Focus on food security - from field to feast

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Focus on food security - from field to feast


6 August 2012

6 August 2012

The severe shortage of some food items in southern Queensland during the disastrous 2011 floods has highlighted how susceptible the region could be to the impacts of climate change.

So says University of the Sunshine Coast Senior Research Fellow Dr Angela Wardell-Johnson, who has helped plan the inaugural South Queensland Food Futures Symposium to be held at USC on Wednesday 8 August.

This event, jointly organised by USC, the Queensland Government, Regional Development Australia and Seasons of the Sun, will focus on the future of food as it affects everyone.

The symposium will involve more than 90 participants from the private sector and industry, the government and academic researchers.

Dr Wardell-Johnson said keynote speakers would discuss food as an opportunity and consider issues on both sides of the supply-demand equation, with factors like water supply, climate change and population growth on the agenda for the workshop she will lead in the afternoon.

The symposium will also consider food tourism, which Dr Wardell-Johnson said is particularly important for the Sunshine Coast and its range of niche food producers as well as our mainstream pineapple, strawberry and macadamia farmers.

“Tourism is all about experiences and food is a critical part of that,” she said. “When people come to a place, they want to know they’re eating local food. It’s as much a part of experiencing a place as doing things.”

“Food tourism involves people coming to visit the Sunshine Coast because they know there are special opportunities here in food tasting. It’s special and unique and it reflects the sun and the sea and our wonderful soils.”

Dr Wardell-Johnson said the provision of food should be viewed “from field to feast” as an integrated chain of values involving producers, processors, marketers, retailers and consumers.

“In Australia, we tend to think that we never will have a problem with food security, but that’s just because we’re a fairly affluent society,” she said.

“We do live on the edge, in a sense, because we don’t produce all of our food locally. We need to make sure that we can continue to produce food and that means building up the resilience of our rural populations.”

Dr Wardell-Johnson said the symposium aimed to identify industry and research priorities and create stronger links between government policy and food research and development.

“We hope to build industry-government-research partnerships so that we have a working relationship that’s not left to chance, and that can be done from a focus on research partnerships based at USC.”

— Terry Walsh

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