Great Second Social Seminar Results in Food for Thought

It has been a week since GreenSTEMS second Social Seminar event: Food Sustainability: A hot potato?, and in this blogpost we’d like to thank everyone who participated, supported or attended the event. Some 50 people found their way to remote Derwent college and attended the event which was rated 4,5/5 by respondents filling out our feedback form! We are happy to hear that you enjoyed ”the variety of talks, the interaction and hearing about practical solutions”. To quote another respondent:

Interesting talks, food & beer – what is not to like?

Amen! 😀
For those of you who did not have a chance to attend the event, find a short summary below and like our facebook page to stay up-to-date about future greenSTEMS events!

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I had the privilege as an exchange student from the Netherlands to be the main organiser of this event! greenSTEMS offered me a wonderful platform to turn my idea of a symposium on the topic of food sustainability into a reality. I could not have done without the help of my fellow greenSTEMS-ers, among which Maria M. Razalan who chaired the afternoon. Maria is a PhD student in Biology and had the honour of explaining the safety procedures in the event of a fire. Luckily the only fire that afternoon were the blazing discussions later on.

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Maria first introduced Prof. Sue Hartley who is director of York Environmental Sustainability Institute (YESI) who sketched the challenges of modern agricultural sustainability. She really set the tone for the afternoon by addressing vital topics such as stagnating crop yields, dependency on only a few types of crops and the problems associated with loss of genetic diversity.
Next up was Tim Doheny-Adams, a post-doctorate molecular biologist who spoke about both his current work and the research he had carried out for his PhD. The former was on ‘biofumigation’ which could potentially serve as an alternative to conventional pesticides and the latter is on improving plant water use efficiency by genetic manipulation. Both talks resulted in more than a few questions and luckily there was a break to continue the discussion.

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The second session started with a great talk from Maureen Wakefield from the Food & Environmental Research Agency (FERA). She spoke about insects as sustainable source of protein for animal feed. FERA is one of the collaborators of PROteINSECT which is an international multi-disciplinary EU program that aims to facilitate the exploitation of insects as alternative protein source for animal feed – and how about for human feed?! 😉
Maureen was followed by Joe Houghton, a PhD student in Green Chemistry who introduced us to the WasteValor project. The project aims to create economic value from foodwaste and has helped Joe to consider not only the scientific but also the business aspect of his research.

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Our last speaker was Margaret Hattam, a truly inspiring figure, with her talk entitled: Feed Bellies Not Bins. Margaret is the founder of YourCafé, a local initiative in Tang Hall neighbourhood where her team cooks a delicious three course lunch on every Wednesday, all from what is wastefully considered “food waste” but in reality is just a still fresh product that is past its Sell By date.. Margareth collects it from donor retailers, café’s and other sources and cooks it into wonderful dishes, giving it a second life! Food that otherwise would end up in a bin is turned in a truly magnificent lunch. You pay as you feel or contribute by volunteering in anyway you can. Her story was intense and inspiring so do get in contact with her (see the facebook link above) if you’d like to follow up and be involved!

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After all these interesting talks it was a delight to see that people did not flee the warm room immediately but rather stayed to discuss what they had just heard. greenSTEMS really aims for its social seminars to be thought-provoking and to encourage discussion. The group chat was fuelled by refreshments and… sustainable nibbles in the most literal form: tasty insect-snacks!
Did you know that insects could also be a more sustainable form of animal protein for human consumption compared to meat? Crunchy Critters kindly provided us with edible samples for everyone to try! Lemon flavoured chapulinas (Mexican grasshoppers) were served as insect-nibble and thus were the true icing on the cake.

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Were you there with us at the event? I hope this blogpost has captured the essence of the event and will work as a nice way to recall your memories! If you did not attend I hope I’ve persuaded you to coming to one of our future events! Because we will be back 😉 ! May you wish to stay up-to-date with our latest news or ask a question, do not hesitate to approach us on any of the following media.

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Finally, I’d like to thank the wonderful people who made this event happen – some of them are in the picture below. Guys, it has been a pleasure working with you and I look forward to meeting you again in the future!

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– contributed by Sytze Van Stempvoort

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