Social & Cultural

This theme covers social aspects of the food system, including consumer culture in relation to food, the history of food and the development of agriculture, interactions between food and other social issues, and the wider implications of food-related technologies.

Oxford asks - What does it take to feed a city?

Commissioned by Oxford’s City Council, ‘FoodPrinting Oxford’ calculates the resources and risks involved with Oxford’s food supply, and explores how best to make the city’s food system more reliable.

Copies of the report can be downloaded from the LandShare website here: http://www.landshare.org/uploads/7/5/4/1/7541639/food_printing_web.pdf

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In climate change adaptation and development circles we often speak of ‘politics’ and ‘power’ as things that stand in the way of progress. We see this frequently in international negotiations where obstruction and grandstanding are common negotiating tactics by politically motivated actors. Yet this negative view of politics is altogether more widespread than that—it’s present in national planning workshops, project development, and just about any forum were complex interests are negotiated. 

Because power and politics are viewed as inherently negative forces, climate change adaptation theorists and practitioners are often guilty of creating a political deficit in adaptation— that is, we choose to avoid these forces altogether. Instead, we view climate change and its responses as a purely technical endeavour, modelling impacts and using empirical data to prioritize adaptation actions (science rightly tells us that this is the correct approach!). 

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By Thomas White, University of Cambridge

 

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By Rachel Loopstra and David Stuckler, Department of Sociology

Foodbank use in the UK has topped one million for the first time, according to new figures from the Trussell Trust. The charity that oversees more than 400 food banks across the country has recorded a 19% rise in the number of food parcels being given out to families in need.

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The Oxford Martin Future of Food Programme and The British Museum hosted a One Day Conference on the 23rd August 2018, at The Oxford Martin School, Oxford

The challenge of feeding an ever increasing population requires a whole food systems approach to agricultural and food security research, in order to deliver productive, resilient and sustainable food and farming. The environmental challenges posed by agriculture are huge, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, localised pollution, and water, forest, land and biodiversity loss. Conversely, climate change, water scarcity, rising global temperatures, and extreme weather will also have severe long-term effects on agricultural production. Archaeological, historical, and anthropological research are all underdeveloped resources in modern agricultural sustainability studies, but are tools well-suited to investigating food security and agricultural development over time under different challenges. 

 

(Image taken by Naomi Sykes)

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By Prof. Charles Spence

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Notes from Food Security Conference

By Hannah Rowlands.

April 27th was the 2nd Annual Oxford Student Food Security Conference. Around 70 people attended this 1-day conference, with presentations from 9 researchers, covering a wide range of issues on the topic of food security, plus animated discussions after each session. The day ended with an interesting and entertaining keynote talk by Professor Doug Gollin.

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By Hannah Rowlands.

The Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food is building relationships with organisations in the Oxford area which have an interest in food system research, including the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester.

The RAU, established in 1845, is recognised nationally and internationally as a leader in the delivery of education, research and consultancy, in and relating to, agriculture and the rural environment.

But one link already exists. Many of the beautiful, agriculturally themed 18th and 19th century paintings on the walls at the RAU are on permanent loan from the University of Oxford.

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By Professor Mike Hamm, C. S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture at Michigan State University (MSU) & visiting fellow of Mansfield College, University of Oxford.

Mike was one of the two experts on sustainability consulted by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in developing its 2015 report.  This report’s  publication has attracted widespread interest and - from those ideologically opposed either to actions on sustainability that necessitate a change in habits or to government intervention - a great deal of criticism. In this blog Mike shares his thoughts on the new Guidelines, and explains clearly what they actually say.

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