It may look like a quaint Victorian book on ice cream but behind it lies a tale of slavery and colonialism, that has shaped the tastes and food systems of today. This is one of the points to emerge in this conversation with Dr Polly Russell, Curator for Contemporary Politics and Public Life at the British Museum. She is also a co-presenter in a series of BBC TV Programmes – ‘Back in time for dinner’ and ‘Back in time for tea’ – that take a family back through the decades since Victorian times to show how what we’ve eaten in Britain has changed – along with the social relations and technological changes that go with it.
For Polly, looking at the history of food is the way to understand culture, economics, politics and power. If you want work towards fair, sustainable and healthy food systems in the future being aware of how all these other forces interplay with that goal is essential.