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Food Connections

Last week the Bristol Food Connections festival explored “all that is GREAT about food in Bristol (and beyond)” [1]. This made me realise that what I am exploring are the separations in our global food system. While so much of food in Bristol is ‘GREAT’ there is still much work to do about what is NOT SO GREAT. In the global food system, the separations between those who produce and those who consume what is transported around the world are many: income, origin, lifestyle, language, history, opportunities, culture, diet, microbiome – you name it there are separations in the way we eat and live.

This weekend I co-facilitated an event, Philosophy Breakfast: The ethics of global food production, with Julian Baggini, philosopher and author of the book, Virtues of the table: How to eat and think, [2]. Julian focused our thoughts on ethics and justice, and I grounded us with a case study, on tomatoes produced in Morocco, based on my recent fieldwork. We were treated, literally, to food for…
Recent posts

Pollination and International Development: How bees can help us fight poverty and feed the world

Animal pollinators are the industrious workers in the factory of life – transporting pollen from one flower to another to ensure successful fertilisation. 75% of our crop plants benefit from this free service which can increase the yield, quality and even shelf-life of their products. This translates to a US$235-577bn value to global agriculture each year. Many of our favourite foods – strawberries, coffee and cocoa – can end up shrivelled and tasteless without pollination. This ecosystem service is under increasing threat however, as pollinators face the potent cocktail of pressures we have laid upon them, declining in numbers across various parts of the world.

But what has all this got to do with international development? From what we can tell, communities in developing countries [1] are more reliant on pollinators than almost anyone, standing to lose important income, livelihoods, nutrition and cultural traditions if pollinators decline. And yet, although a number of researchers …

Water City Bristol!

If you don’t fix things in words, they might float away. So, briefly, a skeletal accounting —

3 open-water swims2 workshops in maritime writing1 public lecture1 trip up the canal locks to Saltford2 days at #MT2018 (Marine Transgressions Conference)2 keynotes~ 12 panels1 Blue Humanities roundtable2 receptions[a poetry reading that I missed]And many half-garbled memories, starting in the middle —Toxicity, the Ocean, and Urban Space (Wednesday) I was trying some new things for this public lecture, knowing that the audience would swirl together academics with non-academics, be mostly composed of city-dwellers, and further include mostly those with a particular interest in the sea. Unpicking the knots of writing and thinking I’ve been chasing down in the wake of Oceanic New York, my talk splashed through some recent watery adventures, included images of Thanos the purple God of demonic Malthusianism, strayed into verse in three of my own poems, and — maybe? — crossed wild water to make lan…

Regulatory defection in electricity markets

Electricity systems are undergoing rapid transformation. An increasing share of previously passive consumers is defecting energy demand and supply from the public electricity network (grid) as active ‘prosumers’ while technological and business model innovation is enabling demand-side resources to provide reliable and cost competitive alternatives to supply capacity.

Yet, centralised supply-focused market structures dominated by legacy infrastructures, technologies and supply chains associated with path-dependencies and technological lock-ins continue to dominate. Regulation has been designed around these existing supply-focused markets and structures rather than networks of the future capable of integrating and facilitating smart, flexible systems. Current systems and their regulatory frameworks are struggling to engage and integrate a range of technological, economic and social innovations promising consumer-oriented solutions to environmental problems.

In the UK, the Office for Ga…

Privacy paradoxes, digital divides and secure societies

More and more, we are living our lives in the online space. The development of wearable technology, automated vehicles, and the Internet of Things means that our societies are becoming increasingly digitized. Technological advances are helping monitor city life, target resources efficiently, and engage with citizens more effectively in so-called smart cities. But as with all technological developments, these substantial benefits are accompanied by multiple risks and challenges. 

The Wannacry attack. The TalkTalk data breach. The Cambridge Analytica scandal. Phishing emails. Online scams. The list of digital threats reported by the media is seemingly endless. To tackle these growing threats, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was established in the UK in 2016 with the aim of making ‘the UK the safest place to live and do business online’. But with the increasing complexity of online life, connected appliances, and incessant data collection, how do people navigate these challen…

Sweet love for planet Earth: An ode to bias and fallacy

Ask for what end the heav'nly bodies shine,  Earth for whose use? Pride answers, "Tis for mine:  For me kind Nature wakes her genial pow'r,  Suckles each herb, and spreads out ev'ry flow'r;  Annual for me, the grape, the rose renew  The juice nectareous, and the balmy dew;  For me, the mine a thousand treasures brings;  For me, health gushes from a thousand springs;  Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise;  My foot-stool earth, my canopy the skies." ’
2. A section of the fifth (V) verse in the first epistle of Alexander Pope’s unfinished Essay on Man, (1733-34.)
Alexander Pope, 18th Century moral poet, pioneer in the use of the heroic couplet, second most quoted writer in the Oxford dictionary of quotations behind Shakespeare and shameless copycat. Coleridge suggested this is what held Pope back from true mastery, but It is beyond question that the results of this imitation cultured some of the finest poetry of the era. Yet still, Pope, the bel esprit of the lite…

Under her eye: Communicating climate change more effectively

My name is Adriana Su├írez and I’m a 3rd year PhD Student at the School of Geographical Sciences. I am working on community based water management in rural areas in Chile, where I am from.

I came back from fieldwork two months ago and in a way, I am still getting used to being back in Bristol as it is easy to feel a bit lost when you are swimming in a sea of data.  It was an intense fieldwork experience as I spent five months in Chile doing interviews with different participants, collecting documents and texts, and doing participant observation. The method I am using is called Institutional Ethnography, a method of inquiry developed by feminist sociologist Dorothy Smith and which has not been used yet in natural resources management.

My aim is to learn from rural communities who are involved in water management as a way to explore a form of management that is different to the usual way in which water for human consumption and sanitation is provided in urban areas. For example, in most…