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In Sweden, there is a window of opportunity to work for more sustainable food systems. The Swedish government recently released a national food strategy, and several regions and municipalities following with their own strategies. One of the regions active in strategic planning of food systems is the rapidly urbanizing Stockholm-Mälaren region. The region roughly covers six counties surrounding Lake Mälaren, and includes the Swedish capital Stockholm. Several exciting initiatives around sustainable gastronomy, food tech, and local food are popping up.
In an attempt to facilitate that positive change, PhD student My Sellberg, together with centre researchers Garry Peterson, Line Gordon, and Albert Norström, organized a workshop in October 2017 (pdf, 7.4 MB) (Swedish). The workshop gathered 20 actors from different parts of the food system in the region, such as municipalities, researchers, civil society initiatives and business entrepreneurs. The participants represented initiatives at the forefront of sustainable food, but with different ideas of what that means and how to get there. Despite some differences and the absence of representatives from the bigger food industry and supermarket chains, the workshop succeeded in creating new connections among the different food actors present.
The workshop used recent research of the global food system’s sustainability challenges as a starting point. In order to develop positive future scenarios, the researchers used an approach based on the Bright Spots: Seeds of the Good Anthropocene Project, which was initiated to counterbalance prevailing dystopic visions. At its core is the idea that envisioning better futures will actually foster the ability to move towards them. All the participants at the workshop brought their own “seeds”, that is small-scale projects or initiatives of new ways of thinking and doing that exist in the margins today. The visions were developed by envisioning how these seeds would scale up.
Thanks to a collaboration with Axfoundation, the workshop could be held at their recently started “do-tank” for experimenting with sustainable food and farming systems on a farm outside of Stockholm. "Being on the farm enabled us to visit one of their pilot projects, where they grow larvae on food waste which in turn becomes feed for chickens," My Sellberg describes.
During the workshop, Stefan Eriksson, an award-winning chef working with sustainable gastronomy prepared delicious meals. The artist, Wendel Strömbeck, captured the conversations in drawings and cartoons. Afterwards, Wendel, together with the researchers, created an illustration of the common themes for positive food futures that came out of the discussions. The illustration and an explanatory text together with a set of discussion questions summarizes the ideas from the workshop (in Swedish, PDF).
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