Associate Professor Maria Bonn and Professor Michael Twidale have authored a two-part concept piece on "Informated Food" in the ASIS&T publication, Information Matters. It is one of the first featured pieces in this new digital-only forum for information science, which shares research evidence and industry developments, news, and opinion with various audiences, including the public, industry professionals, educational practitioners, and policymakers.
The concept of informated food explores the very broad idea of information that is connected to food. It includes the stories that are attached to the food we buy and consume, from recipes and cookbooks that are passed down through generations to the narratives and notes that precede today's online recipes. Through digital technologies, consumers share information and personal stories about food that are valued both emotionally and economically. In the marketplace, information shared regarding food includes ingredient lists, nutritional labeling, and the ubiquitous "sell by" or "best by" date on food packaging. Consumers are also interested in the provenance of food, especially in regard to luxury items such as wine, cheese, olive oil, chocolate, and honey.
Bonn and Twidale address these topics as well as how informated food facilitates consumer decision-making, allows producers to distinguish their products, and promotes an understanding of the economic and social impacts of food. They are interested in the role of information throughout the entire food supply chain, from production to consumption, as it occurs on the family farm as well as in large industry. They encourage further work on informated food to benefit broad research areas, including agriculture, food processing, popular culture, tourism, small scale entrepreneurship, rural studies, economic geography, consumer behavior, marketing, eating and health, human computer interaction, and supply chains.
"As researchers in [the] School of Information Sciences, one of a growing number of iSchools worldwide, we believe that iSchools serve as a natural hub for facilitating multidisciplinary studies of informated food, and how it plays numerous different roles in people's intersecting economic and personal lives," said Bonn and Twidale.
Bonn serves as program director for the iSchool's top-ranked MS in library and information science (MS/LIS) and the Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) programs. Her research focuses on scholarly communication and open culture and on collaboration in the humanities. She teaches largely in the areas of academic librarianship, scholarly communication, and publishing.
Twidale serves as program director for the PhD program. He is an expert in computer-supported cooperative work, collaborative technologies in digital libraries and museums, user interface design and evaluation, information visualization, and museum informatics. He holds appointments in the Department of Computer Science, Information Trust Institute, and the Origin Ventures Academy of Entrepreneurial Leadership at the University of Illinois.