I remember the moment really well when I first got very excited about geography and food. It was in school during a geography lesson. We were put in groups to analyze the agricultural products of African countries. It was fascinating to me to hear about plants and food products I never heard of before. Like cassava, sorghum and several different kind of roots. Couldn’t remember my mum cooking any of these ever. But it seemed like those plants were few of the most important edible plants in Africa.
I wish I would still have this book from school back then and take a look again. I am sure the graphics would look a bit different now after almost 20 years. Geographies and food systems are in a constant change and currently, unfortunately, not really to the better.
But it was this lesson school, among a few other exciting ones about human made landscape changes, which made me study geography in university. I focused on human geography and analyzed the natural resources in southern Africa, the water resources in Namibia in particular. I was able to visit the country during my studies and work with the local university. I really enjoyed these deep dives into geographical systems in a cultural context. Seeing how humans shape and change the environment and vice versa. Then coming up with solutions to create more equitable and sustainable systems is really fascinating.
But food systems were not an issue in our curriculum, which looking back is a pity of course! Only about a year after finishing uni I had an eye-opening moment. I spent 4 weeks in a forest community in southern India. This community lived fully plant-based and hosted talks and movie screenings about the impacts of our diets. I realized how broken our current food system is, especially related to animal agriculture. But on the same time how big the levers are to improve things not only on the side of animal ethics but also environmentally and socially. Since I was always interested in creating the most impact, I had finally had something to work with.
And now, here I am bringing the fields together which are very close to my heart – Geography and Food Systems. I hope we at Geofoods can make a little difference and pave the way to a sustainable and equitable food system. I hope we can start many collaborations and joint projects. I hope we can craft many effective solutions.
I am sure we can solve this together!