Torino (Italy)

Research and Processes about Food Systems at the University of Torino

Torino (Italy)In the last few years food became the central theme of research of an interdisciplinary group based at the University of Turin, in collaboration with other institutions and universities, such as the Città Metropolitana of Turin, the Politecnico of Turin and the University of Gastronomic Sciences.

The activities of research-action of the group are currently focusing on various projects.

The first is the design of the Atlas of Food of Torino Metropolitana (with Politecnico of Turin and University of Gastronomic Sciences). The core of the project is the development of a methodology of analysis of urban food systems based on the realization of a multimedia, interactive, participated Atlas of Food, centered on the city of Turin. The general objective of the project is to develop and implement an interdisciplinary methodology of food system analysis and assessment, at the metropolitan scale, through traditional charts and maps, participatory mapping and a strict relationship with social networks, for field action. The Atlas, which aims at being considered as a space for the collection and the production of knowledge about food in Turin, is divided into three main sections: a) a review of already existing maps and representations about the food system (a map of maps), which are critically reviewed and organized, in order to produce a catalogue of the different existing representations; b) a collection of static maps, specifically produced for the atlas,  representing data about the food system coming both from official archives (e.g. census) and from users and actors of the food system. The static maps will be open to updates and corrections, following the suggestions of users; c) a platform for users-generated, dynamic, interactive maps, based on crowdmapping and the integration with social networks.

Waiting the official launch of the project, which is still in search of funding, some contents are currently collected on the blog Verso l’Atlante del Cibo.

Another research currently ongoing is AFNIA – Alternative Food Networks: an Interdisciplinary Assessment, which aims at investigating alternative food networks in Piedmont Region, following four main perspectives: the geographical one, aiming at understanding the territorial distribution and the spatial characters of AFNs; the sociological one, investigating the dimensions of quality of producers and consumers; the environmental one, evaluating the sustainability of AFNs; the economic one, estimating the value of social relationships between producers and consumers into AFNs.

The research of the group on urban food policies is developed in strict relationship with and on support of two processes of design of urban food strategies which are ongoing in Turin. The first is the working group “Torino Città del Cibo”, which is developing one of the main strategic objectives of the Strategic Plan “Torino Metropoli 2015”, led by Torino Strategica.  The second is the participatory process “Nutrire Torino Metropolitana”, led by the Città Metropolitana (former Provincia di Torino) and the University of Turin, with the aim of mobilizing the actors of the food system in order to build a participated food agenda, as first step towards metropolitan food strategies.

In October, Turin will also host the 7th Aesop Sustainable Food Planning Conference “Localizing urban food strategies, Farming cities and Performing rurality (October 8th-9th).  The activities of the Conference will be articulated around the following tracks: (i) Spatial planning and urban design, (ii) Governance and private entrepreneurship, (iii) Relevant experiences and practices, (iv)Training and jobs, (v) Flows and networks. There will be a specific activity for PhD students and young scholars.