The fourth edition of the biennial Perugia Food Conference took place June 7-10 at at the Umbra Institute in Perugia, Italy. The theme of the conference, organized by the Umbra Institute’s new Center for Food & Sustainability Studies, was “Exploring Ethics through Food Choices.”
Growing scientific and public interest in food has sparked ethical debates around issues such as the use of GMOs, the development of alternative agricultural systems, the local food movement, animal welfare, and food waste. The social dimensions of these debates have in turn attracted increased attention, especially fair trade relations, the reduction of social inequalities, and the exploitation of migrant agricultural labor. Food and ethics intersect at many different levels, from personal daily choices on where to shop and what to eat to cultural norms and regulations, policy implementations on national and international scales, and debates over scientific research on biotechnology.
Over sixty conference presenters addressed these relationships from a wide variety of perspectives. Among them were Lisa Heldke of Gustavus Adolphus College, Michael Herzfeld of Harvard University, and John Lang of Occidental College were the three keynote speakers. Mackenzie Nelsen and Jared Belsky, two spring 2018 Umbra students, also presented their research on sustainable wineries in Umbria. Professor Elisa Ascione, the coordinator of the Center’s Food & Sustainability Studies Program (FSSP) and the co-chair of the conference organizing committee, guided the students’ research.
“The conference brings together academics from all over the world as well as from the Umbra Institute and from the faculty-led programs here,” Prof. Ascione said. “It’s a place for interdisciplinary exchange that helps shape new research projects. The conference also gave FSSP alumni and research interns Mackenzie Nelsen and Jared Belsky the opportunity to present their research on sustainable wineries.”
Also on the organizing committee was the Umbra Institute’s academic director, Dr. Francesco Burzacca, who added, “The Institute organized the conference to contribute to the rapidly-expanding field of food studies. We’re proud of our Food Studies curricular concentration and to be part of the international network of scholars studying food.” He added that the Center plans to organize a fifth edition of the conference in June 2020.
See pictures from the conference on Facebook.