Bowl of tomatoes held in hands of gardeners


Our research

Foodways research is the critical analysis of what, how, and why we eat. We strive to understand the intersection of food, environment and society, from local through to global perspectives, through aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to promote inclusion and connection through food.

Everyone needs food and the food that we are eating particularly in developed countries like Australia is one of the leading causes of burden of disease.  

I'm Heather Yeatman. I'm a Professor of Public Health in the school of Health and Society and I'm co-chair of our research group Foodways.  

Foodways research is the critical analysis of the whatwhy, and how we eat and if we can understand that we can identify the pressure points in the system. That way we can identify how we can bring about change and what are the changes that are needed to occur. 

So one of our areas of research at the moment is packaging within the hospital system. Patients have trouble opening the packageswe've been able to introduce some changes which are both more sustaining for the hospital itselfthey've got rid of plastics they've introduced cutlery which are biodegradable and so on. But also people are actually able to access the food that is provided to them so they've got a healthier outcome and that's a really positive thing for that project. 

Another really interesting project is in the south pacificthere there's major issues partly linked to the increased westernisation of the diet, but also issues related to climate change. 

We're really shining a light on these issues they are big picture issues but there are also issues that are important at the household level and the individual level. 

Everyone can make a difference and contribute, what we do individually and in our households and in our community collectively can make quite a big impact. 

So you might think that you're just one shopper in the supermarket asking for less packaging no I don't want the plastic bag” but if we increase the numbers of people asking for thatthe retailers will change we all need to be making some changes even though we might feel that they're small collectively they can be quite significant. 

Our research brings novel and diverse approaches to complex issues around food, including community and key stakeholders’ perspectives to provide a new lens to disrupt and reform current food systems policies and processes. Our aim is to increase food autonomy, food system sustainability, and overall health and well-being.

Foodways research fosters systematic evidence-based approaches to:

  • Enhance approaches to food education;
  • Integrate foodways considerations within sustainable urban designs;
  • Improve food communications (media/ social media networks); and
  • Explore the health and social impacts of integrating community services with foodways and citizen driven alternative food networks

Tomatoes in bowl held by gardeners
Vegetables displayed on bench