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.

Food Waste Solutions Discussion 1

Food Waste Solutions Discussion 1
23 Sept 2017

Time to get movin’!

A first attempt for food-related practitioners (foodscapers, urban farmers, freegans, chefs, etc.) to brainstorm productive next steps to counter the wicked problem of food waste in Singapore, and create actionable next steps for ourselves to work on or gather teams to work on.

Notes on our process, rationale, and outcomes are laid out here.

Outcomes:

Our next steps are to refine the framework of efforts. These efforts should:

  1. Consider a Food Waste Web of Actors (that Foodscape can keep track of/host discussions for).
  2. Utilise Public Education sessions such as Feeding the 5K (hosted by Gone Adventurin’), to do a few things:
    1. increase consumer awareness, which includes working closely with organizations (Note: since in SG the govt is so linked to all parts of public life, this includes working with govt bodies) – NEA, SWCDC, student groups,  schools, fruit&veg sellers.
    2. targeting changes in tradition in biz and amongst consumers (working with B2B solutions to change consumer habits).
    3. urban farming – ? Not clear.
    4. channel public attention to push “enabling legislation” for food waste reduction and recycling.  (also see point 5)
    5. involve an element of data collection, that can support the development of such legislation. Data can be made useful to the gradual development of legislation e.g. working with govt stakeholders to pilot data collection that can inform more grounded (valid) legislation.
    6. Food waste solutions must support distributors in cutting cost.
    7. education especially environmental education, which must include new narratives for food waste solutions – 3R that is grounded in existing issues.

Walking Workshops 1-4: Exploring urban nature

25 Feb – 18 March 2017

Can Farming be done in the City?

Amidst all the free-floating interest in urban farming and the possibilities of growing our own food, we take a walk around neighbourhoods far and near to talk to the people who tend to gardens. Can Farming be done in the City? What sorts of nature can we find or create in our home, public or shared spaces?

The first round of Walking Workshops has concluded. Please sign up for our newsletter or Like our Facebook page to look out for the next round, or write to us if you are interested in coming on one.

Maximum 15 participants 

–        Explore your perceptions of / preferences for urban nature

–        Understand the types of urban nature found in our city

–        Ask better questions (metacognitive skill)

–        Get to meet other participants and gardeners who’re asking the same questions you are!

 

Put together with the support of the NUS Office of Environmental Sustainability