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Sharing the taste for a sustainable life

We can improve our food system through a social network where we can be vulnerable, share problems, learn, and build shared solutions.

Photo of Aline Carvalho

Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

School of Public Health, University of São Paulo

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Researcher Institution

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

Dirce Maria Lobo Marchioni, professor at the University of Sao Paulo

Website of Legally Registered Entity

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

  • 1-3 years

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

São Paulo

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


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

São Paulo, the most populous city in Brazil, covers a total area of 1,521 km2.

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

I was born in the suburbs of São Paulo, in a poor region of the city. My father, at 11 years old, came from Northeast of the country to find a job and have enough food to live. My mom was born in the same house as me and she worked a lot to give a decent life to her family. They met each other in a flood that happen in a summer day in the city. A lot of people lost all their stuff because the water spoiled everything. My father was one of these people and he started asking for people a place to live and my grandmother offered him a room in her house. Some years later, I was born in the same place. I graduated from the University of São Paulo, one of the biggest in Latin America. I went to Harvard, but I came back to help my city. I founded an extension project called Sustentarea (, that aims to increase awareness on sustainable diets and help people to have a better diet in a fair and sustainable food system. Our goals are: to share information with young women, through an online community, with more than 2000 followers; and to give support to people improve their diet through sharing low-carbon footprint recipes and promoting workshops and face-to-face events, where they can share experiences, create bonds with other participants, and be encouraged to change their own food system in their small communities (eg. building, family, friends, etc). São Paulo is a huge city with enormous social problems, such as hungry, poverty, food deserts, violence, traffic, floods, water crisis, corruption etc, but it is also known as the opportunity place, where people from the whole country come to try to make a life and be successful. It is a beautiful place, with a lot of building and hard workers, but very busy and noisy, with a few green areas and a lot going on. It is a place that deserves be focused and helped to be a better place to people live and make a better life and I really want to contribute with that.

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.

People who live in Sao Paulo come from all over the country and the planet. Sao Paulo is known as the opportunity land, so everyone is very hard worker and, in a way, want to change the world. It is a busy city with a lot of people (11 million) and the most part is poor, working far way from their homes and having 1 or 2 kids to feed. Usually people have access to healthy food (fruits, vegetables), but there are some food deserts where it is hard to find fresh food. Although we are workaholic, we love party, meet friends, eat well and have fun. When I say party, I mean usually a barbecue with beer, music and dance. Brazilian people eat a lot of meat, especially beef. I can say it happens for two main reasons beside taste. The first is: beef is not that expensive as in other countries (especially because we are one of the biggest beef producers in the world), and second because beef is related to social status, to richness, so people want to eat beef to feel better. The popular dish here is rice, beans, beef, small salad (lettuce and tomato), maybe a fruit. Ultraprocessed food is getting more common, but rice and beans are the food which most contribute to salt intake, and meat is the biggest contributor of saturated fat in our diet. Soda is very popular and contributes with added sugar intake, but according the lasted researches, the its consumption has been decreasing. We know 80% of the Brazilian population eats more than the World Cancer Research Fund recommends to prevent cancer and we also know beef is the food which contributes more to greenhouse gas emissions in our diet. People works a lot and do not have much time to exercise themselves, but the weather is warm almost the whole year, some people go to park to ride a bicycle and feel nature, or go the Paulista Ave on Sundays when it is closed to vehicles, so they can enjoy movie theaters, book shop, geek stores, museums, cafes, and antique fairs. Paulista Avenue is the most famous Avenue in the city. The city is almost all urban with few trees, but we have one or two districts that are considered rural areas. In those areas there are small indigenous communities who try to keep their own traditions, but they also have contact with the industrialized world as well. In these areas, there are some food producers, but they don’t produce so much food. A big part of them are from Japanese descent and they plant banana, coffee, cane, mushroom, flowers, greens or other fruits. The most part of them are small producers, some are organic producers. The most part of the food comes from other cities or states, and they are sold in street fair and supermarkets. A half of the population are overweight, and it’s probably because they are focus on working so much, spending so much time commuting to work and using social media that they have few time to prepare good food, to exercise or even to dedicate to their children.

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.

For 2020, the challenge in Sao Paulo is to build a sustainable food system in such a big city with small rural areas, a few food producers, and busy and poor people. All parts of the system are complete disconnected, meaning each part is thinking about their own problem and is not thinking how they can help each other. Another challenge is to attract people to make part of a movement of change this environment, because they already have a lot of problems to worry (violence, distance, hungry, poverty, bad access to health system, poor education, etc). It is really challenge to get them. It is also hard to deal with a corrupt system which values more money and profit than people’s well being. We know in the last few decades there has been an increase in the quantity of available food and a modernization in the means of production and preservation of food, which resulted in the decrease of hunger and undernourishment around the world. However, though now there is more food available, much of it is in the form of meat, and ultra-processed foods rich in calories, sugars, and fats, which has contributed to an increase in obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, which kill a lot of people every day. Furthermore, there is no institution which see this issue as a complex system problem (interconnected, dynamic, multi-sectorial), so usually the solutions proposed by one or two specialists addressing just small parts of the problem. 

For 2050, the Brazilian Food System perspectives are not exciting. According to World Resources Institute, Brazil will be the biggest meat consumer. We also believe ultra-processed food will increase, because it is cheap, has long life shelf and do not need refrigeration, having a low impact on the environment. Regarding technology, we believe technology will be more advanced, many jobs will be lost, and new specific jobs also will be created, but the inequality will be much higher, because people who lost their job won’t be qualified for these “new” jobs immediately. Because of that, we believe people will be more and more centered in their own problems, in having jobs, feeding their families, and having profits. People will be busier trying to solve the symptoms (eg. their own hungry) than trying to solve the root of the problems. What we mean is that, while the technology is going to be so advanced, people are going to be more isolated, in their own digital world, thinking in the tip of the iceberg. 

Having a safe space where people from different backgrounds (including professors, economists, engineers, nutritionists, doctors, layers, architects, youth, housewife, politicians, businessman etc) can discuss, shared ideas, be vulnerable, show their problems and negotiate the best solution with all stakeholders is essential. This integration among all different disciplines can help to see the problem in a bigger perspective and to combat the roots of the problem, which can de beneficial for everyone: people, communities, companies, and governs. 

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

We believe Sustentarea can build a multidisciplinary network, which is interested in addressing the food system issue. This means to aggregate different people who have important skills and social penetration to work together. This multi-sector network would propose integrated solutions based on different methods from different disciplines, trying to address as much as possible from the issue.

Another key answer is youth people, meaning they are very motivated to change their food habits and encourage their family and friends as well in order to have a sustainable food system. Youth is also motivated to impact our world in a good way. With Sustentarea past extension experience and research, we could see young people really can transform their own perspective with access to knowledge and support. If we can put youth in contact with many pieces of the food systems (farmer, retail, driver, mothers, scientists, professors, food companies, politics) to negotiate and understand the demands from each one, we can get better arranges with everyone at the table. Helping youth to empower themselves, work together, and discuss critically can help to build a more fair and sustainable food system. 

Mentorship, workshops, internships, discussions, classes, interventions, case studies build by the multi-sector network with the young people can help them to understand better the stakeholders, to form leaders, and can help them to address the main problems in their communities. Our vision is developing a program that we call “Paths to sustainability”. This program is destined to youth who wants to learn, to experience and to change our food system. It is formed by researchers, professors, students, communities, investors, politics who have different visions about the same problem and want to collaborate and change our world. The youth has the chance to learn about that, to experience a farm day, a cooking day, prepare themselves to debate with politics and food companies, pitch their ideas to investors and they will earn a certificate of sustainable food system ambassador who will have the duty to contribute to a better food environment in their own community through the skills they experienced during the program, such as debate, critical thinking, listening, community based intervention, etc. The idea is the ambassadors promote debates, classes, discussions, gardens, stores whatever the community thinks that will help them to build a sustainable food system. We intend to have mini grants to the best projects to stimulate them as well.

We believe we can have a good impact on health and environment.

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.

In 2050, we imagine the city is still big, very populated with many social issues, specially in the peripheral areas. However, our network was able to build relationships and shared solution with young people from different parts of the city who attempted to our program and turned out sustainable food system ambassadors. The ambassadors are working with their own community to improve their environment and food system. Many projects such as bakery, garden, meetings, schools were build with the effort of our ambassadors and supported by us. We can see people who lost their jobs, and now can work in this new bakery in the village and can sell fresh food for the community. We can also see kids going to a school in their own neighborhood. We imagine that communities are stronger, and our program supports them to build their own path to sustainability.

We can also see politicians, mothers, young people, teachers, community leaders, business people are negotiating to find better ways to build a nice environment for them, that brings more benefit than harm.

In 2050, Sustentarea is a multi-solution maker and runs the sustainability paths program with youth, does research, and influence public policies to have a better food system. It is formed by a multi-sector stakeholder, such as researchers, professors, students, communities, investors, politics to build shared decisions on multi-sector and multidisciplinar issues. We use an entire range of methods, such as design thinking, randomized trials, etc and we work on the same issue for a long time, trying to understand the root of the issue, all influences, and possible solutions.

In this way, we all are part of an interconnected, healthy, fair, and sustainable network which wants the taste the flavor of a sustainable life.

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

Sustentarea's vision is to develop a program that we call “Paths to sustainability”. This program is destined to youth who wants to learn, to experience and to change our food system. It is formed by researchers, professors, students, communities, investors, politics who wants to collaborate and change our world. The youth has the chance to learn about that, to experience a farm day, a cooking day, prepare themselves to debate with politics and food companies, pitch their ideas to investors and they will earn a certificate of sustainable food system ambassador who will have the duty to contribute to a better food environment in their own community through the skills they experienced during the program, such as debate, critical thinking, listening, community based intervention, etc. We intend to have mini grants to stimulate that as well. “Paths to sustainability” program integrates diet and environment, because they will learn and experience how to a healthy diet with less impact on the environment (eg: less meat and more fruits and vegetables) through farm day, a cooking day, and discussions with professionals. The program also integrates economic and policy when youth has the chance to learn about critical thinking, thinking systems and have a chance to debate with farmer, retail, driver, mothers, scientists, professors, food companies, politics to negotiate and understand the demands from each one to build a more fair and sustainable food system. Therefore, the program integrates culture when the youth people earn a certificate of sustainable food system ambassador and have the duty to contribute to a better food environment in their own community, considering their culture and local aspects. Technology is in the background of the whole program, as we use video class, online software to communicate, and we also use online communities to support the youth in their journey. 

We believe Sustentarea will be an important initiative to put together people from different sectors who care about sustainability, health, environment, social equality. They together with all stakeholders will shape a better food system based on a look for the whole system.

We also believe Paths to sustainability program will be an important initiative to put young people together and stimulate them to create a better environment in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This will develop the city, connect people, bring different vision and expertise to create a healthy, tasty, fair, and sustainable lives.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Attachments (3)


Cooking class about sustainable diets in Brazil that we, Sustentarea, coordinated in November, 2019.


Event about sustainable diets in Brazil that we, Sustentarea, coordinated in August, 2019.


Document about sustainable diets in Brazil, and what we, Sustentarea, can help people to reach that


Join the conversation:

Photo of Simone Silotti

Aline parabéns pela iniciativa. Boa sorte para nos, nê?

Você tem mapeado de onde tem vindo os alimentos crus, especialmente hortaliças que são fornecidas na cidade de São Paulo? o grau de soberania alimentar da RMSP?
Se você tiver um tempinho, pode criticar o meu projeto: Sal da Terra. Um forte abraço e muito obrigada

Photo of Aline Carvalho

Oi Simone,
Infelizmente não mapeamos de onde vem os alimentos na cidade, mas acho que é muito necessário!
Seu projeto é super interessante também! Parabéns!

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