Platter of cheese and crackers

The increasing prominence of food politics and visibility of formerly ‘marginal’ food practices provided a focal point for the diversity of issues, from ethical consumption and alternative food networks to food culture in the digital age, addressed by speakers at the ‘Food Politics: From the Margins to the Mainstream’ conference in Hobart on 30 June – 1 July 2016.

The Food Values Research Group was well-represented, with two papers delivered at the conference. As part of the session ‘Rethinking Food Scares’, group members Dr Jessica Loyer and Emily Buddle presented ‘A “Natural” Symbol: Nature, Morality, and Politics in Online Raw Milk Advocacy Communities’. They shared some results of their research as part of a team working with Dr Heather Bray and Professor Rachel Ankeny. A look at the associations consumers make between ‘natural’ food and morality combined with research into social media communities’ discourses around raw milk in Australia and Canada, where the milk may not be sold legally, the researchers’ findings confirmed that a range of factors contribute to the perception of raw milk by advocates as more ‘natural’ and that these beliefs work in tandem with a strong current of political support for ‘food freedom’ or opposition to the dominance of large-scale, corporate and industrial food production.

Yvette Wijnandts presented ‘Rethinking Difference via the Non-Human Animal: Consuming the Kangaroo’ as part of a session on ‘Meat Politics’. Starting from a position that the practice of eating (and talking about eating) animals is embedded within different cultural contexts and values, such as religion, and employing a post-humanist framework, her paper provided a critical discourse analysis of current debates on commercial kangaroo hunting in Australia. Ultimately, whatever our opinions on the matter, class, culture, race and species are inter-related in the discussions we have about the well-being of the animals we eat.

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For the September Food Values Research Group Seminar, we are pleased to present:

Creative City Madness: Food Trucks and Cultures of Entrepreneurialism

Dr. Jean Duruz, University of South Australia

photo of Jean DuruzThis presentation reflects on the recent introduction of “boutique” food trucks to Adelaide’s streets as a state-sponsored strategy for creating “a more vibrant public realm”. To unravel the politics of “vibrancy”, we follow La Chiva, a mobile business initiative of a group of young Colombian migrants, to a number of actual and virtual locations – for example a university courtyard, a bohemian pub, a festival in support of the Kurdish people’s political struggle, a smartphone app…. Our project is to capture, particularly through the senses of taste and smell, but also through sight and sound, the ghosts of transnational belonging and their value inscriptions. Low and Kalekin-Fishman’s “sensorial interface” will be helpful here for understanding complex connections between sensory geographies and the “lived” and remembered everyday of cities. At the same time, tracing such connections will indicate the messy, yet potentially productive, politics at intersections of nostalgia, cosmopolitanism, commodification and entrepreneurialism. Perhaps this analysis will provide a challenge to “creative city madness” and to Tonkiss’ claim that “the gentrification of contemporary cities” tends to “aestheticize rather than represent urban ‘diversity’”? Niggling questions, nevertheless, remain: to what extent do transnational identities and their spaces of belonging in cities inscribe performances of “vibrancy” for others?; do planning strategies, intended to promote “vibrancy” and “creativity” based on these identities, simply foster the “cool” of urban hipsterism?; are these transnational, cosmopolitan identities, on the other hand,  critically “grounded” in sensory meanings and value systems of hospitality, reciprocity, community-building and remembering?

Jean Duruz is an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow within the Hawke Research Institute at the University of South Australia. Her research focuses on food exchanges in global cities shaped by globalization and postcolonialism, particularly in the Asia Pacific region, and her approach to this research is shaped by practices of sensory ethnography.  Jean has published in food/cultural studies/cultural geography journals, such as Cultural Studies Review, Space and Culture and Gastronomica, and in various edited collections, such as The Globalization of Asian Cuisines (ed James Farrer). Jean’s recent book, Eating Together: Food, Space and Identity in Malaysia and Singapore, written with Gaik Cheng Khoo, is published by Rowman and Littlefield.

When: Wednesday, 14th of September, 12-1 PM

Where: Lower Napier LG23, Napier Building, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide (click here for campus map)

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On Tuesday the 30th of August, the ABC’s science program Catalyst ran a piece on gene editing, with a particular focus on one of the newest tools CRISPR-Cas9.

Gene editing tools such as CRISPR-Cas9, often just referred to as CRISPR, allow scientists to cut the DNA within an organism’s genome in a specific place, using a nuclease (a DNA-cutting enzyme, Cas9) and short ‘guide’ RNAs. Once the DNA is cut, natural mechanisms make repairs, and small changes can be made in the DNA code.

The program focused on the medical applications of the technology, as well as some of the agricultural and food applications, for example allowing egg-producing lines of chickens to be sexed before hatching so that only females are hatched.

Prof Rachel Ankeny, leader of the Food Values Research Group, provided the bioethics perspective for the program:

DNA model

“In the biomedical domain, where this has the potential to cure very serious diseases from which people suffer, the public is much more likely to be open to allowing investigations in that area. But as soon as it goes offshore or underground or it’s not visible, for whatever reason, I think that’s where the hesitance really creeps in, and correctly so.”

“We’ve done a lot of studies asking the general public about their views on genetic modification of crops, and they are still not sure what’s in it for them. At the end of the day, although we’re a community, we look outward, we want things to be good more generally, we’re very concerned about what the effects of these things are going to be on ourselves and our families.”

The RiAus has some additional information on CRISPR-Cas9 and gene editing.

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Speaking to delegates from industry, researchers, and investors at the Ag & Foodtech Symposium in Brisbane, Professor Rachel Ankeny explained that the future of genetic modification must include dialogue and debate with the public. Drawing upon the Food Values Research Group’s extensive research, Rachel explained that people’s concerns about GM are not just (or mainly) about […]

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For the August Food Values Research Group Seminar Series, we are pleased to present: An Avignon Table, 1772-73 Professor Emeritus Barbara Santich The archives Galéan de Gadagne, held in the Vaucluse departmental archives, include a document of great interest to food historians: the accounts of the household of Gaspard II de Fortia de Montréal for […]

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Superfoods are everywhere these days. Once found only in niche health food shops, displays of “exotic” superfoods like açai from the Brazilian Amazon and maca from the Peruvian Andes now appear in supermarket chains, chemists, and convenience stores. One can hardly open a newspaper or magazine without coming across a list of the top superfoods […]

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For the sixth seminar in the Food Values Research Group seminar series, we are pleased to present: What Can Governments Do to Address Childhood Obesity?  A Community Perspective Professor Annette Braunack-Mayer and Dr Jackie Street, University of Adelaide Childhood obesity is a significant challenge for public health internationally. Regulatory measures used by governments offer a potentially effective […]

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Prof Rachel Ankeny from the Food Values Research Group and Department of History at the University of Adelaide recently appeared on Radio National’s “The Philosopher’s Zone” discussing food ethics. The program begins with an interview with philospher Susan Wolf and her defence of ‘foodies’. She argues that an interest in food, and an enjoyment of food […]

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For the fifth seminar in the Food Values Research Group seminar series, we are pleased to present: Phylloxera in the South Australian viticultural imagination Dr William Skinner, The University of Adelaide The spread of the phylloxera vineyard root louse from the second half of the nineteenth century onwards represents a fundamental rupture in the world of wine. […]

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Rachel Ankeny discusses findings about food ethics from the ARC project What Shall We Have for Tea? Toward a New Discourse of Food Ethics in Contemporary Australia, in a piece for The Conversation, which is reproduced here: Tastes like moral superiority: what makes food ‘good’? Rachel A. Ankeny Food choice has become a moral morass. Discussions […]

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