Edward Whittle standing on a boat, with the sea in the background.

Edward Whittle

Edward Whittle recently graduated from the University of Leeds, having studied Sustainable Food Systems and Food Security MSc at the School of Earth and Environment.

Edward chose Leeds because it was a short commute from his family home, as well as the uniqueness of the interdisciplinary course content.

Working at the University of Leeds farm

A tour of the farm during the first semester piqued Edward's interest, mainly due to the volume of pork consumed in the UK and around the world.

“As a mature student in my 40s, coming from a seafood background, learning about another source of protein gave perspective to my own experience and understanding.”

“We learnt, in the food consumption and production modules in semester 2, about alternative proteins and their often lower levels of PDCAAS (digestible essential amino acids) than animal proteins.”

Edward used the research project to investigate the use of black soldier fly larvae to increase circularity in pig feed production. Future animal feed could contain less farmed soya by upcycling nutrients from pig slurry in insect protein, reducing the impact of excess slurry leaching into water courses.

Picture of pig slurry in containers at the University of Leeds farm.

This involved nearly a month on the farm in my own bioconversion unit, where I received much help and support from farm staff. Hopefully this will provide groundwork for full scale research commencing soon at the farm in this area.

Edward Whittle
Edward's bioconservation unit at the University of Leeds farm.

Research equipment in Edward's bioconservation unit at the University of Leeds farm.

Sustainable initiatives

The course is centred on sustainability, however Edwards’s favourite sustainable initiatives involved “theories of sustainability and change, but also the research methods to collect data and interpret it as a way through the minefield of contradicting opinion and argument.”

Best aspects of the course

One of Edward’s favourite aspects of the course has been spending time on campus, soaking up the atmosphere of learning whilst having a good laugh with his cohort.

Another inspiring feature of the course has been “having chance to listen to and discuss theory and solution with professors and lecturers (and students) from many different cultures, backgrounds and disciplines” which Edward states has opened his mind and provided hope for the future.

The Sustainable Food Systems and Food Security MSc class of 2023.

Contributing to our everyday lives

“We literally are what we eat, so food production and consumption has an enormous impact on the quality and longevity of our lives, whilst also being responsible for 1/3 of Green House Gas emissions and a lot of biodiversity loss.”

“With the global population set to reach 10bn over the next 30 years, against a back drop of less settled climates and greater demand for animal protein, a need for joined up thinking in this field could not be more pertinent I believe.”

The future

Edward looks to use his learning and experience back in his family business, Whitby Seafoods, and other business in and out of their supply chain.

The academic rigour expected by the world leading lecturers and professors at the University of Leeds forced me out of my comfort zone of learning. They stretched my concentration, synthesising, and analytical skills beyond anything I had previously thought possible for me!

Edward Whittle

“I have since been able already to better work in and out of the office.”

“The research project tested my self-study and discipline of time management and gave me better prioritisation skills for life generally. It taught me the dangers of being too hasty and indecisive over a longer term project.”

“A chance to spend time with a younger generation of students, who though diverse in their nationality, were united in a desire to embark on a career of positive environmental change. This made us a close group, with a lot of social events and laughter in class. Finding humour to bind together teams and communicate through areas often laden full of fears and worry, was an unexpected bonus of my time at Leeds.”

Advice for future students

A unique combination of subjects, taught with a high level of expertise and care (so that everyone understands), delivered successively will enable you to cut through much confusion and rhetoric in the real world, to make a meaningful contribution to one of the world’s most pressing current problems.

Edward Whittle

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