Laying the Table for a Better Food System

Urban Food Systems is one of the key thematics of ACC’s research, and we seeks different ways and platforms to share our research with a variety of audiences and stakeholders. For the third year, ACC is an event partner to the Food Dialogues, hosted by the SA Urban Food & Farming Trust with co-host and sponsor SOLVE@Waterfront and DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security.

How are digital technologies disrupting our food system? What will be the impact of cultured meat? How has food shaped the spaces and places that define our city? These and other questions will be explored in Cape Town during the two-week 2022 Food Dialogues programme through a range of experiences: from expert panel discussions to hands-on cooking classes for grown-ups and kids, walking tours, communal meals and art installations, from Monday, 18 July until Monday, 1 August 2022.

Returning to physical spaces this year, Food Dialogues offers the chance to connect with our future food shapers in person and while there is much to feed all senses, the essence of Food Dialogues is to engage in a critical conversation about how food shapes and enables our lives, explore the unjustness of our food system and how we can move towards one that helps us to flourish as people, families and society.

The programme will consider our present day societal relationship with food 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, connection and joy.

According to organiser Kurt Ackermann, CEO of the SA Urban Food & Farming Trust, food is a medium for heritage, culture and innovation and is deeply ingrained in society for survival as well as identity. Food is also society’s mirror – a reflection of classism and inequality. These challenges require more engagement, sharing of ideas, expertise and innovation, but also celebration of our cross-cultural identities and foodways.

“We want to give both voice and honour to our complex food system and society, while amplifying unheard and diverse voices,” explains Ackermann. “The array of events reflects that desire and we want to reach as broad and wide a range of participants as possible; essentially, we want any and all to connect through this city-wide dialogue and through shared experiences with food.”

Food Dialogues features a series of deep-dive talks from experts, such as a mini-conference on Food Shopping Futures, which explores alternatives to mainstream food retail; and Feeding our Future, which aims to share both challenges and potential solutions for nourishing today’s South African children through their first 1000 days of life. Beyond these and other important serious conversations, are food events that will excite all five senses.

Recipes for Partnering
Western Cape Economic Development Partnership (WCEDP) and ACC lead a 4-hour interactive and participatory workshop for smaller organisations wanting to connect with government, focussed on identifying opportunities and co-creating practical approaches to ‘bridging the divides’ in the food system

While this is an invite-only workshop for participants from local government, academia and civil society, Food Dialogues will share video interviews on tools for partnership. A  ‘Recipes for Collaboration’ handbook on partnering will be the produced output based on the workshop, which will be shared across Food Dialogues platforms.

Feeding our Future
Our nutrition is intertwined with our hunger, but many in South Africa struggle to eat healthy food for a host of reasons. Critically, we have a generation of children growing up medically stunted from chronic or recurrent undernutrition, who now face lifelong challenges regardless of their adult diets.

These sessions provide a closer look at how we are feeding infants and their mothers – including before and during pregnancy – and give insight into the broader problems with food and nutrition in South Africa across all ages and segments of the population. The sessions explore what different choices or changes we might make that result in a better nourished society, including exchanges of practical steps being implemented in communities today.

Each session centres around a screening of the short documentary Feeding Nosipho, an exploration of the Nourished Child Exhibition, and a series of conversations facilitated by Dr Jane Battersby. Lunch is included.

These sessions are designed for members of local Early Childhood Development Centres, community kitchens, community health workers and clinics, to be able to come together and share approaches, practices and challenges coming out of their respective communities.

Walking (and Tasting) the Food System Trail
From the kitchen to the streets, curated tours of Cape Town’s food systems will enrich participants’ understanding of the intricacies and complexities of our urban landscape. Curated by Dr Andrew Boraine, historian and CEO of the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership, Food System Walking Tours of Central Cape Town will reveal the intricate connections and overlays between Cape Town’s ecological systems, history and food lineages, from pre-colonial to present day. Led by professional guides, the tour sheds light on how history shapes the modern-day food system in Cape Town and how the city is shaping our food system’s future. Along the way, iconic and delicious street food and snacks will be enjoyed.

Also on offer is a series of Food System Walking Tours of Philippi Village, which will take place in the heart of Phillipi. This two-hour experience, which includes a shuttle to and from the V&A Waterfront, includes the viewing of exhibitions of new graffiti works created for Food Dialogues and photographs of meals and recipes representing the community. Guests will be gifted with a recipe from a community member and the experience will culminate in a farm-to-fork meal at Phunga, the Village cafe, inspired by recipes from the local community.

Some events are free to attend while others are paid but all participants must register at 

Food Dialogues is hosted by the SA Urban Food & Farming Trust with co-host and sponsor SOLVE@Waterfront. Co-sponsored by the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security, event partners include the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership, African Centre for Cities, the Southern Africa Food Lab, The Oranjezicht City Farm Market, Bertha House, Philippi Village, City of Cape Town, Western Cape Government, and Derrick Integrated Communications.