Welcome to the course

Welcome to ‘Engaging with controversies in the food system’, a European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Food online course produced by the University of Reading, the University of Turin and the European Food Information Council (EUFIC).

The news and social media are constantly reporting on nutrition and health topics, but which sources can you really trust? Sometimes even the science is misrepresented. How can you make informed decisions on what or what not to buy? In this course we’ll give space to thinking about what controversies are, how they arise, and how to find a way through the conflicting viewpoints to reach your own conclusions. We will find out which issues are most important to you and use three topical examples to demonstrate how complex some of the arguments are. We’ll also provide you with some advice on how to identify trustworthy sources, how to read between the lines and find out what the science is really saying, and how to take into account all the various stakeholder perspectives to come to a balanced conclusion.

Each Week focuses on one controversy:

  • Week 1: Alternative proteins. What does the the future look like for protein? Is meat consumption on the verge of extinction?

  • Week 2: Palm oil. An in-depth look at a complex controversy that affects the globe but is difficult to resolve.

  • Week 3: Probiotics. A great example of re-discovering the health-giving properties of food our ancestors ate, but are they fad or superfood?

We’ll consider why they are topical - the effect they have on issues of global concern as well as on individuals. We’ll interview stakeholders to provide a range of different perspectives and we’ll provide scientific background to help you come to your own, informed conclusions.

There will be opportunities to discuss the controversies throughout the course and we’d be very interested to hear your views. When expressing them, please present them as objectively as possible, remembering that others will hold different, equally valid views. And be respectful of other people’s comments.

Thank you for joining us on this course. There’s probably a reason that you’ve chosen to take it. Does one of the issues concern you personally? Is there a particular topic you’re keen to learn more about? Please share your reasons for joining in the discussion area below. We look forward to hearing from you as the course progresses.

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Engaging with Controversies in the Food System

EIT Food