The EAT Foundation builds on the work of the EAT Initiative, created by the Stordalen Foundation and Stockholm Resilience Centre in 2013. Together with the Welcome Trust, they launched the EAT Foundation in March 2016. The EAT foundation’s ambition is to reform the global food system and enable us to feed a growing global population with healthy food from a healthy planet. The three organisations will use their unique experience in health, science, policy and sustainability to convene experts and decision makers who can transform the way we eat.
The theme of this year’s EAT Stockholm forum was nutrition and feeding the worlds starving population. The UN Decade of Action on Nutrition was launched in 2016 and recognises the role of food system transformation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. All 17 of these goals are either directly or indirectly related to food.
The forum sub-themes spanned across food waste; first 1000 days, adolescents & millennials and indigenous traditions.
By 2030 there will be a shift form food being a cost to a cure. Professor Johan Rockstrom and Walter Willet stated that we are in a mess running against time, food has to deliver on multiple targets across platforms.
Svein Tore Holsether, CEO Yara Intl. discussed that there is a lot of mistrust with business, and sustainability development goals provide the framework for progress. Businesses need to collaborate across the value chain, thus creating more efficient agriculture with incentives for farmers to drive the right behaviour. This was further corroborated by Bob Watson, who talked about a strengthening of the Paris pledges, and embedding economical environmental and social sustainability into agriculture policies, practices and technologies. Professor Ruben got a round of applause when she said that ‘science cannot do this alone we need indigenous traditions and knowledge to succeed’.
Mathew Freud, from Freuds PR, gave a very pragmatic speech in realising the challenge facing the food and agri-industry. There is a need to raise public consciousness to a critical issue. The Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment H.E Mr Vidar Helgesen made the point that …”if food waste were a country it would be the 3rd largest contributor to climate change. In Norway they have introduced simple initiatives such as smaller portions of loafs of bread, Buy one Pay for one, Best Before not bad after. They have set a global target to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. Reducing every step of the way. Tim Orting Jorgensen, from Arla foods, spoke of the role of the consumer in food waste reduction. The consumer needs inspiration in terms of how to use the food in their fridge, and in terms of size of product.
Following on from a WHO talk Sunita Narian director, Centre for Science and Environment said to great aplomb how she does not advocate a vegetarian diet in India. ‘It is not how much meat you eat but how you grow it.’ A recurring theme was the first 1,000 days of life, and its’ importance. Saying ‘we need to get back to the narrative of home cooked meals… the way we behave with children affects their future.’
Gerda Verburg from the UN, noted the need to scale up the nutrition movement. “To improve nutrition you need political will and players in society and investment from domestic budget”. Nutrition is the maker and marker of development, and it has to happen at country level.
Patrick Holden one of the oldest organic farmers in Wales, gave an honest account of how there is a need to change farming practices from mono farming to crop rotation. There is a natural need to graze the grass with ruminants. Grass fed dairy can be nutritionally and environmentally beneficial. We need to identify these as part of the solution rather than part of the problem in sustainable farming.There is a need to align future diets with the food output of sustainable farming practices while creating a better business case for sustainability and healthy food production. We must develop common metrics to monitor food system change.
Day two saw Bob Geldof deliver the opening speech, he started by saying that, “this conference is about choosing wisely.” He gave a background to his humanitarian work . And he asked the room what is EAT forums message, and how can it be amplified. In order to have access to policy makers you must have the numbers in terms of significant support. His closing remark was to encourage EAT to identify their spearhead in terms of getting results.
In conclusion, the seminar was extremely insightful and having been delivered in short ted talk like bursts which made it very digestible. My key takeaways were the importance of the first 1,000 days of life in terms of nutritional benefits for the children of the world. The significance of the value chain and realising it is only as strong as its weakest link. The farmer was highlighted as extremely imperative in food and should be held in same regard as board members, and finally the importance of developing good food habits with teenagers, adolescents and young adults as these are the change agents for healthy diets. We should engage earnestly with millennials, as inspiring the new generation is an intrinsic part of the solution. This generation are now spending more on food than clothes and using food as comfort and luxury, they have a powerful choice: trust is millennial currency.
Food is both functional and medicinal we should realise that food touches everything.