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Feeding cities

Feeding cities Posted on 28 October, 2020Leave a comment

What is good food to you? Earlier this year, the author Carolyn Steel published a new book Sitopia as a sequel to Hungry City. The books ask the reader to think about the intricate relationship between how we eat and where we live but even further, Sitopia enquires why is it that with such technology, we become at odds with the food that feeds us, with huge environmental problems at stake?

There are so many issues about food that concerns more than just feeding. The food scholar Richard Wilk considers whether food ‘has peaked’:

These are all food-related questions, but hardly just about the food at all. They concern culture, values, labour and wider environmental issues – that impact on our nutrition and health in different ways but the discipline does little to train us. For example, nutritional values are ever only averages based on specific datasets, but the actual values will always depend on soil conditions – which change with farming practices that are never the same across the world.

Another question is variety – as ever it is the spice of life and key to nutrition and health, but achieving it is easier said than done. One of the biggest reasons is that we no longer connect with the foods that feed us.

For Vittles, the London-based publication edited by Jonathan Nuun, I wrote about how ‘wet markets’ are important spaces like other markets in cities that keep nutritious foods accessible for the many not the few, and remain as an important link to taste and culture. There are many reasons why markets are dying or reimagined, but the greatest issue remains whose upper hand is at play.

Through my continued musings at ‘wet markets’ in Hong Kong, I am hoping that more nuanced understanding about food and the way markets feed us could be put into context. That we could embrace the complete experience what buying and consuming foods means. Food does not appear miraculously at supermarkets in plastic packaging after all.

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