‘We want people to look at food as a cultural and commercial entity, not just something they eat’
What I admire about Anna and Chloe from Sourced Journeys is their passion and confidence in the work they do. Not conforming to existing platform formats, they are two ladies who have created a space for themselves and set their own terms around the research that they wanted to pursue.
Below Anna and Chloe discuss how they created Sourced Journeys as a way for people to understand our food and drink systems through ingredients and what their future plans and goals are.
What are your backgrounds and how do you know each other?
Anna: We actually met through a mutual friend of ours who suggested I should meet Chloe, as she believed that we would get on really well based on having a similar ethos and pursuits.
Chloe: She didn’t know it, but I had actually been following Anna for a while. Our mutual friend suggested that I meet Anna in person at an event. I went to the event to see what would happen and it ended up leading to where we are now. We both get on well, as we have similar ideas in terms of food from an academic sense. I look at the narratives we write about food and how nationalism shapes assimilation of culture and Anna focuses more on nostalgia and performance in food.
How did you come up with the idea for Sourced Journeys?
Anna: The idea for Sourced Journeys came about quite organically. Before Sourced Journeys, I was actually in the process of planning to write a book, as I had wanted to pursue the topic of looking at ingredients. The process of creating a book took a long time and I became frustrated and gave up on the idea.
Nevertheless, I decide that I was going to pursue my own research, I just needed to have a place to put it. I had already published a few items from my research however, there are only a small handful of publications globally that are interested in this style of research regarding ingredients. I had exhausted most of them which is why I concluded that I would create something myself, as I felt I still had so much more to write.
‘This is when I suggested to Chloe that we should join our two investigations together, to create something new.’
When Chloe and I first met, she talked about how to build a business around empowering people to cook with more confidence and knowledge and had been looking into different ways and business models to investigate food.
Chloe: I want people to be able to look at the ingredients they have in their cupboards and then try to build something from that. I feel that people do not have enough of a relationship with food and will look at recipes as a whole and just follow this. However, I think it is interesting and more useful for people to engage with food and understand ingredients first, and then work from there to build recipes. This will give people more empowerment in the way they cook and feed themselves.
When Anna and I first spoke about working together, she highlighted that we both wanted to do the same type of research, but we didn’t have a space for it to go.
‘She suggested for us to have somewhere where we set terms for ourselves and continue to do our own research.’
We were initially planning to host events, chefs, and supper clubs, but then the Covid-19 pandemic hit. We continued to talk about it regularly during lockdown and built our website.
How would you describe Sourced Journeys and your aims?
Anna: It has been a process to become clear on what we wanted to create and build. During lockdown once we started talking about what we wanted to do, we realised that we were actually describing a media company, and not an events company. We decided we were a media company because we wanted to present our research and for this to happen it has to go through a medium.
Chloe: The process has been good to help us get to the point of realising that we needed to claim the space of being the experts and being the place where people come to get information that they can listen and engage with.
‘We would now describe ourselves as a public research programme or outfit, that focuses on ingredients as a way to understand our food and drink systems. We look at how they navigate the world in space and how they navigate the world culturally. We want people to look at food as a cultural and commercial entity, not just something they eat.‘
Looking at the bigger picture, we want to be a resource for people to understand how the narratives they use about food, affect the way we engage with food. Therefore, we are trying showcase how we can create narratives that are more equitable and that allow people to really think about their place within food systems.
How do you choose the people that you feature?
Anna: We aim to cover topics based around seasons and this helps us to focus on who we need to feature. There are so many interesting people around and the temptation is to contact someone because they are known or easier to access.
Therefore, focusing on seasonal themes, guides us to explore people and topics that we do not know and subjects we do not understand. It helps us to find and speak to the experts in a field. We also are very conscious in ensuring we have a wide gender, cultural and ethnicity mix and try to be as representative as we can.
Chloe: Anna and I are always trying to think of what voices are missing, as this is just our natural writing style. Our remit for choosing people is also just based on if you engage with food professionally. We speak to people that do not necessarily work with physical food, but when asked about food systems, they have a lot of interesting things to say as they are able to offer a different perspective.
What has been the feedback surrounding Sourced Journeys?
Anna: People have said our work has really made them think, which is great and really important to us. We published a piece recently about coffee, and people who are very knowledgeable about coffee mentioned it was totally different to what they would normally read and that it had made them reflect.
Also, an academic friend of mine liked the coffee piece so much, that she shared it with her students in her cultural studies class. That was really cool as the class had nothing to do with food.
I think we have had a wide range of topics such as on the ten series we do, that has made people think differently about the subjects we discuss.
Chloe: What I like about the ten series, is being able to choose people from a wide range who engage in a completely different way. The feedback that I have received is that people feel they have space in the conversation and are therefore able to think about topics in more detail. This then prompts them to think about how they can ask questions, which is great because this is what we aim to do.
We really want to give people the tools to be able to ask questions about their engagement with food and feel they have some form of empowerment in the food systems. Rather than just operating from the side and eating food being their only engagement.
What Upcoming Projects do you have?
Anna: We will be exploring into the festive season, which is something that I wasn’t really expecting to do. This is the great thing about being collaborative as you explore ideas you wouldn’t necessarily have thought of yourself. Chloe suggested looking at traditions, origin stories and Thanksgiving.
Chloe: I plan to write a piece soon exploring how to reconcile the origins story, the myth of thanksgiving and how problematic it is with the actual event as a secular celebration. My family are not religious, so this is the only celebration that we engage in that I actually felt I had access to. We are also publishing a piece on decolonialising the myths and origin stories of rum, which will be coming out soon.
What are you plans for Sourced Journeys next year?
Anna: We really want to commission work because it’s quite a big topic and as much as we think we are really good at looking at things in a wide perspective, two voices should not be the dominant. We are really keen to get to a point where we can commission, which I think will be really exciting. Next year I am eager to start thinking about how we publish different pieces and different ways of publishing other people’s work. We have a few things that we have commissioned next year up until October.
‘We want people to look at us as a learning space in the industry, where they can subscribe and enter a learning journey.’
We want to become a resource, which is why we do the tutorials and will also set up a reading syllabus each season, so that we are all learning together.
The food and drinks world being quite physical in nature, people may not have time to sit and read a piece, especially just coming of a shift. Therefore, it is important to us to try and explore a variety of different formats to share information and knowledge.
Chloe: We both noticed we really like editing and I have discovered that I learn a lot more from editing other peoples work. As Anna mentioned, we are also exploring different formats to share information beyond written content. We will investigate into other mediums such as comic strips and video visuals and see what works best for us.
In January we will start a new season discussing soil. We will be looking more at farming techniques, exploring the different ways of how our ingredients come out of the ground and how that looks like around the world. Next year will be exciting, as we have our core topics that we will cover, however we have also left space to be open on the format and specifics.
Hopefully one day we will get the point where restaurants would pay for a subscription for their employees and they would have a space to continually learn and grow in the industry.
‘We want to create a community from a variety of different places based on a common fact that everyone engages with food in some way.’