Hi there Gunhild Stordalen, founder and president, EAT Foundation
On the 12th–13th of June, EAT Stockhoms Food Forum is arranged for the fourth year in a row, what will you focus on this year?
- The year we will put the spotlight on how to transform the global food system. If there are no silver bullets – how can we create achievable global commitments if each industry and sector has different targets and indicators? During the Forum, governmental officials such as heads of state and ministers, city mayors, impact investors, philanthropists, business leaders and global scientists will share lightbulb moments and latest innovations – and insight into how to unlock scalability in such ideas. How do sustainable, transformative good ideas go from the prototype or the start up to the mainstream without losing their impact?
What does the recipe for a healthier planet look like?
- There is growing scientific consensus around the main lines, which we can sum up in three simple stepsmost of us can act on. These are being championed by food journalist Michael Pollan and others, and I don’t think they can be repeated often enough. Of course, there are research that still needs to be done, and the actual types of food will depend on the region. Anyway, the basic principles should be universal:
First, eat mostly plants. According to recent research from Oxford Martin School, a global switch to more plant-based diets could save up to 8 million lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds, and lead to healthcare-related savings and avoided climate damages of $1.5 trillion dollars.
Second, eat real food. In general, we eat way too much ultra-processed food. It comes with a lot of artificial additives, fats, salt and added sugar. in the US, more than half of all daily calories come from ultra-processed foods. Food processing is energy-demanding which makes it an environmental issue.
Finally, keep an eye on the portion size and don´t waste edible food. Around 1/3 of the food produced globally, is either lost or wasted. The excess food from buying and serving more than we need ends up around our waist-lines or in our waste bins.
How do you expect from the food industry should contribute to sustainable consumtion?
- The food industry is already making progress in terms of healthier products and reducing their environmental footprint. However, we have to realize that it’s far from enough. Too much of the efforts are spent on incremental adjustments; “a little healthier”, and “a little more sustainable”. Without a broader, systemic shift, there is no way we can achieve the Paris Climate Agreement or the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as food is linked – directly or indirectly – to almost all 17 of them. That is why have to see new, scalable business models that takes into account the interconnectedness of health and environment. On the demand side, consumers have to be enabled by making sure they are fully informed about what the best possible food choices are. A far sighted food industry should already now use their immense marketing power to create tomorrow’s healthier and more sustainable consumer trends.
What are you most worried about in terms of climate change and food supply?
- You don’t have to read many research reports to be concerned about what will happen with global food production as the planet warms 2, 3, or 4 degrees. Even a 1,5-degree scenario will have irreversible consequences for how and where we are able to grow and and produce our food.
However, on the other side, I love seeing all the healthy, green initiatives and innovations popping up everywhere. FoodLabs are coming up with tasty, meat-free burgers, and forward-leaning restaurants are digging into the growing market for fast and healthy take-outs. There is progress at the policy level as well: France just banned food waste from supermarkets, andMexico has introduced a tax on sugar.
But the great challenge now is: We don’t have time to solve one piece of the problem at a time. There are interconnected synergies between health and environmental agendas that we need to unlock. But before we can leverage these, we must connect the dots. Right now, science offers us advice on what is good or bad to eat, separately for health or for climate. What if scientists came together, across disciplines, to develop a comprehensive roadmap on how to feed billions of people on a sustainable planet – in a healthy way? And the food industry took that roadmap as a base for developing new, sustainable and profitable business models? That would enable the industry to take the leap from “less bad” to “all good”, and make it a driving force towards improving our own health and saving the planet.