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Cambridge Global Food Security

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge

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Cambridge Global Food Security at the Cambridge Science Festival 2019

last modified Apr 04, 2019 05:04 PM
Researchers from departments across our interdisciplinary network engaged with large public audiences at this year’s Science Festival.

Through talks, discussions and hands-on activities, our researchers shared their expertise, answered questions and listened to different viewpoints on a multitude of food security topics. Below we summarise just a few of these events.


The University of Cambridge held its first event of the EIT Food #AnnualFoodAgenda series on 12 March, 2019. Titled 'I'm a Confused Consumer, Get Me Out of Here!', this attracted an audience of almost 90 people - across a huge age range of 13 to 70 - to the Department of Plant Sciences in central Cambridge. Professor Dame Theresa Marteau, DBE, discussed the influence of supermarket design on our buying behaviour, and Dr David Good looked at how our perceptions of ourselves may influence what we choose to buy. Dr Jag Srai debated whether the growth of online grocery shopping has created factors such as increased transport costs and larger carbon footprints, and whether online platforms can encourage consumers to make more sustainable retail choices.

Those who missed the event can view it online here



The second event organised as part of the EIT Food #AnnualFoodAgenda series was a food stall in the Plant Sciences Marquee, entitled: 'Mission: millets for the millions - introducing tasty treats from an ancient grain'. The marquee’s 12 different stalls attracted over 3,000 members of the public to the central Cambridge location. Five members of the TIGR2ESS programme team manned the millets stall and spoke with the many visitors who stopped by. A ‘grain guessing game’ attracted a lot of interest and participation. Various types of millet seeds, processed millet food items, millet recipes, and a millet consumption map were also displayed. Interest in the display led to conversations about regional millet dishes, suitability for those with gluten intolerance, nutritional value, how millet is grown and processed, how the green revolution has led to decreased millet consumption, and how to make sustainable food choices. Many people were interested in trying the millet recipes, and the positive feedback we received indicated the educational value of the display.

I did not know oats looked like this, I have only seen rolled oats before.” “Who knew there were so many types of millets?” 


Our third event, Objects, Carriers of Knowledge, is part of a series of events to be hosted by the Objects Project, a collaboration between Cambridge Global Food Security and The Centre for Global Knowledge Studies. The event, held in the Mill Lane Lecture Rooms in central Cambridge, consisted of a transdisciplinary discussion about the roles of wheat and potatoes in global food security, and was led by Ms Jacqueline Garget and Dr Inanna Hamati-Ataya, joint coordinators of the Project. Dr Alison Bentley, Dr Helen Ann Curry and Professor Martin Jones debated their ideas about the importance of wheat in global food security, while Dr Mukesh Kumar, Dr David Firman and Dr David Nally discussed their perspectives on the importance of potatoes. The transdisciplinary nature of the discussion made for a varied and interesting evening, and provided the audience with perspectives from fields such as botany, history, engineering, archaeology, engineering, and geography. Needless to say, our panel members were equally interested in each other’s perspectives! 

An engaged discussion and interesting panelists.

Our 'Insects and Wine Tasting Evening' was held at Thirsty, a venue in the northern part of Cambridge, in collaboration with the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Initiative (UCCRI). Participants had the opportunity to sample three different cricket or grasshopper canapés, paired with biodynamic wines, while experts Chris Kaplonki and Charlotte Payne spoke briefly about environmental sustainability, insect foods, and wines. Their partnership, formally known as Insects and Wine, provided an entertaining introduction to some new food and drink, and what we mean when we say a food is ‘sustainable’.    


These are just some of the Global Food Security related events held at this year’s Science Festival, and we’ll have more public events to come throughout the year.

Images by Nataliia Kuksa and Jacqueline Garget