Academic journal article Australian Journal of Environmental Education

Clearing Up the Table: Food Pedagogies and Environmental Education-Contributions, Challenges and Future Agendas

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Environmental Education

Clearing Up the Table: Food Pedagogies and Environmental Education-Contributions, Challenges and Future Agendas

Article excerpt

In drawing together this fascinating international collection of empirically based papers, the editors entitled the special issue 'Putting Food Onto the Table'. Across the methodologically diverse and practice-rich papers, we get a taste of many types of food, from broccoli grown by young Maori children, home-made hummingbird cake in a child's lunchbox, to patty burgers in seeded buns, soda drink, beans and squash, feijoa fruit, pork bones, popcorn, tomatoes, marmite sandwich, soups, jams, and even a hakari (feast). These foods are served not just on domestic kitchen tables, but on communal tables in early childhood centres and school gardens, and by feminist food activist groups.

In this issue, we meet a wide range of people who help bring food to the table and teach about sustainability, from urban growers, feminist activists, organic farmers, shopkeepers and fisherfolk, to early childhood, school and university teachers. We hear about the diversity of food practices that enable food to arrive at the table: hunting, preparing soils for planting, harvesting, berry picking, gardening, preserving fish and meat; finding foods in marshes, woods, and grocery stores; chopping and cooking, and sitting down to eat and sharing food. Through this survey of the non-human and human actors involved in feeding us and teaching us, the articles carve out the possibilities for environmental education and its intersections with food, with a little help from seeds, mulch, chicken tractors and micro-beasts.

The collection seeks to bring food for thought to the environmental education table: to rethink food pedagogies outside the narrow, and we would add gendered, racialised and classed discourses of risk, obesity, healthism and 'gastronomification'. The call reminds us of very real

fears about global food sustainability, and across the papers, we can feel these anxieties, but also hope and determination.

Food Pedagogies

At the same time, we all have some way to go to understand the others putting food on the table (Swan, 2013). The labour of food production, in all its facets from agriculture and manufacture to retailing and feeding work, is dominated by racially minoritised women and men, and White working-class women. Except for the articles by Jenny Ritchie and Holly Stovall, and Lori Baker-Sperry and Judith Dallinger, gender, race and class are somewhat under-discussed, as we discuss more fully later. First, we situate the collection in relation to food pedagogies to offer a new set of concepts and concerns. Along with others such as Deana Leahy, Emma Rich and Jo Pike (Leahy & Pike, 2015; Pike & Leahy, 2012; Rich, 2011; Rich & Evans, 2015), Jennifer Sumner (2008, 2015), who for some time has convened a subject on pedagogies of food and writes about 'eating as a pedagogical act', we have developed a body of work researching food pedagogies (Flowers & Swan, 2011, 2012a, 2012b, 2012c, 2015a, 2015b, 2015c; Swan, 2013). As we write elsewhere, efforts to 'teach' us about food have intensified (Flowers & Swan, 2012a, 2015a). To understand this cultural trend, we deploy the concept of'food pedagogies' to help us examine a number of processes: the proliferation of teaching and learning about food; the diversification of food educational curricula; the rise of new food pedagogues; the shift in expertise and knowledge about food; and the racialised, gendered and classed inequalities produced through these shifts (Flowers & Swan, 2012a, 2015a). In sum, we characterise food pedagogies as a congeries of educational, teaching and learning ideologies and practices carried out by a range of agencies, actors, institutions and media that focus variously on growing, shopping, cooking, eating and disposing of food (Flowers & Swan, 2012a, 2015a). In relation to learning, the term pedagogies points to various forms, sites and processes of formal, informal and incidental education, and learning inside and beyond the classroom. …

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