Around the Table is a podcast from Stanley Ulijaszek, Professor of Human Ecology at the University of Oxford and Director of UBVO, and Dr. Tess Bird, an anthropologist of household uncertainty and wellbeing. We interview nutrition, food, and health experts as well as everyday households from around the world, filling in some of the gaps between scientific knowledge and everyday practice.
Food Politics Expert Marion Nestle on Industry Influence on Food Research
27:27In this episode, Stanley interviews Professor Marion Nestle about her two latest books, Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat (2018) and Let’s Ask Marion: What You Need to Know about the Politics of Food, Nutrition, and Health (with Kerry Trueman) (2020). Prof. Nestle describes the various ways that food industries influence research, pay for their own experts, and avoid regulation, often following the infamous tobacco industry playbook. If you want to learn more, check out Prof. Nestle's regular blog (which we love) at https://www.foodpolitics.com/ and find her on Twitter @marionnestle. Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor, of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Emerita, at New York University, which she chaired from 1988-2003 and from which she officially retired in September 2017. She is also Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology and an M.P.H. in public health nutrition from the University of California, Berkeley, and has been awarded honorary degrees from Transylvania University in Kentucky (2012) and from the City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College (2016).
Health Scientist Dr. Madeleine Power discusses Food Insecurity and Food Justice in the UK
13:01Dr. Madeleine Power is an expert in UK food aid and food insecurity, in particular its relationship with wider economic and ethnic inequalities. In this interview with Stanley, she discusses her research into food insecurity amongst Pakistani, Muslim, and white British groups in Bradford, UK. Dr. Power describes the variations of food insecurity amongst these groups (it's more complicated than you might think, and different than in the US!) she then talks about the York Food Justice Alliance, which was started as a network to ally local organizations concerned about hunger in York and the Independent Food Aid Network is a national UK network that represents independent food banks around the UK. Dr. Power is Wellcome Fellow in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York, where she works on poverty and inequalities in access to food. She is Co-Chair of the Independent Food Aid Network, a representative body of independent food aid providers, and founder and former Chair of the York Food Justice Alliance, a cross-sector partnership addressing food insecurity at the local level. She is a regular commentator on food inequalities and food aid on local and national media. She has published widely on poverty and food, inequalities in food access according to ethnicity and gender, and food aid, including food banks.
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At Home with Tess: Ashley Chard Dinella, a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner, talks about intuitive, healthy eating
17:05In this episode, Tess interviews Ashley Chard Dinella, a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and food marketing specialist. Ashley tells a story about not being able to diagnosis an illness as a child and finally turning to a nutrition expert who located the culprits. The subsequent twenty years of knowledge acquisition and experimentation eventually led her to intuitive, healthy eating as an overarching principle of her lifestyle. She also has a few tidbits of real-world advice for our listeners. Ashley runs Zoetic Wellness Consulting, which designs corporate and personal wellness solutions.
Health Scientist Anna Bach-Faig and Everything You Need To Know About the Mediterranean Diet
23:39The Mediterranean diet has risen in popularity around the world. In this informative and inspiring episode, Stanley talks to Dr. Anna Bach-Faig, a leading scholar on the Mediterranean diet in Spain. As Prof. Bach-Faig explains, this diet is considered one of the healthiest diets out there, with strong evidence showing its role in preventing “cardiodiabesity,” or cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and type II diabetes. It’s also a unique diet because it tackles two key aspects of food: what-we-eat as well as the how-we-eat. She explains how the pleasure of preparing and sharing meals with significant people is associated with health promoting effects, such as contributing to less over-eating. The diet also is linked to brain function and the cognitive decline associated with aging. To top it all off, the Mediterranean diet is a very sustainable diet, with a significantly lower environmental impact than the standard Western diet. Dr. Bach-Faig is Professor at the Health Sciences Faculty at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). She is a former Mediterranean Diet Foundation research group director for the Institute for Catalan Studies' Catalan Nutrition Centre (CCNIEC) and currently forms part of FoodLab, the UOC's food, nutrition, society and health interdisciplinary research group. You can follow Prof. Bach-Faig on Twitter at @Bach_Faig.
Anthropologist Amy McLennan on Redefining Lifestyle Diseases on the Pacific Island of Nauru
18:26In this fascinating episode about Nauru, an island country in the central Pacific, anthropologist Dr. Amy McLennan discusses what it means to redefine the medical notion of "lifestyle" in a locally-contextualized way. In her own words: “In the world of medicine, lifestyle is often distilled into what you eat, what exercise you do, whether you sleep or not, if you smoke, and if you drink alcohol. [But] when you work with people on the ground in communities, “lifestyle” means something very different. It means who you’re related to and who you spend time with, what you like to do, where you learn, the habits you have, and the habits and social practices you have in your community. It’s the political leadership, it’s the economy, it’s the geography and the place that you live, and it’s your history. And all of these things really matter…” Listen to learn more about Nauru, its people, and their food. Dr. McLennan is a Research Fellow at the Australian National University's 3A Institute (3Ai), where she works at the intersections of technology, society and wellbeing. You can also listen to Dr. McLennan talk about the meat industry during the Covid-19 global lock down in our first series, Lock Down Food.
Nutritional Epidemiologist Esther González-Padilla on Sugar and Micronutrient Dilution
22:46Dr. Esther González-Padilla is a nutritional epidemiologist at Lund University in Sweden. In this interview with Stanley, she talks about sugar and micronutrient dilution, i.e. "the displacement of the intake of nutrient-dense foods by the overconsumption of energy-dense foods (rich in fat and sugar and poor in nutrients)" (learn more). She also explains why nutrition research can be so complex, especially when studies rely on participants self-reporting their diets. This is Dr. González-Padilla's second podcast with us. You can listen to the first one here.
At Home with Tess: New Nordic Cuisine in Everyday Life
21:43Anne Katrine Kleberg Hansen, a medical historian and food-lover in Copenhagen, Denmark, talks to Tess about how the New Nordic food movement has changed how she eats in her everyday life, how those around her eat, and how it has impacted her neighborhood. This episode is paired with one from Anders Kristian Munk, another Dane who has written about the New Nordic movement.
Anders Kristian Munk on New Nordic Cuisine
13:49Anders Kristian Munk is an ethnologist and computational social scientist interested in cultural phenomena in Europe. He uses computational methods to study patterns in large amounts of data. In this interview with Stanley, Munk discusses one cultural phenomenon that he has been following for over 15 years: the New Nordic food movement. The New Nordic food movement was made famous by the restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, which focuses on fresh, local, seasonal foods and traditional cuisine re-made in new ways. The movement has since spread around the world. Munk talks about how New Nordic food compares to other local diets, such as the Mediterranean Diet, and speaks to the potential for food innovation present in Scandinavia. This recording is truly embedded in the local: you can hear the birds chirping throughout. Stay tuned for a follow-up "Household Dynamics" podcast hosted by Tess about eating and experiencing New Nordic cuisine!
Sociologist Claude Fischler on Food Studies and Commensality
27:17Stanley interviews Claude Fischler, a French social scientist, Senior Investigator Emeritus with CNRS, the French National Science Center, and a former director of the Interdisciplinary Institute for Contemporary Anthropology in Paris. In this episode, he talks about the importance of food to humans, beginning with why he decided to pursue the study of food. He defines commensality, explaining where this word comes from and how it manifests today. He also discusses the contemporary eating habits of the French and how they compare to other countries.