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Transdisciplinary hubs for building a circular system of wholeness, preservation and resignification of local agricultural resources

Hubs where researchers, artists, designers and the community eliminate the concept of food waste by transforming it into valuable resources

Photo of Daniela Serruya Kohn
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

A Cozinha Nômade

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

A cozinha nômade (small company) Vista Alegre (Farmer Business Organization) Massalas (Small company) Ponto biodesign (Biodesign Researcher)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Just beginning now

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Belo Horizonte

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Federative Republic of Brazil

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte (RMBH)

What country is your selected Place located in?

Federative Republic of Brazil

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

All four organizations of the team members are based in counties of the Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte. 

Team member 1: Vista Alegre is a farm based in Capim Branco. They offer a more sustainable food production, without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, using nature as their ally, bringing to their production fields the ecological interactions that occur in nature, seeking the balance between species.

Team member 2: A Cozinha Nômade 

Multidisciplinary project created for connection between visual art, ecology and education through multissensorial experiences, wild fermentation, gastronomy and social interaction.

Team member 3: Ponto Biodesign is an experimental lab and design studio based on the concept of ‘when biology and design meet’. Their research focuses on biofabrication of bacterial cellulose grown with waste from local food companies. Their aim is to develop new biomaterials and use them in local products.

Team member 4: Located in county Esmeraldas, MASSALAS is a social business that encourages integration with the natural environment and care in human relations. They collect and compost organic waste and use it as organic fertilizer in nearby agroforestry systems that benefit family farming in the region. They also offer education about natural diet, the use of local agroecological ingredients, Ayurveda and anthroposophy.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

"Belo Horizonte is a creative, pulsating city, increasingly connected, where culture, art, gastronomy, scientific knowledge and technology move everyday life. A modern, versatile, fascinating urban space that exceeds expectations and renews itself every day". On one hand, we have the traditions of the state of Minas Gerais (MG), which includes the most diverse gastronomy in Brazil and the hospitality of the "mineiros" (MG's gentilic). And on another hand, the unique creativity and innovation of cultural events and technological development.

Belo Horizonte is the capital of the state of Minas Gerais and the sixth largest city in the country.  The greater part of the population and commercial activities of the region are concentrated here. For this reason, the description below is mostly about the characteristics of Belo Horizonte. The Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte  (RMBH) consists of 34 municipalities and has a GDP of R$ 217.59 millions (32.3% of the GDP of Minas Gerais state). The climate of the region has tropical characteristics with alternation of dry and rainy seasons demarcated throughout the year and with an average temperature around 21.1 ° C.

The metropolitan farmers are located in the peri-urban surroundings of Belo Horizonte, and in the last few years there has been increased in the number and size of companies that produce organic food seeking for a more sustainable production, fair labor and a more engaged community. This companies (e.g. Vista Alegre) nourishes Belo Horizonte with organic fruits and vegetables and also are encouraging a more conscious lifestyle. They produce pineapples, plums, bananas, lemons, apples, mangos, rosemary, lettuce, cabbage, lemongrass, mint, basil, pumpkin, turmeric, garlic, potatoes, onions, carrots, manioc, corn, okra, cucumber, tomato, local plants like ora-pro-nobis and almeirão and non-conventional edible plants like sweet potato leaf and banana blossom (umbigo de banana).

The gastronomy of the RMBH is special not only because of its history, tradition and diversity, but also for transforming the diet culture into a unique experience. The pleasure of dining in the region is linked to the pleasure of being well received. The gastronomy of the capital is a world reference and has a wide variety of recipes and local products. On October 30th 2019, Belo Horizonte was integrated to the Unesco Creative Cities Network for its gastronomy.

The innovation ecosystem is one of the pillars of the city's economic development. Universities, public and private sectors seek intelligent solutions to urban challenges of a contemporary metropolis with Belo Horizonte's dimensions. The city is a knowledge hub, with 62 higher education institutions. Even though Brazil's political scenario is currently turmoil and has generated a lot of distrust, "mineiros" will to be actively involved with initiatives with positive impact and that benefit their community is increasing.

(Main reference: )

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

We believe that this region has great initiatives that are working to create more sustainable solutions in specific areas of the local food chain system, but currently there isn’t a place where they can come together to create systemic solutions and connect to develop transdisciplinary projects that can improve the food chain as a system. Currently, a high percentage of industrial and agricultural food production becomes waste in a short period of time. This short cycle produces a great amount of waste and pollution like contamination of groundwater, the emission of greenhouse gases, organic waste and packaging going straight to landfills in cities surrounding the capital. 

There's misinformation and lack of tools and accessible information about the multiple possibilities of reusing food waste for composting, bioenergy, biomaterials production and non conventional recipes. The RMBH doesn't have a public system for collection and recycling of organic waste which impoverishes the soil and causes several environmental impacts. We need to build individual and collective awareness and provide real options and tools in order for the community to know what concrete actions they can do. 

Disarticulation between the micro and macro-politics is an obstacle to implement technologies for recover resources and devasted areas. Permissions to develop solutions and rebuild territories depends on many government conditions and licenses, restricted to a minority. Public and private institutions that concentrates power and resources, need to get involved with innovative, sustainable and replicable ideas and projects. Public mismanagement creates a high damage, matching small initiatives  through severe bureaucracies and taxes rated as high as big companies. This makes harder to develop innovative and sustainable projects for small businesses.

Eliminating the pesticides and chemical fertilizers that threatens the life of entire ecosystems and the health of our community. In the last few years the amount of organic farmers in the region increased, but at the same time, the federal government permits the use of more pesticides. Furthermore, cultural habits are directly affected by this reality, including their diet. Having a natural and organic diet is expensive and only is accessible for people with more purchasing power. The rush in people everyday routine makes them fall into fast food consumption and industrialized, pasteurized, processed products that capture and deceive them by presenting themselves as an appealing practical option. Unpacking those kinds of products is a more common practice than to peel a fruit or a vegetable, which becomes a revolutionary action to be spread in society, through environmental and food education. It is important that the self-sustaining food culture becomes a responsibility to be taken in the urban community.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Having physical spaces around the region will facilitate the unification of the community regarding concrete actions and tools that they can use to improve our food system. These food system hubs will concentrate local, organic products; options of restaurants where people can have healthy, vegan diets full of probiotics; access to learning experiences, ecological education, a place to destine their organic waste and knowing it will be either used as a resource for making other materials and energy or it will be composted, going back to nature. The food that is not sold in restaurants and the organic market will be given to institutions dedicated to connect leftovers in good conditions with people and institutions that need them.

To make our food system work in a more sustainable way, we believe there has to be a group of leaders in design, art, research, education and media working together, facilitating information, projects and tools. People from the community could make changes in the way they are doing now. The only way changes can be possible is if citizens get truly engaged in seeking to make things different, living a healthier life, helping others to grow. And for that happens, it has to be somewhere educating, leading and showing the way in a collective.

Those hubs around the region will provide spaces for the dissemination of knowledge, professional training and open source for people to think about the conscious in their consumption and sustainable lifestyle. Humans need to reconnect with nature. New recipes will be created using peels, stems, leftovers, crushed parts of fruits and vegetables, to transform aesthetic and market concepts, re-educating and raising awareness among the population in the RMBH integrating them to vegetarianism, veganism and flexitarianism through dialogues and events that will strengthen this proposal. Furthermore, innovative recipes will be developed through the discovery and diffusion of new food like wild plants, algae and fungi, using conservation and preservation practices, which may also be a vehicle for a better way of life in a holistic and interconnected system. 

The implementation of methodologies to replicate successful multidisciplinary projects from one hub to another will facilitate research and application of innovative solutions towards a circular economy in the region. Family farming and industrial environments will be able to develop and promote campaigns and actions for the creation and diffusion of cooperatives, to gather and protect their enterprises, connecting and listening to the consumer and being officially certified.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

We believe in 2050 the majority (60%) of our region's population will be vegetarian or vegan, that our food will be organic, grown locally by farmers we know and admire for all they do for the community. We believe in 2050 we will eat probiotics and fermented food every day, that there will be a database full of innovative recipes with non-conventional edible plants (PANCs - plantas alimentícias não convencionais), insects, parts of plants that we are not used to eat. 

We want to realize the projects that biodesigners of the city are researching today, where microorganisms are co-creators of a new generation of healthy materials that will replace toxic ones that we use today. Because in 2050, kids will find absurd that their parents used to send to landfills their organic waste, because then it will be used as energy for their houses and schools, will be the raw material for their furniture, packaging, other food recipes, art until finally returning to nature as natural fertilizer to the soil through composting.

The community will be empowered, they will know the huge impact they have just by choosing what, where and how they eat. They will recuse to buy food with pesticides, single-use plastic packaging, food grown by companies that deplete the soil and give poor labor conditions to their workers.

People will enjoy knowing that decisions and innovative projects are made together with them in physical transdisciplinary hubs with focus in the food system of the region. Spaces where they can learn and be an active part of a transdisciplinary task force that will work on building a more circular food system along with other people of the community. They will feel safe and hopeful having these hubs that will relentlessly work for a more healthy food chain in the city and will provide them with healthy and nourishing food, products and services.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Imagine the Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte in 2050. This creative, pulsating region, where culture, art, gastronomy, scientific knowledge and technology move everyday life, brought to the next level. A place where the food system leave no waste and no one behind. Where the very concept of food waste doesn't exist anymore and the value of agricultural resources is make the most. Where you have a physical space near by, with a task force you can rely on. Where you can engage together with other members of the community to achieve a healthy closed loop food system. Imagine a future where you have control over what you eat, how that food was grown and by who. A future where instead of worrying about how many pesticides you're putting into your body, you can enjoy knowing you are nourishing yourself with good microorganisms and a healthy, local vegetarian or vegan diet.

What if the materials used for packaging, building houses, clothes and your furniture where grown by microorganisms that convert fruit peel and organic waste into natural, compostable matter that after being used can return to nature safely. What if food waste could be turned into energy to power our city or into intelligent materials for a bioart exhibition. What if small businesses, research groups, organic farmers and other initiatives in the food system had the support of our government instead of being hindered in processes of trying to make positive changes. 

We as a community are going to be so united and strong that we'll be able to make changes in policies and dictate rules that will benefit the food system in our region. We, led by an awesome task force working in several hubs around the region will create and execute innovative and sustainable solutions in order to achieve a closed loop food system. These physical spaces are going to work as the brain for the circular food system for the Metropolitan Area of Belo Horizonte (RMBH). They will connect farmers, designers, artists, researchers, educators, media, and most importantly it will be open for the people of the community to actively engage in the projects, support them proudly and love them.  

The RMBH's hubs will amaze the community restructuring the concept of what the food system is today, they will disrupt the way we do things by simultaneously working in the following departments:

1. Research Laboratory: In this space designers, engineers, biologists, farmers, artists and other researchers will develop a new generation of natural materials using what is currently food waste as raw materials for packaging, construction, consumer goods, art, fashion, etc. Biofabrication will be one of the main tools applied in this department, where microorganisms will co-create solutions together with the researchers. The aim is to develop economically sustainable solutions so that they can be applied by local companies in a wider scale.

2. Kitchen Laboratory: We want non-conventional edible plants (PANCs - non conventional edible plants) local fruits and vegetables, parts of the food that are not eaten normally and fermented food to be fully ingrained in the daily routine of our community. In order to do that, the kitchen laboratory will be responsible for creating innovative recipes, passing them to the restaurants in the food court, make a database of open-source recipes, making workshops available for the community and curating innovative dinners with different sensorial experiences in order to connect with food in other levels. The kitchen laboratory will produce knowledge and design experiences that will nourish the community physically and mentally.

3. Food Court: This space will offer organic, vegan, zero-waste food for the community of the RMBH, providing healthy meals that nourish their bodies and their city without compromising the practicality they need. It will promote the consumption of non-conventional vegetables, probiotics and innovative food experiences. The food court will have an organized department that is in charge of organizing all of the leftovers from the restaurants and get them ready to be donated to people in need, instead of being composted. 

4. Market: The market will sell local organic products. Products will use compostable, returnable, refillable or not packaging at all. Whenever possible, food will be sold in bulk in refillable stations. Information about who and how the product was grown will be available for customers. Farmers and companies that produce the food will open their doors for visitations so the community can see, learn, engage more with the whole process and be aware of all it takes to get the food to their day to day life. 

5. Knowledge Exchange: Having a space to share knowledge and make activities with the community is one of the key factors to make a closed loop food system. People's actions are the most important ingredient in making this project work. And is through workshops, movies, conferences, and educational activities that their willingness and engagement will be fed. The Knowledge Exchange department will also help grow trust within the community by providing a space to be transparent to show what's being done and the things that can still be better. It's also a space to listen to the real needs of the people so we can develop solutions custom made for our "mineiro" community. 

6. Art Gallery: There will be a space dedicated to exhibitions that explore the intersection of biology, art, food, technology and design. We believe that bioart can help to sensitize and transform the way our community sees the connections that exist between them and nature. It's a tool that can encourage our community to ask themselves questions about how and why we do things the way we do and is there a better way? This gallery can be a door full of wonders that can make people from our community more interested in the hub so they can start getting involved. 

7. Organic Waste Collection Center: The hub will be a collection point of organic waste that can either go to the research department; go to industries that are already commercializing solutions or using that resource as raw matter for other products, be transformed into energy or be destined to the compost center.

Now, let's imagine this awesome cenario with real people (our team members) within the food and agriculture system in the RMBH! We'll call this example "The Banana Project". 

Think about connecting an organic local producer (Projeto Vista Alegre); a food innovator, specialist in fermented food and bioartist (Cozinha Nômade); a biodesigner whose research focuses on biofabrication of bacterial cellulose grown with food waste to develop new biomaterials (Ponto Biodesign); and a social business that encourages integration with the natural environment and care in human relations, that collect and compost organic waste and use it as organic fertilizer in nearby agroforestry systems that benefit family farming in the region (Massalas).

Vista alegre is a small local business that produces organic food. One of the products that generates more waste are bananas. Whenever possible, Vista Alegre will sell their products directly to clients to eliminate packaging waste using reusable bags and boxes. In order to get the community more engaged with the process, they will offer visitations to their farm, where they can show their production while having fun and educational activities. 

The bananas sold in Belo Horizonte's farmers markets and grocery stores will be packaged with compostable materials, created by Ponto Biodesign together with the University of the State of Minas Gerais. 

The bananas that aren't sold, instead of being thrown away, will go to A Cozinha Nômade, that will ferment them using microorganisms to make banana vinegar. This product will be sold, recovering the value of the resource that is currently going to landfills. Furthermore, the probiotics in the vinegar will nourish the consumers, giving them a practical option for a more healthy diet. A Cozinha Nômade will also have workshops to teach people how to make their own vinegar; they will create new recipes to use the vinegar together with non-conventional edible plants produced by Vista Alegre; they will offer a dining experience event, where they will introduce some of those innovative recipes to people along with different sensorial experiences.

The banana peels, which are not used in vinegar production, will be given to Ponto Biodesign for a research project that aims to develop compostable materials. The banana peels will work as nutrients for bacteria to produce cellulose films and also as reinforcement to make biocomposites. Those materials will be applied in packaging for organic fruits and vegetables of Vista Alegre. Ponto Biodesign and A Cozinha Nômade will also give conferences and show documentaries about biofabrication, how microorganisms can help us build a new generation of biomaterials, how biofabrication is being applied in the Hub and what they can do to be a part of it. They will also create the first exhibition for the bioart gallery and give workshops to teach people how to make their own compostable materials at home.

In order for the materials to return safely to the biosphere, organic waste will be collected by Massalas to be composted. The organic matter will become natural fertilizer that will be used in nearby agroforestry systems that benefit family farming in the region, including the soil where the bananas are grown by Vista Alegre. They will offer education for the community about natural diet, the use of local agroecological ingredients, Ayurveda and anthroposophy. In these meetings people can learn from each other allowing them to reflect gratefully on their daily attitudes as human beings integrated to nature as a whole living organism.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Instagram

Describe how your Vision developed over the course of the Refinement Phase.

The essence of our Vision remains the same. Our mission is to design, plan, develop and drive changes, through design and innovation, within the food system. Our region has most of the pieces of this puzzle, some small and some larger. Diving into our mapping, we interacted with many actors of the food system in our region, listening and talking with them. We realized that there are many initiatives from different sectors seeking connection.  We noticed that, instead of building new hubs around the region, we need to focus on guiding the existing initiatives, articulating them, collaborating to the circularity of the system, establishing a strong network for generating value and interaction through sustainable projects.

Please provide the names of all organizations you meaningfully partnered with to develop this latest version of your Vision (they contributed at least 10 hours of time to the Vision development during the Refinement Phase).

A Cozinha Nômade - Daniela Kohn
Multidisciplinary project that connects visual art, ecology and education through multi-sensorial experiences, wild fermentation, gastronomy and social interaction.

Ponto Biodesign - Elena Amato
Ponto Biodesign is an experimental lab and design studio currently working with bacterial cellulose biofabrication using waste as raw matter. Elena is the founder of this project. She is a designer currently pursuing a masters degree in design with focus on material development, technology and sustainability here in Belo Horizonte.

FACE - Leandro is a researcher at the Regional Planning and Development Center (CEDEPLAR) at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG). He also teaches at the faculty of economics at the same university. His research focuses on system innovation development and advisory.

Describe the specific steps you took during the Refinement phase to include different stakeholders to develop your Vision, including a description (age, profile, and total number) of the stakeholders engaged, and how you engaged with each.

Before the COVID-19 quarantine, we interacted with stakeholders in presential meetings to understand and frame  our actions. 

We dedicated our meetings to structuring the construction of our Food System, with an emphasis on the first two projects, which we wish to prototype and carry out, called The Banana project: Bio fabrication of bacterial cellulose made by banana peel for packaging and the upcycling with bananas that are not sold in reusing to banana vinegar production.

Our  stakeholders are:

Lucas Souza, 37 years old, VISTA ALEGRE owner, organic food producer;

Guilherme Berma, 36, Filipe, 30, founders of MASSALAS, a social company, dedicated to the collection of organic waste and its composting, used as organic fertilizer in nearby agroforestry systems in the region;

Leandro Alves, 47, Center for Planning and Regional Development at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, researcher. We organized our system map: (1) producers, (2) distributors / retailers, (3) food preparers / innovators, (4) waste collectors / researchers, (5) educators / agents / awareness communicators, (6) policy makers and insert them on a digital map, on the Miro platform

We also collaborated with Bruna and Marina, 30 and 28 years old, founders of HÚMUS PARA PESSOAS (Humus for People), an organization that supports the development of people and businesses through the creation of spaces for dialogue.

They worked with us on the strategies and skills to design possibilities of connections between the stakeholders and added their contributions to our Vision.

What signals and trends did you draw from to inform your Vision? Please provide data or examples that back up each signal or trend.

There are several converging trends that inform our vision. Organic local food from family farming to nourish the whole city: "There's no such thing as: people from marginal communities don't eat fruits and vegetables. The thing is that they're not sold there (ARTEMÍSIA; CARGILL). This project will work to develop access for local, organic food equally for every social class. Today, Open Food Brazil, promotes small-scale family farming and access to local food through a self-managed commercial platform giving access to peripheral areas of the city.

Syntropic forests and agroecology to increase biodiversity and soil fertility. Agroforests sequester ~10 tonnes of CO2/ha/yr (SENDIN). Four examples of organizations working with these approaches in Belo Horizonte are Coletivo Mujique, Agroecologia na Periferia and Yacarantã. An example of that is the National Plan for Agroecology and Organic Production (BRASIL AGROECOLÓGICO). Also, Ernst Götsch have been a great representative of the movement in Brazil since the 80's (AGENDA GOTSCH)

We expect to see more food and economic sovereignty. The parallel currency 'massalas' is a social coin, created by a social business that collects and composts organic waste that can be traded in a local business from their network (MASSALAS).

A new understanding of the role of microorganisms: The ecosystem modifiers, gut and mental health promoters (KATZ; FERMENTARE SCHOOL) 

The potential of integrating non-conventional edible plants (PANCs) and fermented food into daily diets. A local gelato shop added to their menu the "Eco-lato" made with fruit peels that would be wasted (LULLO GELATO). 

The biowaste-based economy is growing. Biofabrication and biodesign of consumer goods, open source and DIY materials. We can see startups using food waste, bacteria and fungi to create materials for buildings, jewelry, packaging and food. (ECOVATIVE, UPPRINTING FOOD, BOLTTHREADS, MALAI, TOAST ALE, A COZINHA NÔMADE, GRÃO MOAR, RECOFFEE, PONTO BIODESIGN, MATERIOM, CASA ZERO, MATERIAL DRIVEN).

Describe a “Day in the Life” of a key food system actor within your food system in 2050 (e.g., farmer, chef, supply chain actor, food policy actor, etc.).

I live with my family in Belo Horizonte. The first thing I do, every day, before I get out of bed, is meditate for some minutes. After that, I drink a dose of kombucha or another homemade probiotic. I check my "feedfood" app which notifies me when it's time to harvest bananas. It also notifies the Banana Producer Cooperatives that my product is ready to be sold. The leaves are sold to a compostable packaging manufacturer. The fruit and flowers are sold for a fair price to a local market in the neighboring community. Since 2040, food system innovators have been rewarded with recognition in the city. In the market, the bananas that are too ripe, and that are not sold to consumers, are purchased weekly by a vinegar company. An organic waste collection company collects the banana peels and takes them to an organization that uses them to feed bacteria that produce cellulose. I go to work with my bike powered by an electric fermentation-energy engine. When I get to the hub that I coordinate, the team is starting to prepare meals with local and organic products we purchased last week in the app and that will be delivered today by an automated drone. While I prepare classes for this week, my partner prepares the food that will be delivered to the customers in compostable/ edible packaging and places our organic waste where it will be collected to be used as raw-material to produce biomaterials, energy or to be composted. We have two options for delivery: The "Quantum",  prepared for the healthy food club members aligned with their previously obtained medical conditions and "Xepa", with leftover food of the week. At the foodhub, I interact most with people from the food incubator hosted with us, the waste collectors, the designers and the strategist who connect our work with others to build transdisciplinary projects. Before I go to bed, I think about the changes that we have been achieving with valuable resources that our community has given meaning to.

Environment | How will your food system of 2050 adapt to climate change and remain resilient?

To stimulate the development of agroecological initiatives in marginal areas of the municipality they could influence them to be the main source of organic food for Belo Horizonte. This could allow the community to establish pesticide-free diets and, at the same time, allow low-income neighborhoods to access poison-free food. The appreciation of local organic food from family farming would function as a tool for recovering lost dignity strikethrough and give chances to prosper to low-income communities in marginal areas.

From the data presented by the Lixo Zero Institute, the increased mobilization of the local community in the eastern region of Belo Horizonte demonstrates that, in the practice of a complete organic cycle, when food waste is moved to its ideal destination, this modifies the impact on the environment.

It is one of our purposes to find pieces of the puzzle and fit them together. Imagining each neighborhood in the city having its own waste recovery center, the destination of the waste would be different and the interaction between the neighborhood with its own waste, too. The materials could be reused and redirected, avoiding them from being sent to landfills. The food waste could be returned to the soil, and the community could be benefited in environmental and cultural dimensions.

According to research carried out by Artemísia in partnership with the Cargill Foundation about the social impact of food: "28% of the waste occurs before the food reaches the consumer (POF 2008 -2009)". By changing the mindset of our diet, we can change the environmental impacts . "When you rescue food, you actually rescue a lot of resources"( INSTOCK,NL). 

We are dedicated to develop the projects, with educative, social and collaborative perspectives, to raise awareness and inspire people to learn how to organize and  direct their waste to places where it will complete the loop in the organic cycle and be correctly destined to  its better use.

Lixo Zero BH Institute and MASSALAS, have been working to increase the number of collaborators in this network, to spread the supportive economic model to the hyperlocal market and to co-create educational, creative and social actions that strengthen the bonds between the initiatives and the local society.

The impacts that communities can cause on the environment, from reducing the amount of food waste, being conscious and knowing how to choose, use and separate recyclable materials, or addressing specific waste for upcycling are significant. They can influence the reduction of pollutant gas emissions, can improve the quality of the air and the soil, and the reorganization of a society, through engagement and an ecological behavior. Our Vision is designed to intervene in this directly.

Diets | How will your food system of 2050 address malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, metabolic disease) for the people living there?

In order to preserve and stimulate a country's food identity with all its wealth, it is necessary to have public policies for the health and education systems which strengthen the foundations of food culture and the mindset of a society. In a country like Brazil, with high levels of social inequalities, it is important to be resilient in addressing potential structural disruptions. 

To imagine the changes, favors the seeking. Working in partnership, requesting the birthrights of our community, with governmental and other entities, such as NGOs and independent projects and mainly involving the local community in this process, is one of the ways to build new addresses for such an impacting problem.  Micropolitics works in many areas, even though it is essential to organize forms of approach that reach the masses. I believe in a rhythm, in which small groups are able to influence others and promote transformations in the long term. In order to face classic problems of the global diet and which also present themselves in the Brazilian diet, to find solutions, it is essential to work in their origin. Malnutrition on the one hand, metabolic diseases on the other, both require a rethinking of big paradigms, but with different interventions. This is a long and lasting process of re-education and the recovery of basic needs. 

According to the World Health Organization, "malnutrition is a pathological condition resulting from deficiency in the supply, transport or use of nutrients. Malnutrition is responsible for 55% of child deaths worldwide and it is associated with various other diseases". In this sense, our vision aims at building foundations and acess the resources to create events and harm reduction programs inside public schools. We envision actions that mobilize, that connect actors from the education sector with society, inspiring and transmitting knowledge. This should also include political and cultural partners, to establish a new model in relation to food and to reach people’s real needs through acting in their structures. One of the main pillars of this proposal is to work on raising awareness and on the food and environmental education of a society. We want to achieve that through dialogues, through listening and, through seeking existing projects in this field that are unable to further develop alone. Metabolic diseases clearly demonstrate a lot about an imbalance. Fermented foods, in addition to healthy eating in general, are directly related to health and well-being. The study The Gut Microbiota: Masters of Host Development and Physiology (SOMMER;BÄCKHED)  proves that the well functioning of a diverse intestinal microbiota has a direct link to beneficial health effects. We also envision that this project provides an educational incentive for relevant institutions. For example, public schools with their food system and which interact with local community centers. Here, including ways to prepare the food themselves and transform it into probiotic food through the wild fermentation could help to attain student’s best performance as well as to contribute to their health prevention. 

From the food that is grown, straight from the soil, but also how to insert a culture and a mindset of reuse and conservation, enlightening solutions for the food waste. Although, our project is designing actions to intervene in this serious public health situation in Brazil. The country suffers from deep cuts in public spending. There are still social assistance programs that try to contain the damage to humanity, as there are several in the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte. However, according to data from the Ministry of Health, the number of malnourished children has increased in the last two years and there are macro-political barriers that make it difficult to combat these statistics. 

In this context of necessity, initiatives like the System Food Vision Prize are opportunities for intervention in this scenario through other ways.

In addition, our Vision is dedicated to finding and improving ways to get investments for studies and in-depth research related to human interactions with different microbiomes. As well as, to learn, observe and mimic their best qualities. Thus, making the Food System and other Systems more co existential and circular. Our Vision aims at reshaping eating behavior, based on more systemic and ecological views and this is directly related to the diet of a population and the construction of it within their social reality.

Economics | Where and what will the jobs be that support living wages in your future food system of 2050, and how will these jobs impact gender equality?

The word economy derives from the Greek term: oikos; home. The understanding of the etymological meaning of this word guides us: administer the house, the customs, the location where resources are distributed.

The history of social construction has many chapters. Since the matriarchal society was reverted to patriarchy, the impacts generated since then, the impacts generated since then until now, signal the urgency of working on society's awareness and investing our time in actions to reverse this scenario. Tireless movements of resilience and dedication have existed and exist to bring about changes throughout history. We are encouraged to continue and deconstruct the obstacles with Our Vision. Gender difference, like other differences, is relevant in our society. Increasingly, it is evident that we are complementary and interconnected beings. We are an orbiting system, but we are still learning how to build our best version.

Studying the survey: The future of women at work - Transition in the age of automation, carried out by the Mckinsey Global Institute, we felt our ideas were echoed and we consolidated our Vision accordingly. The creation of opportunities for women to participate in scientific activities and investment in building a network, which structures the presence of partnerships between organizations, which act on gender equality, are some of our approaches. In our Vision, education is a pillar. Reconnecting people with the Earth, through knowledge, is one of our main intentions. Agroecology is a practice that embraces many of our goals. The valorization of women in agricultural activities, their inclusion in the roles of transmitters of knowledge and leadership, also constitute our System Vision.

Feminism emerges as a movement to claim rights and positions itself before our society. In order for us to be reconciled with Nature, we need to learn from it. Our Vision is committed to an economy of collaboration, so that we can, even on a small scale, be an example and join our forces to interfere in this reality. In practical terms, it will be possible in our network to build actions in which gender equality will be a focus. Our food system is largely outlined by enterprises led by women:  A Cozinha Nômade in food innovation, Ponto Biodesign  in research, Vila João de Barro in distribution and production of organics; furthermore The Mindful Eating Institute, Education and Food Awareness; Invista Foods, Engineering and Food Safety. We are talking about cooks, educators, artists, scientists, farmers. The network among women within our Vision is notabIe. In order for our Food System to prosper, the six themes of this evaluation process are tuned as instruments of a large orchestra. Within the prototype "The Banana Project", it is possible to identify the presence of women in relevant positions within the project: In the management of the project, in the development of scientific research, in the structuring of food security, laboratory analysis and in the manufacture of products. These examples build our proposal for a circular economy, based on the production of banana vinegar and compostable packaging, coming from the banana waste cycle. In this sense, we also include in our Vision, the presence and welcome for other genres that are developing, such as non-binarism. In our list of priorities, the education projects in environmental and food, through programs and events, will follow the themes we choose, like gender equality. This will enable us to define our teams of women educators as the spokesperson for our proposals. In the near future, we will come even closer to our ideals as we realize this System Vision. We are cells capable of transforming the distant future, as we are shaping ourselves and we believe that our actions can inspire and awaken those people who are looking for new solutions to old problems.

Culture | How will your 2050 food system ensure that the cultural, spiritual and community traditions and/or practices in your Place flourish?

The inner ecological consciousness, when it is awakened on a personal level, can be so potent as to interfere with the perception of the spiritual consciousness. Like the cells in the body, one influencing the other, affecting the whole system.

The culture of a society can reveal signs of the environment and its mentality. Just as the language of a people can connect it with its roots, it can also contribute to the diversity and beauty of the multiple possible languages in a cross-cultural society. To realize that we belong to the Whole can be spiritual. To respect Nature and its forces, too.

The culture of a society can accommodate changes, even revolutions and keep its core alive. It is fundamental for the transmission of people’s memory and history. Foundations to be always cultivated so that it is strong and can spread throughout the world, crossing continents and centuries, remaining authentic and updating itself through its resilience. Wisdom is a virtue. Ancestral knowledge guards a heritage that is to be preserved and respected. For innovations carry the strength of ancestry, too. Education is a human right.

In our Vision, we plan to invest in the construction of creative and educational projects, programs of experiential studies, and continuous meetings. We plan to commit ourselves to the construction of dialogues, for the production of knowledge and thinking, through the learning and diffusion of the circular thinking, ecology and ethics. 

We want to touch and summon our dialogue partners (organizations, people), who also relate to others, to rethink our impacts on Nature and our choices.

It is essential for our team that this food system is able to guide and facilitate certain activities. For example: home-grown vegetables, sprouting food, fermenting food, learning about the nourishing and cultural benefits of these activities, strengthening the exchanging and using of Creole seeds in agriculture. Studying and communicating this cultural foundation, through knowledge exchange groups, listening and dialogue, could be ways of action.

Culture changes over time, as it is alive. However, it will be flexible in societies that assume their responsibilities for environmental impacts and ethics, both letting go of rigid and unsustainable approaches and influencing other cultures around the world.

With advances in technology, it is possible to break geographical boundaries and to create and sustain alliances and approaches based on common interests and practices. Culture does not depend on physical territory, but to inspire sustainable practices one of its pillars must be perseverance.

Likewise, projects with strategic planning perseverance, commitment and management. Education is similar. The effects of a diet are manifested over time, the traits of a culture as well.

In this Vision, the importance of collective experiences around the table prevails, as well as social interaction, rituals and festive dates. Seasonal food and their increased importance can also be the result of a certain spirituality supporting agriculture and of a deeper and more systemic knowledge about the Earth, functioning as a more respectful way of using natural resources without depleting them. We are part of the wholeness.

In this regard, our Vision will work to preserve and recover the history of food. This includes its cultural heritage in the communities and it includes spreading the necessity and importance of this approach to the heritage of Humanity, through research and events. This will contribute to the relevance of a more systemic global identity. In Brazil, as well as in some other indigenous cultures, there are foods that appear in the History of global food culture, such as cassava and banana. Those represent an important symbol of the culture, they are references and they are treasures, so we are committed to preserve them and nurture their values.

Technology | What technological advances are needed to transform your food system into one that meets your goals and embodies the values of your Vision in 2050?

Fermentation is a political act, writes Michael Pollan in his best seller, Cooked. This activity is part of what sustains ancient cultures. Responsible for important technological innovations, when treated with social responsibility and deeper attention, it can be one of the ways to change paradigms about our way of perceiving the universe and interacting with its forces. Sugar, in fermentation, when consumed by microorganisms, produces energy. When we learn to coexist with microbial living beings, without germophobia, we could recover our communities, and so do the environments. Although invisible to the naked human eye, they are essential beings for the maintenance of life on Earth and for the physical-chemical transformations that occur on the planet. Our Vision includes structural changes, built in the medium and long term. In principle, we designed our ideas to solve urgent problems, such as toxic and polluting plastic packaging that is sent to landfills weekly. To interfere in this case, our vision aims to locate and bring together small producers of banana subproducts and sweets, a very popular product and consumed on a large scale nationally and internationally. This traditional product of Brazilian culture is considerably marketed. We intend to transform these non-recyclable packaging into compostable packaging, produced from the banana residues of these same producers. We will create for them a system for collecting their organic waste; a compostable packaging factory for its products, establishing a circular production that still does not exist in our city. Biomimicry educates us to reconfigure our mentalities. Therefore, in order to build a sustainable food system, it is more than necessary to respect the clear messages that nature gives us. And it is our priority to interfere in the materials that make up the food packaging industry. Currently, many fruits, including bananas, are packaged in non-biodegradable plastics, as they are cheaper. Certain regulations by Anvisa, the National Health Agency, are mandatory for the sale of food, but they are also major problems for the environment and for producers, who want to be more environmentally friendly. Our intention is to overcome these obstacles, with research and innovation, initially through the technological development for packaging factories in the production of bacterial cellulose, originating from the fermentation of banana peels, initially. Other biomaterials are also available in abundance in the food industry and treated as waste. To begin with, our Vision intends to create a prototype, through the banana cycle and in the future, replicate it for other raw materials. Compostable packaging factories, is still a very new subject in our country, but also very indispensable. There are large packaging companies researching this transition, there are solutions, but they are still quite expensive for a large part of the sector. We believe that our Vision can facilitate this process, by building a collaborative network, raising awareness among political agents and also companies, in order to cause the changes that we want and believe are fundamental for the health of our system.

Policy | What types of policies are needed to enable your future food system?

We can group the policies necessary for the future consolidation of our system into 6 main themes, considering the institutional context in our locality at the present: Environmental policy that establishes stricter parameters for the sustainable use of natural resources and for the mitigation of the ecological footprint; Ex .: carbon emission limitations; Industrial and technological policy that stimulates the development and intensive application of knowledge in sectors that enable the desired impacts of other policies; EX .: incentives for the formation of knowledge-based enterprises with social and environmental impacts; Health policy that establishes minimum limits worthy of nutrition, food security, access to medicines and health services that are effectively universal and of the latest generation; Ex.: minimum nutrition guarantee programs; dissemination of popular restaurants; Fiscal policy that improves the viability of projects aimed at the context of our food system, guaranteeing public financing funds, adequate taxation regimes and expansion of demand; Ex .: differentiated taxation regime for social impact projects in the context of our system; guarantee of demand by the State; Monetary policy that reduces the cost of capital for projects aimed at the context of our food system in terms of interest rates, guarantees, terms and funding offer; Ex .: subsidized interest rate for funding of social impact projects in the context of our system; Agricultural policy that establishes, in addition to the desirable sustainability conditions, promotes densification of the value chain in food production; Ex .: limitation of the use of pesticides; encouraging the improvement of land use; regulations for waste disposal in the food production chain; It is desirable that these policies are implemented from the federal level and complemented with policies at the local level, enhancing their effects. However, even taking into account only the local sphere, there is room for the articulation of policies of the types listed that can correct and offset inadequate policies implemented in the higher levels of government. In addition, the set of policies that we envision is in line with a post-pandemic world view, where state action and interests are directed towards a more humanitarian, pro-science and anti-inequality stance.

Describe how these 6 Themes connect with and influence one another in your food system.

To draw the future it is important to look at the past. We are interconnected with the Earth and by Nature, we are communitarian beings. We need to intervene in the impacts we generate on the environment. The social experience, the coexistence between different cultures, genres, generations and species offers us the abundance of contrasts and complementarities of the system that we are part of.

We will dedicate our Vision to rescue and protect the strength of crops that respect the soil, water sources, seeds and food. This food, which represents and nourishes populations. A diet can redefine a culture when food waste becomes a valuable resource. Culture and diet make up each other. In our Vision, we chose to research and develop food from cultured bacteria, yeasts, algae and plants. Fermentation is an ancient practice used by different cultures. It has been a potential source for technological innovations on which a new economy can emerge.

Bananas, for example, considered a cultural icon, occupy different status inside and outside the country's economy. To influence considerably in the relationship we have with our production and food waste, we need to educate ourselves about the consumption and destination of our waste.

The banana peel, instead of becoming waste, can complete its cycle through composting. For this, it is necessary to insert this activity in society. Strengthen organizations that carry out this task, reach resources to expand and sustain their network. There are locations within the neighborhoods of Belo Horizonte, which can be converted into centers for recycling and composting residential organic waste, based on political, micropolitical and efective initiatives.

Investing in scientific research will enable us to find tools and ways to respond to our challenges. To intervene in the emission of polluting and destructive gases from the atmosphere layers, we plan to interfere in the production of plastic packaging. Initially, we will use bananas, replacing plastic with compostable packaging, produced with bacterial cellulose from its own peel, its own waste. To act on the logic of the packaging market, we aim to build a structure that saves, in the deepest sense that the economy promotes: care. Prototype an action, perform it on a small scale and understand its effects.

The economy, in its purpose, concerns what is valued. We plan to inform, reach, connect our community and facilitate their contact with places that take care of the waste and correctly dispose of it, with the help of cooperatives and the City Hall. Currently, with COVID-19 Pandemia, the public agency that collects and separates the garbage has suspended their activities. Our Vision aims to influence the construction of organisms that work, even in times of exception, through collaboration and sustainable actions, that can cross moments like today.

Describe any trade-offs you may have to make within your system to attain your Vision by 2050.

The current transition process related to the pace of accumulation and the form of coordination in today's society influence us. In this sense, for our Vision to prevail, we believe that the way of organizing and coordinating production, in general, finds a more conscious use of natural resources and a more humanitarian distribution of the results of the production process. This will allow more people to benefit and engage in our Vision. For this exchange, the internal example is the most appropriate. Therefore, an organization in our system must find a long-term accumulation rhythm, financed collectively and in an environment of knowledge and learning sharing. Our proposal is that our system, at the same time, contributes and nurtures our Vision. In a less individualistic and more favorable, less unequal and more sustainable environment, with less accumulation and more sharing of our system and our prosperous Vision. In the trades-off that we visualize, we are designing ways to carry out our prototypes projects. We also realized that we need to start in simple networks that we have confidence. Connecting us to our stakeholders, through micropolitics, strengthening our networks in their hyperlocal activities, creating an interchanging valuable resources between them and gradually, global connections. Our Vision can be developed with our dedication, study, and commitment in a continuous process, learning to care of, share the resources and the tools to do that, inspiring and inviting our network to benefit as the Nature does in her cycles. For the last, observing our goals for a holistic view, in the construction of this Food system, we recognize the other forces that are interconnected. We are working with the power of this connections, between that and another systems.

3 Years | Describe 3 key milestones that you would need to achieve within the next three years for your Vision to be on track?

One of the main milestones is to develop a digital platform for mapping and collecting data on the parts of the Food System of Belo Horizonte. We will categorize them in 7 areas: Food Producers; Distributors; Food Preparers and Innovators; Waste collectors; Educators and awareness agents; Policy makers; Food hubs.The purpose of the platform is to work as a catalog for the community and a database for us. The map helps to visualize and create connections between the parts, to design actions with the potential to create values in the Food System and to contributes for the creation of an interactive and articulated network that facilitates the meeting and the proximity of the affected parties, causing positive impacts.

Another milestone will be to develop an operational method and apply functional, rentable and automatic solutions, integrating parts of our necessary Food System, to manifest our Vision (Research Laboratory; Kitchen Laboratory; Food Court; Market; Knowledge Exchange; Gallery Collection of organic waste).

As a facilitator, firstly, our Agency will co-create the ways, guiding through all stages, to interconnect parts of our Food System. In the future, we expect that our system generates its own interconnected projects. We will continue designing new projects.

Our third milestone is to create structure and power to replicate and spread this Vision in other systems.

10 Years | What progress will you need to make—by 2030—that would set your Vision up to become a reality by 2050?

Considering that our Vision visualizes the measure of how our system expands and evolves, in a ten-year term, we hope that our initiative will be known and be recognized at national and international levels.

Therefore, by 2030, we must advance on the following points: 

1) consolidate a network of technicians, researchers and collaborating professionals with superior skills to support the projects of our hub; 

2) consolidate a finance project system based on public partnerships (notices, incentive programs in different areas, etc.) and private (consortium companies and foundations, fundraising via collective financing with its own platform, etc.); 

3) consolidate a basic model of performance that can be transferred to other locations to expand a collaboration network; 

4) create a portfolio of projects / achievements that demonstrate viability, both economic and our social initiative, favoring or engaging our Vision by 2050. 

All of this, should result in a communication and collaboration network made up of diversified actors committed to our Vision. Thus, together, the points that were raised reach comprehensively all related topics. 

Support for specialized projects with an impact on the environment and culture via funding for specific purposes, technical, technological and scientific support; 

Promotion of the development and application of technologies that enable solutions in the area of food security, densification of the food value chain and waste management; 

Encouraging entrepreneurial activity by supporting projects with an impact on the local and national economy;

Generating employment and income, improving working conditions, increasing economic activity and collecting taxes, opening markets and generating innovations; 

Engagement of the network of collaborators / financiers and society creating debate, proposition and dissemination of environmental, innovation, cultural, health and food security policies, seeking a transformation.

If awarded the $200,000 prize what would you do with it?

If we are awarded, the prize will consolidate our social impact business model. This includes designing and refining strategies for articulation between partners, methods for attracting and selecting projects, developing contract models, building the information structure, developing the organizational tools and structuring the core team. In addition, part of the award's resources will be allocated to equity participation in financing several other projects.

For this, we estimate the distribution of the prize money over a 12-month period, as follows: Physical structure (6%); informational and organizational resources (12%); team maintenance (33%); training (3%); legal and administrative resources (4%); financing projects (42%).

Important notes:

1) We plan to multiply our own funds financing projects by raising funds from third parties. We estimate that, for each own dollar we will be able to raise: 2 dollars from the private partners directly involved; 1 dollar from crowdfunding; $ 0.5 from Government partners. In this way, we expect to increase the amounts available for carrying out projects by 350% ($2+$1+$0,5), which will allow us to both increase the number of projects and start more complex projects.

2) We will adopt a sustainability model in which the network will return from projects that will be used to restore our own financing and resource leverage capabilities. With this, it will be possible to support both profitable projects, which have market potential, as well as social projects with low or zero potential for monetary return.

If you are chosen as a Top Visionary, The Rockefeller Foundation would like to share your Vision widely with a global audience. What would you like the world to learn from your Vision for 2050?

As human beings, our learning is the integration with Nature:  Preserving its resources and sources, respecting them with deep empathy, working for its renewal and reducing the damages or risks of extinction. We would like to share and collaborate with everyone, who supports us, near or far, in building a healthy, regenerating system, with ecological values and creative spirits. We wish, through our Vision, to inspire communities, in addition to ours, to dedicate themselves to the circularity of the system; the people inside economic, political (macro and micro) and culture (local or global) areas, working to impact positively through their practices and to human beings to open up to coexist and interchange their knowledges. We want to share our tools to improve interaction between communities, to plunge into the abundant infinite, which is the wisdom of Nature. We are designing the changes and through the reconnection between the disarticulated parts, we believe that we can recover our common essence and re-nourish the potential of collectivity, by sharing ways for systemic transformation, drawing and planning the opportunities with commitment until they works sustainably.

Please share a visual that communicates the structure and operation of your food system in 2050. Describe the visual.

In the center are the Hubs. From 1 to 6 the circles are the categories of the System with the respective stakeholders, inputs and outputs. The outputs and inputs are represented by arrows. In the 'Outputs', the arrows leave their origin and in the 'Inputs' they arrive. In the category 4, the stakeholders are grouped into sub groups. This is a map for a better Future. We believe in these changes and we want to make them real.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Itika Gupta

Reading through the Refinement Visions, I came across other Visionary teams from South America. Connecting you five Javier Carrera  Soroush Parsa, PhD  Nataly Pinto Alvaro  Daniela Serruya Kohn  Charles Darwin Foundation  so you can provide some feedback on one another’s Vision submissions from the context of your region's most pressing challenges in the present and future.
Happy connecting!

Photo of Daniela Serruya Kohn

Thank you @Itika Gupta ! Start this conversation for interchanges

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