I’m in Philadelphia since yesterday morning, attending the conference Feeding Cities: Food Security in a Rapidly Urbanizing World at the University of Pennsylvania. The conference just ended but it’s been two amazingly interesting days and my head is filled with impressions from the over 50 speakers that I’ve listened to. I have also met incredibly interesting people from academia, international organizations, and the local farming community. The focus has been glocal. Or not expressively so, but while most of the initiatives and thinking around urban food systems have been locally driven, the global food markets have been part of the discussion. And the examples have come from all over the world, with everyone learning from each other. It has been truly inspiring and as always after attending these kinds of events, I’m full if energy and ideas.
Since this is my first visit to Philadelphia, I’m staying an extra night and am dedicating tomorrow to sightseeing.
I am finally done with my dissertation and with that also my MSc in Food and Nutrition Policy at City University in London. I submitted my dissertation yesterday and put away all the books and articles that have been spread around my apartment since I got back from Europe. I wish I could say that I was relieved that it’s finished but to be honest, it feels a little empty. I have worked so hard on it for so many months and I can’t believe that I will not write on it anymore. I also had a lot more I wanted to explore in the relationship between nutrition transition and agro-food markets. But a deadline us a deadline and so now its over. And I’m sure I will enjoy the free time soon enough!
My food policy book collection back on the shelf
I took a break from my dissertation the other day and snuck in to an exhibition at the New York Public Library where I study. The library has really good exhibitions and I had been to one on Jack Kerouac and On The Road a few years ago that I liked a lot. This exhibition was called Lunch Hour and was about lunches in New York over the past 150 years. My excuse for spending valuable study time on this was that it was related to food and that anything that is somehow connected to the topic is in my interest to explore.
The exhibition, however, turned out to be much more of interest to me than I had expected as it was in fact about the nutrition transition of the lunch meal in New York City. The topic of my dissertation is about nutrition transition in low and middle income countries, and I learned a lot from seeing how the market for one meal evolved in a city like New York. The offer of meals was for example much more influenced by convenience, quick service, appeal to female professionals, and urban demography than by food budgets. The offer therefore changed substantially and the quality of food services declined with the middle class move to the suburbs in the 1950s, despite the increases in American incomes. Here are some pics:
Horn & Hardart’s Automats (above) were a revolution for lunch eaters in New York: put a coin in a select your meal. Everything was originally made from scratch in the restaurant, and later at a centrally located kitchen.