Food is now at the top of most political agendas. Rising rates of obesity, debates over GM food, famine and global inequality, changes in consumption patterns, and campaigns against ‘food miles’ have brought new challenges to governments and policy-makers. Jamie Oliver’s TV programs on school dinners and factory farmed chickens have been notable public interventions, but reflect wider concerns over food which has seen the growth of new consumption movements, such as Slow Food.
New academic departments and courses on gastronomy and food have been one consequence of the new interest in food. The Gastronomy, Politics and Citizenship seminar, organized through The Open University’s Centre for Citizenship, Identity and Governance, will bring together leading academic specialists from a range of disciplines as well as practitioners in food policy areas. It will be a unique gathering of international researchers and one of the first occasions where the argument for the teaching of gastronomy in educational curricula will be made. Among the speakers will be Nicola Perullo, Professor of Aesthetics at the new University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy (www.unisg.it) as well as colleagues from Milan University, Indiana University and universities in the UK.
According to Geoff Andrews, OU Staff Tutor in Politics, the organizer of the seminar and author of a forthcoming book on the Slow Food movement, a key focus will be on the important relationship between gastronomy and citizenship.
According to Dr Andrews, ‘We have to get away from this idea that gastronomy is the preserve of the elite. In fact, it concerns everything to do with the production, presentation and consumption of food, the lives of the people who work in the food industry and our desires as consumers. We now need an urgent discussion on the ways in which a gastronomic education can contribute to citizenship and this seminar will play an important part in getting the debate off the ground’.
In addition to the formal proceedings, the seminar participants will eat together at a local restaurant, where they will enjoy the cooking of the celebrated chef Grant Hawthorne. The dinner has been organized by Bedford Slow Food Convivium.
Geoff Andrews 00 44 7976 635489