Food History

Food history, part of the expanding field of food studies, is a passion of mine. My undergraduate course The Taste of War has proved ever popular since it’s introduction two years ago. It’s been featured in publications such as the brilliant food history journal Petits Propos Culinaires and the Liverpool Echo education supplement In 2012 the course won a Learning and Teaching award at Hope after staff and students paid a visit to a local cookery school to try out some historical recipes.

I am also the organiser of the Conference Food and the First World War, an event which reflects my interest in the role of food in conflict. REPORT Posted on ‘Home’ section of website.

I am always interested in chatting about food history and advancing it as a research topic.

Separately, I attempt to do my little bit to reduce food poverty through my social enterprise Manna Community Kitchen and in summer 2014 will travel to Peru as Winston Churchill Fellow to research how communal food security works in that country.

3 responses to “Food History

  1. Lesley Sooff

    Fascinated to read your work on social eating. I work with Tesco’s community food connection team and wondered if you had looked at the efficiencies of how the food was used back then in comparison to the way the food bank model works as I believe the social kitchen model is far more efficient use of resources both food and personnel than food banks. Also do you tap into the free food available through Tesco for your own projects? As a mum of an autistic daughter I was delighted to hear that your kitchens were also providing great life skills and experience

    • penny waters

      was looking up food control committees written about in my parish magazine. my recent interest in ‘wild’ food, apart from food bought in shops or grown as hybrids, comes from undertaking an herbal medicine degree at uni in 2002, after attempting to help mum and dad pass over. my dad died of heart disease and my mum of alzheimers.
      as a lifetime professional gardener i was amazed that the english/european medicinal herbs i was taught about, that i had been putting on the compost heap or throwing in the rubbish bags, were in fact nutritious and healing.
      i was astounded and then, as i lived on a third of an acre in essex, i began to understand and use the native indigenous plants of food and medicine around me.
      fascinated by the subject i delved into the history of english humans in this area of the country, as originally hunter gatherers by the rivers of the crouch and blackwater, then settled, leading to enclosure of the lands by the barons of the norman conquest, with the removal of people they couldn’t or didn’t want to use and the subsequent wandering across the country of the land less people – much decimated by the plague – and then into the age of science and industrialisation.
      the common or ‘garden’ knowledge of ordinary women and men was replaced over centuries by an attitude of horror at ‘weeds’ (anglo saxon word for small herbaceous medicinal plant) and replacement by fashionable foreign plants of little use to people or the environment – of which i was guilty as a professional gardener having been taught that very attitude, seeing the ‘great’ gardens of the rich and powerful as a model of ‘good gardening’ and something to emulate. watch any gardening programme on tv, it has now become an ‘art form’ instead of our interaction with our environment and a wealth of food and medicine, no wonder we have few insects and birds and other creatures!
      in these times of food banks and the groaning of the nhs under the weight of people with chronic illness, although i have tried to talk to people about the irony of the use of our gardens, i receive either blank stares, or enthusiasm that soon wanes when individuals realise that they have to learn and interact, the knowledge doesn’t come overnight, and it can’t be bought, and maybe they have to get dirt under their fingernails, painted or otherwise.
      food and medicine sustains us, grown by nature with little input from us and we ignore it at our peril. the japanese have a character icon – a picture that says food and medicine have the same origin – how right they are!!

  2. Keep up the wonderful work, Sir. As our food chains continue to evolve, so too does the need to appreciate the effects this has. From history we learn our future and understand our present, so there is no more fitting inlet onto the topic; and although biased we may be, Irish food history is surely an inlet onto an inlet. A historical choke point that can be used to help raise understanding all around – Ní thuigeann an sách an seang.

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