In this episode, we address what we know from science when it comes to adopting diets that support a healthy, sustainable food system. My guest is Amanda Wood who is a researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Launched in 2007, the Centre’s vision is to advance a world where social-ecological systems are understood, governed and managed to not only enhance human well-being, but also enable the sustainable co-evolution of human civilizations with the biosphere.

Amanda’s work intersects science, policy and practice to inform food systems transformations for sustainability and health. This includes working with and informing decision-makers, organizations and networks who can influence change. Amanda was a co-author of the influential EAT Lancet report and subsequently wrote an analysis on how the Nordic food system would have to be transformed in order to meet the report’s recommendations.

  • 7:30 Five actions areas that will transform the food system
  • 19:00 Vision for the future food system
  • 26:50 Wishlist for change from policy makers
  • 31:00 Research areas we’re still missing to move forward
  • 35:30 Signs that the food system is changing for the better

3:15 What is the Stockholm Resilience Center?

4:45 What is your role and how did you come to the Center?

My first task was to pick the brain of leading scientists around the world to put together a report on healthy and sustainable food systems. Now I’m focused on making that global report meaningful for the Nordics.

5:50 What is the EAT Lancet report? What were the key findings?

It was a major attempt to synthesize the best available evidence on healthy and sustainable food systems to propose global boundaries for what constitutes a healthy diet and sustainable food production.

7:30 What actions do we need to take in those three areas?

1) Shift to healthier diets 2) Shift agricultural priorities to producing inputs of healthy diets 3) Sustainably intensify production to make sure we have high quality food to feed everyone 4) Govern land and oceans in a strong, coordinated way 5) Halve food loss and waste in line with the SDGs

9:30 What kind of research was done to arrive at these recommendations?

The big message is we know enough to move ahead and take action.

10:55 What has the EAT Lancet report added to the scientific community?

12:07 Who does the report need to identify as having to create / make change?

We need everyone to do their part. We can’t get stuck in thinking responsibility just belongs to one group.

14:15 How are you working with diverse stakeholders and bringing them together?

Anytime you change something as big as the food system, of course you’re not going to have all the answers. It’s going to be an uncomfortable change process.

16:15 What methodology do you use to bring people together?

We always try to start with what the science tells us.

19:00 What is your vision for the food system in 10-15 years?

I would love to see healthy, sustainable foods as the easiest, cheapest and most attractive option so that the consumer doesn’t have to spend time researching and reading labels. They can trust that the food system is good for them.  We also move past polarization around what is a healthy, sustainable diet. There are so many different examples of the diversity of diets that can benefit your health and the health of the planet that you don’t need to belong to a certain dietary camp.

23:15 What are we missing to achieve that vision for the food system?

We need more courage! Businesses could have more courage to change their business models. Governments could have more courage to support food system transformation. Consumers could have more courage to try new dishes.

24:40 What kinds of signs are you seeing that are indicating that our food system is changing for the better?

26:50 What is your wish list for change from policymakers?

Committing to putting healthy, sustainable food systems at the top of the agenda, setting up a structure inside government to achieve integrated policymaking, financing food solutions, and setting clear food system targets so that everyone in society is working towards them.

29:30 What collaborations are you looking for? Or what are some obstacles you need help solving?

What we’re lacking is some central, convening platform or body to make sure all these different centers of energy are amplifying rather than duplicating or diffusing each other. That would enable us to move much faster, together.

31:00 What kind of research are we still missing to move this forward?

There could be more work done to understand the current food systems like data on production systems and environmental impact. Probably more exciting is research on what actions push us in a more healthy, sustainable direction. I’d also say the economic costs of change and inaction are really exciting.

33:30 What do we know from research about changing people’s preferences and behaviors?

Sustained change is successful when we can change a social norm. Price and taste are also really important determinants for what we eat.

35:30 Why we should be optimistic about the future

37:42  How should someone get in contact with you?