In early April, almost everyone from the FEAST HQ went on a long trip all the way from Kyoto to Boston. There we attended the AAG Annual Meeting 2017, the biggest geography conference in the world where over 9,000 researchers meet to present and discuss their latest work. It was an exciting and intense week, where we all learned a lot, made new friends and had a chance to explore Boston’s bustling food scene.
Food system transitions, degrowth and the growing world of food and agriculture geography
For most of the conference, one thing was in the back of our minds: the session on food system transitions Christoph and Steven had organized on 8th. With 24 presenters and five time slots of 100 minutes each, the session started at 8 AM in the morning and only ended at 7 PM in the evening! Christoph, Daniel, Ayako, Steven and Mai all took turns chairing to cover all kinds of topics from the concepts and mechanisms to production practices, gardening and urban agriculture, access and linkages, and a final closer look at a variety of different aspects of food system transitions. All FEASTers (except Christoph, who joined the degrowth session) also presented their own research: Steven on holistic local food security, Kazuhiko on relocalizing food and agriculture from an environmental ethics perspective, Daniel on agriculture in the anthropocene, Ayako on the potential of seed saving in constructing alternative food spaces, Mai on Bhutan’s changing landscape of food production, and Norie on GIAHS and local food system regeneration in Gifu. In the end, we hope the participants had as much fun as we had! Look forward to hearing more from us about this session as we are looking to organize a joint special issue.
What was Christoph doing in the degrowth session? Since the FEAST project fully started in 2016, the degrowth concept has strongly influenced the way we are thinking about our work on transitioning to more sustainable food and agriculture systems. So Christoph decided to see how applying these ideas to Japan could help create a vision to turn vacant lots into biocultural cityscapes. We also took the chance to chat a bit more with two prominent degrowthers, Giorgos Kallis and Federico Demaria – let’s see where these encounters might lead!
Besides these two big sessions, we were blown away by how many different people were talking about food, agriculture and related topics close to our heart. From food sovereignty to peasant livelihoods, from community gardens to food sharing, it was great to see we at FEAST are not the only ones excited about researching everything around food!
Exploring Boston’s foodscape & looking forward to New Orleans
At FEAST, we practice applied research. That means when we travel to new places, nothing can stop us from exploring the foodscape to see, smell and taste what food the locals are into. As we were sharing a residence for the week, this involved several big food shopping expeditions followed by communal cooking and – of course – joint feasts! Besides sampling some great coffee, we also visited the fantastic Boston Public Library and the Boston Public Market. There we learned about local produce, craft beers, start-ups that try to get people cooking again, and savored some delicious kombucha – a drink Mai introduced to everyone in all its varieties throughout the week.
What’s left to say? A big thank you to everyone on the team (including those who couldn’t join in) for making this trip possible, to all the people we met and learned from at the conference, and to Boston for a fantastic week. See you at the AAG next year in New Orleans?