Symposiast Len Fisher introduces his talk ‘Global Warming and the Changing Global Food Landscape: The Need to Preserve Diversity’ at the 2017 Symposium
“Why should I do anything for posterity? What has posterity ever done for me?”
Well, one thing that future speakers might like to do for posterity is to record their talks and post them here on the symposium website for the interest of others who could not attend the symposium or the talk. It is something that I personally have been a bit nervous about doing, but this year I bit the bullet, handing my iPhone to a helpful audience member, whose name I unfortunately missed, and asking her to record the talk. She did a wonderful job, keeping the recording steady simply by rest the phone on a seat arm. I have put the video up on YouTube, and at Elisabeth Luard’s suggestion I am posting the link here:
The talk itself was also concerned with posterity, and addressed the problem of how we can best preserve and protect the global food landscape in the face of the effects of global warming. As other speakers at the symposium pointed out, diversity and the encouragement of traditional farming methods offer many advantages. The message of my own talk was simple: Diversity is also the key to promoting resilience in our food systems in the face of global warming.
It is a message that is backed by findings from the FAO, the World Economic Forum, and numerous other responsible bodies. It is also backed by scientific observation: the food and agricultural systems that recover most quickly from the effects of extreme weather events are those that exhibit the most diversity. In the talk, I outlined the scientific reasons why this should be the case.
Now all we need to do is to get politicians and other decision-makers to listen.
Symposiast Jane Levi considers the politics of a ploughman’s lunch
Every year for the last 35 years a group of food-obsessed scholars, cooks and others from all over the world have gathered together in an Oxford college and spent a joyous weekend thinking about, talking about and eating food. The Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, a charitable educational trust, will meet again over the weekend of 7th-9th July 2017, and this time one of their newest Trustees, David Matchett — who by day is the Market Development Manager at Borough Market — will be bringing lunch for his 250 fellow symposiasts with him. Continue reading →
M áirtín Mac Con Iomaire introduces a banquet for the 2017 Symposium produced by the Boyne Valley Food Series, sponsored by Fáilte Ireland
What was the inspiration for this meal?
This meal is centered around the landscape and mythology of the Boyne Valley in northeast Ireland. When the Irish goddess Boann upset the Well of Inspiration, it boiled over in outrage. The river was born and took its name—Boyne—from her. Continue reading →
Symposiast Aylin Öney Tan traces the way in which olive groves have shaped a Turkish townscape
Does the landscape that surrounds us define our culture? My answer would be a definite yes. The natural environment dictates what we eat, what we produce, what we create, and even how we think. As someone who has a background in architecture and conservation practices, I am excited to see that heritage sites are now being evaluated as cultural landscapes; in some cases including agricultural landscapes as an integral part of heritage. Agriculture is an inseparable part of our heritage; as its name readily suggests, it is a part of our culture and basis of our existence in nature. Continue reading →
Symposiast Thom Eagle considers whether game is a wild or a farmed food
There is no wilderness in Britain. The landscape which today forms the battleground between conservationist and gentry is only the latest expression of the work of millennia, to subjugate wildness into something amenable to humanity. The land is manmade. Once a vast forest covered the country, almost to the peaks of the uplands; the Broads and the Fens were water; the Suffolk coast was heath and wood. The nature which inhabits these industrial landscapes is that which we allow to exist – everything dangerous is long-gone, and everything not useful has retreated. Hares, snails, pigeons, rabbits, deer, introduced by waves of invaders and migrants as sources of food or entertainment, have all become part of the British ecosystem. Nothing is natural, nothing is wild; a muntjac eats the brambles in my garden. Continue reading →
Late 17th century vegetable garden. From The new art of gardening by Leonard Meager
Symposiast Malcolm Thick finds the ghost of farmers’ fields in Fulham
Many (many) years ago I slept on the floor of a friend’s house one August while doing some research in the National Archives in London. The house was one of a small Victorian terrace on the busy Fulham Palace Road in West London. On the other side of the road was a large cemetery where my housemates went mushrooming in the early morning. Continue reading →
Volker Bach examines what Renaissance German beer culture can teach us about an elusive concept
In 1575, the German lawyer and beer connoisseur Heinrich Knaust published Five Books on the Divine and Noble Gift, the Philosophical, Precious and Wonderful Art of Brewing Beer. In it, he writes:
“Regarding flavour, there is very great difference among beers, for above the common flavour of all beers, some are sweet, some slightly bitter, some partly sharp, some have a wine-like (weinlich) taste, …” (p. 67)
This book comes from a beer culture that thought of the origin of beers in terms very similar to the modern idea of terroir. Beers were traded as distinctive local products that connoisseurs understood intimately, certain varieties were chosen for specific occasions, and even illicit copying was a problem. Continue reading →