With an overall focus on the United Nations Food Systems Summit Action Track 2 - Shifting to sustainable consumption patterns, the Chefs' Manifesto London Action Hub Spring Gathering followed a 'menu of 5 courses.' The fifth and last course looked into the future: how can we future-proof our food systems? How will, and what should, future food systems look like?
Throughout the day and all four previous courses of the Spring Gathering, we gained insights into what is necessary to shift towards more sustainable consumption patterns. We looked at how policy can support shifts towards more healthy diets and consumption on an individual, national and global level; learned more about practices such as composting and; zoomed into a case study to find out what can be done for a particular product. But how do all those factors fit together? To find out what a future-proofed restaurant looks like, Chef Douglas McMaster joined the Webinar and walked participants through his restaurants – all with a zero-waste blueprint.
After laying the foundations and defining what waste is, and how it got here, Chef Douglas went on to share how in his restaurant, his team is working tirelessly to reduce waste through direct trade and composting - namely, to prevent waste from accumulating in the first place. He especially emphasised that in his view, waste is a failure of imagination and that there are many solutions out there (both simple and accessible) for chefs and the general public.
'Behind every product is a story that matters.' This was the core message of Jessi Baker's presentation. Jessi is the CEO and founder of Provenance; a company that helps brands protect themselves from greenwashing and leading the market in transparency. Jessi highlighted that today it is common to buy food based on its price, taste and look, but not usually based on its impact. One day, Jessi hopes that every single product will tell us its impact on the planet and people. Just like the nutritional label system has helped us discover how much fat or sugar a food contains, Provenance believes a system should show us factors like carbon or the impact on people working along the value chain. The good news is that there is a lot of information out there on products' sustainability and brands are starting to increasingly share it. What is stopping transparency is that often this information is locked up somewhere along the supply chain; hurriedly in some sustainability report or otherwise not accessible. According to Jessi, we need to push our food system where we have credible, comprehensive and consistent information that allows us to drive change. It's about getting hard data out into the public domain, which helps create accountability and move beyond storytelling into something we can benchmark.
To wrap up the five hour long Spring Gathering and bring the core messages into a summary, we were joined by Food Futurologist Dr Morgaine Gay. Right at the start, Dr. Gaye highlighted that eco-futurism will be a fundamental concern for humanity as we endeavour to live in a more harmonious way with each another and the planet. With waste as wealth and a focus upon air and water as primary commodities, Dr. Gaye discussed how consumer aspirations will move from accumulation and ‘having’, to a more de-urbanised, self-sufficient, primordial existence in-line with the seasons.
Food Futurology is a science and an art which analyses food trends with indicators in geo-politics, ecology, fashion, human behaviour and other disciplines. According to Dr. Gaye, this present year of 2021 (after years of crisis piquing in the current global pandemic) is the best point for creative innovation. She highlighted that right now is the time to recharge and build new foundations – to start innovating! Humanity is increasingly reflecting on its effect on the planet and on one another, especially in a time where we can increasingly replace humans with so many other solutions like technology. A distinct trend in all this, highlighted Gaye, is the above-mentioned eco-futurism; including the strive for seasonal living, de-urbanisation, DIY functionalities, seeing waste as wealth, finding ways to repurpose and creating something from nothing. Gaye went on to demonstrate how also in spaces like design and fashion, one can observe these distinct trends; from a minimalist white and clinical feel, we are moving forward a more muddy, earthy future, with closer connection to nature. Architecture is increasingly bringing nature from the outside to the inside, including through living green spaces, bigger windows, warmer light and so on. Even at the end of life, humans increasingly are desiring to connect with nature, for example through eco-burial pods that allow the human body to go directly back into the earth and support the growth of a tree or other plant. This fascinating, thought-provoking presentation with an optimistic outlook into a future, was the perfect end to an action-packed day. Indeed we closed with the vision of it being possible to have good food for all where both people and planet are respected,
Watch the full course below and visit the SDG2 Advocacy Hub YouTube to see other event recordings!