathering of students, academic and research staff, business owners, and other food-related thinkers and ‘do-ers’ from the city of Oxford meet over lunch. The aim of these lunches is to offer a relaxed, interesting, and convivial environment for the food community across Oxford to meet and get to know each other better.

Sponsored by the Oxford Martin Future of Food Programme, the ECI Food Group, IFSTAL programme, and Linacre College, the lunches involve two (very) short talks on a theme, and discussion between those present. In their second year running, the lunches have already covered a wide range of themes – from foresight methods in food systems, to gut microbiomes, archaeological explorations of migration and food, and the chemistry and psychology underlying eating experience.

Designed to be as relaxed as possible, speakers are encouraged to speak without presentations and handouts, and make their talk as accessible and interdisciplinary as possible. Besides a prime opportunity to eat an excellent lunch courtesy of Linacre College’s kitchen staff, it is a chance to get feedback on ideas and potential ventures, and start to close the week on a more positive note. Although the themes are often weighty and have the potential of nudging participants to despair, the convivial atmosphere ensures that wider, constructive, and more confident views are deliberated on.

Participants are strongly encouraged to create and maintain the connections they make during the lunch, and it has been heartening to see individuals across departments meet and connect over food-related issues and themes they tackle from different disciplinary perspectives. While still in relative infancy, one aim of the series is to create and foster deeper connections within Oxford’s food community that cross academic and enterprise boundaries and recognize the variety and scale of food endeavours in the city.

The Food Thinkers Lunches are already halfway through this term’s run, with the remaining talks featuring speakers like Will Pouget from the Vaults and Garden restaurant, which has won Oxfordshire’s ‘Most Sustainable Restaurant’ award, Jake Backus, Managing Director of emPATHy sustainability, and previously the Customer Sustainability Director at Coca-Cola Europe, Janice Wang from Experimental Psychology, and the Crossmodal Research Laboratory, and Paul Freestone from the Oxford Vegetarian Society.

Please feel free to sign up to the remaining lunches here, and if you are keen on presenting, or know of someone who would be interested, please email Saher Hasnain at


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