Food at the Festival By Jackson Howarth, Freelance Writer From the rise of the professional food scientists in the early 20th century to J.J Thompson’s 1904 ‘plum pudding’ model of the atom, and the different ‘flavours’ of subatomic Quarks — ideas about food and science have long fed into each other. As such, this week, the multi-medium extravaganza that is the British Science Festival will feature several mouth-watering events that reveal how science can be used to explore food, and food to explore science. One of those events is Dr Peggy Brunache’s ‘African food journeys: from the Bayou to Barbados’. Peggy is a historical archaeologist specialising in slave plantation studies, and has recently been using modern archaeological techniques to study food, or ‘foodways’. Peggy’s fascinating talk will explain how studying food can reveal changes and continuities in lifestyle and culture for those affected by the transatlantic slave trade. Excitingly, Peggy’s event also includes the opportunity to try some of the foods she has been using in her research. When I asked her about the benefits of using food as a medium to teach science, she explained that tasting allows people to reflect on her research in several ways: ‘Food is such a mysterious and sneaky way to engage people – the way we interpret it is individual as well as social.’ Peggy went on to say “we all learn better when we can embody information, not just by hearing, but by consuming it. Tasting provides new avenues to learn in ways that are often difficult to put into words.” If you like the sound of consuming your science with Peggy, you might also enjoy washing it down at some of our other events. Tuesday’s ‘North Laine Brewhouse: Getting Buzzed’ offers the opportunity to brew your own chocolate honeycomb porter, and to understand the science behind the techniques. Likewise, ‘The Lanes after Dark’ presents a chance to experience some of Brighton’s best bars, and to experience some scientific wonders along the way. Come and experience musical robots at the Mesmerist, levitation at Seven Stars, or quantum experimentation at East Street Tap — to name just a few of these fantastic demonstrations. Similarly, if you are interested in avoiding a hangover, or in learning how to more effectively maintain your health while drinking, come along to Richard De Visser’s event ‘Do Drinking Guidelines Make Sense?’ Richard, like Peggy, stresses the benefits of using taste and tasting to communicate science. He explained to me that events where audiences pour their own pints, and receive personalised feedback, and that these events are far more effective in changing drinking habits than lectures or pamphlets. Still, when it came to the Festival, Richard admitted he probably would be popping along to the Lanes, and maintained: ‘we aren’t asking people to stop drinking altogether, but just to think a little bit more about it.’ So come along this week, indulge a little, have fun, and learn about how to take care of yourself in the long run. The British Science Festival is here to demonstrate that while science should be open to everyone, it can still be a matter of good taste.