My brother Tom is nearly finished a Captain Planet degree — that is, a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Sustainability. As part of the degree, he’s pulling together what’s called a Sustainable Marketing Project, with a particular focus on a post- or low-carbon future. Because he’s just as much of a food nut (pun intended) as I am, he’ll be looking specifically at food.
It’s interesting, I think, that the two of us have both come to be writing and thinking about food, and that we’ve come at it from such different educational backgrounds (at least on a tertiary level). A large part of Tom’s degree has been necessarily science-based; I, however, have not studied any science since the hopefully-named ‘Physics is Fun’ semester I did at the end of year ten. My background is in arts and communications.
And I guess that’s why I’m particularly interested in this project. I think it’s safe to say that I’m obsessed with food; eating it, yes, but also thinking about where it comes from and how it gets to be on my plate. These questions are sometimes questions about process, and they’re sometimes questions about ethics. Tom’s project is attempting to cover both: how carbon is embedded in our food, and how to calculate that, but also why knowing that is important or relevant. This project is about information, but it’s also about telling a story.
The marketing element to this project, I think, is what makes it so interesting. Information about this thing we call ‘sustainability’ (what does that word even mean anymore?) is so often tinged with negativity, or completely overwhelming because of its sheer volume. It’s something I certainly struggle with in my non-fiction writing on food. The story-telling element is so important to get right, or you lose your reader (or viewer or listener) after about half a second.
Have a look at Tom’s first few posts on this project here. He’s just getting started, and I’m sure he’d really appreciate some feedback. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with.