The Consumer City, hosted at BDP on 15 October, was the third discussion-event in the series Imagining the Future of Food in Cities — curated and organised by the Young Urbanists — that looked to explore and open up debates concerning the opportunities and challenges of food consumption in cities.
First of the speakers, Shane Holland, chair of Slow Food London one of the largest agricultural food NGOs in the world, talked of the work they do in bringing people together to create change through: school and food education intitiatives, the promotion of local and regional foods and projects to safeguard the biodiversity of the United Kingdom.
Following this, Steve Wilson of The Russet and founder of The People’s Kitchen elaborated on three of his guiding principles: earth care, people care and fair share. Beliefs that all point to the need for organic, fair trade and locally sourced produce — factors that contribute to a food industry that is sustainable, has a low carbon emission and achieves in connecting consumers to their locality.
The next speaker to the floor was Dan Woolley, Gleaning Manager at Feedback, Feeding the 5000, an initiative which aims to ensure that as much as possible of the fruit and vegetables currently wasted on UK farms is returned to the human food system. Woolley stressed throughout that it is not that we need more food, we just need to learn how to better distribute it. He also picked up on the current aesthetic aspect to the food industry, that which sees perfectly edible produce discarded for not matching exact, and quite unreasonable, standards.
Keynote speaker Dr CJ Lim, Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at The Bartlett, UCL rounded up this part of the evening, during which the Professor charismatically talked the audience through his new book Food City, that explores the issue of urban and architectural transformation and how the creation, storage and distribution of food has been, and can again become, a construct for the practice of everyday life.
The event concluded with a Q&A, chaired by Ylva Johannesson a freelance Food and Nutrition Consultant and, as ever some shrewd, provoking questions from the audience…