Our food system is increasingly dysfunctional. Events such as the pandemic and the Ukrainian war have demonstrated how fragile it is, with production and supply disrupted and costs spiralling. When food is available, there is a fierce debate about the nutritional benefits of processed products, the long-term impacts on population health, and even the morality and sustainability of dietary choices.
The annual Eastern Arc Conference, taking place on 20 September, will be a chance to debate these issues and look at solutions. The Consortium is well placed to do so, as it stretches across a region that has been shaped and defined by food. From the breadbasket of England on one side of the Thames to the garden on the other, the East and South East accounts for a third of England’s total income from farming (TIFF), and around two thirds of the country’s food imports come through the region.
In readiness for this we are seeking applications to lead or be involved in the breakout sessions. For these, we very much want to hear a diversity of voices and viewpoints, whether they be asking questions or offering solutions, sharing research or encouraging engagement. We want to hear from researchers and stakeholders, academics and businesses, community groups and charities, among many others.
If you have an idea for a session, please complete this simple form by Monday 17 July. We hope to select the eight sessions shortly after, and open up registration at the beginning of August. The conference itself will take place in the Sibson Building at the University of Kent in Canterbury. It will be free and open to all, and registration will open in August.
More details on the call and rationale for the conference are available here. To get an idea of what an Eastern Arc conference is like, visit our ‘resources’ page from last year’s event that focussed on ‘The Collaborative Coast’.
If you have any questions in the meantime please contact Phil Ward, and feel free to share this more widely with your colleagues and networks.