Second Joint EAAE / AAEA Seminar on Food Environment: The Effects of Context on Food Choice
The conference ‘Food Environment: The Effects of Context on Food’ was held on May 30 and 31, 2012, at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston. Consumers' choices and preferences are influenced by the other people, farmers, businesses, and communities that surround them. The conference addressed the consumer's "food environment", the set of food choices available to the consumer, where the food comes from, and how it got to the consumer and provided a platform for exchange about research on the economics related to the role of consumers' food environments on their choices and preferences. The "food environment" is a subject of increasing attention and one that influences the development of food systems and the relative competitiveness of U.S. foods in domestic and international markets. The conference was the first U.S. workshop sponsored by the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) and was co-sponsored by the European Association of Agricultural Economists (EAAE). Helen Jensen and Jayson Lusk were co-chairs of the conference planning committee.
By the November 1, 2011 due date over 150 abstracts were submitted for presentation. The international planning committee including network members reviewed the abstracts. In total, 52 abstracts were accepted for verbal paper presentation and 33 abstracts were accepted as posters. There were 4 invited speakers: Deputy Secretary of USDA, Kathleen Merrigan; Pierre Chandon, INSEAD Social Science Research Centre, Paris; Nathan Nunn, Harvard University; and Joel Gittelsohn, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The conference included four plenary sessions, six parallel paper presentation sessions and a wrap-up panel session. In addition, there was a reception and poster session, and a dinner. There were over 135 registered attendees, with good, diverse representation from the participating associations, US, Canadian and European researchers. AAEA conducted an evaluation survey (by e-mail) of participants.
The conference provided new insights into the influence of the food environment on the quality, price, and availability of food, the formation of consumer preferences and associated health or environmental impacts, and the effect of policies aimed at influencing food production and choices. Presentations and discussions from the Symposium led to two special or coordinated issues of journals that included papers (and later versions of papers) presented at the symposium. This type of outcome was planned as a natural extension of the opportunities afforded by the symposium. Papers were included in the Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy (AEPP) (2013, advance publication December 2012) and the 3rd quarter, 2012 issue of Choices.