16 June 2017: the joy of an organic farm

I’ve just been to stay on an organic dairy farm in The Netherlands which has a great biotel . The thing that I was most struck by was the sheer joy of the dairy cows and calves. I have never seen calves playing and running around like this before and it spoke volumes for how organic systems  result in happier animals. I also had to include a photo of the farm kittens, sleeping in front of the shop


24 February 2015 – local producers branding basic foodstuffs

Branding basic foodstuffs seems to be one way for smaller producers to survive. On the back of previous blogs about the UK’s struggling dairy industry, Our Cow Molly is a small family-run dairy in Sheffield selling and delivering milk direct to the public on the same day – as they describe it on their website, ‘Exclusively milk from our own cows, processed on our farm by our family’. Likewise, Marybelle in East Anglia sources milk from the family farm and two other local farms, guaranteeing suppliers a fair price for their milk – and aims to ensure that ‘local milk is sold by local stores and enjoyed by local people for the freshest taste possible’.

There is a similar story going on for potatoes, the Buxton Potato Company increasingly relies on local sales for its ‘fresh, healthy and local potatoes’ and relies, like many small producers, on social media, such as Facebook for marketing purposes. You can see its You Tube here

1 October 2014 – Food Research Collaboration

The Food Research Collaboration (FRC) is a new a project to facilitate joint working by academics and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to improve the UK food system. The website explains how to become a member and features briefing papers as a result of a collaboration process between academics and representatives of civil society organisations, including a new discussion document, Square Meal. There is also news of upcoming events as part of the Food Thinkers seminars and the ESRC seminar series on “The Future of our Food”

24 September 2014 – Lego Academics

If you haven’t seen it – Lego Academics is a bit of fun. You can see it on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/LegoAcademics

14 March 2014 – Language of Food Politics and food markets

BB Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed (aired first on 25 March 2013), presented by Laurie Taylor, features the Language of food politics with Guy Cook, and Rachel Black talks about her ethnographic account of Porto Palazzo, one of Europe’s largest outdoor markets in Turin, Italy with Sophie Watson, well known for her work on street markets in the UK. They discuss social interaction  and how people ‘rub along together’ in the public market place and how markets often reflect the social demographics.

28 October 2013

There is a new call for proposals for the 2014 Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery

Food and Markets:

Dear Symposiast, I write to invite you to propose a paper on Food and Markets, the subject of the 2014 Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery to be held at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford from 11-13 July. Your proposal should be between 500-1000 words, deadline for submission is 20 February 2014 and the deadline for a finished paper of no more than 5,000 words is 30 May.

This year, paper-presenters are encouraged to examine the historical, sociological and practical aspects of the economic exchange between producer and consumer through which food arrives on our tables. Not forgetting the pleasures of marketing: the excitement of discovering new ingredients; watching the skill of a market-cook prepare a dish to order; the sheer enjoyment to be found in the peace, charm and sunshine of wandering around an open-air market in an unfamiliar (or familiar) part of the world and learning how people live. Further suggestions and thoughts can be found on the website at http://www.oxfordsymposium.org.uk – click on the link for This Year.

In addition to welcoming both new and seasoned Symposiasts, we hope for your assistance in attracting young chefs with an interest in the historical and social background to their chosen career by encouraging applications for the Young Chef’s Grant, details for which are also on the website.

In addition, with a view to assisting student-presenters to move smoothly from proposal to acceptance to presentation, we are setting a mentoring-process in place: you’ll find details in the Friends section on the website in due course.

Registration will open on our magnificent new Jake Tilson website in early November. With this in mind – just a little reminder to get yourself on the list good and early – please be aware that places are limited and last year we were over-subscribed. Given the high level of interest in the subject, we expect a particularly stimulating programme of papers and guest-speakers, while plans already well under way to feed the body as splendidly as the mind.

Last year’s papers are downloadable free from the website and many of our past-paper publications are available, equally free, via Googlebooks. Papers from the most recent years are available in printed form from Prospect Books. This year’s papers on Food and Material Culture will be on sale from the same source at the 2014 Symposium.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t already done so, please join our lively discussion-group on Facebook – Oxford Symposium will take you there and all are welcome – and follow us on Twitter. Meanwhile, Dr. Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire magnificently comprehensive account of our 2013 gathering can be read on the blog. Visual and audio recordings of highlights from our 2013 proceedings – made possible through the generosity of the Julia Child Trust and the good offices of our American Friends – will also be available shortly through the website.

Kind regards

Registrar for Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery