Thesis Opportunity: Generating Buzz, Making Futures: Enthusiasm and Investment at Food Events

Food events such as Food Tank and Seeds and Chips are becoming important venues for steering the food innovation and food policy agenda. We are interested in gaining a better understanding of the types of innovations, policy agendas, and politics that are articulated and silenced in these spaces.  We seek one or two Msc students who will conduct a stakeholder mapping, event ethnography, and media analysis of these organizations and their events. This research will shed light on the uneasy relationship between finance, innovation, and politics in the food sector, and the role of enthusiasm and celebrity as modes of communication and policy making for more or less just and sustainable food futures.

green pineapple fruit with brown framed sunglasses beside yellow surface

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Qualifications:           

  • You have some training in qualitative methods and critical social theory
  • You are an interested in celebrity and food politics
  • You are willing to develop new methodologies to analyse digital media and events
  • You are registered for one of the following MSc programmes: MID, MCS, MLP, MFT, or MOA
  • You have completed at least 2 RSO courses (or relevant social science courses)

Questions? Please get in touch!

Supervisors: Oona Morrow (RSO) oona.morrow@wur.nl & Prof. Mike Goodman, University of Reading

Thesis Opportunity: The TEDification of Food Activism

Increasingly TED talks are becoming trusted sources for food politics and policy making, and an important medium for food activists to communicate through. Yet, there are also limits to what can be communicated in a TED talk and how. These limitations affect the types of knowledge and activist performances that are deemed suitable. We would like to understand what TED talks are doing to and for food politics, by conducting a comprehensive analysis of recent TED talks on the theme of FOOD. We are interested in the celebrity, bodily, and visual performances that compose these talks. The effects of these talks on public opinion and policy. And the limitations and possibilities of TED talks as a mode of food activism.

Ted-Talk

Qualifications:           

  • You have some training in qualitative methods and critical social theory
  • You are an interested in digital media and food activism
  • You are willing to develop new methodologies and tools for analysing digital media
  • You are registered for one of the following MSc programmes: MID, MCS, MLP, MFT, or MOA
  • You have completed at least 2 RSO courses (or relevant social science courses)

Questions? Please get in touch!

Supervisors: Oona Morrow (RSO) oona.morrow@wur.nl & Prof. Mike Goodman, University of Reading

Thesis opportunity: the gentrifying foodscape part II

The urban foodscape is in constant transition, among others due to gentrification. This has effect on options and choices of both newcomers and people who have been living in the neighborhood for longer.

Sophie Visser, MSc student Health and Nutrition, studied the gentrifying Amsterdam neighborhood ‘Van der Pekbuurt’ (see Sophie’s blog on her results) by mapping its food establishments, interviewing both older and newer inhabitants and making observations. She found that due to gentrification the number of establishments in the neighborhood increased immensely. While this has positive aspects – the increased offer leads to an increased choice – not all inhabitants feel comfortable in all these new establishments.

We are looking for a student to continue Sophie’s work on gentrification and foodscapes. Preferably the student would follow up on the previous thesis by updating the mapping of the foodscape, and executing more interviews with a broader group of people. Alternatively, the student chooses another neighborhood (in Amsterdam or elsewhere) in a further state of gentrification, in order to get a broader view on how gentrification can affect foodscapes.

Pre-requisites: completed at least two social sciences courses (preferably with RSO); keen interest in foodscapes; able to conduct qualitative research, preferably but not necessarily in Dutch

Supervisor: Esther Veen (RSO): esther.veen@wur.nl

Questions? Please get in touch!

Thesis opportunity: What are food systems anyway?

Mapping and analysing the diversity of food systems research at WUR

MSc Thesis Project
Rural Sociology & WCDI 

Supervisors: Jessica Duncan (RSO) and Herman Brouwer (WCDI)

The topic: The concept of food systems has emerged recently as a buzzword. Across Wageningen University and Research (WUR) researchers are using the concept and applying it in different ways. This thesis will review the different ways food systems are being defined and applied across WUR.

The research process will involve:

  • Literature review on food systems
  • Data collection (e.g. comprehensive analysis of WUR-based activities around food systems; interviews)
  • Analysis with the aim of: 1) mapping the food systems landscape at WUR; 2) categorizing the diversity of concepts and approaches; 3) analyzing points of coherence and contention across these concepts.
  • Conclusions with possible recommendations

Pre-requisites: completed at least two social sciences courses (preferably with RSO); keen interest in food systems research; interdisciplinary background an asset.

Start date: ASAP

For more information: jessica.duncan@wur.nl

roots

Gentrification and the Van der Pek foodscape

Written by Sophie Visser

‘Gentrification’ transforms cities all over the world. Neighbourhoods are upgraded and there is an influx of new, affluent inhabitants. This often has a negative effect on the longstanding inhabitants of that neighbourhood, as they can no longer afford the housing and no longer feel welcome due to the neighbourhood’s changed cultural and social atmosphere. Gentrification influences the foodscape as well. While there may be an increase in food availability, food accessibility for longstanding inhabitants often decreases due to an increase in price and because longstanding inhabitants do no longer feel welcome in the facilities in their neighbourhood.

With this thesis I aimed to investigate the effects of gentrification on the foodscape, the food choice and food accessibility for the inhabitants of the gentrifying Van der Pek neighbourhood, located in the North of Amsterdam. I used semi-structured interviews, observations, informal conversations and food mapping to collect data.

I conclude that the Van der Pek neighbourhood is at an early stage of gentrification. There is an influx of new inhabitants and a slow decrease in the number of longstanding inhabitants, who are aging and passing away. Over the past years, the number of establishments in the Van der Pek neighbourhood increased immensely. This appears to be positive at first sight because the increased offer leads to an increased choice for the inhabitants. However, not all inhabitants feel comfortable at every establishment. The new establishments are often more expensive, which is unsuitable for longstanding inhabitants: they base their food choice on price and often have lower incomes. Additionally, while some new establishments try to target both new and longstanding inhabitants, mostly new inhabitants are attracted to these establishments. Hence, even though the number of establishments has increased, as the gentrification process furthers, access to food might increase for new inhabitants but decrease for longstanding inhabitants.  

voorblad Sophie

As this thesis provides an in-depth analysis of the foodscape and food choices of inhabitants of the gentrifying neighbourhood, it can provide valuable information to the municipality of Amsterdam – who wants to prevent a division between the two groups of inhabitants in gentrifying neighbourhoods. Besides that it can lead to further research on other gentrifying neighbourhoods to provide a better overview of the influence of gentrification on foodscapes and food choice.

 

Collaborating towards Berlin Food Policy: Exploring civic-state collaboration in current urban food governance in Berlin – The Case of the Berlin Food Strategy

dinah thesis coverDinah Hoffman, MSc student Communication, Health and Life Sciences
Specialization: Health and Society, Wageningen University

Below please find the abstract of the MSc thesis Collaborating towards Berlin Food Policy: Exploring civic-state collaboration in current urban food governance in Berlin – The Case of the Berlin Food Strategy

The full thesis can be downloaded from the WUR-Library by clicking on the hyperlink

 

Urban food policy is an area that joins actors from civil society, academia, the local state and the market. To accomplish sustainable changes of local food systems these actors work together in governance arrangements. Two prominent instruments that are used in urban food governance where these actors collaborate are the food policy council and the urban food strategy. Both can be initiated through top-down or bottom-up processes or a combination of both with the relationship of local government and civil society having an impact on the success of the initiatives. One of the cities where civil society and local government engage in collaborative food governance is the city-state of Berlin, the biggest city in Germany, surrounded by the agricultural region of Brandenburg. Drawing on data from 11 interviews and 40 documents, this thesis describes and examines the nature of the relationship and governance arrangement of the two main actors in current Berlin food governance. The collaborative governance framework, a categorization of civic-state relationships found in urban food governance and the concepts of integrated food policy and institutionalization were used to guide the analysis. The objective of this thesis is to understand how civic-state collaboration in urban food governance looks like in Berlin, what impact the local context has on the development of the governance arrangement and what strengths and challenges involved stakeholders perceive. The two main stakeholders were found to be the civic food policy council Ernährungsrat Berlin and the Berlin Senate Administration for Consumer Protection. It was found that the Ernährungsrat Berlin’s food policy activity brought forward a relationship where they are striving for independence but are linked to the government through a secondary agency, being the aforementioned administrative department. Although not embedded in municipal institutions, which has been identified as crucial for a food policy councils’ success, the Ernährungsrat Berlin proved to be an agile and resilient structure able to successfully be an independent advocate for civil society and a valued advisor to the government. Their collaboration resulted in the development of a Berlin Food Strategy. In this thesis I investigate the process of developing this strategy as a form of collaborative governance. Regarding their governance arrangement around the Berlin Food Strategy, the involvement of the Green Party in the current coalition was found to have had a big impact on the position the Ernährungsrat Berlin but also food policy was able to occupy on the urban agenda. This research identified a number of strengths and challenges of the governance arrangement including a strong interdependence, a strong and long history of civic action, the presence of political food champions in the coalition and the administration, the limiting structure and functioning of the Senate administrations and the limited inclusiveness and representatives of the Ernährungsrat Berlin.

Key words: urban food governance, urban food policy, food policy council, urban food strategy, collaborative governance, Berlin food strategy, Ernährungsrat Berlin, Senate of Berlin

Internship Opportunity at Greendish

This is an internship for Dutch speaking students who can make a five month commitment.

Over Greendish

Greendish heeft sinds haar oprichting in 2011 professionals uit de food service industrie geholpen in hun transitie naar gezonde en duurzame menu’s en werkwijzen die goed zijn voor de mens, het bedrijf en onze aarde.

 

In de food service industrie zien we veel onwetendheid en misverstanden over duurzaamheid en gezond eten; het zou bijvoorbeeld duur, moeilijk en niet lekker zijn. Door de dreiging van klimaatverandering en de stijgende behoefte aan voedsel, kunnen we deze misverstanden niet langer negeren. Als verantwoordelijke professionals, moeten we het heft in eigen handen nemen om de transitie te starten die nodig is voor de toekomst van de sector en van onze planeet. Wij geloven dat juist deze sector-pioniers uiteindelijk boven de rest uit zullen stijgen en over de hele linie het meest succesvol zullen zijn.

 

Met ons ambitieuze team van voedingsdeskundigen, chefs en gedragswetenschappers werken wij er hard aan te zorgen dat gezond- en duurzaam eten makkelijk, lekker en overal toegankelijk is voor iedereen.

 

Het project ‘Restaurants van Morgen’

“Gezond voor de consument, duurzaam voor de samenleving en kostenbesparend voor de horecaondernemer! Dat is wat Greendish en Natuur & Milieu met Restaurants van Morgen willen bereiken.”

 

Over het project

Restaurants van Morgen (afgekort RvM) is een project waarin Greendish samenwerkt met de organisatie Natuur & Milieu. Binnen het project begeleiden we 23 restaurants in de Regio Foodvalley (gemeenten Ede, Nijkerk, Rhenen, Veenendaal en Wageningen) naar een duurzamere toekomst. Het project bestaat uit drie fases: de nulmeting (T0), de begeleiding, en de T1 meting. De nulmeting is afgelopen jaar uitgevoerd. Hierin gingen we bij alle restaurants langs en hielden we een interview met de chefs/eigenaren. Verder onderzochten we onderwerpen zoals de samenstelling van de menukaart, waste en inkoop. Ook de top-5 populairste hoofdgerechten werd volledig doorgemeten. De restaurants zijn inmiddels op de hoogte gebracht van de resultaten. Momenteel zijn wij bezig met de tweede fase van het onderzoek, de begeleiding. Voor deze begeleiding zijn er twee trajecten opgezet, light begeleiding (LB) en intensieve begeleiding (IB). De intensieve begeleiding wordt gegeven aan acht daarvoor uitgekozen restaurants. Voor hen wordt samen met ons een plan op maat gemaakt. De rest van de restaurants krijg light begeleiding, waarmee we op een wat algemener niveau informatie met de restaurants zullen delen over verschillende onderwerpen rondom duurzaamheid. Na afronding van de begeleidingsfase zal er een tweede meting worden uitgevoerd, de T1 meting. Dit is waar jij potentieel je steentje zult gaan bijdragen!

 

Wat zul je zoal gaan doen?

De meetmethoden voor de T1 metingen hebben we inmiddels ontwikkeld. Jouw bijdrage aan de T1 meting zal onder andere bestaan uit:

  • Het inplannen van afspraken
  • Langsgaan op locaties met Greendish medewerkers
  • Interviews houden of aantekeningen nemen (kwalitatief onderzoek)
  • Wegingen doen van gerechten in de restaurants, vergelijkbaar aan de T0 meting (kwantitatief onderzoek)
  • Het effect laten zien van de interventie op hoeveelheden, bereiding, inkoopbeleid en meer
  • Analyse van de resultaten en het verschil tussen T0 en T1
  • De resultaten visualiseren aan de hand van een presentatie
  • Adviezen samenstellen voor restaurants

 

Overige werkzaamheden

Werken bij Greendish is erg divers, en in overleg kunnen er dus zomaar andere leuke taken bijkomen waarmee jij een inkijk krijgt in de dagelijkse werkzaamheden van onze stichting!

 

Wat verwachten wij van jou?

Greendish bestaat uit een klein team, waar we onderling leuk met elkaar omgaan. Zo lunchen we gezamenlijk en organiseren we maandelijks een borrel of andere activiteit. We zijn open en informeel en bieden veel ruimte voor eigen inbreng. Zowel het werken in teamverband als zelfstandig kunnen werken is belangrijk. Een stage bij Greendish is uitdagend maar leerzaam en op het grensgebied tussen Wetenschap en praktijk.

 

Wil je impact maken en bijdrage aan verandering in de samenleving waarbij miljoenen eetmomenten van consumenten onderweg op stations, luchthavens, in restaurants en tijdens de lunch op kantoor gezonder en duurzamer worden, dan bij je bij ons aan het juiste adres!
Meld je aan via https://greendish.org/nl/internship-position-nl/

 

Contactpersoon: rose.korte@greendish.org

 

Indoor gardens for nursing homes

By Paulien van de Vlasakker

Advanced technology and alternative food-production methods, such as vertical farming and hydroponic cultivation, are part of an upward trend of initiatives for the support of the transition of conventional food-production methods to more decentralized and local production systems. The development of high-tech urban agriculture is one strategy for more sustainable and resilient urban food systems being explored by cities worldwide to feed their increasing populations.

To contribute to the development of urban high-tech agriculture, I established Vegger in October 2016. Vegger is a start-up located on the Wageningen University & Research campus. During the first few years, my colleague and I designed and developed high-tech indoor gardens for the cultivation of vegetables and herbs inside people’s working and living environment. The indoor gardens that we created are cultivation systems equipped with horticultural led lightening, soilless cultivation methods and a controlled environment system. Vegger is part of StartLife, the business facilitator of Wageningen University. We rent our office/working space in StartHub, located in the Atlas Building.

Vegger

For my internship, as part of my MSc Organic Agriculture, I conducted a pilot project with high-tech indoor gardens in two nursing homes of Stichting Innoforte located in Velp, Gelderland. Growing vegetables inside nursing homes can be a response to the need for an increased intake of fresh and local vegetables by elderly people. In addition to increasing vegetable intake among the elderly, this pilot project also focused on contributing to the creation of a healing environment in the nursing homes. A healing environment is a (physical) environment that aims to promote the well-being of patients, their family and the employees, and to reduce their stress. This way people may heal faster (or the (physical) environment does not worsen their situation). The goal of my internship was to explore how high-tech indoor gardens can contribute to: 1. the consumption of fresh vegetables and herbs among the residents, and 2. the healing environment of the location.

I placed the indoor gardens in two locations. One of the locations was specialized for elderly people with far stage dementia. The other location offered housing for elderly people that do not need (intensive) care. It is important to mention that the locations make use of a different food delivery system. In the location for demented elderly, the staff cooks with fresh foods and matching recipes delivered by their food supplier. The meals for the ‘healthy’ elderly from the other location are ready-to-eat frozen meals. These meals do not contain any fresh ingredients.

During my internship I supported the indoor gardens by delivering gardening services. These services consisted of the maintenance of the indoor garden, including the cultivation of plants. The staff was responsible for harvesting the fresh vegetables and herbs. A food expert was appointed by the health care organisation to assist with the contact between me and the end users (staff and residents of both locations). As research methods I used informal conversations with staff, elderly and friends and family of the elderly, observations of the use of the gardens (including harvesting, engaging with the garden, and talking with others over the garden), and measuring the number of plants harvested by staff.

The results of the study were different between both locations. In the nursing home where the demented elderly live, the indoor garden was especially useful to enhance the healing environment. The residents of the home liked to sit next to the indoor garden; the aesthetic aspect of the indoor garden contributed to an improved living and relaxing environment. The vegetables and herbs growing in the indoor garden, however, were not used to their full potential. This was due to the fact that the home for demented elderly was already being supplied with fresh ingredients by their food supplier. In the other home, where ‘healthy’ elderly people live, on the other hand, full usage was made of the vegetables and herbs from the indoor garden. This was because previously no fresh ingredients were used in the meals. Staff used the fresh vegetables and herbs to prepare side dishes such as soup or salad.

The difference between the use of the high-tech indoor gardens did not only relate to the difference in food supplier, but also to the mental health of the elderly. Elderly with dementia experience on average higher stress levels than mentally healthy elderly. Optimizing a healing environment with indoor gardens can therefore have a greater impact on providing a quiet and relaxed environment for the residents. In addition, the elderly who live in the home for ‘healthy’ elderly people were more aware of the meals that were served. The residents of the home indicated that the fresh vegetables and herbs not only made the meal taste better, but also contributed to the experience of the meal because there were ingredients used from their own garden.

Pesticide Politics in Africa

Kees Jansen presented a keynote at the conference on Pesticide Politics in Africa in Arusha, Tanzania during the last week of May. The participants came from different regions in Sub-Saharan Africa, half a dozen European countries and North America and  discussed current approaches towards pesticide problems. Conference participants formulated a call for action addressed to politicians and international organizations. The conference made clear that a very interesting body of social science research on pesticide governance and organic alternatives in Africa is currently being carried out. Scientists at INRA-France and related organizations have been the driving force behind this conference, bringing all these people together and stimulating good social science research on pesticide issues. A remarkable positive feature of this conference was the absence of wifi, leading to a much more attentive audience than usual.

Pesticide-Politics-in-Africa

Thesis of stage project  Versterken Vernieuwende Landbouw Beweging

Er is een forse toename in het aantal netwerken en pioniers op gebied van innovatieve agri-food systemen. Ze ontstaan vanuit de agrarische productiekant alsook vanuit de consumentenkant en bieden een alternatief voor de dominante voedsel- en landbouwpraktijk. Ze richten zich vaak op de lokale context, werken integraal met aandacht voor biodiversiteit, koolstof vastlegging, betrekken van burgers en een gezonde leefomgeving.  Voorbeelden zijn Heerenboeren, Community Supported Agriculture, Food Forests, Agro-ecological agriculture, bodemboeren en toekomstboeren. Bij veel van dit soort innovatieve agri-food systemen wordt uitgegaan van agro-ecologische principes.

De verschillende initiatieven ontwikkelen zich tot grotere netwerken die de ambitie hebben om te komen tot een gezamenlijke beweging. Wellicht met een gezamenlijk loket en/of steunpunt om zo aanspreekpunt te kunnen zijn voor beleid, onderzoek en andere partijen.

Om een goede strategie en aanpak te ontwikkelen voor het creëren van een sterke beweging met impact is het van belang de verschillende initiatieven en hun onderliggende waarden en principes goed in beeld te brengen.

Onderwerpen van een thesis of stage project kunnen zijn:

  • In beeld brengen van de initiatieven en netwerken
  • In beeld brengen van de onderliggende visie/principes van de verschillende initiatieven en initiatiefnemers
  • In beeld brengen aan welke maatschappelijke uitdagingen initiatiefnemers een bijdrage willen leveren.
  • Strategie en aanpak ontwikkelen om de impact van deze vernieuwende initiatieven meer bekend te maken en breder ingang te laten vinden en bruggen te slaan met meer reguliere vormen van landbouw productie.

Heb je interesse om mee te werken aan de ontwikkeling van de vernieuwende landbouwbeweging? Neem dan contact op met jan.hassink@wur.nl of martin.ruivenkamp@wur.nl