Slow Food - reclaiming our relationship to nature through food
We aim to transition towards sustainable local food systems that promote equity and creates connectedness in the community
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Slow Food Flow through Slow Food Stockholm
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small NGO (under 50 employees)
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?
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
Firstly, Stockholm county and Stockholm city attracts many people as it is a vibrant multicultural hotspot for diverse food cultures. Here food can bring various cultures together while sharing a meal. It is also the capital of Sweden and its most populous region, home to many startups and innovative disruptive projects. People here are receptive to new ideas which makes it an excellent place for experimental transformation.
This is the place where we meet and where the majority of the Slow Food Flow participants live. This city is our focal point to make a change. Greta Thunberg’s school strike for the climate movement began here which makes us hopeful for public support for our transformational food ideas.
The majority of the team is based in Stockholm, having local knowledge and a sense of belonging. Our team created Slow Food Flow when we met in Stockholm. However, our area of focus is not limited to the city but also on areas that are surrounding Stockholm. When focusing on local and seasonal food production, places and people around the city are as important as places and people inside it. Urban systems like Stockholm are supported mainly by the surrounding rural areas. Only a minute amount of food is grown in the city, while the rest is produced outside it. We would like to engage with farmers and producers and work with them. A collaboration with them would determine the outcome of the long term vision of Slow Food Flow. In this realm, Stockholm still plays the role of a hub, of a place the connects producers to consumers. This way, we all are connected to Stockholm in many different ways, through food, culture, profession and friends.
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.
The food People eat (tastes, flavours, and smells)
Stockholm is a very cosmopolitan city and acts as a meeting point for a lot of different food cultures thanks to its global residents. Inhabitants in the city are open to trying new tastes and cuisines and are particularly interested in new alternatives. They are also very aware of the impact on the diet of the climate and environment which culminates in a high level of flexitarianism in diets. Fika is a particularly Swedish tradition that is a favourite with most inhabitants. It involves taking a pause in the day and enjoying some coffee/tea with something sweet.
The climate and topography
In Stockholm, the climate is moderately continental, with cold winters, during which the average temperature is a few degrees below freezing, and mild to pleasantly warm summers. Precipitation is well distributed throughout the year but not abundant. The city is located on Sweden’s east coast where Lake Mälaren flows out to the Baltic Sea.
With the effects of climate change becoming more pronounced, sometimes winters in the area can be extremely mild while some years have extremely hot summers.
The social dynamics, cultural traditions, language, and ethnic diversity
Sweden has a strong civil society with a tradition of a Nordic welfare system that provides universal healthcare and tertiary education for its citizens. Their roots date back to the Vikings in the 8th century. Swedish is the main and common language of society with five national minority languages. The majority of the population is made up of Swedes, followed by the Sami people. Migrants from the Middle East have been a growing part of the population. There is an increase in social initiatives as a response to accelerating fragmentation between groups and ideas. There is a decline in mental health and wellbeing with an increased sense of loneliness. There has been increased migration and ethnic diversity within the region in the past few years where integration efforts need to be further supported.
The unique cultural trends
There are significant openness and curiosity towards different cultures and cuisines. Veganism is a growing social movement in the past 5-7 years and as a cultural trend. It is defined by greater thought put into clothes and food with new eyes that were not typical even 5 years ago when talking about a critical mass or an average person who does not work with sustainability. The knowledge about sustainability has grown significantly among citizens in and outside Stockholm
The urban/rural breakdown
Urbanization is a prevalent phenomenon in Stockholm, where more and more people move to the city centre or its suburbs from all over the country and abroad.
The role of agriculture, farming and aquaculture, and dominant crops
As the area is highly urbanized, agriculture, farming and aquaculture are not a dominant feature. Cereals are the dominant crop, followed by potatoes. Nordic countries have a tradition of allotment gardens where people tend to grow their own food and ornamental plants for personal use and this is quite popular in the region.
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.
Climate is changing and summers and winters are getting warmer, which means that agricultural practices will need to develop resilience and adaptation to extreme events such as drought. The current food production causes several negative environmental impacts, such as nutrient losses to air and water, pesticides residues in surface and groundwater, over-harvesting of fish stocks and emissions of greenhouse gases. Furthermore, globalization and the current high level of imported food is outsourcing environmental and social impact. Sweden currently imports 50% of its food, which poses a risk of food security in case of global extreme weather events.
Even though vegan food is quite popular in Stockholm, it often consists of imported superfoods fad options like avocado, acai seeds, flaxseed and chia seeds. As such, there is a need to push for seasonal plant-based options from local sources.
Unsustainable and unhealthy diets can be connected to available food options that big retail chains are providing but also to affordability and differences in social groups. According to a survey conducted by Swedish municipalities, only 5% of children in high-income areas of Stockholm are overweight or obese, while invulnerable, low-income areas the rate is six times as high. This is due to differences in income as well as the education level of the parents.
Consolidation throughout the agri-food value chain is increasing, and big players in the processing and retail sectors keep growing. The increasing levels of concentration reinforce the industrial food and farming model and make the farmers even more reliant on a handful of suppliers and buyers. Farmers in Sweden (and globally) are extremely underpaid although they provide food to many.
Local varieties are at threat of loss due to preference for global food fads.
There is a tendency to look for technological fixes to make agriculture more sustainable (eg.: precision agriculture, the role of drones, satellites) but this approach to fixing the broken agriculture is debated and contrasted with regenerative agriculture, permaculture, etc.
The Swedish government food strategy for 2030 focus’ on high productivity and competitive production to meet the challenges of an increasingly tough global market. Increased organic production is called for and efforts to influence customers to make more informed decisions. Integrated food policies is needed to support a direction towards “solidarity economy” initiatives and interventions towards disrupting and de-consolidating mainstream supply chains.
Continuing on this pathway towards 2050 without intervention will accelerate environmental degradation, resource scarcity, effects of climate change and social fragmentation which will influence our eco-systems, food security as well as human health and wellbeing.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
We aim to raise awareness, curiosity and willingness to engage in and buy locally produced seasonal food. We will do this by creating a leverage point towards increased human-nature connection, cultural values and traditional knowledge, wellbeing, sustainable food production. This will be done by changing consumer patterns as well as increasing intake of an affordable, nutritious and healthy diet (for everyone) that enable us to stay within planetary and social boundaries.
The first step is to create a link between consumer and local small scale producers. This will allow diversified and deconsolidated power in the food production chain. Community funded and supported food production will lead to community food eco-system governance with learning hubs and education programs for all ages. This would create more connectedness in communities and provide opportunities for increased learning and power.
We aim to support short, inclusive, distributive and sustainable supply chains that cut wholesale and retail middlemen and increase the value for farmers, consumers, communities and the environment. Big data and technology can benefit all. We support the deployment of open access tools that harness local knowledge and connect the value chain. Finally, we aim to provide a space for interactions and discussions between the people of Stockholm regarding food systems and leverage their support to push for changes in policy through collaboration and campaigning. As such our differences are empowering innovation within the food system rather than causing fragmentation.
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.
The goal is to achieve this vision through the embodied transformation of the food system in Stockholm. We want to reclaim our relationship to nature through food. We want to raise awareness and take concrete action to make it clear: you are what you eat and to make sure you eat something good, you should be kind to nature. We would like to translate this abstract vision into very practical steps with promoting and creating opportunities for local and seasonal food in Stockholm.
Another challenge prevalent in Stockholm is the pace of living: citizens are focusing a lot on working, and work-related stress and anxiety are high. Through reconnecting people to nature and people to people, we can propose the end of the glorification of the business. A redefinition of wellbeing is needed, which concerns food choices and relationships. When we talk about the relationship, we often think about the rest of society, but in fact, we also need to talk about the relationship to our own body first. In this, the marriage of yoga and slow food philosophy will help through hosting safe spaces and hold workshops with yoga classes. One of the team members will be soon a yoga teacher.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
“Slow Food stands at the intersection of ethics and pleasure, ecology and gastronomy. It opposes the standardization of taste, the unrestrained power of multinationals, industrial agriculture and the folly of fast life. It restores cultural dignity to food and the slow rhythms of conviviality to the table. It is a universe of people who exchange knowledge and experience. It believes that every dish we eat is the result of choices made in fields, on ships, in vineyards, at schools, in parliaments.” (https://slowfood.com/filemanager/AboutUs/Companion13ENG.pdf)
The themes of environment, diets and culture are directly connected to Slow Food’s vision as we aim to promote good, clean and fair food. Food that is produced sustainably, gives a fair wage to the producer, is nutritious and promotes local, seasonal food and traditional cooking so as preserve the culture of food. The theme of economics and policy is connected to our vision through the aim of decentralization of power in food systems that gives back farmers more ability to influence the systems. Technology strengthen the link between consumers and local producers and support the development of short supply chains that deliver affordable, nutritious and sustainable food.
The Slow Food principles are our backbone and the U-lab 2x methodology that we will engage in this spring, will further guide us on the journey of exploring our system and its People. Using systems thinking, this methodology will deepen the connection to the People engaged with food and agriculture in Stockholm, and encourage learning when navigating towards our vision. We want to explore a new kind of leadership that help People to see its system and their own role in shaping its future. The vision includes a new governance of our local food systems, connected and supported by its People.
Our vision combines the love for food with a new lifestyle and wellbeing. The wish to slow down. It has the dinner table as its starting point, where conversations lead the way forward. It is based on strong communities and local food systems, empowered People engaged in shaping something new. Having a systems perspective and a focus on learning as well as the role of power structures will help us navigate this journey. Also, being connected to the Slow food network will help us to learn and exchange experiences across borders.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?