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 writes books, essays, reviews, and pieces for performance and radio; she collaborates with sound and visual artists and has had her work carved into dockside tiles. She is the author of four books of ideas. Her fourth (and latest) book Axiomatic won the 2018 Melbourne Prize for Literature and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award (US), the Stella Prize, and the Prime Minister’s, NSW and Victorian Premiers’ Awards. Axiomatic was named a New Yorker Top 10 Book of 2019.
Maria is a recipient of the 2020 Windham Campbell Prize in the category of nonfiction. She holds a PhD in cultural history and is a senior lecturer in the creative writing program at the University of Melbourne.
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. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians' lives in the fog of the Covid-19 pandemic. 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.
Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a PhD in anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.
Andrew Hewett is Executive Director of Oxfam Australia.