#Inequality and why it matters – an interview with Richard Wilkinson, co-author of ‘The Spirit Level- Why #Equality is Better for Everyone’

Earlier this year the authors of a widely read book that examined why equality is better for everyone gave a lecture locally. I had a chance to interview one of the authors, Prof Richard Wilkinson, Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, about their work. In this he explains what they did, what they found, why it matters and why mass movements are needed to challenge growing levels of inequality.

You can see more about their work and the follow-up on The Equality Trust website.

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An #agroecologist gives a tour of the James Hutton Institute, Dundee

In January this year I gave a talk at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee called ‘Food, thriving people and paradigm shifts in the 21st century: goodbye homo sapiens, hello?’. It developed a talk of mine on the Food Systems Academy which you can view here. While I was at the Institute, Pete Iannetta, an agroecologist working there who had arranged my visit, gave me a quick tour around some of the site and talked about some of his work, including that on growing hops and faba beans in Scotland as well as making beer from all Scottish produce.


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Culture: a short history of the world in a fresh loaf of #sourdough – an interview with Eric Pallant

Eric Pallant is passionate about sourdough bread. Bread is central to western culture and until the last 200 years it was sourdough bread that we ate. A professor of environmental Science at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania USA, he’s spending 6 months at Lancaster University on a Fulbright scholarship as part of his research for a book ‘Culture: a short history of the world in a fresh loaf of sourdough’.

I met up with him in Lancaster to find out more about his work. Listen here:

If you would like to listen to or download the transcript from a lecture he gave on ‘The rise and fall of sourdough: 6000 years of bread’ you can do so here. You can download the Syllabus for his Soil to Plate course here and read about the Real Bread Campaign here.

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Science for #food and #environment – Royal Society conference on Science for Defra (#sci4defra)

Last week I spent a day in London at the Royal Society conference Science for Defra (Department of environment, food and rural affairs in the UK), where I helped facilitate one of the tables in the food and farming workshop. I tweeted quite a lot from the day I was there ( see @GeoffTansey and #sci4defra) but was unable to be at the second day that focussed on the natural environment. Here’s the programme:


Upstairs there were 41 posters outlining some of the research being done – from oak die back to animal health, food fraud to biomonitoring, climate change and dietary change. Have a scan through them below and see if any are of interest.



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Food ethics in Turkey and a 1200 years old olive tree

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I went to Turkey in early March to present a paper at the first Turkish Agricultural and Food Ethics Congress held at Ankara’s University’s Agriculture Faculty. I shared my experience of the Food Ethics Council and how our thinking about ethics has developed – see links at bottom of this post to download my paper and a pdf of my talk.

The Congress was the culmination of a two year EU funded project to develop Agricultural and Food Ethics thinking in Turkey, which I blogged about last year – see here. Over 200 people from all over Turkey attended as well as speakers from the USA, Norway, the Netherlands and the UK. There were a wide ranging set of papers and posters presented at the meeting – see below for the programme in English. Yet again I found myself doing an interview in Turkish on live television during the congress about our work.

The organisers have also carried out training courses in seven cities around the country as part of the project with over 160 participants as well as establishing a food ethics association. This, they hope, will grow and develop after the project and become a useful contributor to how food and farming develops in Turkey. We in the Food Ethics Council will be reviewing the documentation they have gathered and see if we can supply them with additional material for their library.

After the Congress I went to the Aegean and met up with one of the speakers, Prof Uygun Aksoy, whom I’ve known since I worked at the Aegean University in the late 1970s. While we were out we passed some wonderfully gnarled old – and I mean very old, around 1200 years – olive trees and I took a short video of her talking about them. Do have a look.

My paper: TARGETCongress-FEC-GTPaper

Powerpoint: FEC-TARGETconf-10-11March17ppt

Programme: 1st_Turkish_Congress_on_Agricultural_and_Food_Ethics_PROGRAMME

See also my earlier blog on this project:

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#Chicken, the charismatic #supermarket, cultural economy of #power and #quinoa – in conversation with Jane Dixon

What connects chicken and quinoa? That’s what I wanted to ask Prof Jane Dixon when I met her last month in London near the end of her time as Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor at the Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London. It’s over 20 years since we first met at a conference in the USA. She was over from Australia talking about her research on chicken. Since then she’s worked at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University where she is now an Honorary Associate professor. She researches the intersection of cultural sociology and public health with a particular focus on transformations within national food systems. Her special interest is with consumer power, commodity chains, food retail and the nutritionalisation of the food system.

Listen to her explain here:

If you want to hear her lecture – The social and environmental considerations of ethical eating, with a focus on ‘nutritional breakthrough foods’ (e.g. ‘superfoods’) as part of the Food Thinkers series of the Food Research Collaboration go here:


Some of her publications that might be of interest are

Dixon, J & Banwell, C 2016, ‘Supermarketisation and Rural Society Futures’, in Mark Shucksmith,David L. Brown (ed.), Routledge International Handbook of Rural Studies, Routledge Journals, Taylor & Francis Ltd, London United Kingdom, pp. 227-239.

Dixon, J, Sindall, C & Banwell, C 2004, ‘Exploring the intersectoral partnerships guiding Australia’s dietary advice’, Health Promotion International, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 5-13.

Dixon, J 2009, ‘From the imperial to the empty calorie: how nutrition relations underpin food regime transitions’, Agriculture and Human Values, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 321-331.

Her recent books include When Culture Impacts Health (Elsevier) and Weight of Modernity (Springer).


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Gastronomy explained – it’s much more than fancy dining

What do you think of when you hear the word gastronomy? Fancy food? Elite eating? That’s not what they mean at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. I’ve been going to visit the university in January for the past few years to give a seminar on the food system to the MSc in Gastronomy Students. In this short video Charlotte Maberly and Stan Blackley explain just what gastronomy is about:



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