Making Meaning through Eating: Exploring Cross-cultural Interaction through Food and the Senses

As posthumanist thinking gains traction in the arts and sciences, new modes of learning and research are being developed that attempt to make multifaceted meaning of the world. This study explored a sensory and embodied approach to such a mode of learning in an attempt to understand its impact on the possibility of cross-cultural understanding and tolerance in a South African context. The foodways of Kayamandi township in Stellenbosch were examined for their ability to engage people in commensal exchange, specifically as experienced through the senses. The process of the research followed a sensory ethnography methodology and data were collected through individual and group interviews with participants based in Kayamandi. The findings of the study revealed that foodways are implicated in the sensory perceptions and misperceptions of others, as experienced through the bodily acts of sharing food. Sensory disruptions were found to result in bodily transformations, which in turn could lead to empathic understanding and tolerance. These findings point towards the potential for such cross-cultural exchange to be meaningful, should the sensory disruptions arising be positively mediated through affirmative, embodied learning practices that raise an awareness of the entanglement between the self, others, and the sensory environment.

Learning from Failure: Postwar Efforts to Establish a World Food Reserve

In the wake of World War II, policymakers in nations such as the United States, along with the leaders, staff, and representatives to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), sought to understand and address the short- and long-term causes of food and agricultural problems. This article examines the ways that tensions between national sovereignty and international problem-solving prevented the creation of a world food reserve that could be used to address food crises. For almost a decade, multiple leaders of FAO and panels of experts endorsed the value of establishing some form of reserve that the world could rely on in times of food emergencies. Through three waves of activity in the years after World War II—beginning with the ambitious World Food Board, the more limited International Commodity Clearing House, and the multiple expert-generated plans, including the exceptionally flexible Plan of Three Circles—FAO policymakers and planners were unable to overcome the reluctance of member nations to give up national control over even a limited aspect of agriculture and food production. This article examines the proposals made by FAO between 1946 and 1953 to explore the challenges between state control over agricultural production and international efforts to establish a world food reserve—challenges that persist today. Ultimately, we see that in order to better address global food insecurity, we must understand this critical tension between national sovereignty and international action.

Challenges in Implementation of a Distributed and Localised Approach to Food Manufacturing

Existing large-scale centralised food production practices are often unsustainable due to requirements for significant transportation of both raw materials and finished products. These approaches also require substantial concentrated demands on energy and water. In addition, increasing amounts of food waste are being generated worldwide by manufacturers and retailers due to their dependence on unreliable demand forecasting methods as part of centralised production practices. Regulatory pressures and policy requirements as well as consumer demands for increased variety, improved traceability, and healthy diets are forcing manufacturers and retailers to reconsider their ingredient sourcing, production, storage, and distribution strategies. “Distributed and Localised Manufacturing” (DLM) aims to provide the food sector with capabilities to improve the efficiency of production systems, to optimise logistics operations across supply chains, and to extend the shelf life of products. However, to achieve these potential benefits, the implementation of DLM will involve many challenges that need to be carefully considered and addressed. This article explores these challenges and describes four specific implementation models to aid with the development of innovative and appropriate DLM structures for various food products.