Chefs as Agents of Change to Accelerate Transformation of Food Systems through solutions-driven advocacy for culinary and food professionals
Author: Jaroslav Guzanic (Executive Chef; Culinary Instructor/Educator; Project Director and Founder of the Swiss Association for Cooperation on Food Education; Chefs' Manifesto Switzerland; Co-Lead of the NNEdPro Swiss and Non-Mediterranean Europe Regional Network)
Acknowledgements for consultation: Keren Allen (Project and Partnership Lead – SDG2 Advocacy Hub Secretariat | www.sdg2advocacyhub.org); Wanja Nyaga, Sucheta Mitra and Matheus Abrantes (NNEdPro) Reviewer/Editor: Professor Sumantra (Shumone) Ray
The Chefs’ Manifesto, together with the support of multiple partner networks (also with the support of the Swiss Association for Cooperation on Food Education as a research promoter) compiled a survey between February-May 2021 to learn what chefs perceive to be the top practical actions they can take to help accelerate food systems transformation in the Decade of Action. The UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) was convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and held in September 2021. The purpose was to shape global commitments and to raise global awareness of food systems, and how they might be transformed to reduce diet-related diseases, resolve hunger, and restore planetary health. The Secretary-General was calling all citizens to collective action, to “radically change the way we produce, process, transport, market and consume food”1. Building on global platforms and events, the UNFSS aimed to generate agreements and highlight collaborative actions. Initiatives locally, regionally, nationally, and globally that support food systems transformation had been explored prior to the Summit occurring. Knowledge sourced from these initiatives informed future recommendations from the Summit. The UNFSS followed 5 Action Tracks 1. Ensuring access to safe and nutritious food 2. Shifting to sustainable consumption patterns 3. Boosting nature-positive production 4. Advancing equitable livelihoods 5. Building resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress2 2021 was a critical year with events such as the UNFSS, Nutrition for Growth (N4G) and COP 26 all being convened throughout 2021, truly was a superb year of opportunities for collective action whereby chefs created a global manifesto identifying a framework of actionable steps. It was critical that advocacy actions were at the forefront of these events, driving forward change by bringing in as many diverse voices as possible, to ensure that 2021 actively heralds in the remainder of the Decade of Action to achieve the SDGs. As Agents of Change, and to drive action, chefs need to come together in one collective, connected voice.
The Chefs’ Manifesto network took a leading role to further focus and narrow the SDG roadmap for chefs, as well as bridging and connecting across chef networks worldwide. This was motivated by the UN Food Systems Summit, and the urgent need to generate actions to be able to achieve the SDGs by 2030. Through conducting a survey, the aim was to learn from participants, what the top priorities were for 2021, the results of which informed the creation of a ‘Chefs’ Pledge’. This Pledge was a commitment to key practical priorities that can have the greatest impact to enact change in and across food systems. It aimed to create collective momentum to rally greater attention and engagement of chef food systems champions, mobilising them even further as agents of change, at key global events, especially the past UN Food Systems Summit. Participants and Stakeholders
1. Chefs and cooks and other partner networks who had wished to join 2. External certified, as well as non-certified chefs 3. Scientific group of the UNFSS 4. Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Action Tracks 5. Other scientists and food professionals 6. Food science and culinary students Objectives
This international survey aimed to narrow the already existing Chefs’ Manifesto Action Plan, formed from the UN SDGs to a much more succinct, 8-point practical action pledge, which could begin to be immediately implemented by existing and future chefs, cooks, and food professionals. Through statistically prioritising which actions would be deemed to have the most impact from the wider Action Plan, the objective was to uncover the 8 key actionable solutions chefs globally would like to prioritise to tackle food systems challenges and accelerate transformation. The research was conducted from late February through to May 2021.
The aim was to conduct analytical surveys, questionnaires and multiple global, inclusive dialogues across the culinary sector (the reports of which were submitted to the UN Food Systems Summit 2021) interviews to learn from participants what the top priorities for chefs in 2021 and beyond were and what actions and impactful ideas they have enforced, the results of which informed the creation of a Chefs’ Pledge - a potential SDGs roadmap for other chefs and culinary students to improve food systems in their specific region or community. The survey was translated into several languages, including Mandarin/Chinese, Arabic and Spanish. This allowed for a greater diversity of voices and participation. The preliminary results were published in June 2021 as part of the preparations for the 2021 UN Food Systems Pre-Summit Event, which was held in Rome, Italy. Other key information and data were also collected during the Swiss Independent Dialogue on May 14 2021 organised by the Swiss Association for Cooperation on Food Education. Timeline
Creation of survey
End of January 2021
Host a call with partner networks
Beginning of February 2021
Conducting the survey
Host a multiple dialogue on the findings
Curate a commitment - Chefs’ Pledge Draft
End of June 2021
Collection of feedback and reflections
Final copy and begin promotion/commitments
Peer-review and additional updates, evidence
Chefs’ Manifesto and partnering organisations invited participants via social media, direct email, through partner networks and various campaigns. Effective until the 1st of June 2021, several hundred respondents have participated from more than 50 countries, with a wide variety of skills and expertise, yet all with a common goal: to make the positive transformation to our food systems, share existing examples of practice and accelerate good food for all. Survey participants identified as being engaged as one of the following: trained chefs and scientists (represented by 62%), cooks (7%), culinary students (3%) and other food-related non-culinary professionals (24%). Over 50 countries were represented including, but not limited to India, the Philippines, Ghana, Slovakia, South Africa, Colombia, China, Brazil, Mexico, Ireland Australia, Austria, New Zealand, Kenya and Switzerland. The survey questions were categorized into 8 Thematic Areas as introduced above. At the end of the survey, participants were asked to share practical and innovative actions (based on the thematic areas) they have been implementing or measures and efforts they had implemented in support of the transformation of food systems. A summary of the responses is as follows and has been prioritized based on the statistical prevalence of all, so far received replies to the survey questions (to each thematic area) and subsequent dialogues. Each question was headlined with one of the 8 Thematic Areas. Participants were asked to rank using a number system, with 1 = most important = the action they believe would have the greatest impact when implemented. The Chefs’ Manifesto created the survey, engaged, co-ordinated and briefed partner networks to support partner networks to promote and conduct the survey. Secondly, they collected and analysed the data, and hosted several dialogues to discuss findings and the Chefs’ Pledge commitment and curated Chefs’ Pledge commitment. Moreover, they shared an official logo and asked all participants to place the designed materials on all Chefs’ Pledge graphics and curated social media tiles for wider dissemination. Furthermore, the Chefs’ Pledge was disseminated throughout the Chefs’ Manifesto and partner networks to promote, share, and seek commitments globally and also shared the Chefs’ Pledge commitment with the UNFSS. Finally, they committed themselves to organising several chefs to participate and be the public face of the actions at different global key events hosted by the UN and its partnering networks. Partner networks and individual participants promoted the survey within their networks, and shared links via email and social media. They participated in dialogues hosted by the Chefs’ Manifesto. Additionally, they put forward specific chefs and/or delegates to endorse the Chefs’ Pledge and suggested chefs and/or delegates participate in FSS dialogues focused on this throughout 2021 and suggest chefs endorse the Chefs’ Pledge alongside global events such as the FSS, COP 26 and N4G. The Chefs’ Manifesto will act as the convenor of the Chefs’ Pledge and the pledge was being taken from the Action Plan in the Chefs’ Manifesto aligned to the SDGs. Any network that signed onto the pledge had its logo represented on the document as a partner network. In exchange, they promoted the survey to their members and hosted a discussion or dialogue to help shape the final pledge. Results
Thematic Area 1: Ingredients are grown with respect for the earth & its oceans
Action 1: Choosing ingredients with the lowest impact on the environment (38%). Action 2: Use purchasing power by choosing producers or suppliers who work sustainably and only buy from the sources who share your values (28%). Action 3: Sustainable ingredients and producers through your menus in restaurants, public catering venues and community kitchens (34%). Thematic Area 2: Protection of biodiversity and improved animal welfare
Action 1: Use different varieties of plants, grains, and proteins and champion “wild” variants and avoid monoculture (31.8%). Action 2: Raising awareness about the importance of free-range eggs, sustainably sourced fish and animal welfare on daily menus in households and restaurants (21.8%). Action 3: Choosing producers who commit to higher animal welfare standards (19.4%). Action 4: Using purchasing power to choose only fish and seafood that is abundant and sourced sustainably (27%). Thematic Area 3: Investment in Livelihoods
Action 1: Knowing your ingredients and investigating the journey from farm to fork and reducing the number of intermediaries between you and the farmer (23.4%). Action 2: Use your purchasing power to choose products that are priced fairly, to enable a viable livelihood for farmers and suppliers (13.5%). Action 3: Supporting more farmers to access marketplaces by choosing to buy from small-scale producers (13%). Action 4: Promoting equal opportunities and providing training within your restaurants (15.8%). Action 5: Providing training and mentoring to chefs (15.8%). Action 6: Further support for female farmers, female producers and female chefs (18.5%).
Thematic Area 4: Natural resources and reduction of food waste
Action 1: Monitoring and setting targets to reduce and prevent food waste. It is also about managing food safety processes and use by dates to avoid wastage (15%). Action 2: Planning food orders and menus to minimise food waste by offering smaller portion sizes (11.9%). Action 3: Being creative through pickling, preserving, dehydrating and freezing (11%). Action 4: Using purchasing power to engage with suppliers and producers to help incorporate surplus produce into menus (10.6%). Action 5: Become a community food champion and re-distribute surplus food through community sharing and food bank programmes or apps (11%). Action 6: Being resource efficient and managing water usage to cut costs and protect the environment (13%). Action 7: Diverting waste from landfill and investigating turning food waste into compost or bio-gas. It is about considering offsetting the carbon used in your restaurant or switching to renewable energy sources (14%). Action 8: Using purchasing power through working with producers and suppliers to avoid excess packaging and to use recycled, recyclable and biodegradable packaging (13.5%).
Thematic Area 5: Celebration and local foods
Action 1: Use your purchasing power by buying locally produced foods in season and avoiding air-freighted foods (27%). Action 2: Showcasing local producers and traditional techniques on restaurant menus (17%). Action 3: Become a community food champion through engaging with your local community and working with schools and teaching kids about nutritious food and how to cook it (17%). Action 4: Becoming the connection between producers and consumers. Helping to show people where their food comes from. Inviting farmers and connecting them to diners. Organise events to bring people - young and old - together around good food. (16%) Action 5: Promoting kitchen gardens and urban farming. Encouraging people to start growing their own food. (24%). Thematic Area 6: A focus on plant-based ingredients
Action 1: Make vegetables, beans and pulses the centre of your dishes (32.5%). Action 2: Using less, and better, meat (20.6%). Action 3: Incorporating plant-based proteins on menus and in restaurants and other public catering venues (20.6%). Action 4: Avoid using words like “vegan” and “vegetarian” which may be off-putting (26.3%). Thematic Area 7: Education on food safety and healthy diets
Action 1: Showcasing best practise on food safety, allergens and nutrition in your kitchens and through your menus. (24%) Action 2: Be a community food champion and support good nutrition education for all young and old. Volunteer to teach a nutritious cooking class in a school, community centre or care home. (18%) Action 3: Educating diners about the importance of eating a colourful plate. (20%) Action 4: Use annual events like International Chefs Day (20 October), World Food Day (16 October) and local holidays to get creative and engage people in nutritious cooking. (18%) Action 5: Using technology as a tool for teaching others. Make videos, and run webcasts and online sessions. Thematic Area 8: Nutritious food that is accessible and affordable for all
Action 1: Support initiatives that provide access to nutritious meals in communities (43%) Action 2: Helping raise awareness about what a nutritious meal looks like and how to cook well on a budget. (30%) Action 3: Creating more Chef's communities across the world to share stories, best practices and learnings on how to help ensure good food is accessible and affordable for all. (18%) Action 4: Spreading the word and using social media to raise awareness about food issues and how to be part of the solution (9%).4 Conclusion
The conclusion resulted in 8 practical actions that were deemed the most likely to accelerate food systems transformation. These were as follows: 1. I will get to know my ingredients: How are they grown, reared or sourced? I will choose ingredients with the lowest impact on the environment.
2. I will lead by example: To maintain the rich diversity of the world’s natural larder by using different varieties of plants, grains and proteins. I will champion ‘wild’ variants and avoid monoculture.
3. I will get to know my ingredients: Who grows, harvests, sources and packages them? How do they get to you? I will investigate the journey from farm to fork. I will choose ingredients with as few intermediaries as possible between myself and the farmer.
4. I will lead by example: by separating, monitoring and setting targets to reduce food waste.
5. I will use my purchasing power: Buying locally produced foods in season and avoiding air-freighted foods.
6. I will lead by example: Making vegetables, beans and pulses the centre of my dishes.
7. I will be a community food champion: Showcasing best practices on food safety, allergens and nutrition in my kitchen and through my menus.
8. I will be a community food champion: Supporting initiatives that provide access to nutritious meals.
Chefs were then asked to sign a pledge, committing to one or more of these actions, to help ensure good food for all. Continuity of the research, as well as satellite activities and events, followed until December 2021.
In 2022 following the NNEdPro International Summit on Nutrition and Health, there is momentum and opportunity to develop as well as implement several of these practical actions, especially in the wake of the globalisation of the Mobile Teaching Kitchen initiative: www.nnedpro.org.uk/mtk
References 1https://www.unccd.int/actions/food-systems-summit-2021 2https://www.unccd.int/actions/food-systems-summit-2021 3 https://sdg2advocacyhub.org/chefs-manifesto/chefsagents 4https://sdg2advocacyhub.org/chefs-manifesto/actions/chefs-pledge-results-are Attachment 1: Global Dialogues Summary
Research Design and Implementation
The Chefs’ Manifesto
The Chefs’ Manifesto, World Association of Chef's Societies, Social Gastronomy Movement, Chef Ann Foundation, Le Cordon Bleu London, Good Food Fund China, James Beard Foundation, Chefs 4 the Planet and other external networks – the full list of researchers and other details regarding the survey can be requested by sending an inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org