Category Archives: Food Systems

Food Systems, Team Update #2

Project update by Adriana Baird, Moon, Han Lin (Nancy), Alec Hogan, Zoey Zhou Yang

After a guest lecture from Professor Xie of the NRDC on sustainable urban development, our group took a moment to organize and restructure the plan for our Food Systems project. We discussed and defined the overall objectives of the group project: to conduct the initial research on the relationship between food preferences and urban development that could be used to delve further into to the food systems subject in the future. From there, we decided to focus on three topics within food systems: Quality, Waste, and Culture.

Some examples of questions we hope to address in these topics are:


  • Where does food come from?
  • Is food quality a factor in the decision to buy food from a certain vendor?
  • How does food quality vary by the type of food vendor?
  • How has food quality changed in Beijing over the years?

Continue reading Food Systems, Team Update #2

Food Systems Team Update #1

This post is by Adriana Baird, Moon, Han Lin (Nancy), Alec Hogan, Zoey Zhou Yang

We are the food systems group, investigating the changing nature of food systems and preferences in modern Beijing during this period of rapid urbanization. We are excited to engage in this project through observing people in their environments, interviewing individuals in different places and spaces in Beijing, using other various fieldwork techniques like counting and tracking, and of course, eating the food of Beijing.

What did you do?

We began this workshop as strangers to one another, but have since pushed past the language barrier and are both friends and collaborators. After breaking the initial awkwardness through icebreakers, we got to know each other by sharing experiences. We have shared everything from meals to intimate bike trips and trips to cafes.  The two Americans sat on the back of our Chinese collaborators bikes, which drew quite a few looks and laughs across the Tsinghua campus. In sharing these experiences as a group, we are definitely forming a more cohesive unit that will be beneficial in adding enjoyment and productivity to the experience moving forward. We are leaning the idiosyncrasies of our very different cultures, and are going to try and learn a new phrase from each other every day. Hopefully by the end of the seminar Adriana and Alec will be able to say more than “hello,” “goodbye,” and “thank you” in Chinese, and Nancy, Zoe, and Moon will pick up some American slang.

In terms of formal activities, we have done some preliminary fieldwork and practiced a few fieldwork and observing techniques from the Bridge Café in Wudaokou, presented our observations to the rest of the students in the seminar, and have since begun to delve deeper into forming the foundation for our project. Today we explored the topic of food systems in general through a “mind map” in order to come to a more narrow research question that we can use to address the four pillars of sustainability. It took us a while to come to a research question that we all though was relevant and interesting because of the broad spectrum of the topic and an inability to understand one another perfectly. We spent a lot of time discussing and sharing our views over lunch at the canteen and the Paradiso Café during out break. After a few hours of discussion, we ultimately decided on a research question and proceeded to create our action plan for next week–where we are going to go, who we are going to talk to, and when we are going to do it. We all seem to be on the same page and are excited to go into the field and start researching!

Continue reading Food Systems Team Update #1