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New Nordic Food creates opportunities for poor farmers

The ideas behind the highly acclaimed New Nordic Food movement can serve other purposes than feeding gourmet customers in the world’s leading restaurants. A seminar at Rio+20 showed new paths towards an improved rural economy for poor farmers, inspired by the New Nordic Food manifesto.


There is another side to New Nordic Food – a less glamorous, but more socially conscious side. This was demonstrated at a seminar held at Rio+20 by the Nordic Council of Ministers, in cooperation with FAO, the UN food and agriculture institution.

Johannes Jansson/

New Nordic Food is the force behind some of the world’s leading restaurants, including NOMA in Copenhagen which has been named worlds best three years in a row. And in recent years Nordic chefs have dominated gourmet competitions like the Bocuse d’Or.

But there is another side to the New Nordic Food movement – a less glamorous, but more socially conscious side.

This was demonstrated at the seminar "From New Nordic Food to a New Rural Economy" held at Rio+20 by the Nordic Council of Ministers.

- How do we make our everyday lives sustainable and how do we create business opportunities for local agriculture and businesses? That is a huge challenge, but the art of food and cooking can make a great difference in promoting rural economies, said Swedish member of the Nordic Council Cecilie Tenfjord-Toftby, adding that we must strive to make the demand for local food a global trend.

Green choices

Rural development should take into consideration also biodiversity and ecosystems, panelists agreed.

- An ecosystem based approach is crucial. We are interested in a broad sustainable use without creating waste. That is important as an Arctic nation with a limited range of products, said Greenlandic Minister for Nordic Cooperation Palle Christiansen.

But  is also about the quality of what you eat.

- What I really like about the New Nordic Food concept is the fact that it is both a smart and tasty approach to food. That is how you create green growth: by making it attractive to make the right choices, said Danish Minister for Climate and Energy, Martin Lidegaard.

He added that in the EU, 30 % of climate emissions come from food production so it is crucial to look at what we produce and how. And here the New Nordic Food ideal of using more locacly produced food and less meat is central.

The ideals behind New Nordic Food

Chef Trine Hahnemann, who was in charge of cooking New Nordic Food the Brazilian way for the participants made it very clear that simple foodstuffs can become the tastiest meals:

- This is not a restaurant movement, it is about local empowerment. New Nordic Food is an idea you can implement around the world. And the manifesto behind it with its focus on high-quality, locally produced food can inspire people everywhere, she said in her introduction to the food.

- Cooking is a political act, added Brazilian chef Teresa Carcao.

Emile Frisson, director of one of the world’s leading research centers on alternative development strategies, added that it is a huge problem that the local diet in most developing countries is high in energy, but low on nutrients. We simply need better quality and new ideals, he said.

Nordic activities at Rio+20

The seminar was part of the programme of the Nordic Council of Ministers at Rio+20. This includes three seminars and one official side event, plus a stand at the official exhibition space connected to the conference.

Read more at, including a blog with articles from high ranking politicians to opinion makers from the NGO and business community.

You can also follow the Nordic activities in Rio at