Building Communities of Care for Food Systems Change

Image Courtesy of FoodLab Sydney
Thursday 16 December 2021
4.00 - 5.00pm (AEDT)

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Online (Zoom)

SEI Postdoctoral Fellow on the FoodLab Sydney project, Kate Johnston, explores the potential of care to address our broken food systems and inform our approach to designing food systems of the future.

Care is not usually associated with our food system, which tends to be “reduced to neutral (or amoral) transactional relationships.” (Giraud 2021). Yet it is worth considering what our food system might look like if a care ethic was central. A care ethic promotes collaboration, peer support and generosity, creating an alternative to an individualistic and aggressive marketplace. It also recognises the social context of food.

Informed and inspired by the local Sydney food community and FoodLab Sydney – a program and collaborative research project which aims to address food insecurity by fostering ‘good food networks’, and empowering individual and community participation in the food ecosystem – as well as previous research and thinking about food and care, Kate will explore typologies of care (for one another, for the planet, for food) as well as the dynamics of the carer/cared relationship. She will take an optimistic, perhaps even utopian, view and consider how care might inform the ways in which we build our future food systems and manage food systems failures.


Kate Johnston is a transdisciplinary researcher and editor whose work in food systems change crosses academia, industry and the non-profit sector. Kate is the postdoctoral research fellow on the FoodLab Sydney ARC Linkage project at the Sydney Environment Institute (University of Sydney). She is also a co-founder and editor of Counter Magazine, a magazine that peels back the tough, taboo and beautiful topics of food.

Alana Mann (Chair) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Media and Communications and Project Lead on SEI’s FoodLab Sydney research projects. Her research focuses on the communicative dimensions of citizen engagement, participation, and collective action in food systems planning and governance. Alana’s new book, Food in a Changing Climate, challenges us to think beyond our plates to make our food systems more equitable and resilient.