From lethal baby formula to tainted peanut butter, from biofuel bonanzas to food riots, from lean and local organics to fat-loaded meals for children, food is now routinely in the news. Researchers are speaking in terms of dramatic change and possible crises on topics of how food is grown, distributed and consumed. To help journalists explain the facts to readers, the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships is offering a week-long course on some of the most important food-related issues.
Humans produce food in record abundance, and food in most places is more affordable than at any time in human history. But our progress has brought us unexpected trouble. Obesity and malnutrition now exist side by side. Farming has become an oil-intensive business and a significant contributor to the problems of climate change; the food system now uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy. And, at the same time, food has become a vehicle for disease—the number of outbreaks of foodborne disease is rising, and food is moving across borders at record rates.
The Boot Camp will teach the basics of the issues and address the underlying science and the overlying social, economic and political factors. This will be an intensive course—all day, every day for a week—devoted primarily to discussions and lectures.
Some of the most knowledgeable researchers and leaders from universities, government and industry will teach in the workshop. We’ll also talk about the journalistic issues—how, in light of industry trends to make stories shorter and shallower, journalists can successfully cover the complexities of food and science.