Food and the City: How do new food systems impact on our cities?

Last week, Matt Skinner from Casserole Club took part in the sixth Design Culture Salon, a series of occasional discussion events hosted by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

This event’s theme was “Food and the City”:

“Re-thinking food has also been combined with the delivery of public services, improving the urban environment and enhancing community cohesion. These projects are varied in their methods,visions and goals and have socio-cultural, economic and environmental repercussions, as well as the potential to catalyse a politically active citizenship. What can we learn from these food based initiatives? What are their aims and approaches and how far do they achieve their goals?”

The chair for the evening, Gabriel Wulff, began by saying that from ‘guerilla gardening’ to ‘urban bee-keeping’, the topic of designing food systems has been building an audience in the UK.

Matt spoke about how designing food initiatives like Casserole Club can impact our cities:

“While ‘foodie culture’ in Britain has created ripe conditions for people to share recipes and cooking stories online, Casserole Club’s diners (most of whom are aged over 70 and are socially isolated) are not well-connected to this.

Technological and cultural barriers need to be negotiated. It has been key to work with local councils in addressing these issues of isolation.”

Matt also positioned Casserole Club alongside others community food projects, such as the Incredible Edible project.

“What we are learning from this and other projects is that food, in particular home-cooked and home-grown food, is a powerful tool for bringing people together.

The visibility of these projects is a factor in their success, whether through online platforms or in physical spaces in the city.”

You can read the full write up of the Food and the City event over on the Design Culture Salon blog.

The next Design Culture is on 10 January 2014 at 7pm in the V&A Museum, London on the subject of “Transparency in Design”. Booking is free, but essential. Book here.

Photo by mattjiggins