FUTURE FOOD
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FUTURE FOOD

From intentions to actions: new potentials with Kazakhstan onboard

This week we concluded our tour of the world in celebration of the Week of Italian Cuisine in the World.

“Tradition and perspectives of Italian cuisine: awareness and enhancement of food sustainability,” has been the fil rouge that, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Italian embassies abroad, has connected Italian recipes, Italian lifestyle, and the Italian philosophy behind food across three different continents.

The magic formula that has made it possible for such a relatively small country to reach such distant latitudes and be universally celebrated is the unique heritage standing behind our recipes.

The natural richness, the beautiful landscapes, the variety of crops, the numerous towns and infinite small villages, are aspects that illustrate the beauty of Italy.

These aspects, however, have not come by chance.

The Italian cuisine we are celebrating today is the result of wisdom that, for hundreds of years, has been handed down and is based on a deep respect for the soil and the landscape. It is the expression of a way of doing and thinking that originates from care, dedication, attention, and from the hands of those who have always guarded the riches present in this territory and that have given them the space and time to flourish and come down to us. The wealth of biodiversity is due to agricultural practices that have preserved resources, cared for the landscape, and fostered prosperity for millennia. It is the result of the inspiration, creativity, courage, and curiosity of explorers and travelers, who since the most ancient past, have made possible that precious exchange of knowledge, skills, and cultures that today identifies the Mediterranean Basin and Diet.

Today, just as in the past, innovation in the agri-food sector serves as a lever of both competitiveness and sustainability. Recipes are by far one of the most iconic examples of successful innovation that have been accepted and therefore rooted in culinary tradition. Food in general, as the vehicle of so many values, is the result of a beautiful mixture between innovation and tradition, in the modes of production, in the forms of distribution, and in the models of consumption.

These aspects explain why the celebration of Italian cuisine has reached far-away countries, such as Kazakhstan in Asia, during the Week of the Italian Cuisine in the World.

KAZAKHSTAN: A COUNTRY OF BIG NUMBERS

With a surface area nine times greater than Italy, and nearly half the size of the European Union, Kazakhstan’s role in the international agri-food system is crucial. This is not only because almost the entirety of its surface area is used as cultivable land, but also as one of the world’s six largest grain exporters, and the first country in the world in tea consumption.

Equally, the land is also marked by strict environmental dynamics and particularly difficult natural contexts for agriculture. Strong winds, frigid temperatures (Astana/Nur-Sultan is among the coldest capitals in the world!), almost no precipitation, and unevenly distributed superficial water characterize the natural context of a country that still bases its national economy on grain production, employing 1.2 million people in agriculture.

According to recent data from FAO, the 2021 global cereal production in Kazakhstan is forecast to reach 2,788 million tons, slightly exceeding last year’s production.

Yet, the water salinity rate is heavily increasing, while the surface water availability is massively decreasing, making collaboration with neighboring and riparian states urgent in ensuring national water allocation and preventing risks of water shortages.

Within this context, working closely with the Italian Embassy in Kazakhstan is more crucial than ever to lead the global food system towards more regenerative approaches. This explains why the mission of the Future Food Institute on the occasion of the Week of Italian Cuisine in the World could not exclude the Embassy of Kazakhstan, now recently led by the experience and ability of Marco Alberti.

THE POWER OF BUILDING BRIDGES

ECOLOGY: THE KEY FOR FOOD SECURITY

“The problem is not only food security but how to produce and how to achieve it, and how to incorporate sustainable food systems. These are topics which are touching our everyday lives,” stressed Marco Alberti during the joint event on the occasion of the Week of Italian Cuisine in the World.

Food security is not only agriculture. Food security is feeding the planet, it is food production, it is nutrition, it is access to safe natural resources, it is reasonable consumption, it is a balance between humanity and the natural ecosystem, it is food sovereignty and the tight relationship between producers, distributors, and consumers, it is trust and transparency. The ecological transition must be integral including the interactions between the natural environment, society, and its cultures, institutions, and the economy.

And we should start from those countries that have the potential to make huge steps forwards.

BUILDING INNOVATION TOGETHER

“Kazakhstan can increase food production and become an international food hub,reported Nazhmidenov Kairat, the representative of Europe, Central Asia, Near East, North Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean Service (CFIC) at FAO.

Kazakhstan can begin incubating innovation projects to create sustainable communities connecting Agriculture, Food, and the Environment, without forgetting the enhancement of artistic, environmental, and cultural heritage, which, in this country, is evident in the patchwork of diverse cultures.

Each of us alone can help move the needle, but the power of togetherness can be extraordinary.

For this reason, the Future Food Institute was honored to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the “S. Seifullin,” the oldest Kazakh Agrotechnical University, to begin sharing skills, exchanging knowledge, and working together to address our common challenges. It is the start of a collaboration that can benefit from the experience we have been implementing in Pollica, the cradle of the Mediterranean Diet, in the Paideia Campus, structured under the integral ecological regeneration framework, which perfectly follows the One Health Approach. But also the willingness to host students and experts in the Paideia Campus in Pollica, to study the Mediterranean Diet and the agricultural practices of Cilento farmers.

CHANGE OF MIND: WHEN EDUCATION AND HOSPITALITY GO HAND IN HAND

With Astana/Nur-Sultan being among the youngest capitals in the world (average age 29 years), the power of education is crucial.

In a year that has seen the UK and Italy at the helm of a particularly important COP26 , due to the large participation of youth movements, with YOUTH4CLIMATE we decided to focus on the theme of sustainability. To achieve a true balance between humanity and the planet, everything starts from how we eat and our lifestyle. We were so fortunate to connect with the students from the Haileybury Astana British private school in Nur-Sultan with whom, together with Ambassador Marco Alberti and Ambassador Kathy Leach in Kazakhstan, we talked about food diplomacy, food sustainability, innovation, Prosperity Thinking, the Mediterranean Diet, and the planetary challenges of agri-food systems, while also answering several questions about Circular Economy and Entrepreneurship. The smart questions asked by these folks, along with their passion and propensity to want to delve deeper to encompass the complexities of the system, really filled us with hope.

Education is not only an exchange of experience and visions, it is the first act of nurturing. It is for this reason, that it is so embedded with health, nutrition, and lifestyle.

Meeting pediatricians and cardiologists from the Republican University Medical Center — UMC of Nur-Sultan, was a unique moment to travel between history and science during which, together with Prof. Carlo Catassi, Director of the Pediatric Department at Univpm Università Politecnica delle Marche, we touched on the importance of a healthy eating style for children and the potential of the Mediterranean Diet.

Education and wellbeing are therefore rooted in food and, for sure, hospitality. As the ambassador reminded us, “hospital” and “hospitality” have the same root, a place where “strangers are hosted,” where care for oneself, for the community, and for the environment come together and where the banquet becomes the pure celebration of the Mediterranean.

This is the “Italian cuisine in the world” that we like, the one that in addition to traditions, taste, and beauty, opens the door to science, creativity, and innovation, the inclusive one, the ecological one able to make room for the most important challenges of our time: to feed ALL, in a HEALTHY, FAIR and SUSTAINABLE way. Together, we can move from intentions to actions.

The Future Food Institute is an international ecosystem that believes climate change is at the end of your fork. By harnessing the power of its global ecosystem of partners, innovators, researchers, educators, and entrepreneurs, FFI aims to sustainably improve life on Earth through transformation of global food systems.

By training the next generation of changemakers, empowering communities, and engaging government and industry in actionable innovation, FFI catalyzes progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Learn more at www.futurefoodinsitute.org, join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube. Or attend a program through the FutureFood.Academy!

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Future Food is an ecosystem of innovators committed to generating a global positive impact by empowering the ever growing community of young entrepreneurs, farmers and food innovators with disruptive ideas, and supporting corps and institutions on their path to open innovation.

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