Are we what we eat?
Saturday 1 November, 1.30pm until 3.00pm, Lecture Theatre 2

‘Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are,’ said the nineteenth-century epicure Brillat-Savarin. The famous axiom seems to have achieved the status of common sense today, with the food we eat thought to be of vital importance in terms of health, culture and even ethics. Does food really define who and what we are? And if so, what does it say about us?

Historically, food was about sustenance and survival; for too much of the world in the twenty-first century, it still is. But as societies develop beyond immediate need, food can be about pleasure and enjoyment as well as daily sustenance. What we eat can be a pleasurable part of our lives, as well as an exploration of cultures and experiences from around the world. But the pleasure we derive from food might ultimately be destroyed by our modern obsessions. Food has become a vehicle for anxious discussions about health, the environment and trade. Will ‘nutritionism’, anxieties about where food comes from, along with fear of, and confusion about food, ultimately spoil the stuff of life?

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Amanda Ursell
qualified nutritionist; award-winning journalist; weekly columns in The Times Body & Soul and the Sun
Guo Yue
Chinese bamboo flutes soloist and composer (including work on the sound tracks of The Killing Fields and The Last Emperor); specialist in authentic Chinese cooking; author of Music, Food and Love, the first childhood memoir to have come out of Beijing's hutongs.
Jeremy Shepherd
operations manager, BBC Club, bars and bistros; worked in catering since 18, in everything from pubs to restaurants including Smollensky's and Belgo.
Simon Clark
director, smokers’ rights group, Forest; Action on Consumer Choice.
Justine Brian
director, Debating Matters Competition

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