13 Oct 2019

The true cost of a disordered food system: a panel discussion

From Otago University panel discussions, 4:06 pm on 13 October 2019

Kim Hill explores the true cost of abundant cheap, fatty and sugary food with Dr Sally Mackay, Dr Matire Harwood, Deborah Manning and Prof. Hugh Campbell.

No caption

Photo: Flickr / Joe 13

Edited highlights 

Kim Hill: 

We are awash with food. It's everywhere. And it's what we want. Fast food, sugary drinks, takeaway supermarket specials. The market is delivering, but it's not the right food and it's making us sick. We're looking at whether it's, in fact, a food system disorder. How did we get here, and how do we fix it? And whatever happened to self-control? Hugh. An obesogenic society – poor people used to be thin and now they are fat. What went wrong?

Hugh Campbell: 

The obesogenic environment is a very important idea for how we try to understand the entire system of problems that have created the crisis we know, both in terms of diet but also inappropriate and unsustainable forms of farming that supply the products to that diet.

Kim Hill:

So you're not just looking at New Zealand, you're looking at the supermarket shelves, and you're seeing stuff that's been imported that is chock full of corn syrup. Is that what you're saying?

Hugh Campbell: 

Absolutely.

Kim Hill:

And it's cheap.

Hugh Campbell: 

The key driver of food policy and food politics over the last 150 years, has been building society around an ever-cheapening supply of food and it's driven ecologically unsustainable outcomes on the land. And finally, we are ending up having to pay the piper in terms of what it’s done to compromise our diet.

Sally Mackay:

We certainly do live in an obesogenic environment. And that's at a lot of different levels. For example, food companies can market unhealthy food to children. We don't regulate that very well. We have very few policies in place. So we might have [some] water-only schools, but it's up to the school to make that decision.

Kim Hill:

You think it should be mandatory?

Sally Mackay:

I do.

Kim Hill:

So why do you think the schools are resistant?

Sally Mackay:

Sometimes they have other priorities. So it may just be that they haven't thought about it, that their communities are resistant to it, or they might not want to be seen as the food police.

Boy drinking bottle of water

Photo: Flickr / moyerphotos

Kim Hill:

Or it might be that they know that as the kids are going to go around the corner to buy from the shop anyway, it's safer to keep them on campus, as it were.

Sally Mackay:

Or they might be making profits in the school canteen from the sugary drinks.

Kim Hill:

But the point you seem to be making is that people don't know what's healthy food. Let me ask Matire, do they not know what's good for them and what isn't?

Matire Harwood:

I think people do know what's good for them and what's not. But I think you're right, the obesogenic environment is such that there's access to unhealthy foods. Down in South Auckland, you go to many of the sports games with children and what they get [as a prize] is a McDonald's voucher or for a restaurant where you get huge big plates of food.

Kim Hill: 

Well, that's right. We're incredibly hypocritical. A whole lot of New Zealand's going, “Oh, you know, we're too fat,” but simultaneously, we're constantly doing things like that. What do you think, Deborah?

Deborah Manning:

Well, in the space that I work in with food insecurity communities, it's not just about the cost of food. It's about cultural preferences and taste preferences. Also, it’s large families’ unemployment. It's more than just a single factor. Obese children are not getting the right sort of calories, the right nutrients, the fresh fruit and vegetables.

Kim Hill:

So what happened to self-control?

Deborah Manning:

Well, I don't think it's [a matter of] self-control. What I just was trying to get across is that they have to feed large families on small incomes. So they're choosing bulk staple foods that have the wrong type of calories, that don’t have all the nutrients. In the communities that we work in, it's not about self-control

Kim Hill:

So when we see overweight kids wandering around eating chips and drinking sugary drinks, do we think they don't know that it's bad for them? I mean, at some stage, there has to be personal responsibility.

Fried chicken being served up at a takeaway in Mangere Town Centre

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Matire Harwood:

I've got mums who are working two jobs, leaving home at seven and then picking up the kids and quickly wanting to give them a snack so that they're not run ragged, and then going off to a second job, and there's nothing to eat at home. They’re going to get the local takeaways, which in our neighbourhood is fried chicken and pizza and fish and chips.

Kim Hill:

And is that both cheaper in time and money? You've done costings on this, Sally. Is it cheaper to eat the fast food and the takeaways than to cook healthy food?

Sally Mackay:

I think people have the perception that it's cheaper.

Kim Hill:

Is it true, though?

Sally Mackay:

It’s not necessarily cheaper, and sometimes it's more expensive particularly if you're looking at those large fast-food chains. But fish and chips are the exception and that is often a go-to meal that is cheap and filling. I had a student who looked at the foods and pulled the batter off the fish finding that only half of the fish was actually fish. So you're buying a lot of cheap flour and oil there as well, getting a very low-quality meal even if it's cheap. And with no vegetables.

Kim Hill:

Cheap and filling. Deborah, presumably a lot of the food that you rescue is fruit and vegetables. Are you able to encourage people to cook with those?

KiwiHarvest warehouse

Photo: KiwiHarvest / Artur Francisco

Deborah Manning:

Food Rescue is about collecting surplus food that's good enough to eat, but not to sell, and diverting it away from use as landfill, compost or animal feed to feed humans instead. KiwiHarvest does that by delivering food to other social service agencies working in the community providing food support. And then they provide it to their clients and members of their community. But it's not just about giving people fresh food to eat. Kitchens that don't have gas or electric hobs aren't going to be able to cook some of the food that we pass on. Social service agencies can provide their wraparound services to their clients and make sure that they have all the things they need to maximize the benefit of the food.

Kim Hill: 

I don't think that it occurs to too many people that some people don't literally have the wherewithal to cook proper food. Can you talk about that?

Deborah Manning: 

"I've got a kitchen in my home, but I don't know how to use it. And I know that it's not functioning. I've got these bare cupboards, you know, what do I fill them with? And what are the foods that I need, to be able to cook healthy kai in amounts that are going to feed the entire whanau?” are some of the questions. It's not just "here are some vegetables," but actually, "are you able to take that and make it into a healthy meal?"

Kim Hill: 

It seems perverse, doesn't it, that we don't understand how so many people living in this country do not have the wherewithal to make meals that we take for granted.

Hugh Campbell: 

Yes, I think there's a second dimension to it, which is very closely associated. And that's being able to grow your own food. In a lot of communities around the world which are food insecure, one of the key determinants is not only 'do you have the means to cook?' but 'do you have the means to produce?' In New Zealand, we've traditionally felt that people from all across the socio-economic strata have access to a home garden or the like. And that's increasingly no longer the case. And so you lose the skills of managing a home garden. The lack of access to space is intimately bound up into our housing crisis

Kim Hill: 

Because we don’t have the gardens anymore. And also we have a less stable population in the city who are renting short term.

Kim Hill: 

What do you think, Sally, that the government could do to improve the order of the food system? Is a sugar tax, for example, a tiny improvement or a major one?

Sally Mackay: 

You can't just say a sugar tax on its own is going to be the way. Yes, it's been shown in other countries that a sugar tax reduces consumption. And subsidies for fruit and vegetables in tandem with the tax could help. But if people don't have a stable home to go to and they're working two jobs, they don't have time to do the shopping and the planning for healthy meals, then -

Kim Hill: 

It just looks punitive without being helpful. Is that what you mean?

Sally Mackay: 

Yes.

Deborah Manning: 

I agree. From the food rescue point of view, how do we incentivise businesses to not throw away perfectly good food. Or growers, when they've met their contract requirements, to not plough that product or vegetable back into the ground. Instead, to do the right thing and give it away? To feed people that need it the most? The people that aren't buying it in the supermarkets.

And I think it the government could consider tax incentives. At the moment, if you make a donation to a charity over $5, you'll get a tax receipt for that, and you'll get a third of it back. Well, it's only if you give a cash donation. So why can't we make it that if you give an in-kind product, you can receive the same benefit?

That would incentivise them more than the French legislation which has banned supermarkets from disposing of food and instead compelled them to donate it to organisations to feed people. But all that does is create a whole lot of problems for those organisations that they're passing the food onto because it becomes a great big dump without any thought or consideration given to the type and quality of food passed on.

A street full of fast food signs

Photo: PHOTO NZ

Kim Hill: 

Matire, what do you think about a severe limit on fast-food outlets in some areas? All areas? Do you think that's feasible or advisable?

Matire Harwood: 

I would like to see less fast food in some areas in Auckland. In Lincoln Rd, every five or ten metres there is a fast food outlet. And certainly at Papakura marae, if I want to go and get lunch, I can walk five minutes to a group of shops which are selling fish and chips, fried chicken and fatty foods. Or I can hop in a car which I have and in 20 minutes be at the supermarket.

Most of our community which lives there don't have cars and there are no buses. Sometimes I've even been at the supermarket and I have people come to my car and ask "Can I get a ride home?" These are strangers who are there with their little babies trying to live well and do the supermarket shopping for their whanau and asking a complete stranger "Can I get a ride 20 minutes back to my own home?"  So I would love to see a reduction in fast food retail.

Kim Hill: 

And have replaced by something else?

Matire Harwood: 

Yes, something like a co-op with fruit and veges. It would be fantastic. We've got a Griffin's food factory and leftover biscuits that don't get sold get dumped on us at the marae. You see the kids walking up the road with the big box of biscuits and that's not a good look.

KiwiHarvest volunteers

KiwiHarvest volunteers Photo: KiwiHarvest / Wesley Lapointe

Kim Hill: 

There's something wrong with the system in which food is so cheap, as Hugh was explaining, that so much of it gets wasted, as Deborah's work in KiwiHarvest illustrates. How can we make good food more available, bad food less available, and have less food wasted? Otherwise, we're just picking at the edges of the system that's broken, aren't we?

Hugh Campbell: 

That’s the necessary next step past the willpower question. The general conundrum with strategic pricing of foods or policy interventions is to make bad foods more expensive. And then how do you make good foods cheaper? If you look around the world, there were various attempts in Europe, but those policy frameworks are in countries where it is okay to subsidise agriculture.

Kim Hill: 

Which European country do you think we should aspire to be?

Hugh Campbell: 

In Italy, Slow Food is a wider social movement of people collectively trying to embrace heritage varieties of foods, but also linking small producers and consumers more closely, and then celebrating the social experience of eating. As a sociologist, I like that example. And I think, Germany, and across the Scandinavian countries, there's a more kind of integrated social critic approach to these things, but food costs a lot more.

Christmas in the New Zealand backblocks: A bachelor's dinner in course of preparation.

Christmas in the New Zealand backblocks: A bachelor's dinner in course of preparation. Photo: Auckland Libraries

Kim Hill: 

And they earn more to pay for it?

Hugh Campbell: 

They certainly do.

Kim Hill: 

Do you think we've got a problem with binge eating? That our settlers brought with them this idea that if they've got plenty they should eat and drink it all at the same time. Anybody got any views on this?

Hugh Campbell:

European settlement locked in patterns that have both prospered and plagued us ever since. And part of that change was that food came to be seen as a commodity, as a privately owned good that you produced for sale. Previously, land and food had been owned by the community.

Matire Harwood: 

They did bring things like pork bones and puha, and doughboys that have been taken up by the indigenous people.

I remember stories being told to me by kaumatua of people working in forestry, being paid monthly, and they would buy their sack of flour, their sack of sugar and their sack of butter, and they would live on that. And they would be starving for a week before they got their next monthly pay. And so some food behaviour was learnt that's now become embedded.

Kim Hill: 

And now they're embedded even further by the way the market operates. It seems that we can't make the change on our own because we live in an obesogenic society. So how can we possibly find a way out of it?

Deborah Manning: 

I think the government has a responsibility to educate children while they're at school, to put money into school programmes like Garden To Table that actually want to teach children the benefits of eating healthily. Not just by growing, but by then processing, cooking and eating that food.

Hugh Campbell:

We are a very unusual country internationally, in that we are the most food export-oriented country in the world, exporting over 90% of what we produce. And so in a sense, there are two food worlds in New Zealand. There's everything we send away. And then there's everything that's happening here. Food and agriculture policy is generally about how to produce more and send it somewhere else as lucratively as possible. Turning around to ask how you build up local food supplies, foodsheds, as some people call them, drops into a policy space that doesn't yet exist in New Zealand.

KiwiHarvest logo

Photo: KiwiHarvest

Kim Hill:

Deborah, when you operate in areas like Auckland where do you get your food that you need to rescue from? And where does it go?

Deborah Manning:

We get it from every part of the food value chain, which starts at the growing level, and it finishes in the consumer's home. And all the way along that chain, food is lost or wasted. We collect it from [suppliers] or they deliver it to us and then we distribute it back out to social service agencies in the community and across New Zealand. We provide food support for people in need in the community: food banks large and small, refuges, night shelters, missions, down to kindergartens and other small community groups. Our only requirement is that they receive the food, take care of it to maintain its integrity and safety, and use it to feed people in need in their community, at no cost.

Kim Hill:

Is there a way that the surplus fruit and vegetables, for example, could be sold more cheaply to people? Why is it either pristine and to the market? Or not pristine and chucked unless you turn up?

Deborah Manning:

The Countdown supermarket stores tried running what's called the ugly bunch initiative about a year ago, where they celebrated ugly-looking fruit and vegetables, the ones that had the funny little bumps and blemishes on them that actually made them more endearing. You don't see it so much now in supermarkets.

Sally Mackay:

You think that might have been a little phase?

Deborah Manning:

I think probably it was. They put a lot of money into the marketing and the celebration of that, and they had specific bins that were the odd bunch bins. But now you don't see it in all of the stores.

Kim Hill:

Well, unless it's carrying on, it was a flash in the PR pan.

Sally Mackay:

There are certainly some stores that do have it. But not every store has.

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Photo: Mauro Matacchione

Kim Hill: 

I was going to ask you Sally about Countdown's initiative not to allow under 16-year-olds to buy energy drinks. Now, does that kind of small change – albeit be it to a large supermarket chain – make a difference?

Sally Mackay: 

I think it makes a statement, but they can just go to the dairy down the road instead. So either other retailers need to follow suit, or the government needs to regulate this. And I think in the UK that they do ban sales of energy drinks to children under 16. So it's possible to do it.

Kim Hill: 

I mean, the government hasn't even regulated vaping. How can we possibly expect it to regulate food? It seems beyond imagination, doesn't it? So is it that we've laid ourselves so open to the market that we can't even imagine subsidising food?

Organic fruit

Organic fruit Photo: supllied

Hugh Campbell: 

I have this hunch that we're rolling about two to three decades behind Europe because many of these problems were faced there. In the Danish health scare in 1981, they discovered toxic agrichemicals in the Copenhagen water supply. And that caused a massive public outcry.

Kim Hill: 

Did that change the way they farmed?

Hugh Campbell:

Yes. Denmark became the country that most vehemently supported a conversion to organic agriculture and then that transitioned into various other things. And it seems that in terms –

Kim Hill: 

It doesn't necessarily mean healthy food.

Hugh Campbell: 

Not, not necessarily. You can bring on a heart attack by eating the wrong organic foods just as effectively as any other foods. But it did help with the problem of pesticides in the groundwater. Europe seems to have been rolling out these frameworks in which public health and diet and farming have been much more carefully linked together there.

But they've done that because there is a general social and political acceptance of subsidisation. And they're not subsidies for prices, but for environmental and food quality outcomes. And it seems that because New Zealand exists in a world dominated by agricultural production for distant markets, that eventually you've got to work out who pays for these better qualities.

The people in Sainsbury's are probably not going to. So, in the end, the government has to act.

Kim Hill:

Or price the food according to the real cost of it.

Hugh Campbell:

Yes, that's right.

Kim Hill:

Which would mean we wouldn't sell any.

Hugh Campbell:

Oh, no, I disagree. If I speak first about the export industries, producing food that's more expensive is what we want to do. As an agricultural-producing country, we want more expensive food to be sold.

Kim Hill:

We don't want to price ourselves off the market.

Kiwifruit Te Puke

Kiwifruit Te Puke Photo: RNZ/ Tim Collins

Hugh Campbell:

The model I would push is the one that's been spearheaded by the Kiwifruit industry, New Zealand produces 30% of the world's kiwifruit, but earns 60% of the revenue generated. The reason why our fruit is worth twice as much as anyone else in the market is because Zespri put a huge investment into environmental process management, food safety and quality, and then branded it accordingly.

Kim Hill:

Good luck with that when it comes to meat and dairy products. I mean, we're talking about diet, we're talking about sustainability. We're talking about health. It's the whole works.

Hugh Campbell: 

For the dairy industry, the industry that dare not speak its name, I think Rod Oram's been putting together a really credible and accessible analysis of pathways forward, particularly in light of the artificial proteins revolution that's coming towards us. The dairy industrial model is not going to survive that revolution. But a high value, better-branded, more environmentally-friendly dairy product, which we absolutely can produce in New Zealand, will survive.

Kim Hill:

Are you suggesting that if we could get our food production in New Zealand, more aligned to us, as opposed to overseas markets, it would become more varied, less environmentally unsustainable, and healthier?

Hugh Campbell:

I much prefer you giving my answers for me than being devil's advocate. That's exactly right.

Kim Hill:

Is it?

Hugh Campbell:

Yes.

Kim Hill:

By some kind of mysterious symbiotic process of feeling better about what we're growing and eating?

Hugh Campbell:

Well, I think that there are some obvious alignments between diet and sustainability, that will come as a result of more diverse production. The crazy experiments in wine production in New Zealand in the 1970s [created an industry which] became a titan in the 1980s. They were selling locally. They were harvesting all sorts of local knowledge, particularly from European migrants coming to New Zealand.

Kim Hill:

Are you disapproving of that as well?

Hugh Campbell:

No, no, I'm not. I'm a big fan.

Kim Hill:

So industrial wine and grape production doesn't have the same impact as industrial dairy production?

Hugh Campbell:

No, it does.

Kim Hill:

You just happen to like drinking wine more?

Hugh Campbell:

There are people advocating for how they want sustainable wine to be done. But you're right. You can't take certain industries out of landscapes, and then replace them with [other] industrial alternatives, which is a debate that's playing out about forestry taking over the East Coast at the moment.

Kim Hill:

We've all said in various ways that the choice of the consumer has become limited, whether it be by poverty, lack of education, or the sheer power of the market to manipulate people's tastes. But Sally, you've put some thought into labelling food and its contents. Given what we've been saying, and given what we know about human nature, what advantage would that give us?

Sally Mackay:

Having the health star rating upfront? At the moment, it's voluntary, and about 20% of supermarket products have the health star rating on them.

Kim Hill:

So only the healthy ones display it?

Sally Mackay:

If every food displayed the health star rating, then people would be able to decide for themselves.

Kim Hill:

It's easily fiddled with though, isn't it?

Sally Mackay:

It's under review at the moment. And if those changes go through then I think it will be a more robust system.

Kellogg's Nutri-Grain

Kellogg's Nutri-Grain cereal Photo: Kelloggs.co.nz

Kim Hill:

When the Health Minister David Clark was in opposition, he said that the labelling system could be rigged by manufacturers. And he's currently in talks with the food industry Task Force trying to reformulate processed foods. So they might be going away from the labelling system towards reformulation.

Sally Mackay:

Well, they go hand in hand, because some companies do reformulate to display a higher health star rating. The classic example is Nutri-Grain, having four and a half stars, but still being very high in sugar, because they put more fibre in. But if the recommendations in the review take place, then sugar will be more penalised, so Nutri-Grain won't display such a high rating,

Kim Hill:

Is there any evidence that the star rating and the labelling of ingredients makes any difference to people's purchasing?

Sally Mackay:

With health star rating, you don't need to interpret it: all you need to know is that the more stars the better. So there is some evidence that it does help. But it's only one of the many solutions. But I think that consumers actually have a right to know how healthy their food is. It's a human rights issue that our foods are labelled well. And another side of that is the added sugar labelling, which is under consultation at the moment as well.

Kim Hill:

Your New Zealand State of the Food Supply study found that most packaged food in the supermarket is unhealthy, right?

Sally Mackay:

Yes. There are different ways of classifying unhealthy, of course, and so one of the things we looked at was how processed it was, and found that 70% of it is what we call ultra-processed. So it's a long way from what it originally looked like. It's generally got various additives and usually added fat or salt or sugar. So a lot of the packaged food, yes, is unhealthy.

Logos of health stars for different products

Photo: Health Promotion Agency

Sally Mackay:

And so by making a rating system, which means that some unhealthy food is going to get quite a lot of ticks, you're kind of misleading the public into thinking that they're buying healthier food, when in fact, it's still unhealthy. We've [also] got no nationwide targets for reformulating food like in the UK. Having some targets for sodium particularly would really help.

Kim Hill: 

What else?

Sally Mackay:

Added sugar. And portion size, though that's not as easy to do. So sodium and sugar would be the main two things.

Kim Hill:

And then they wouldn't taste so nice and then people wouldn't buy them. That's what happens. Right?

Sally Mackay

You have to reduce it very slowly. So that people get accustomed to the change in taste.

Kim Hill:

Deborah, you must rescue food that is not healthy, per se.

Deborah Manning:

Certainly. We get offered highly sugared drinks that we turn down. And we prioritise healthy food. We prioritise fresh food. A problem with perishable food rescue is that you have to maintain the integrity of the food. It's not just [a matter of] picking up the food and delivering it somewhere else. It's about having that food, that is considered to be a waste product in the retail chain, kept in its prime condition and safe until it has been passed on to a food rescue organisation. From there it is then transported in refrigerated vehicles and then passed on again or stored in the same conditions to keep it safe. So it's not as easy as it sounds.

Kim Hill:

There are organisations that collect up fruit that's past its best. And they cook it up and make it into jam. But that's no good, so much sugar in it, right? We don't want jam, do we?

Deborah Manning:

There are organisations that do that. But it's not what we want. What we want is to be able to access that food before it becomes so poor in quality that it can't be eaten, and get it to the people out there in the first place.

Diabetics must monitor their blood sugar levels frequently.

Diabetics must monitor their blood sugar levels frequently. Photo: AFP

Kim Hill:

Is there one thing that you think would improve the situation? In terms of the food system ameliorating our dreadful situation of diabetes?

Matire Harwood:

No, it’s not one thing.

Kim Hill:

That’s the trouble.

Matire Harwood:

Where are we going to get the biggest bang for our buck? At the political level, [yes, but it also] needs to be communities driving some of that change. How can we support individual choice?

Kim Hill:

Do we have to?

Matire Harwood:

I think we have to support that. I think we've come to a crisis. And that’s the whole point of our coming here to hear potential solutions.

Deborah Manning, Dr Matire Harwood, Prof. Hugh Campbell, Dr Sally Mackay, Kim Hll.

Deborah Manning, Dr Matire Harwood, Prof. Hugh Campbell, Dr Sally Mackay, Kim Hll. Photo: Otago University Wellington / Edgar DiaPan

More about the speakers

Dr Matire Harwood

Matire Harwood (MBChB, PhD), Ngāpuhi, is a hauora Māori academic at the University of Auckland and a GP at the Papakura Marae Health Clinic. Matire sits on a number of boards and advisory committees including the Waitemata DHB, the New Zealand Expert Advisory Group for Health Research and Performance Based Research Funding assessing panel for Health. In 2017 she was awarded the L’Oréal UNESCO New Zealand ‘For Women In Science Fellowship’ for her work in indigenous health.

Ms Deborah Manning

Deborah Manning is a lawyer, social entrepreneur and the Founder of KiwiHarvest, a New Zealand national food rescue organisation. Deborah brought the food rescue concept to life in Dunedin in 2012 and then expanded into Auckland, North Shore, Hawke’s Bay and Queenstown. The idea grew out of Deborah’s concern about the amount of food waste that was being discarded while, at the same time, disadvantaged and vulnerable members in the community were going hungry. KiwiHarvest’s mission is simple – to source excess nutritious food and distribute it to community organisations that feed those in need, and to protect the environment by stopping surplus food from being discarded and the valuable resources used to create it from being wasted.

Dr Sally Mackay

Sally Mackay is a registered nutritionist who recently completed a PhD at the University of Auckland on the INFORMAS (International Network for Food and Obesity/non-communicable diseases, Research, Monitoring and Action Support) methodology of monitoring food prices over time. She is working as a research fellow monitoring the healthiness of the packaged food supply and is interested in reformulation of packaged foods, food affordability, monitoring food companies commitments to health and monitoring the wider food environment. She worked with the New Zealand INFORMAS team on assessing Government’s level of implementation of policies for improving food environments, and co-authored a report of a comprehensive assessment of food environments. Her previous work as a public health nutritionist for a wide range of organisations included working for the Ministry of Health for the 2008/09 Adult Nutrition Survey.

Professor Hugh Campbell

Hugh Campbell is the Chair of Sociology at the University of Otago. His specialist research interests relate to emerging challenges in the relationships between food, agriculture and environment in Aotearoa/New Zealand. From 2000 to 2010 he was the Director of the Centre for the Study of Agriculture, Food and Environment (now the Centre for Sustainability) at the University of Otago and led a series of research programmes into the mainstreaming of sustainability practices by farmers and food export sectors. He is currently completing a book on the political agency of farms during the colonisation of Aotearoa/New Zealand and how this influences our future options for sustainable land-use.

This session was recorded by RNZ in association with Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research at Otago University

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Photo: 123rf