Food democracy is now!
By voting with our forks we have transformed our food system, and let our society thrive
Manuel Klarmann talks about the climate impact of food and how we can easily reduce this.
The Eaternity Score printed on the packaging of some retail products
The Eaternity Score for retail products. If a product gets 3 stars in every category we stay within the limits of the planetary boundaries.
Lead Applicant Organization Name
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.
We collaborate with many different stakeholders. We started with restaurants, chefs, NGOs and educational institutions, but now also work with food suppliers, food producers, retailers and consumer apps. It is our aim to generate transparency on the health and environmental impact of our food in every part of the supply chain where decisions are being made. Here is list of different organizations and stakeholders we are working with including examples. 1. Food Service Restaurants/Caterers e.g. Compass CH, Apleona, Sodexo BE, Düssmann 2. Software-providers for the food-service industry e.g. PCM, Delegate, SAP, Calcmenu 3. Food suppliers e.g. Saviva AG, CFGastro 4. Consumers-Apps e.g. CodeCheck, KlimaTeller 4. NGOs and educational institutions: myblueplanet, Greenpeace CH 5. Scientific institutions/LCA Community e.g. ZHAW, ETH Zurich, Quantis. Stakeholders are further the foundations that have partially funded our work.
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
Switzerland. 41,285 km2
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
We live in Switzerland and built up an extensive network during the last 10 years of potential partners to implement our vision.
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.
In Switzerland we have a colder and mountainous climate. Not all parts are suitable for any kind of food production. Typically, traditionally Swiss foods are mainly different kind of ruminant meats and cheeses as in the mountainous areas only cattle can be raised. Even if all fields that are suitable for crop production were used for this Switzerland would still need to import food and cannot be self-sustainable. Although the country is small four different languages are spoken. People love to be in the mountains to hike, to ski. Climate change is a real threat for the tourism industry here and for the people that live in the mountains as there will be less snow and the mountains will become more dangerous. This is in conflict with the the perception that meat and milk is part of the cultural heritage and an important part of the diet. At the same there is no wish to destroy the glaciers and to trigger more immigration and to preserve life as it is. Switzerland is a direct democracy. Apart from voting the government, also a lot of referenda are organized during the year. This allows the Swiss population to vote directly on very concrete topics.
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.
Our food supply chain triggers 1/3 of all of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation, biodiversity loss, land degradation and the use of scarce water are despite short-term gains further reducing the earth’s capacity to grow enough food. Yet the demand for food is constantly on the rise. In richer societies we are despite an over-supply of food suffering a high amount of disease. In fact, to this day obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes account for 70% of all deaths in Europe. The good news is that the transition to a more sustainable food supply system is easy and it goes hand in hand with public health. With educated, seasonal and regional food choices we can reduce this impact by more than 50%. Food is the most efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach the goal of maximum global warming of 2 degrees, set by the Paris Climate Accord. However, this transition towards a more sustainable consumption pattern is not easy. 1. Our food market is still working on the principle of maximum profit. Established practices and corporations do not necessarily have an interest to change the status quo. 2. In addition, the topic is complex. Intuitive decisions that seem sustainable might be not and the other way around. A lot of data is needed to decide objectively which choices are best. But most of the time we do not know what happened on the farm, in the processing plant or any other part of the food chain. 3. Further, food is an emotional topic and it affects us every day. Our food culture is deeply ingrained in how we are raised and it is hard to break with habits and re-define a more sustainable cultural identity. We feel that food choices are private and no one should interfere here. 4. There is a general lack of awareness on the importance of our eating habits and the strong solution it would provide for having a healthier life and planet. Due to all these reasons policy makers that are aware of the importance of this topic are hesitant and face difficulties to implement measures as they are either afraid for strong opposition or feel that appropriate decision tools are lacking. At last, although we can use different technologies to improve production practices, transportation, processing, storing etc. this won't be enough. The reality is that if we want to distribute available resources equally globally and if we want to meet climate goals we need to change are eating habits. This project is really about how we behave as a society. Triggering different behavior can be the root for system change.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
This project aims at influencing the foods we choose every day. This should lead to a dietary shift in society. This dietary shift will change the market and in the end how our food is produced and what food is produced. To drive change 2 factors are needed. First, there needs to be a general public basic knowledge on what is sustainable food and what is not. Second, there needs to be a small incentives or reminder at the place where decisions are made. Actors should be empowered and encouraged to make a conscious choice. This should be done in any part of the food chain where decisions are being made. Following this reasoning the project first aims to provide transparency on the environmental and health impact of foods first. This his about crunching a lot of data and making the results of this easily available to everyone. During the last 10 years we have built one of the largest databases on the environmental and health impacts of food. We further, build a software to deal with large quantities of data efficiently and provide tools to chefs, restaurants, educational institutions and many other partners to calculate and improve their environmental impact independently and objectively. With the digitalization wave going on in the food industry we have now the opportunity to connect with many other systems that were originally designed to optimize profit only. Further, also consumers get more and more digitalized. With the tools that we have developed we can now also connect to specific consumer Apps and show them the footprint of all food items that can be purchased in the supermarket. This information will be freely available and can be used by any organization, institution and media. This will change the perception of the general public and make it self-evident that environmental information on food products is possible and should be given. It will also kick-off a more informed public debate on our current eating habits. More importantly although it starts in the digital world this transparency and information will become part of daily physical life. It will be integrated into educational programs. Further, restaurants, suppliers, food producers, retailers, consumer apps can show the environmental impact of what they are offering. And this will be demanded by the public as having and dealing with this kind of information becomes more intuitive.
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.
Every food product that you can purchase has a sustainability rating that is publicly available. This will lead to more consumers pushing for more sustainable products. Producers will try their best to improve their performance. Politicians will implement measures such as a carbon tax for foods and subsidize agriculture based on the sustainability of the products. Since the environmental impact is transparent and publicly available food education will become an integral part of the education system.
Because of this the agricultural landscape will change dramatically. We will have much less animal husbandry and much more crop and vegetable farming. The food will be transported by the most sustainable vehicles and food processing plants will use 100% renewables. Sustainable food production is seen as a societal responsibility. Products that have a high environmental impact will cost more or will be taxed and this will be invested in sustainable production practices and ensuring enough human resources in agriculture. Growing food in general will have a much stronger appreciation and will be an attractive high-estimated job. All actors in the food supply chain can provide 100% transparency on the environmental and health impact of the products that they offer. It is part of the job of any chef, food distributor, food processor, farmer, retail worker to know this and make or encourage decisions accordingly. If you go to the supermarket all products have an environmental and health score on them. This is a prerequisite to be on the market. Also all restaurants provide full transparency on the impact of their meals. Further, also complete food businesses, restaurants and products are rated based on their environmental performance. The general public opinion has changed. It is self-evident that transparency should be provided. We will have a much more plant-based diet and lower health costs.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
1. All food products on the market will have a sustainability rating. This is a prerequisite to be on the market. It is publicly available to everyone 2. Food producers will move away from unsustainable practices and food products, because there is a demand for this. Farmers should be able to make a decent living and food processing companies cannot only look at maximum profit anymore. It is economically most attractive and viable to produce sustainable foods. 3. Supporting environmental and health information on food products is integrated in any part of life where decisions need to be made. There will be several benchmarks that compare different companies, restaurants and so on their environmental performance. Making more sustainable food choices is an integral part of the education system. 4. Our food culture has changed. We have established new habits and taste preferences. Cultural traditions are celebrated as an exception or replaced by a more sustainable alternative. Food pleasure is a more inclusive concept and is not only defined anymore by own taste experience, but also by the broader context of. the impact it has. 5. Due to the general available public knowledge and integration of environmental and health information into the educational system and into daily life there is no longer a lack of awareness on the topic. 6. Policy makers implement measures that encourage sustainable food production and eating habits. Among these measures can be a taxing system based on the environmental footprint of foods which is in turn invested in growing and producing foods sustainably. This to ensure to have enough human resources in agriculture to produce food. In addition, more and more people are part of cooperatives that directly support farmers to grow their food. 7. Technology is not the final solution in this vision, but an important supporting pillar to drive behavioral change. Through technology we can create transparency that can be integrated into daily life.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?