Every year, Flevo Campus puts together a volume of the year’s best essays on food and the city. The upcoming essay collection is the fourth in this annual series on Feeding the City, also known as the Flevo Campus yearbook. (Here’s last year’s edition.)
Feeding the city
People have lived in cities for millennia, but supplying cities with food remains a complex operation. There are lots of hungry mouths to feed and never enough room to produce food for them. And so a massive system develops to supply the people with food, often from afar.
Today more people live in cities than outside them, and the food to feed them comes from all over the world. A city dweller in 2022 is far removed from the origins of their food. Habit and custom—and the local streetscape—influence what and how people eat.
From urban foraging to factory fare
This year’s collection boasts a wide range of essays on feeding the city, from a diverse group of authors. We start out with the history of community gardens in the Netherlands by the Belgian agricultural historian Yves Segers. Then Esther Veen, Dutch lecturer on urban food issues, picks up where Yves leaves off and shows the impact that small-scale growers operating inside the city limits can have on a metropolis.
We see the desire to make the origins of our food tangible in Hiske Versprille’s essay on the Noma phenomenon. The renowned Copenhagen restaurant has left its mark on contemporary food culture in Europe and beyond. But authenticity is not always what it seems.
Take smoked sausage—a winter classic in the Netherlands that’s often seen as traditional and authentic Dutch fare. But if you eat smoked sausage in Holland, it’s more than likely produced by a multinational like Unilever. Find out more about this paradox in a brief history of traditional smoked sausage, an essay that won top honors in the student category of the 2021 Flevo Campus essay contest, by Amber Striekwold and Hannah de Korte.
Ellen Mangnus and Floris Visser are also prizewinners. Ellen, a philosopher, studies how in a modern urban food culture, food can bring people of all backgrounds together. But food can also be a wedge that drives groups apart, highlighting our differences.
Floris writes something of a political pamphlet in which he argues that food is a public good. He believes we should invest in a public service to provide people with decent food to eat, like we do for housing and public transportation. Fun fact:
Most weekends, you’ll find Floris putting his ideas about food as a public good into practice at a food outlet in Almere
Law professor Brigit Toebes looks into what it means for our food systems when a country has signed human rights treaties. After all, those are legal agreements promising adequate food for all. But what does the right to food mean?
Jos Spijkerman won the research category of the 2021 essay contest with his essay on the question, Why in the world did we ever start putting peas and carrots together in jars?
And then there’s Bee Wilson, British journalist and author of seven books on food. In a time when many people lost their sense of smell or taste due to Covid, she gets at the heart of what we were already missing: in many a city supermarket, we no longer use our senses to choose food. Bee shows us why engaging our senses can help us all to eat better.
The book launch for the Dutch edition is slated for May 13. English edition out June 20.
Can’t wait? Then check out our last book Growing Resilience in the meantime, with essays by Stephen Satterfield and Charles C. Mann. You can download it for free today.