After our five sessions on food system transitions at the AAG 2017, another team of FEAST and friends of the project made their way to the AAG Annual Meeting 2018 in New Orleans. The chance to meet, listen to and present to 9,000 researchers from a variety of fields is an experience that we didn’t want to miss!
Mapping urban food production
Localizing food systems is one way to bring sites of production and consumption back together again. From urban agriculture and gardening to local food systems of bread, the two sessions (Mapping Urban Production I, II) provided a chance to hear about stories from Kyoto, Manila, Detroit, Calgary, the Twin Cities and Grenoble. We learned that the importance and hope academics place on urban agriculture is lived by urban gardeners on the ground, but supporting policies are still lacking. The two sessions were organized by Christoph Rupprecht and Max Spiegelberg, and included presentations by the FEAST team members Kimisato Oda and Yuji Hara.
The other food system(s): informal, non-monetary and alternative food practices
What is your special kind of food? The food you can’t buy at the supermarket or convenience store? Home-made jam or pickles from grandma, fruit from a friend, honey received as a thank you gift, vegetables grown together with other in a community garden… all of these are what one could call informal food. They remind us that food is more than a commodity – real food has a meaning and comes with a story. Informal food practices are commonplace and highly diverse, but we often overlook them in discussions about food security and sustainable consumption and production. Statistical data is often not available, and measuring the well-being dependent on informal food is difficult.
That’s why we at FEAST got together and started a new Working Group on informal food – and of course AAG sessions were sure to follow! In the first session, we learned about the tricky theoretical aspects of informality in the context of food, different approaches to community gardens from the US to Japan and Germany, informal food and food security, enjoyment as a drive of informal food practices. The second session brought stories of food sharing from Bhutan, seed saving from Japan, gleaning through a feminist understanding of care in Vermont and New Hampshire, and wild food harvesting in West Virginia. In the final session, we wrapped up with research on urban beekeeping in Japan, harvesting on public land, food-based kinship networks in Vanuatu and on-farm apprenticeships. The three sessions were organized by Christoph Rupprecht, Ayako Kawai and May Kobayashi (all of who also presented), and included presentations by the FEAST team members Kazuhiko Ota, Maximilian Spiegelberg and FEAST friend Naomi Shimpo.
More-than-human and posthuman adventures and honeybee geographies
Beyond the two sets of sessions, the AAG (again) proved to be a place to get inspired. Especially memorable were the countless sessions and talks on more-than-human geography, from non-human labour to transformed understandings of what we humans are in an era of gene editing and microbiome-influenced moods. Part of these endeavors was Max Spiegelberg’s participation in a panel discussion on honeybee geographies – after all what better way to think through more-than-human entanglements is there than a species we humans have flourished with together for thousands of years across many continents? We are sure these more-than-human adventures will accompany us to next year’s AAG in Washington, D. C., as well. See you there!