The initiative arose from the belief that a fair and sustainable food system requires a much wider range of people being informed and involved in making decisions about the future of food and farming.
We have organised a series of community events to bring people together to share food and discuss the issues around research into food and farming. Building on successful projects in India, Africa and South America, Our Food aims to create spaces for free and wide-ranging discussion of many of the key issues linked to agricultural and food research.
In just a few generations, our relationship with food has changed radically. Alongside the many companies and corporations involved in producing, processing, distributing and selling food, food researchers have played a crucial role in this change. Whether in the laboratory or on a policy committee, professional experts working in food-related sectors – such as farming, biology, human nutrition and economics – have implemented their own visions of the food system, creating the new knowledge and technologies that have greatly influenced what we grow, how we buy it and how we eat it. Until recently, the idea of these experts – employed by research institutions and government agencies – being in conversation with a wider public was never even dreamt of.
Our Food aims to build a more inclusive way of working based on a re-imagining of the role of research in our food system based on dialogue, to foster future food produced in fair and sustainable ways. The dialogue process in the Our Food project will generate a set of principles for involving people in collaborations to improve future options for food and farming. We are also planning pilot collaborative research projects on issues prioritised by both people and professional experts.
Our initial focus for community involvement has been the North East of England. In 2013, we are expanding our scope to include other regions, such as Scotland, Southern England and India.