The annual symposiums organized by the Chair aim to present the views of scientists, representatives of public and private sector agencies and civil society actors to spark discussions with an equally diverse audience and open up knowledge about food.
As you see, we were kind of thumbing our nose at the situation that’s prevailed over the past year. The series of restrictions and lockdowns has led to the closing of many places where people eat and socialize, such as restaurants, bars, canteens, etc. This makes us realize the extent to which food is a vector of social bonding. The ongoing health and economic crisis during this period has worsened the food insecurity situation for many people, in turn giving rise to new forms of solidarity with the most vulnerable people. New innovative forms of conviviality around food have also emerged, including virtual online aperitifs and meals in front of computer screens. Moreover, the commensality notion—based on the idea of sharing meals together—has been requestioned, undermined or at least renewed during this period.
Biodiversity in food and agriculture encompasses the diversity of living systems (from genes to ecosystems) and associated knowledge (traditional knowledge and know-how). Relationships with the living world are changing from a fixed view of nature to a more dynamic outlook. Threatened by human activities, biodiversity was regarded as a sum of independent components to be protected, used and developed. Yet nowadays biodiversity is a more integral part of human societies and perceived as a sum of complex interactions, combinations and social and cultural constructs to be negotiated.
Microbes—long associated with disease and decomposition—are now being rehabilitated. Whether they be soil microorganisms, intestinal microbiota or the many different ferments used in food processing (bacteria, fungi, yeasts), microbes are essential for the development of animals and plants, their nutrition, immune system and even behaviour.
For its 7th annual meeting, the UNESCO Chair in World Food Systems is focusing on the voyages of food and associated culinary practices and cultures. These voyages have fostered strong food interdependence across the continents and today enable us to "eat the world".
How does the nervous system analyse all of this sensory information and what hedonic meaning can it be given? Does sensory pleasure contribute to healthier diets? How does the food industry develop products that appeal to our senses? Is the pleasure of eating only worthwhile if it is shared? How may gastronomy, the art of good food, be better shared?
To what extent and under what conditions can food be an act of prevention in health? How to navigate among the sum of the recommendations and nutritional injunctions, sometimes contradictory? What is the influence of "special diets" (organic, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.) and food-allergies? What do we know about areas of research on epigenetics (regulation of genes’ expression which can be influenced by the environment and individual’s background history, and thus food) or on gastroenterology (major advances on the study of intestinal flora)? ...
After having successively focused on the challenges of sustainable food, the supply of urban areas, and new modes of consumption, the Chair’s 4th international conference looks at the history and future of our food.
What levers and brakes can intervene in accompanying these changes in practice? Given that food consumption is strongly rooted in people’s social and cultural identities and is shaped by our economic system, changes in behaviour are a challenging endeavour. What will consumers accept?
In 2050, over two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. Urbanization will mainly take place through the expansion of large agglomerations (27 cities will have over 10 million inhabitants in 2025)...
For its firts annual meeting, the UNESCO Chair in World Food Systems is focusing on the question of how to make sustainable food a "common good".