Food Dialogues

Food Dialogues is an annual programme of talks and events that focus on the food system. First hosted in 2014, sessions bring together a wide range of speakers involved in shaping the food system, providing an opportunity for food growers, academics, activists, writers, nutritionists, policy makers, food lovers and anyone interested in sustainable approaches to engage in key issues intimately connected to the food we eat and the future of food, with the goal of fostering a healthier, more resilient and just food system. Cooking, sharing and eating food also form important elements, while arts exhibitions and tours diversify the approaches and introduce aspects of celebration and commemoration.

Food Dialogues 2022

As South Africa and the world begin to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, questions about ‘returning to normal’ are met with questions about what the ‘new normal’ might be – or ought to be. The adversity of the experience of the pandemic has highlighted the challenges to many of the systems that sustain our society, our food system prominent among them. It also made clear that we remain vulnerable to the next shock – from disease, drought, or other causes – if we do nothing to tackle these challenges.

The 2022 Food Dialogues, taking place from 18 July to 1 August, will consider the new normal by looking at key aspects of our food system – where we buy our food from, and how nourished we are from the food we eat – as well as how we can better partner to govern our food system and how the medium of food itself can bring us insight and connection.

There will also be an arts exhibition and guided walking tours offering diverse and readily accessible ways to engage with the food system, opportunities to eat and to learn to cook, and volunteer opportunities to lend a hand in vulnerable and under-resourced communities who are working hard to address food insecurity.

The programme will take place across Cape Town in Philippi, Mowbray and at the V&A Waterfront, as well as virtually.

Further details on this exciting programme will be forthcoming in early May. Check the official website at fooddialogues.info for updates, and follow Food Dialogues on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Food Dialogues can contribute towards us thinking about new ways of doing things, and learning, even if we’re learning from people that we don’t agree with.”

Prof. Julian May, Director, DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security.

The Food Dialogues provided a space to engage deeply in the complexity of the Cape Town food system. They refused to have a single story. They refused to amplify a single set of voices. They provide the starting point, and not the end point, for many sets of complex, difficult and messy conversations about food.”

Jane Battersby, Assoc. Prof., African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town.

The Food Dialogues are critically important because they provide a rare opportunity for citizens and other stakeholders to learn from grassroots activists alongside government officials, university professors, and business people. Only by connecting these different perspectives and knowledges will we able to foster meaningful change in our food systems.”

Prof. Julian May, Director, DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security

View Previous Food Dialogues: 2014 | 2020 | 2021

Food Dialogues Vision

Food Dialogues is a facilitated, multi-stakeholder programme designed to help bring under-represented and marginalised voices to the discussion of food system issues in any city, to deepen understanding of the issues and opportunities within the food system and foster mutual understanding among diverse stakeholders, to support identification of a set of common priorities, facilitate ongoing collaboration and encourage establishment of appropriate institutional structures to support improved food system governance and accelerate positive change of food systems.

The stakeholders participating in a Food Dialogue can also opt in to a more or less formal structure appropriate to the time and need of the particular city to continue the engagement beyond the dates of the programme itself. This might take the form of a Food Knowledge Network, a Local Food Alliance, a Local Food Forum, or lead to formation of a Food Policy Council or similar entity.

The Food Dialogues virtual platform is scalable and allows multiple city-region food systems to make use of it independently to suit their own circumstances and priorities. Discussions are underway with a number of city networks, international NGOs and municipalities regarding future Food Dialogues events.

For more information, or to explore the possibilities for your city, email hello@fooddialogues.info