Date of release: Tuesday, May 21, 2013

 The controversial words of Marie Antoinette to the starving French form the basis of the inaugural lecture by Professor Keith Tomlins at the University of Greenwich on Wednesday 12 June.

Professor Tomlins, Chair of Food Science at the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), will be discussing how resource-poor people can and should have access to foods of the right quality, focusing in particular on Africa.

His talk, Let Them Eat Cake:  Food Quality and Acceptance in Africa, takes the famous lines ascribed to the queen and turns them around. Originally an indication that the rich were out of touch with the poor, Professor Tomlins interprets ‘let them eat cake’ to mean that access to safe, nutritious and acceptable food is a right for rich and poor alike.

In his lecture, he will explore how to achieve this in Africa, looking at how to improve food quality along the supply chain as well as ensuring everyone has enough to eat. He will look at the preferences of low-income consumers in African communities such as Tanzania, and consider ways in which these preferences could support plant breeding or be altered by food processing. 

Professor Tomlins’ inauguration to the Chair, the occasion for the lecture, is in recognition of his distinguished career within Food Science research. Completing his degree in Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Surrey in 1981, he joined NRI as a food scientist in 1987. In this role he worked on food flavours and post-harvest processing of tea, coffee and cocoa in Africa, and spent two years in Malawi as a processing scientist in an experimental tea factory. He currently manages a number of research projects with partners in the UK and around the world.

Professor Tomlins says: “My greatest hope is for all people to have access to food that is good quality, and also acceptable to their specific cultures.” 

The lecture takes place at 6pm in the Pilkington Lecture Theatre, Medway Campus.  All are welcome to attend.

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