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.
Maria Tumarkin is a writer and cultural historian. Her books include Traumascapes, Courage, and Otherland, which was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Award, NSW Premier’s Award and The Age Book of the Year. Her most recent book, Axiomatic, was published in 2018 by Brow Books.
Richard Cornish is an award-winning food writer who penned the much loved and irreverent Fairfax Media column Brain Food for more than seven years. He has co-authored the bestselling MoVida cookbooks with Frank Camorra, and Phillippa’s Home Baking with Phillippa Grogan. My Year Without Meat was published by MUP in 2016.
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 sixth 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.
Andrew Hewett is Executive Director of Oxfam Australia.