News & Events

“Food is the great connector.” A conversation with Charles Levkoe and Irena Knezevic about teaching food studies online.

June 2020

Online course offerings in food studies have become popular in recent years, with a sharp increase in demand for online content in with the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. But how are postsecondary scholars and educators thinking about their online teaching practice, especially as they prioritize place- and community-based knowledge and local sustainable food systems? A new article in the June 2020 issue of Food, Culture & Society considers what educators might learn from online food studies courses that use food as a “connector” to engage with students across geographical and virtual space. “Serving up food studies online: teaching about ‘food from somewhere’ from nowhere,” explores how the concept of “food from somewhere” can be an important touchstone for educators looking to build on their students’ personal experiences with food to creating meaningful learning in online classrooms.

We sat down with Charles Levkoe and Irena Knezevic, two of the five co-authors of the article, to talk about their experience teaching food studies online. They told us about the discussions that led to the article and the challenges and opportunities they’ve identified for using food as a connector in online spaces. An edited version of that conversation has been reproduced below.

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FLEdGE: Works Cited

June 2020

Select Publications from Winter/Spring 2020

Free-to-Access Journal Articles

Ballamingie, P., Blay-Palmer, A. D., Knezevic, I., Lacerda, A. E. B., Nimmo, E. R., Stahlbrand, L., & Ayalon, R. (2020). Integrating a Food Systems Lens into Discussions of Urban Resilience: A Policy Analysis. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(3). https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2020.093.021

Bayha, M. & Spring, A. (2020). Response to COVID in Déline, NT: reconnecting with our community, our culture and our past after the pandemic. Agriculture and Human Values. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-020-10059-z

Blay-Palmer, A., Carey, R., Valette, E., & Sanderson, M. R. (2020). Post COVID 19 and food pathways to sustainable transformation. Agriculture and Human Values. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-020-10051-7

Lacerda, A. E. B., Hanisch, A. L., & Nimmo, E. R. (2020). Leveraging Traditional Agroforestry Practices to Support Sustainable and Agrobiodiverse Landscapes in Southern Brazil. Land, 9 (6). https://doi.org/10.3390/land9060176

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True urban resilience can only be achieved through food systems thinking

Food systems thinking must be brought to the fore in discussions of urban resilience, and can no longer be relegated to an afterthought. In a new JAFSCD reflective essay, FLEdGE researchers and community partners examine the Sustainable Development Goals, New Urban Agenda, and Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, to generate prescriptive recommendations and calls to action. They draw on various community-based research projects, from the Toronto Food Policy Council and Montréal’s planned agricultural zone and smart cities approach in Canada, to Kitwe city-region food system in Zambia, to Paraná state’s agroforestry and agroecological practices in Brazil.

While authors Patricia Ballamingie, Alison Blay-Palmer, Irena Knezevic, André Lacerda, Evelyn Nimmo, Lori Stahlbrand, and Rotem Ayalon conducted research and analysis for this publication before the COVID-19 pandemic, their work highlights the need for more integrated urban-rural linkages to enable just and sustainable local food systems that will prove resilient in the context of shocks, including pandemics and the climate crisis. The pandemic has brought into sharp focus the vulnerability of our food system, and the critical role of food system planning to mitigate risk.

The full article can be found here: https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2020.093.021

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Survey: Food Access Perceptions & Concerns During the COVID-19 Pandemic

June 2020

FLEdGE researchers in BC, Alberta, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada have partnered to conduct a survey of residents to better understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer food access and concerns. 

The survey asks questions about participants’ food access, purchasing, and consumption behaviours during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with any perceived changes and concerns.  The study will generate knowledge on the early impact of the pandemic on consumers’ perceptions and key concerns about accessing food. This research will also contribute to the on-going Canada-wide discussion on the importance of transitioning to more reliable and resilient regional food systems. 

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COVID 19 Reveals Gaps in our Food Systems

Alison Blay-Palmer, UNESCO Chair on Food, Biodiversity and Sustainability Studies 

It feels as though the world has been turned upside down and shaken by COVID-19. In just a few short months, the novel coronavirus has impacted daily life in profound ways as the pandemic has thrown the systems and institutions that we take for granted into crisis and exposed how things actually work. We know more now than we did a few weeks ago about how health care and other essential services get delivered. People on the front lines of our hospitals, grocery stores, and city services are suddenly more visible. So too are the chains that get masks, respirators, and food to where they are needed. We can see, first hand, the strengths and weaknesses of ‘business as usual.’

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Women Building Thriving Communities: Food, Nutrition, and Sustainable Practice

Dr. Alison Blay-Palmer speaks at Laurier’s IWD2020 Luncheon

On Thursday, March 5th, Alison Blay-Palmer, Director of the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems and UNESCO Chair in Food, Biodiversity and Sustainability Studies, participated in Wilfrid Laurier University’s annual International Women’s Day Luncheon. The event, “Women Building Thriving Communities: Food, Nutrition and Sustainable Practice,” focused on the role of food in addressing poverty, health and sustainability at the community level. The panel also included Kathy Absolon, Director of the Laurier Centre for Indigegogy, Wendi Campbell, CEO of The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, and moderator Mary D’Alton, Director of Strategic Initiative, Nutrition for Learning.

Panelists were asked to reflect on their experiences as women leaders working on community-focused research and advocacy and to talk about why food is central to that work. An edited version of Alison’s remarks and the moderated Q&A that followed has been reproduced below. 

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