Have you ever wondered what an Olympic athlete eats to ensure their best performance? Or even just how far you realistically have to walk to work off that extra cream bun you ate for lunch?

Birmingham City collage

In January 2012, the New York Times declared Birmingham to be the 19th most desirable place in the world to visit this year (just ahead of ‘space’), following its selection by the BBC’s food magazine Olive as the UK’s food capital. Despite being one of the most reliably routine aspects of human life, food has a remarkable power to amaze us, and is a universal language across regional, national, international, generational and cultural barriers. Most of all, it allows us to express ourselves and to be innovators in the comfort of our own homes. And that is precisely why the University of Birmingham has chosen it as the central theme of a single day of activities and events all across the city, helping to demonstrate how exceptional thinking can be found in everyday life.

Canalside cafeOn September 28th 2012 our city-wide research fair will swing into gear, with a variety of ways for people from all walks of life to get involved, in an event called “Brum Dine With Me”. From giant art exhibits showing what the city ate for lunch, demonstrations of how we’re redesigning food to be more healthy, theatre shows and interpretative dance explaining the latest research, to community events celebrating multiculturalism in food as well as research. We are aiming to inspire and amuse everyone who is willing to look and listen. Supported by the European Union, Birmingham is one of 53 cities across Europe –– celebrating the role of research in people’s lives, all on one single day. Our very own Professor of Public Engagement in Science, Alice Roberts, will be supporting the event, but literally dozens of our best and brightest researchers will all be pulling together to make the day as fun as possible.The University has a huge array of outstanding ongoing research related to food, from psychology, chemical engineering, clinical health, marketing and business, arts and social sciences, as well as passionate and motivated researchers always on the lookout for innovative new ways to discuss new ideas with the regional community. What better way than to talk to them than through their tummies?

Cycling in Birmingham

Many of the day’s activities will be interactive and aim to help with health promotion in an enjoyable and engaging way, and we will be going into regional schools to talk to children and raise their awareness of the fun that can be had with food choices and experimentation, providing “shopping tours” of local supermarkets to help people find the easiest ways to make healthy choices for themselves and their families, and running a Diet MOT – a session that enables members of the public to assess how good their current diet is by comparing different aspects  with the most recent research linking diet to mental and physical health and to set some realistic practical  goals to improve it.

There are going to be a number of ways to get involved over the coming months, from submitting a photo of your own lunch to be part of our art installation, giving us feedback on how we can improve our trial run stands at the University’s Community Day event in June, and visiting the wonderful Winterbourne Gardens to find out a bit more about how the University is promoting easy inner-city family farming through its urban food growing initiatives. So, to find out more and stay up to date, keep your eye on the University of Birmingham website, where we’ll be gradually revealing more, including fabulous prizes to be won!

We hope to see you in September, if not before...

The Brum Dine With Me team