The Fifth Estate: Food for Thought

The Fifth Estate: Food for Thought

When President Obama was welcomed for his ‘night of friendship’ dinner with Prime Minister Gillard in Canberra last year, he feasted on ‘a macadamia and thyme encrusted lamb canon with avocado cream quenelle’ and wattleseed pavlova. Yet on our doorstep in nearby Indonesia – far from the horn of Africa or Bangladesh – one in three children under the age of five suffer from malnutrition.

For most of human history food was a source of strength and nourishment: people were concerned with the supply and cost of food, not the colour of their salt. Food trends, food critics and celebrity chefs didn’t exist. In Australia, the change in food culture has been remarkably fast and dramatic. The way we produce, purchase and eat our food has shifted from sustenance to fetish.

How did this happen? And has it gone too far? Or can our obsession with food somehow serve to improve rather than ignore the malnutrition experienced by so many on our planet? Join Sally Warhaft and writer Maria Tumarkin, food writer Richard Cornish and Oxfam Executive Director Andrew Hewett.


Portrait of Maria Tumarkin

Maria Tumarkin

Maria Tumarkin is an author and cultural historian. Her essay, ‘Sublime and Profane: Our Contemporary Obsession With Food’ was published in Kill Your Darlings in 2012.

Portrait of Richard Cornish

Richard Cornish

Richard Cornish is an award winning writer whose love of the land lead him to explore the issues around food, where it comes from, how it gets to us and why it tastes so good.

Portrait of Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer and the host of the Wheeler Centre’s live journalism series, The Fifth Estate, now in its fourth year. She is a former editor of The Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.

Portrait of Andrew Hewett

Andrew Hewett

Andrew Hewett is Executive Director of Oxfam Australia.

Listen to The Fifth Estate: Food for Thought