Organisatie - 11 oktober 2012

Food4you: wet but not a washout

Organizers satisfied with Food4You 'light'. Future of festival still uncertain.


Foto: .

No one knew how the first light version of Food4You (3-9 October) would go. After the subsidy from the municipal council was withdrawn, the organization decided to go back to basics this year. The knowledge festival was reduced from 15 to 5 days, with many activities going by the board. No more preposterous world record attempts or world egg days, but an emphasis on food science.
It worked out well, thinks organizer Elisa Salentijn. 'The public, the students and the guests were satisfied.' The festival was plagued by bad weather this year though. Rain put a damper on the public day in particular. With 7000 visitors, the turnout was about one third of the numbers in previous years. The decision to hold the festival in a tent did not work out too well either. Salentijn: 'It was freezing cold at the opening symposium. At one point I couldn't even feel my fingertips anymore.'
The big attractions this year were several duos with a scientist and an artist who had come up with something related to a theme. Like the app thought up by health scientist Laura Bouwman, with which you can share food-related stories.
The performance by scientist-cook HervĂ© This during the Food Professionals Day prompted a lot of enthusiastic tweets between colleagues.  The founder of molecular gastronomy pulls out all the stops these days when it comes to applying scientific insights in the kitchen. This 'note by note' approach to cooking builds up a dish not from ingredients but from their pure chemical components. 'Just as a composer uses notes or a painter primary colours.'
In spite of the positive response, the future of Food4You is still uncertain. 'I am concerned about the finances,' says Salentijn about the withdrawal of the chief sponsor VGZ and the uncertainty about subsidies. She also wants to evaluate this year whether the form the festival takes is still the best one. But she looks back on the festival with satisfaction, with the giant picnic as the high point. 'At first people looked around cautiously but then the tables filled up and it was great fun.' RR
It was rainy and chilly. Even so, the organizers and visitors were pleased with the sixth Food4You general public day. 'Good to see that it's about the content again. But I won't say no if someone offers me a bite to eat.'
Julia gazes in amazement at a picture of a big, scary bacterium. 'So which do you think has the most bacteria?' asks Food Microbiology PhD student Karin Metselaar. Julia, who is about ten, carefully examines the words 'mince' and 'chicken'. She doesn't know and her mother is not sure either. 'Chicken,' guesses her mum Greetje Meijer. A brief silence follows. 'No, mince,' replies Metselaar patiently. 'But it is true that if chicken does have bacteria, they are often more dangerous.' Julia is clearly enjoying the quiz. 'Will you have the same questions next year?' she asks enthusiastically. 'I hope so because then I'll really know everything.'
Avoiding the street-party image
Further along there is a stall with alternatives to salt. Two students demonstrate how much salt is added to food on average and promote the use of herbs as an alternative. 'Surprising,' says Jannie Pastoors from Ede, who has been attending the event for years. 'At first I though I didn't have to worry about salt because my blood pressure's normal, but now I have this information I will definitely be changing the way I cook.'
This focus on the content and a personal approach was precisely the idea behind the sixth Food4You. 'Good to see it hasn't turned into a street party,' says visitor Judie Boekwijt. 'Sometimes you are inundated with bites to eat and folders, and in my opinion you end up missing the point.  But I won't say no if someone offers me a snack, though.'
There was quite a discussion beforehand about the setup. The organizers wanted to move the festival to the campus this year to put an end to the street-party image - much to the annoyance of local businesses. In the end they settled on a compromise: staying in the town centre but much more concentrated and with more focus on the content and the theme of 'salt'. 'It needs to be infotainment,' says Human Nutrition professor Frans Kok. He is satisfied with the new approach, except for the weather. For Food4You attracted seven thousand visitors, three thousand less than last year - probably due to the rain.