Future Food Identities: understanding foodscape to shape a better food system

Matteo Falasca
Nov 30, 2017 · 5 min read

After almost one month in San Francisco, I can definitively claim to have found the topic for my Master graduation, well done!

In this first month in Silicon Valley, I just followed and visited projects, startups and companies all around, to take inspiration from this amazing place, the most innovative, smart and high-tech into the world. At the end I decided to agree the purpose of Chiara Cecchini and FutureFoodInstitute to take part of their next exciting project.

FutureFoodInstitute is an organization I met first when I was at the Italian Ministry of Agriculture Food and Forestry, they worked as facilitators during the mission of our Minister Maurizio Martina right here, in July; and then organizing the G7 Agri Ministers Meeting in Bergamo last 14–15 October, where they partecipated with Agrogeneration-Feeding the planet. Making the information sheets, I encountered this organization that immediatly affected me for its ambitious goals and the innovative ways to pursue them, in their way to communicate I felt something of disruptive, I had to get in touch! I immediatly realized had the grant from my University to make research abroad and so kept in touch with sara roversi, a person very open minded, that of course accepted to give me the chance to follow their projects in the Bay Area.

FutureFoodInstitute is a non-profit organization with offices in Italy and US with global horizons that aims to build a more equitable world through enlightening a world-class breed of innovators, boosting entrepreneurial potential and improving agri-food expertise and tradition. Their vision belong from the assumption that food is a global language and a driver for global economic prosperity. So how to face the urgent issues of creating a more sustainable future of food, while understanding technology’s role in closing the gaps in our food system? Their activity consits into encouraging knowledge and education, the cornerstone of innovation, through seeking to study, research, analyze and share new trends around the world while implementing and testing new solutions, also in order to assist food system organizations plan and create a sustainable future for people and the planet.

This framework is set with the new project we approaching right now, we named “Future Food Identities”. Food environments are powerful determinants of food behaviours and experiences of specific locations. While urban food systems meet dwellers needs through different aspects, they directly influence daily food decision making, consequently impacting long term’ health and well-being.

There is a clear need of defining a unifying benchmarking system which takes into consideration the previously mentioned studies, integrate them and complete each category with practical metrics.This will give a common, universal and ready-to use assessment system to be applied in various global urban systems for the purpose of improving dwellers food experiences and ultimately well-being.

This project will determine and quantify cultural, social, economical and demographic factors that shape the ten more innovative urban food systems around the world: Europe (Amsterdam, London), North America (Toronto, New York, San Francisco), Asia (Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, Hong Kong, New Delhi). It will enable to gain a deeper understanding of the key factors via big data analysis and correlation studies. These 10 cities have been selected after accurate screening and represent interesting case studies in terms of food industry investment, academic excellences and innovative projects. The expected outcome is to define a quantitative and qualitative benchmarking model, which will provide a numerical and graphical snapshot of a location food identity.

We also applied to a call for a grant at the University of California Davis, to involve the n.1 University in US in Agriculture and other food companies in our project. This work will generate an international assessment framework which will be shared through a series of seminars and the creation of an hackathon led by Food Innovation Program students and researchers. A project will be selected as result of the event, and will be supported with a price to realise a first prototype to test.

The project aims to ultimately optimise citizens food experiences and behaviours in different environment. Furthermore, the study will optimize beneficiaries’ specific food interventions in order to:

  • Enable individuals to MAKE PERSONAL, INFORMED FOOD CHOICES for sustainable lifestyles;
  • Enable PLANT BASED DIETS adoptions
  • Accelerate CIRCULAR ECONOMY transition.

The resulting tools will allow organisations to conscientiously adjust their interventions, policy makers to orient their decisions towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goals achievement and students to be educated.

I am very excited to take part of this project, it is exactly the challenge I was looking for, to explore in depth the topics I am focusing on for any years. The role of food impact on sustainable development is a crucial question of our time, when I wrote the cover letter for my research grant I declared:

My goal in life is to grow and contribute, cultivating the culture of excellence, technology, and innovation, to build the future in accordance with the values and principles I believe in. The way I have chosen to facilitate progress is devoting my energies to create a better, more sustainable, and respectful food environment for people around the world.”

I think this is the right way!

Matteo Falasca

Written by

Future Food Institute — MIPAAF — Slow Food Roma — Fondazione italiana Sommelier. #InternationalRelations #Agrifood policies #EUpolicies #SDGs

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