Last year, the 16th of October (World Food Day), marked the beginning of a four-year EU-funded Horizon 2020 project called FOOD TRAILS which we’ve already written about here. The project unites 19 partners on a quest to transform urban food policy in the European Union and brings together 11 cities that will test run different strategies to prevent food waste, promote environmentally friendly behavior with a zero-waste use of resources and empower communities.
FOOD TRAILS’ 11 partner cities are Bergamo (IT), Birmingham (UK), Bordeaux (FR), Copenhagen (DK), Funchal (PR), Grenoble (FR), Groningen (NL), Milan (IT), Thessaloniki (GR), Tirana (AL) and Warsaw (PL).
About the FOOD TRAILS Project
The project originated in the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP), which has been the leading community in urban food policy knowledge since 2015. FOOD TRAILS aims to collect all the existing knowledge on urban food systems, launch food policies through living labs in the cities mentioned above, initiate specific pilot processes, and create a space for debate about economic sustainability.
The goal is to reach European, national and local institutions and turn shared knowledge into concrete action. Over 5,000 policymakers worldwide are estimated to get the results and consequently efficiently transform our food systems.
The benefits of consolidated urban food policy
It is expected that the activities related to the project will have wide-reaching benefits, with 7.7 million Europeans living in the 11 partner cities, multiple prominent universities and European stakeholders completing the partnership. This includes economic benefits with job openings linked to the urban food policy innovations. Moreover, we’ve seen how food aid systems, proximity trading systems, and food delivery has helped us to respond to the COVID-19 crisis quickly and efficiently.
Ensuring healthy and secure diets
Some of the actions involve improving the farm-to-fork process, connecting local food producers and training kitchen staff to reduce food losses and increase the consumption of local ingredients. FOOD TRAILS aims to promote social inclusion through food security and focuses on sustainable diets in schools while tackling childhood obesity through community-based health and well-being.
Smart bio-waste management as part of the solution
In the last decades, we became detached from farming, food production and nowadays, kitchen scraps sometimes have a yuck factor for us. As a throw-away society, we don’t think about where our leftovers are going to end and how they affect our environment. This can turn into a huge problem in the context of climate change if we don’t address it promptly. Besides, last year’s Covid-9 pandemic resulting in a huge shock to the food systems, affecting food equality and aggravating links between producers and consumers, underlined the neuralgic points in the urban food policies. FOOD TRAILS project was created to tackle all these issues and find sustainable solutions.
It is estimated that 173 kg of food is wasted per person in a year and around 53% of food is thrown away in households. In the face of global warming, water supply and healthy soil will become scarce; thus, smart bio-waste management is key for a sustainable future on our planet. A switch towards a circular economy and using waste as a precious resource seems the most logical solution. Instead of treating food leftovers as waste, we should consider turning them into a source of new life. For instance, with bokashi composting, we can come to a full circle; the leftover bio-waste is turned into fermented organic matter, full of precious nutrients for the soil in which we can, later on, grow new produce. In addition, the bokashi liquid can be used as house plant fertilizer so literally, nothing gets wasted.
The role of composting in bio-waste management
It is inspiring to see how the cities included in the FOOD TRAILS project are working hard to transform urban food policies with effective bio-waste management and orientation towards a circular economy where everything is used over and over again.
As we’ve seen in the South Korea example, one thing that individual households can do to bring down the number of wasted food is to rethink where it originates, to plan our meals in advance, and assess what we can do with the leftovers. Composting is a great way to reuse our bio-waste, as on the one hand, we reduce the amount of waste and on the other hand, we produce fertilizing compost that can be used in agriculture.
Working together towards a sustainable future
A lot can be done to reduce food waste on an individual level, but when the local authorities offer innovative solutions, spread the knowledge, and support their citizens, success is guaranteed. Thus, bringing different parties involved in the food chain together and creating a large network of partners is essential for the FOOD TRAILS project. The cities involved will organize workshops as well as paid learning opportunities for the Eurocities members to create advanced urban food plans. We are sure that the project will have many benefits for the future of urban food policy and that we will hear a lot about it in the following four years.