Understanding the complexity of food systems to address urban and rural needs

Understanding the complexity of food systems to address urban and rural needs

Despite the challenging circumstances modern society faces today, Circular Berlin continues to invest energy in reshaping the systems in which our society depends upon. In relation to the food system, It is urgent that we align with environmental practices in the way that we produce food; reconciling ourselves with the natural environments that support life and give us the nutritional inputs needed for our development.

At Circular Berlin, we aim to take an active role in the transformation towards a more resilient and resource efficient society. As part of this effort, we do not only develop applied projects, but we actively look for ways to integrate with the community, in order to exchange ideas and present the most advanced knowledge. On the 30th of July we organised a community activity in which experts from different fields shared their knowledge in a fruitful online gathering. 

Our recent event ‘The flow of food’ included the participation of Dr.mont. Alberto Bezama from the Department of Bioenergy of UFZ (Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research), Elisabeth Berlinghof from (Food Kompanions), Monica Kisic from (Roots Radicals) and Meike Fienitz from (SlowFood Youth Berlin).

The inputs added from our guest speakers gave a refreshing wave of information, allowing us to begin a discussion about the complexity of building a resource efficient city. 

Alberto Bezama pointed out the importance of the bio-economy and how this approach integrates the economy with ecological concepts. Additionally, he clarified the need to create a stronger market that allows the bio-economy to reach more people and integrate civil society into the process. Dr. Bezama explained the work that UFZ is doing, particularly in regards to using the life cycle assessment as a tool to understand, analyse and implement a framework that integrates the challenging vision of building an urban bio-economy. See the full presentation.

Next, Elisabeth Berlinghof presented  a mind exercise in which she guided participants in visualising the food system of the future in Berlin. You can find her slides here. A system built by all of us, where the needs of the city and the countryside could be fulfilled thanks to a community based approach. She clarified some of the challenges of having a stronger agriculture industry in Brandenburg. These include: the propensity to drought, sandy soils, price pressure and long term environmental damage. These are all, according to Food Kompanions, some of the opportunities that should be focused on, if we want to transit to an urban metabolism that responsibly engages with its neighbouring rural areas. 

Roots Radicals is a circular food project led by Monica Kisic in Berlin. With many years of entrepreneurial and culinary experience on her shoulders, Monica truly knows the value of every resource she uses to manufacture her products. She reminded us of the importance of establishing a food waste management system that is compatible with the increasing demand for food in urban areas and the convenience that the waste management hierarchy has to offer, especially if we focus on waste prevention and re-use. Take a look at her presentation.

Last but not the least, Meike Fienitz from SlowFood Youth Berlin shared the work of this organisation. See the presentation here. With her team, she organises yearly activities aiming to stimulate a better perception about the importance of healthy food. Field trips, workshops, info desks and political campaigns are some of the spaces SlowFood opens for curious citizens, to engage and help reshape the future of food. 

Unfortunately our time started to run out. Luckily however, we had the chance to briefly discuss some further topics of interest, concluding that the transformation we want to see, cannot be achieved in isolation. Quoting Dr. Alberto Bezama “we have to start thinking in a more complex way, because the system we have built cannot be easily reshaped if we insist that only technology or politicians can change it. We must connect and see the existing system beyond our own interests”.

Do you have any further questions? Feel free to contact Circular Berlin,  our team will be happy to answer your inquiries or join you in your next project or event.