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Paving the way for a diverse food future

Nordic gastronomy has come a long way since the signing of the New Nordic Food Manifesto in 2004. But while the diversity of the varieties of kale found in the supermarket has increased, diversity in the food service sector is largely unaddressed. Luckily, this weak spot is not going unnoticed.

05.03.2018

Parabere Forum 2018

Photographer
Brini Fetz

To many in the culinary community, the food service sector is a broken machine. Calls for equality and diversity are heard around the globe, fueling a growing movement.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have created an opportunity to address problems of gender equality, social inclusion and the environmental sustainability of the food system within a holistic framework. For Ronni Kahn, Founder and CEO of OzHarvest, Australia's leading food rescue organisation, the clock is ticking:

“We have 12 years left to achieve the UN SDG goal of minimizing the food waste by 50 % by 2030. So what we need is major commitment, but commitment is not enough. We need the action that goes with that commitment.”

350 change agents

During March 4th and 5th, Parabere Forum, an annual conference, is taking place in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world: Malmö, Sweden. Dedicated to exploring the role of women in gastronomy, the Forum gathers 350 change agents, opinion leaders, food activists, scientists, farmers, chefs and sommeliers from around the world.

We’re in the Nordic countries, which are absolute leaders in terms of gender balanced societies – an example for the rest of the world 

As the founder of Parabere, Maria Canabal explains how she hopes this gathering can strengthen values in the food service sector that reflect bold visions for gender equality:

“We’re in the Nordic countries, which are absolute leaders in terms of gender balanced societies – an example for the rest of the world. And because the Forum shares these same values, we couldn’t have dreamed of a better place to host the conference.”

Growing edible cities

Parabere Forum showcases the ways that cities can drive radical change as economic powerhouses shaping the future through urban food movements and integrated food policy.

Cities need to adopt comprehensive food policies and food needs to be the overarching lens with which we see urban planning

“Cities need to adopt comprehensive food policies and food needs to be the overarching lens with which we see urban planning,” says Franca Roiatti from Milan Urban Food Policy Pact.

With 163 signatory cities since it’s launch in 2015, the Pact is creating momentum and gathering inspiring food policy cases. Copenhagen’s organic food procurement policy is a reoccurring example: through a progressive public procurement policy, the Municipality of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen House of Food ensured that 90% of public food is now organic, with no increased costs.

The Forum showcased how radical change is possible when aspirations of policy and grassroots food movements are aligned. Yalla Trappan is one of Malmö’s most celebrated enterprises with a social cause. It uses food catering as a means to provide work for immigrant women. According to one of the employees, Fatma Ibrahim, the project is life changing:

“Yalla Trappan has given me a chance to work and not just stay at home, and to meet other women. And we are really proud that we are working to help other women to get out of the house.”

Next stop: embracing diversity

The emergence of a common Nordic food culture has placed the region front and centre on the global gastronomic map. But could a focus on social sustainability renew the food movement and drive the Nordic countries to spearhead a shift towards increased diversity in the food sector?

My vision for Noma is not to be the best restaurant in the world but that it will be the best place to work in the world

The success of René Redzepi's world renowned restaurant, Noma, suggests that this is possible. With a diverse team made up of 20 nationalities and a recruitment policy aiming for gender balance, Noma sees the value of a diverse workplace where new creative potential can be unleashed:

“My vision for Noma is not to be the best restaurant in the world but that it will be the best place to work in the world. I want Noma to be a part of that change.”

Join the discussion

The discussion continues on Day 2 of the Forum and beyond, as a part of other initiatives and platforms. For regular updates from the Nordic Food Policy Lab, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on twitter:


For further inspiration, take a look at these initiatives:

  • Parabere Forum 2018: Edible Cities (www.parabereforum.com)
  • Yalla Trappan (www.yallatrappan.se)
  • Copenhagen House of Food (www.kbhmadhus.dk)
  • Nordic Sustainability 2.0: Diversity and tolerance in Nordic gastronomy, a project funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers (www.thefoodproject.dk)
  • MAD:The nonprofit organization that brings together a global cooking community with a social conscience, and an appetite for change (www.madfeed.co)
  • OzHarvest: Australia's leading food rescue charity. (www.ozharvest.org)
  • Milan Urban Food Policy Pact: An international pact signed by 163 cities from all over the world with more than 450 million inhabitants (http://www.milanurbanfoodpolicypact.org)

Contacts

Elisabet Skylare
Phone +45 2171 7127
Email elisky@norden.org

Co-writers: Dr. Afton Halloran, Sustainable Food Systems Consultant and Marie Persson, Project Officer, Nordic Food Policy Lab