Let me tell you why eating an apple makes you part of a hyper interdisciplinary multi stakeholder chain of actors. Your apple traveled through the hands of a seed distributer, a farmer, a truck driver, a salesman and a local shop owner before it became in your possession. A complex combination of logistics, laws, stock prices and regulations is at the base of the food system that is providing you this apple. This system, existing roughly since 1950, has created much more food safety and security than when our grandparents lived. At the same time, it’s complexity and fragmentation causes serious challenges for the world, often instigated by the way we produce, ‘divide’, and consume our foods.
You are what you eat
The world is challenged by the complexity of many systems but there is a significant difference between making a change with food than, for example, making a change in the energy sector. The difference in telling someone to eat less of a certain product or telling someone to use less energy in their household is that the former is touching upon a very personal and intimate relationship, whereas energy is abstract and felt as a collective good. Our food habits are shaped by our childhood, our culture and our religions. “Tell me what you eat and I tell you who you are”, to change someone’s eating habits is therefore a highly complicated and personal business.You are part of the food chain
Food shapes the world around us, the way we live. The way we organize our food system brings prosperity to many and poverty to others. It is about economics and politics, while at the same time it is so personal and emotional. The fact that food is in the middle of this complex junction it almost impossible to grasp for someone working in a fragment of that complex food chain. But without cooperation throughout the whole food chain, one cannot make a significant change. Therefore both producers, salesmen, chefs, scientists and all the other professionals within that food chain, inevitably need to increase their understanding and consciousness about this complexity.
How to change the food system?
Food is close to our hearts, yet it’s one of the most complex issues of our time. If you are a business leader in the Food sector you are part of an ever-changing sector; therefore, I believe in the power of education. At my company Food Hub, we want to enable people to make our food system good, clean and fair. We create educational programs and tools for food professionals so that they can learn from the people that constitute and operate on a daily basis. By traveling through our food chain and visiting farms, governmental buildings, retailers and so on, we challenge professionals to step out of their own fragment and dogmas and to become familiar with the diversity of perspectives and real-life examples. At the same time, we connect innovators with disruptive ideas that challenge the system, to individuals who work at big actors in the food chain and want to change the system from within. We believe that a transition is a (wo)man-made phenomena, meaning everyone has a role in this food transition. Be inclusive, connect the dots and invite your team members to keep on learning. Eating an apple seems simple, a child can do the job. But eating an apple, while being aware of the whole world behind it is a completely different story. The rapidly changing world of food and agriculture is often overwhelming but by zooming out and connecting on a human level we support both understanding and change.