The 7th Annual Symposium of the UNESCO Chair on World Food Systems (2 February 2018) was focused on ‘food journey’ issues—how do foods travel from a spatiotemporal viewpoint, and what are the associated cultural and culinary practices?
Marie-Laure Navas, Deputy Director for Training and Scientific Policy at Montpellier SupAgro, opened the meeting by presenting the UNESCO Chair as a, “knowledge-sharing platform, dovetailing information, research and innovation,” thus epitomising the philosophy of Montpellier SupAgro.
While explaining that, “eating is a political act,” Patrick Caron, CIRAD Director General in charge of Research and Strategy, and Chair of the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) on Food Security and Nutrition, first stressed the duality between, “the tension, demonization, anxiety, junk food eating,” and wellbeing. He then pointed out the paradoxes that come with urbanization and the growing distance between points of food production and consumption. For instance, “as global awareness of this problem increases, local solutions are being increasingly sought,” and “proximity is becoming the target as distances increase.”
Finally, Damien Conaré, Secretary General of the UNESCO Chair on World Food Systems at Montpellier SupAgro, discussed the main remits of the Chair, which he described as “a platform for dialogue and exchange between research and advocates of change.” He then introduced the food journey topic, i.e. foods that travel via humans and their migrations, while pointing out that “the world food topic reflects the great global cultural and ethnic melting pot.”
Geographers, historians, nutritionists, sociologists, anthropologists, linguists, representatives of associations, the private sector and publishing agencies, as well as entrepreneurs, all talked at the conference, thus giving the audience a well-rounded overview of the subject.