Better Food for More People: Information is Key
In Denmark, as well as in many other countries, an increasing number of people are moving from the countryside to the big cities. And in the years to come, we expect our population will continue to grow dramatically and be more concentrated in urban areas. This trend presents unique challenges to our traditional way of living, our family structures and our food supply. It also has a major impact on what, where, and with whom we eat.
In both Denmark and the U.S.—as in so many other nations—eating out has evolved from a special occasion to an everyday activity. Our food environment extends well beyond our home kitchens into our workplaces, schools, restaurants, recreational facilities, and even along the streets as food trucks proliferate in major cities. Sometimes urban areas in particular can seem like one big kitchen, where you can find just about any type of food you can imagine right around the corner.
Living in the information age, we are exposed to a great deal of advice and sometimes contradictory and inaccurate recommendations on what to eat to stay healthy, happy, and fit. It’s on the news, in magazines, on billboards, and on our TV shows. The information is overwhelming, and trying to stay up-to-date and to know what is accurate is nearly impossible. Access to trustworthy information is essential in order to be able to make food and lifestyle choices for one’s short and long-term health.
An increasing number of people are suffering from obesity and other diet-related diseases on a global scale. Without major shifts in systems and norms, the number is expected to increase further in the coming years. We believe that nutrition education is essential so people can make healthy, informed food choices. Integrating nutrition education into school teaches children good food habits early on in their lives so they can make well-informed food choices throughout their lifespan.
Currently, in both Denmark and the USA, illnesses and health conditions stemming from poor nutrition habits are far too common. This is not only an individual tragedy, but is also very costly to society in terms of decreased productivity and health expense.
In Denmark, we have introduced “food schools,” where children are involved in preparing and cooking daily school meals. By being involved in the school kitchen, children are developing knowledge of—and practical experience with—food and meals.
In the USA, we have updated the nutrition standards in school meals to follow the most recent science-based Dietary Guidelines for Americans. We have also introduced programs such as Farm to School and Chefs Move to Schools, giving students the opportunity for hands-on learning about how healthy foods are produced and prepared.
This week in Copenhagen—the Nordic capital of modern gastronomy—we are taking the first step together with 120 international political decision makers, industry leaders, experts and gastronomy frontrunners, invited by the Danish Minister. Together we will elaborate and identify new solutions in order to ensure this task: How can we, through general education and better information, ensure better food for more people in the future? We are excited to see what we, as a global community, can accomplish with a little bit of creativity and a lot of team work.