Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Food politics trailblazer welcomes Edinburgh Medal award

Professor Marion Nestle joins Q&A to reflect on recognition for influential career in food studies.

Food politics pioneer Professor Marion Nestle has spoken of her joy in being awarded the Edinburgh Medal, an annual award recognising outstanding contributions to science and technology.

At an event hosted by the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems, Prof Nestle described her gratitude in receiving the Medal, which was awarded for her efforts in the study of food politics, nutrition and public health.

Professor Nestle, the Paulette Goddard Professor Emerita of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, said she was honoured to share the award with previous eminent winners, and to see food politics recognised in this way.

Previous recipients of the Edinburgh Medal from the City of Edinburgh Council include broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, philosopher Mary Midgley, and University of Edinburgh physicist and Nobel winner Professor Peter Higgs.

Fireside chat

Prof Nestle discussed her career and views in an event hosted by Global Academy PhD student Alexander Vonderschmidt at the Greyfriars Charteris Centre in Edinburgh.

She described her appointment to New York University (NYU) as Professor of Home Economics and Nutrition more than three decades ago, and since then having influenced the creation of food studies programmes at NYU and beyond.

Professor Nestle, who has written 15 books in her area of research, said she had not invented food studies as an academic discipline, but had “made it respectable”.

She discussed how her secure academic post had afforded a platform to speak out on marketing of unhealthy foods, and recalled that in her dealings with representatives from large corporations, she had always been treated respectfully.

Prof Nestle also discussed conflicts of interest, motivations and bias in the food industry and among consumers, and stressed that her work has always sought to clarify and educate.

Food marketers are not in the business of making people fat – they are interested in competition and how to sell their products. They’re businesses, not social services or public health agencies.

Professor Marion NestlePaulette Goddard Professor Emerita of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health,  New York University

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Edinburgh Medal

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