Tag Archives: food miles

Beanz Meanz Home; migrants, food and place

by Fiona Ferbrache

As geographers, we are aware of the problems associated with reverting to stereotypes.  However, I do wish to draw upon the notion that France is synonymous with good food, if only that you might share my surprise on finding an article suggesting that British citizens living in France are creating a high demand for food imports from the UK.  This demand has led to a successful business venture catering to cross-border grocery shopping.

The Guardian report highlights how some Britons in France are online shopping at their favourite UK supermarkets and ordering food (UK and French food – including boxes of croissant) that is then delivered to one of four specialist depots.  From here, a delivery firm, catering to these international customers, drives the lorry-load of goods to consumers in France.  Geographers might be interested to pursue these behaviours for they reveal much about affective relations between migrants and place.

Longhurst et al. (2009) do just this.  Focused on migrant women’s cooking experiences in Hamilton, New Zealand, the researchers explore the visceral experiences of food and how it can help migrant women to connect with their ‘old home’.  The research rests on migrants’ senses of food; sight, sound, smell, taste and touch and what this tells us about their emotional relations with place.

Bon appétit!

Hickman, L. (2010) Expat orders for British supermarket food surge on strength of euro: The Guardian. Wednesday 09 June, 2010

Longhurst, R., Johnston, L. & Ho, E. (2009) A visceral approach: cooking ‘at home’ with migrant women in Hamilton, New Zealand. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. Vol.34, 3 pp.333-345

Lashings of local food: alternative food networks

By Jayne Glass

Between 2007 and 2008, the ‘Fife Diet’ challenged people to sign-up to eating food only from the region of Fife  for a year.  Funded by the Climate Challenge fund, the project raised awareness of how our ‘normal’ eating habits contribute to climate change through the emissions generated in transport, agriculture, industry and in the home.  The organisers and participants monitored their progress and shared their experiences with a much larger network of people trying to re-localise more generally and to explore what sustainable food might be.

In the April 2010 edition of the ‘Social’ section of Geography Compass, Edmund M. Harris considers how those seeking alternatives to industrialized and globalized food systems have looked beyond organic production to develop a range of alternative food networks (AFNs).  There are links between AFN activism and geographical theory of place because many AFNs are set in ‘local’ places, in which relationships of trust, regard and responsibility are perceived to circulate within the ‘local community’.  Harris argues that the academic discourse surrounding AFNs would be enriched by a stronger theoretical engagement with geographical space and place theory because such an exchange would help to develop a more nuanced understanding of the role place plays in food systems.

Read more about the Fife Diet

Read Edmund M. Harris’ (2010) article: Eat Local? Constructions of Place in Alternative Food Politics Geography Compass 4 Vol. 4 pp. 355-369

Defining ‘local’ food

By Alanna Linn

The recent volcanic eruption in Iceland interrupted not only holidays but also the international transport of food. Media reports from around the globe discussed the potential disruption of supplies to supermarket shelves, as well as the financial impact on exporters, especially in Africa.

The eruption of Eyjafjallajokull has highlighted both the distance that food travels to reach UK shores, and the UK’s reliance on imported food supplies – currently around 40%. This in turn has led to some commentators questioning whether the fall out of the Icelandic volcano signals a need for the UK to obtain a greater degree of its food from ‘local’ sources, or at least for more people to question and understand the sources of our food.

Central to these discussions is the question of whether ‘local’ is better. A new paper in Geography Compass by Edmund Harris explores the importance of ‘local’ to alternative food networks.  Harris observes that defining ‘local’ within research around alternative food networks can be both complex and problematic, and suggests that there is scope for tgreater interaction with human geography theory around place and space. Such an approach could facilitate more nuanced understandings of ‘local’, without losing its power in food activism.

Read media reports on the impact of the volcano eruption on food transport in The Guardian, London Evening Standard and ABC news

Read Edmund Harris’ paper in Geography Compass