Table: Exploring evidence and values in global food system debates

Last changed: 18 February 2021
Table logo. Illustration.

In collaboration between the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the University of Oxford, and Wageningen University and Research, “Table” seeks to facilitate informed discussions about how the food system can become sustainable, resilient, just, and ultimately “good”.

Table will impartially set out the evidence, assumptions, and values that people bring to food system debates. Food systems – in their dynamic complexity and via their links to every aspect of our physical, political, cultural and moral lives – connect some of the most pressing and existential challenges of our time. These include substantial and rising food-related greenhouse gas emissions; biodiversity losses on land and sea; unsustainable water use and extraction; malnutrition in all its forms; and major power imbalances within the global food system and along the whole value chain. Though these challenges are well recognised, how to address them remains highly contested, which is where Table comes in.

Scientific knowledge is necessary for understanding the issues and complexities around healthy and sustainable food. But science alone cannot tell us how to act or what a good and ethical food system is. Making decisions about the food system involves value judgements about what is important and these depend on people’s preferences and visions for the future. Therefore, Table will engage with a wide range of national and international food systems stakeholders and perspectives in a transdisciplinary effort to bring out value-based reflections and to clarify the arguments, assumptions and evidence around issues of concern.

Three major themes in the food area are prioritised in the start-up phase: proteins, metrics and power under the general theme global – local.

Read more about the aim, working methods and partners of Table.

Table at SLU

By participating in this network, SLU will build and develop its competence regarding global food systems, contribute to SLU's competence in food issues becoming more visible nationally and internationally, and to produce syntheses and knowledge compilations. An additional goal is to increase students' insight into the complex challenges that exist in creating sustainable food systems, and to attract more national and international students to SLU.

Through engaging with Table’s online resources students and researchers at SLU will be able to build their food systems literacy. Opportunities will be created for students to engage with and learn from different food systems perspectives (e.g. civil society, policy makers, researchers from different disciplines). The SLU community will be able to mutually contribute with their own knowledge and competencies and have opportunities to network and collaborate with Table’s partner institutions.

The contact node for Table at SLU is the platform SLU Future Food.

Facts:

Collaborative partners: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), the University of Oxford, and Wageningen University and Research (WUR).

Table's website: www.tabledebates.org

Newsletter: Subscribe to the Table newsletter Fodder

Podcast: Feed, a food systems podcast

Contact at SLU:

Onset of collaboration: July 2020

Table is the successor to the Food Climate Research Network, based at the University of Oxford, which for 15 years conducted, synthesised, and communicated research on food sustainability.


Contact

Page editor: futurefood@slu.se