• menu

    Essay competition: The food system, past, present, future

    How, what and when we eat affects everything around us. Food is the starting point of our relationships with nature, the economy, and other people. If you have an opinion about feeding the modern city, and the ability to write a well argued essay, Flevo Campus wants to hear from you!

    Once again, it’s time for the annual Flevo Campus essay competition! After two highly successful previous competitions, with the winning essays being published as part of our annual collection, the organisation and the jury have high expectations this year. So if you have insights to share, a flair for words, and the ambition to be published, drop us a line and you could win a big-money prize! 

    What is Flevo Campus?

    Flevo Campus is a knowledge institution focused on the urban food supply. Its first buildings opened at the beginning of this year in the Floriadepark near Almere. Their location is significant: partway between one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions, the reclaimed Flevopolder, and the flourishing megacity that is the Randstad. It’s the ideal place for applied research, education and entrepreneurship to create the urban food system of the future.  

    We focus specifically on the city. Most people in the Netherlands and the rest of the world live in urban areas, and city dwellers have long had limited involvement in food production. This is traditionally the role of farmers, whose numbers are steadily declining, so fewer and fewer people are responsible for feeding more and more people. It also means that the culture and environment in which people eat has changed significantly in recent decades. Flevo Campus seeks to understand the past and present of the food system, and find ways of making it even better in the future. 

    Enter the 2021 Flevo Campus essay competition!

    Past years’ essay collections have been published each December, giving a picture of the past year in food. The 2020 volume included contributions on current issues such as the effects of Covid-19 on the food system, Brexit, and the relationship between the Black Lives Matter protests and food. 

    This year will be a little different. Since Lenno Munnikes became our programme director, we’ve placed an increased focus on behaviour, culture, and identity. Lenno is a historian and anthropologist, specialising in socioeconomic aspects of the food system. 

    Almere also has a very diverse population, which presents both opportunities and challenges. Where, how and what people eat depends on their background and environment, and also the context of the product. Whether it’s a fast-food hamburger, an organic carrot from a locally delivered box, a can of supermarket own-brand peeled tomatoes, or an exotic vegetable from an Asian food store, each has a story attached to it. Consciously or unconsciously, people make eating a part of their  cultures, which together form the basis of our food supply.  

    So the theme of this year’s competition is the past, present, and future of the food system. You can approach this in any way you like: we’re definitely interested in behaviour, culture and identity, but we also welcome more topical and journalistic proposals. 

    The rules

    Could you be the writer we’re looking for? Please submit your proposal by 31 April 2021. This should be a summary of what your essay will be about, and should be no longer than one page of A4. The proposals will be judged by the same jury that chooses the winners, and if yours is selected, we’ll ask you to turn it into a full essay.

    There will be one winner in each of these categories:

    • Research: an essay about a new subject that still needs a lot of research. The prize in this category is €5,000.
    • Opinion/journalism: Write an essay expressing a strong opinion, or a piece of topical journalism. Alternatively, use some work you’ve already done as the basis for a hard-hitting piece of writing, and you could win €3,000.
    • Student or thesis prize: Write about something you’ve learned during your studies. Or, if you’re writing a thesis about a relevant subject, turn it into an essay for a chance to win €1,500.

    When you submit your proposal, you should use the form to explain why you chose the category. This can be done in a short sentence, unless you enter in the research category, in which case we’ll need more information because the generosity of the prize reflects the time and cost involved in doing the research. If you submit a proposal in this category, please tell us what research you plan to carry out, how you intend to tackle it, how long it will take, and how much it will cost. 

    Submitting your proposal

    You must use this form to submit your proposal. Proposals sent by email or other means will not be considered. If you have any problems with the form, let us know by emailing

    Rights, obligations, publication, prizes, exceptions

    • Anyone can enter, except in the student category, where you must be a current student or recent graduate and your essay must be based on work you did while a student or within a year of graduating. As a student, you can also enter in the Research and Opinion/Journalism categories.
    • If your proposal is selected, we’ll ask you to write your essay.
    • Prizes will be awarded only to essays submitted by the deadline of 1 September 2021.
    • Essays should be 2,500 to 4,000 words long.
    • Your essay will be judged on its own merits. If the editors of the collection decide that it is of insufficient quality, it will not be included in the collection. This will happen only in exceptional circumstances, but the editors’ decision is final. If your essay wins a prize, we will make every effort to publish it, but cannot guarantee this. 
    • If your essay is not included in the collection for any reason, your prize will be halved. 
    • If your proposal is not selected, copyright remains with you, and we very much hope that you will try to get your essay published elsewhere. If so, we may publicise this in our social media or other communication.
    • The collection will also include commissioned essays by leading authors. 
    • The collection will be published in December 2021, and will be the fourth in the series. 

    If you know anyone who’d love to enter, please pass this message on to them! 


    If you have any questions about the competition, please contact Janno Lanjouw at .

    The competition has also been publicised on Schrijverspunt and Schrijven Online.