Thinking Edibly: Food Discussions *Update*

Thinking Edibly 

Sept 2016 – November 2016

Dedicated webpages: http://thinkingedibly.surge.sh

 

In September 2016, we convened people interested in food – good food, food cultures, and local food production for a series of conversations about what matters if we were to think about food issues, in Singapore. We drew inspiration from the steady efforts of hours and years of participatory food discussions by friends in Canada (Food Secure Canada, People’s Food Policy discussions), and Australia (Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance, The People’s Food Plan). More on their efforts, which actively continue today, are found in the resources section below.

These beginning discussions in Singapore arose from watching food go undiscussed beyond its value to the tastebuds. Food is loved in Singapore, but its cheap abundance in hawker centres, subsidized costs in supermarkets, and plethora of images of good looking food on Instagram make it easy to take the availability of food for granted. Food justice and food insecurity, in Singapore, and beyond, go undiscussed. Yet Singapore, which imports over 90% of its food, and hosts businesses that are implicated in mobilizing vast amounts of investment in agricultural land conversion and land grabs (which comes under an umbrella term, “land acquisition”), plays a significant economic and cultural role in changing the agricultural landscape in Southeast Asia, and beyond. (Palm oil is a case in point.)

We wish to find ways for people to find alternatives to the unequal and un-ecological practices dominant in the food and agricultural industry today. Thinking Edibly means to start thinking about our role in this large entrenched system, and our identities as “consumers”.

Session 3: Local Food Production

Local food; food that is unique to a community and reflects its geography and culture of its people. It has to be created through ingredients that are grown only as far as where the locals tread, and the entire production process should begin and end within this geographical space.

A huge turnout – ~35 people, some came unexpected to think with us about Local Food Production. A group of young chefs included!

Session 2: Local Recipes, Local Tastes: Casting Glamour

Gatherings can occur today as a way of re-creating what is past, helping memory find a footing in the present, to re-charge the strength of memory. Yet there are push and pull factors that make it challenging for us to experience these good food memories again: we have so much choice (accessibility and abundance of fast food) today, and a disproportionately smaller amount of resources, people, space, knowledge and language dedicated to slow food.

Session 2: What’s Indah? Glamour and culture in food (culture).
Deeelicious homemade kuehs prepared by Mother and daughter Fifi. They sell these too under their brand, Indah (@indah_desserts, on Instagram).

Session 1: Food for all: Health and Society

What makes up your world? What comes to mind when we think of healthy food? What do we consider healthy, what signs help us know what’s healthy? What barriers stop us and the people we are most in touch with (our customers, clients, patients, volunteers, co-workers) from having these foods?

Session 1: Food and Society looked at what we count as ‘value’ in food. What is good food, that is good for the body, mind, and spirit? Lots of talk about certification, organics, but also body image disorders, and our relationship with food here.
Busy working our notes from session 1~

We are busy now preparing a brief, shareable report on what we’ve found in these discussions, that will be useful for sharing and finding directions forward amongst more groups working on better food futures. Keep checking back!

For now, here is a glimpse of what’s to come!

Thinking Edibly Learnings: 8 things that could happen when we grow our own food.

 

Resources

People’s Food Policy, by Food Secure Canada:

  • Resetting the Table (2011): the result of a long series of food discussions with hundreds of volunteers and thousands of hours.
  • Resetting the Table held a conference in August 2017, with 6 streams to look at the food policy landscape in Canada: discussion papers, policy maps and summary policy tables are available here.

The People’s Food Plan, by the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance:

  • A little about them here
  • Their Food Plan discussion draft (2012) available as a PDF download here.

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