The first Foodscapes conference organized by the Department of Geography and Regional Science, University of Graz took place from the 22nd to the 25th of September 2013 in the Castle of Seggau in Southern Styria.
Foodscapes focused on “Access to Food – Excess of Food”, a theme that brings special attention to the contradictions inherent in contemporary practices of modern industrialized food production, circulation, and consumption. More than 120 geographers, sociologists, anthropologist, social scientists, practitioners and other scholars from various disciplines participated in this international conference.
Each day of the conference was marked by top-class keynote speeches held by Prof. Julia Guthman (University of California, Santa Cruz), Prof. Melissa Caldwell (University of California, Santa Cruz), Mara Miele (Cardiff School of Planning & Geography), Mike Goodmann (King’s College, London) , Dr. David Evans (University of Manchester) and Valentin Thurn (journalist & filmmaker of “Taste the Waste”). The keynote speeches dealt with diverse issues, such as critical food studies, obesity, economization of animals, the role of celebrity chefs & and the topic of food waste. The thought-provoking speeches sparked stimulating discussions among the conference participants.
The daily keynote speeches were followed by high-level paper sessions that covered a broad range of topics from alternative food networks, production and retail chains, taste, food education, identity and to food sovereignty and waste. During the paper sessions researchers presented their current findings in the field.
Foodscapes did not only aim at strengthening interdisciplinary exchange between food studies researchers, but the conference also aspired to increase transdisciplinarity: Therefore, challenging workshops and panel discussions with regional partners and practitioners constituted another striking part of the conference program.
Naturally, food and culinary art itself was a key item on the agenda of Foodscapes. Therefore, the conference started with a “tasty” excursion in Southern Styria. The 44 excursion participants first visited Genussregal Südsteiermark. During the guided tour at the Genussregal the excursion participants were informed about local Styrian agriculture and small scale food producers. Moreover they could taste Styrian gastronomic specialties, for instance the famous Styrian pumpkin seed oil. Afterwards the organic winery Tauss was explored under guidance of wine-grower Roland Tauss: The excursion participants could see how and where the grape-vines are growing in the vineyards. Furthermore, a wine tasting of the organic wine was offered in the wine-cellar. Finally, the excursion ended with a typical Styrian dinner of local bread, cheese and cold meat at a Styrian wine tavern, the so-called Buschenschank.
Another highlight with regards to culinary art was the Brunch held on the last day of the conference: Regional food manufacturers from the EU leader regions of Almenland and Vulkanland presented local gastronomic specialties in front of the historic Castle of Seggau.
We would like to thank our keynote speakers, all conference participants and our local partners Almenland and Steirisches Vulkanland for contributing to the great success of the first Foodscapes conference.