Access to sufficient, nutritious, culturally appropriate food is a concern for groups across the globe. Current approaches to food security tend to focus on technological solutions to increase production. As such, much of the related research is targeted at reacting to current or near future circumstances. However, development of sustainable foodways cannot be organized around a reactive framework. Policies need to be informed by the underlying causes of food security. The foundations of food insecurity are diverse in nature, and include environmental, cultural, and political dimensions. An interdisciplinary approach that looks at long term social and climatic trajectories is well suited for investigations of food security. Understanding these complex systems in the past and current world is crucial in developing sustainable approaches to foodways.
This interdisciplinary symposium takes a Longue Durée perspective on food security to explore the long term social, environmental, and political trends that shape foodways in Eurasia. Currently, Eurasia is facing dramatic problems of food security: droughts on the Mongolian steppe, floods in South Asia, internment of populations in Western China. Eurasia is also a focus of significant global development projects for China, Russia, and the United States, exemplified in China’s efforts along the New Silk Road. This region is also an important producer of food for populations; Russia exports more wheat than any other country in the world. How do we understand the regional and global implications of these trends? And can we draw on lessons from the past to work toward a more sustainable system of foodways as we go forward in Eurasia and across the world?