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What was written on the tablecloths?

At Ideas Cafe events, we encourage those who attend to scribble down their thoughts and feelings on the table cloths as the talks are happening. Here's what was written during the Food Security event, unedited, as it appeared on the table cloths:

Monsanto and their monopolistic attitude is a barrier to ensuring food security for the global north and south.

How can we ensure a sustainable soy production in e.g. Brazil when Europe buys (in bulk) with no human concerns whatsoever?

How can we ensure ppls rights to good food when we don’t recognise it as a human rights issue, aside from health concerns? We see how there is a growing division btwn ppl’s health concerns/issues which is directly linked to non-contagious diseases vs. (non) healthy diets. Poor ppl have “bad food” = worse health = early deaths etc. Difficult to break the cycle? How to do it if its not a HR. issue? Everyone should have the right to good food.

Food waste? – Would a more responsible handling of our food meet rights?

‘Sustainable intensification’ – local, global? Reconciling reduction in biodiversity…


Economic rights or land rights? Is access to land and its produce imp + issues with use of fields for non food profit crops e.g. rapeseed oil.

Can we have more equal food distribution / food security without wider social equality?

Animals can act as security food in times of scarcity.

CAPITALISM. Can an economic system based on the accumulation of profit produce food equality/security – e.g. food spec. FOOD SPECULATION plays an important role in food £s.

Many of the ethical issues facing food production and markets has the power is with the people the customers hold production power if we make the demands businesses will change they will not survive if not.

Again customer. If we change our buying trends we can increase bio diversity and decrease waste.

When the wealth world’s customers demand better quality and oppose corruption we have social power to change the industry. We need to have awareness!!

The soil association are extremely important you want to get kids to try something other than fish finger get them to cook it not only is it better for diet, brain growth but the awareness of food connection and its growth and issues are then known all life and it is much easier to shape from this point.

Many of the sustainability and conservation initiative seem geared towards restoring some lost resource, facility – getting back to the ‘good old days’. However, when we talk about nutritional sustainability issues what exactly is the target? What is the bench mark for optimal nutritional conditions – I suspect this will prove to be a moving target as scientific understanding and social norms* develop. *Being ‘chubby’ is/was in certain cultures a sign of health.

Community - Eating together. Eating in front of the TV – bad for digestion and bad for family cohesion.

Is cheap food good for us?


The world’s poor never benefit. The global north will tend towards self-interest stock markets are interested in profit not in social justice. We protect our multi nationals. New colonialism – just under a different name.

Where are the modern philanthropists?

Average life expectancy is in the mid 50s in the poorest housing estates.

500 kg (water) = 1 kg (wheat)
15500 kg (water) = 1 kg (beef)
1000 l (water) = 1 l (milk)

We subject cows to torture, we’re bleeding the earth dry, and we think we are superior to animals who actually bother to gather food for themselves in a natural and sustainable way. Have we got it wrong? If we reverted to the natural way (what I’d call God’s way) then would the world be able to sustain 7bn and upwards people? And if so, as I imagine is the case, is this the only way or can these ‘unnatural’ methods actually work? It really feels like we are trying to squeeze a solution out, rather than looking for a good healthy solution. With fishing will it be about bleeding the fish stocks dry, letting them grow again then bleeding them dry again. In effect ‘playing’ nature?

Can’t meet nutritional needs / minwage

Sugar companies providing stuff rather than government? :s

Destroy ecosystems here or abroad?...

Or not at all?!

Humankind thinks it knows better than the ‘hunter-gatherer’ “natural” model ~ wrong - cows’ nutrition

100m people are food producers globally

How/when will the US (USAID) stop using food aid as a political weapon in enforcing its own ideology / subsidised goods on to developing countries?

How/who should monitor/cap/stop land grabbing?

Think the farmer. Medical advance &c. mean popn stability really depends on implementing one-child policies – timing is crucial.

When we talk about sustainable intensification yet acknowledge that organic production is not viable worldwide what other farming methods will fill the gap and how do we remove control of the world food system from the grip of seed/chemical companies/supermarkets?

Is population expected to plateau due to decrease in births or increase in mortality? (due to malnutrition, epidemics, conflict etc?)

What defines a right to anything?

Problem for ethics global governance – (int’l) political legitimacy. Law of the sea?

How ethical is it to waste? Can you justify it?

Sugarcane industry offers a job. Is this better than nothing?

Cost efficient for sugar firms. – economics of food – can we have profit AND social responsibility and social justice.


Oh god this is sobering. - Sugar cane industry vested

Impacts on women and men: the gender politics of food security.

Corporate interests

Sustainability and intergenerational justice.

Food poverty.


Disaster management and resource policy.

Is water security a more pressing problem than food security?

F+M & food security.


All comments here are the work and opinion of the Ideas Café audience and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Warwick.