Call For Abstracts: Food, the City, and Innovation
February 1 & 2, 2013
The University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin and Boston University is pleased to announce the second annual Food and the City Conference, to be held on February 1st and 2nd, 2013. The theme of the two-day conference will be innovation in the past, present and future as it relates to provisioning cities. We invite scholars, industry professionals, architects, policy makers, urban planners, farmers, and innovators to contribute their ideas about the re-invention of food systems including production, storage, processing, and distribution.
The purpose of this conference is to bring together a community of individuals with expertise in food systems in order to explore the relationship between food and urban centers over time, to discuss the historical context for urban innovation, and to propose opportunities for innovation that would improve our global food system by 2050.
We will explore questions including: How have innovators responded to the market? Has technology made food systems more sustainable, healthier, more affordable and more accessible? Can technology and innovation reconnect consumers to the food system?
David Edwards, innovator, engineer, writer, and founder of Le Laboratoire in Paris, France will be the keynote speaker. Edwards has developed WikiCells, an edible packaging and several variations on inhalable food including Aeroshot and Le Whif.
The conference will be organized around panels that represent the various components of the food system. The panels are as follows:
1) The Food System
This panel will explore the nature of the current food system including its problems and potential solutions. It will delineate fundamental barriers – political, social, technological, economic – that are preventing significant improvement to take place. This panel will ask how current food trends contribute or detract from meaningful advancements in food production. Importantly, it will also pose potential solutions to these issues. How did innovators in the past view their improvements within the context of a food system? What role can technology play in improving supply chains or better accounting for climate change, natural disasters, and other variables that affect food production?
2) Sowing the Seeds: Food at its Genesis
How has the history of agricultural technology changed the way farmers cultivate crops and raise animals for food? How did transportation technology transform food the food system? Are their social benefits to the application of technology to food and food systems? Can food grown in urban settings ever sustain a meaningful portion of the urban population? If so, can that food be accessible, diverse, and affordable?
Eli Whitney’s cotton gin revolutionized the way cotton was harvested and saved thousands of laborers from the tedious, backbreaking work of separating cotton fiber from its seed. What other inventions have or will revolutionize the way we gather crops or process animals? How will these inventions affect other areas of food production?
4) Food Miles
What is the meaning of space, distance, time, and identity in the context of the food system? Why did society reject food production from the city and why is urban agriculture making a comeback? How do we move food from where it was harvested or processed to where it will be consumed? What new models might emerge that challenge the food hub model and how did these models develop throughout history?
5) Processing & Packaging
Michael Pollan recommends consumers shop on the outskirts of the grocery store so as to avoid “processed” foods. But what does “processed” mean in relationship to food production and is it inherently bad? How has the processing of food changed throughout history and where is it going in the future? From Clarence Birdseye’s frozen food innovation to Ferran Adria’s molecular gastronomy, how does technology transform our conception of food?
6) Water and Energy
Water and energy are essential elements of the food system and are so inextricably integrated with food production that they cannot be ignored. Irrigation for crops, the viability of solar energy, biofuels, and the loss of energy from food waste are all topics of discussion on this panel.
7) Storage and Preservation
From salt to root cellars to walk-in freezers to rapid cooling refrigerator drawers, storing food is an important part of the process. What techniques were used in the past and how have they evolved? How can shelf lives of packaged foods be increased while maintaining the quality and nutritive components of food? Edible packaging is one way some companies are beginning to think outside the box… what are others?
This panel will discuss the sale of food – in markets, grocery stores and farm stands – and the consumer culture surrounding these places of exchange. How does the modern day supermarket compare to the increasingly popular outdoor farmer’s market? What will food retail in cities look like in twenty years? How did the location and method used to market food affect consumer behavior and how might future technologies alter those practices?
While we expect many scholarly papers, we also welcome other talks including demonstrations, video lectures, and other nontraditional presentations. To submit an abstract or presentation, please send a 300-500 word abstract or proposal and a CV by September 1, 2012 to James McWilliams at email@example.com. Proposals will be evaluated based on their adherence to the above listed panels, their content, clarity, originality, and relevance.
For general information: Dr. Robyn Metcalfe, University of Texas at Austin, Conference Chair Robyn.Metcalfe@austin.utexas.edu
To submit abstracts, Dr. James McWilliams, Texas State University at San Marcos, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Robyn Metcalfe
The University of Texas at Austin
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