A Family of Food Transformers

It's on! EAT founder Gunhild A. Stordalen kicked off the 5th annual Stockholm Food Forum encouraging all parts of the food chain to come together, like a family for dinner. The food transformation must be rapid and radical. How do we coordinate, collaborate and accelerate change?

“There are many ways to be a family. Some share blood. We share a purpose. (..) We are all united by our common mission to get it right on food!”

“Once people get the taste of better solutions; they not only start craving and demanding a better future – they come together to make it happen!”

 

Read the full speech here:

Your Royal Highness, Excellences and Eminent guests
A warm welcome to the Stockholm Food Forum, and the 5th annual gathering of the extended EAT family!

When preparing for this year´s forum, I had one particular image on my mind: My childhood dining room at Muggerud, way out in the Norwegian countryside. This picture shows me and my family all dressed up for Christmas, but every day we´d gather around that same table for dinner.

My mom was the local doctor, and my father worked long hours as an engineer. My brother, sister and I were all over the place. But we would always come together for that one meal. We´d share stories from our days at school or at work. We´d discuss everything from personal dilemmas to international politics. We, the kids could question anything. And we would challenge everything.

As you can tell from the picture, it´s wasn’t always pleasant. But we were always earnest. And we all knew, that no matter how much we´d quarrel,at the end of the day we would still be family.And everyone was always welcome back at the table!

There are many ways to be a family. Some share blood. We share a purpose. And it´s fantastic to see that the EAT family is continuously growing! We would never fit into a homey kitchen, like the one at Muggerud. But when deciding where to host the forum in the first place, we wanted to find a setting with the same spirit and values.

Sweden is ranked amongst the world´s most sustainable, innovative and happy countries. But most importantly, it welcomes free dialogue, with open questions and honest answers.

That´s why I am extremely proud to have the Swedish Government as our official co-host this year, helping us set the table at an even bigger venue here in beautiful Stockholm.

The basis of constructive dialogue is openness and trust. Lately, however, polls show that global trust is now at a record low. The world is dividing, and too often, we choose to sit at a table with likeminded people, rather than mingling with those of a different view. On top of that, we don’t even have a shared set of facts. With new media, we no longer share the same stories. The same newsfeeds. Or even the same realities.

Back home, whenever there was the slightest disagreement on facts, my father would go find the encyclopedia and read out loud. It didn´t nescessarily conclude the debate, but it did create a common reference point. Today, most people will pick up their phones and Google, to cherry pick whatever facts that best support their views

The lack of common references contributes to the growing polarization, which again hinders coordinated actions.

Until now, we´ve had no goals, facts or narrative for the food system as a whole, promoting the health of both people & the planet. To move forward, we must define a unifying factual baseline for food.

As the first collaborative attempt to set global, scientific targets, the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food Planet Health will release their report later this year. We hope it will enable more constructive conversations, collaborations and help track transformation!

Ideally, we would get a set of simple answers.Short enough to tweet and easy to commit to. But to create real change for a real world, we must adresse real complexities, controversies and dilemmas.

For example, at the global level, we need to dramatically reduce the consumption of meat and animal proteins. Yet, in some parts of the world, people will have to increase their intake due to nutritional needs. Also, livestock will continue play an important role for livelihoods. How do we find the right balance?

Next, we ´ll never be able to feed 10 billion people a balanced, healthy diet without a massive increase in trade. At the same time, local food is trending. And countries look inwards to build resilient communities. Is there a “glocal” way forward?

Finally, food production is moving both into the labs and back to nature. Do we have to choose between tehnologists or ecologist, or is the answer somewhere in between?

These are just some of the topics that we´ll be discussing over the next two days.

For us to make progress, I expect you to ask the tough questions – but also, be open about your own challenges.

Here, you´ll find representatives from all sectors. All continents. More than 60 countries. Of different age, gender and cultures. From royals to small holder farmers. Together, we make up a unique, diverse sounding board for future food solutions.

So, do hear the latest updates from your own part of the food chain – but please also use this chance to learn what it looks like from the other side of the table.

These two days won´t answer everything about the future of food. But one thing is for sure, our food system transformation must be rapid and radical. As in most families, strains and struggles happen to be un-evenly distributed. So are responsibilities and possibilities to create large-scale change.

But let´s remember; all of us here are united by our common mission to get it right on food. To create a food system for healthy people on a healthy planet. So please, don´t settle for what´s “less bad” or “slightly better than yesterday”. Be bold! Challenge and help each other find solutions that bring all of us all the way across that critical 2030 milestone!

It may not always be pleasant. But no matter how heated the discussions, everyone is always welcome back at our family table.

Back home, my mother´s signature dish was healty pancakes. With eggs from our free ranged pet chickens, whole grain flour and absolutely no sugar. Often, she added a variety of vegetables too. It gave the pancakes a kind of in-definable color.

I love my mom. So please don´t tell her that I shared this: Her pancakes were great in theory. But my friends from school would rather go home on an empty stomach than to fill it up with all her green, nutricious stuff.

Fortunately, healthy, sustainable food is starting to both look good and taste good.

At increasingly competitive prices. It pop ups and scales up everywhere, followed by a wave of optimism. Because once people get the taste of better solutions, they not only start craving and demanding a better future – they come together to make it happen!

Over the next two days, let´s find those common reference points. Let´s create broad coalitions and new partnerships. And let´s move this great food transformation forward! With Sweden as our co-host, with the table set with nuts to crack and promising solutions and with our global family flocked around it, we can fix this! And we will fix this. Because we will do it together!

Now, let´s get this family gathering started!

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