The power of procurement: public purchasing and the right to food
On May 15 2014, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter urged governments to exploit the full potential of public food purchasing in order to make food systems fairer and more sustainable. His remarks came as he officially published his report on public procurement and the right to food.
The report emphasises the importance of public procurement in helping small-scale producers and reducing rural poverty. Mr De Schutter calls on public procurers to take inspiration from initiatives such as the Home-Grown School Feeding and the Purchase for Progress programmes, which incorporate broader social initiatives into their food procurement objectives.
“Governments have few sources of leverage over increasingly globalized food systems – but public procurement is one of them. When sourcing food for schools, hospitals and public administrations, Governments have a rare opportunity to support more nutritious diets and more sustainable food systems in one fell swoop,” said the independent expert.
Imperial College London sets good example in sustainable catering services
Imperial College London (UK) has implemented a sustainable food policy as part of its ongoing commitment to sustainable catering. The policy supports a variety of sustainability initiatives related to catering, such as One Water', Sustainable Fish City and London on Tap, thus setting a good example for other institutions in London and the surrounding regions.
Because of its active involvement in sustainability initiatives, Imperial College won both the Good Food on a Public Plate and Good Egg Awards in 2010. The awards recognised the university’s collaboration with the Royal Brompton Hospital and Thamesbrook Care Home in purchasing much of their seasonal fresh produce from a farm in Kent; as well as composting 80 per cent of their food waste on site and introducing filtered water machines to the college’s main restaurants.
International event promotes local and sustainable food
The tenth Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre food festival is taking place in Turin (Italy) from October 23-27, 2014. Bringing together 1,000 exhibitors from 130 countries and 300 international representatives of the Slow Food movement, this is one of the most important global events dedicated to sustainable food and its producers. Exhibitors include chefs, farmers, fishers, academics, artisans, representatives from the worlds of wine and gastronomy, and the Terra Madre food communities.
The Festival aims to celebrate biodiversity and to explore the Ark of Taste, an international project which catalogues our global culinary heritage and works to protect foods at risk of extinction. Working in partnership with the UN and the 2014 International Year of Family Farming, the event aims to strengthen farming communities and family-oriented agriculture.
The Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre includes an international marketplace, a food education area with activities for families and young visitors, taste workshops, an Italian cooking school and a comprehensive program of conferences for in-depth discussions on subjects like family farming, food sovereignty, justice and waste.
Vienna’s public institutions buying more sustainably produced food
Vienna’s public institutions – kindergartens, schools and elderly care-homes alike – are increasingly buying organic food. This change in purchasing behavior is the result of the pilot project ‘natürlich gut Teller’ [naturally good plate] initiated by the city of Vienna to reduce greenhouse gases by encouraging public institutions to make more sustainable food choices.
The level of CO2 emissions of canteen kitchens depends on food production methods, as well as seasonality and origin of food. Through the use of organic-food labels, regional products and reduction of meat and fish, greenhouse gas emissions levels from field to plate can be significantly reduced. Ökokauf Wien [in German] is overseeing the project and has tasked the environmental consultancy die umweltberatung [in German] with developing criteria for particularly eco-friendly meals, labelling them as ‘naturally good plates’ and training staff in participating public institutions.
A ‘naturally good plate’ must fulfill the following four criteria: the food has to be partially organic, the vegetables have to be seasonal, and meat and fish should be organic and served less frequently. In addition, participating institutions have to comply with two of the following criteria: food is from vegetable origin, regionally produced, fairly produced, self-prepared, using less packaging, or following an eco-innovative approach.