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Food Dialogues 2023: Food crisis makes us hungry for solutions

Published June 15, 2023, by Supplied

The burning issue of the current food crisis will be top of the agenda at the upcoming, annual Food Dialogues event that will be held at venues across Cape Town next month.

“We are going through crisis after crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic just ended, and before that, the drought, with non-stop loadshedding, and climate change affecting everything. ‘Crisis’ is the new normal, and it requires a major shift in thinking on how to address the challenges affecting our food system,” says Kurt Ackermann, CEO of the SA Urban Food & Farming Trust that organises the Food Dialogues event.

Food Dialogues this year will unpack what the polycrises mean for our food system, and share ideas on how to respond to them. Polycrisis is a term to describe multiple disparate crises which, together, have an overwhelmingly greater impact than the sum of the individual events.

Ackermann says that we cannot look for solutions that only ‘bounce back’ from shocks, or that help us navigate a short-term ‘state of emergency’ when polycrisis is our ongoing reality.

The polycrises theme will play out in diverse forms across this year’s week-long Food Dialogues programme, from 04 to 18 July 2023 from serious discussion to food walking tours, themed dining events, webinars and an art exhibition. 

To find out what the dishes would look like if the crises affecting our food system were a tasting menu, attend the Polycrises Pantry dining event that will be presented by food activist Zayaan Khan, at Makers Landing. She will take participating diners on a journey that will be delicious, challenging, terrifying and enlightening.

A full-day in-person conference on The Polycrises and our Food System takes place on 12 July. It will feature a range of speakers that include Mark Swilling, a member of the National Planning Commission, and also Stellenbosch University’s co-director at the Centre for Sustainability Transitions.

The speakers will explore the impact and interplay of major events such as COVID-19, the impact of loadshedding, the coming water crisis and the various impacts of the climate crisis on our food systems.

On 10 July 2023, a webinar entitled Views from African Urban Centres, will see five cities from across Africa sharing their contexts and experiences of the polycrises and their responses to them.

For those interested in art, the Food Dialogues 2023 Art Exhibition takes place from 4 to 18 July at galleries in Langa and the V&A Waterfront shopping centre.

Also on the menu

Aside from the more serious matters, Food Dialogues 2023 will also deliver a lighter note with its various culinary experiences for participants including the return of the popular dining experiences where city chefs lead small groups of diners through culinary experiences that dive into the stories of the ingredients and culture behind the recipes and the methodologies.

  • The first of five Cape Town CBD Food Systems Walking Tours kicks off on 5 July
  • On Thursday, 6 July, the Migration Polycrises will serve as the theme of a multi-country, multi-course meal with chef Jane Nshuti at Bertha House, in Mowbray
  • Chef Nolu Dube-Cele of Seven Colours Eatery will host The Business of Dinner at her eatery at Battery Park at the V&A Waterfront on 8 July, where the discussion will be on Building a Black Supply Chain.

This year will also see the addition of a series of community faith-based dining experiences that will take place at faith centres across the city. These dining experiences will explore the connections between our beliefs, our spiritual practices and food.

Teens talk nutrition

A chef will lead cooking workshops for teens, exploring bread- and cake-making and their political origins.

Another event of interest for teens is two workshops offered in conjunction with NGO partner, Black Girls Rising. The workshops will explore how teens grow their own food; the relationship between air quality, food and the well-being of teens; how planning impacts food choices; and how teens are directly engaging with politics. 

Some events are free to attend while others are paid but all participants must register at

Food Dialogues is hosted by the SA Urban Food & Farming Trust with co-host and sponsor SOLVE@Waterfront. Sponsored by ‘AfriFOODlinks | Funded by the European Union’, co-sponsored by the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security, event partners include the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership, African Centre for Cities, the Southern Africa Food Lab, The Oranjezicht City Farm Market, Bertha House, Philippi Village, City of Cape Town, Western Cape Government, and Derrick Integrated Communications.

Follow the programme and event announcements on social media with #FooddialogueSA and on the following channels:

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