Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

New Scientist Live

Steph Smith, Teaching Fellow

Last weekend the (airport-sized) Excel venue in London hosted the New Scientist Live event, showcasing work and generating enthusiasm for many contemporary questions in science. The Global Academy were there to join the festivities, at what was essentially Glasto for science enthusiasts. The New Scientist (known by many including myself as ‘that science magazine’) had a line-up of over 120 speakers across the various Ted-talk like stages (Cosmos stage, Humans stage, Earth stage, Technology stage, Performance stage, Engineering stage and the Main stage). Geoff Simm took to the Earth Stage on the Friday and delivered a presentation on ‘Sustainable solutions to feed 11 billion’ to a wide and varied audience.


Science celebs included Tim peak, the guy that can speak 25 languages and tv and radios’, Prof. Alice Roberts. Science props included a John Deere tractor, a massive RAF plane and a pretty-effective if not quite moon-sized moon. Science activities included face painting with biodegradable glitter, ‘walking on the moon’ and a VR roller coaster.


Despite the rubgy, Ocktoberfest and the Tina Turner musical for Londoners that weekend, there were still swarms of people choosing science as their weekend jolly. The Global Academy stand was decorated with food-based props with sustainability underlying messages but the pièce de résistance was the jars of bugs and commercial bug snacks. The bug snacks (company Eat Grub) were either dry roasted crickets or bars moulded from cricket powder covered in chocolate; it was clear to me which I would prefer given the less obvious addition of insect in the latter and the more obvious addition of chocolate. 


Being on the stand, there were three main things I observed; the questions, the interest and the willingness to try. 


The questions were so interesting – it really made me realise the importance of dissemination in order to have the public comment on what you hadn’t thought of.


The interest was genuine. Regardless of age, people were truly interested in the origins and impact of their food.


And the willingness to try. Amongst the older and younger generations. But I guess it’s the younger generations that will live through the trajectories that food choices take us going forward.