Cookbook Review: Great Food from European Green Cities
The European Commission has recently published a unique cookbook that promotes sustainable food practices, environmentally-friendly initiatives and basically healthy living in the European Union.
Europe has always been at the forefront of sustainability trends and a world leader in fighting climate change. According to a study released by the London-based Center for Economics and Business Research, seven out of the world’s top ten sustainable cities are in Europe.
Much of Europe’s success in fighting climate change and providing its citizens with healthier food choices, cleaner water and less air pollution have come through efficient, and sometimes painful, public policies (yes, unfortunately many people will not quit smoking or opt for cleaner energy solutions if not incentivized to do so).
However, sustainability trends are not always pushed top-down. Chef’s Pencil reported earlier this year on the spectacular worldwide rise in the popularity of veganism – and five of the world’s top 10 vegan countries are in Europe. One of the top reasons that drive many people to turn vegan are concerns about a healthier diet and the impact on climate change.
Going back to the cookbook – along with a couple dozen recipes from 21 European cities, the book showcases the ‘green’ transformation that each city has gone through, implementing initiatives promoting healthier food choices or combating food waste.
The stories are fascinating and truly inspiring – so let’s go through a few that we liked most.
Copenhagen: 90% Organic Food, No Budget Increase
Copenhagen’s goal of going 90% organic without a budget increase seems almost too good to be true. When the city started this initiative, most public kitchens relied on pre-cooked meals, whilst organic ingredients accounted for 51%.
The city managed this spectacular jump from 51% to 90% organic food, while keeping the budget in check, by cooking more from scratch, buying less meat, cutting food waste and relying a lot more on seasonal fruit and vegetables, according to The Local.
Malmo, Sweden: 100% Sustainable, Organic Food
The city of Malmo, Sweden, has created a policy for sustainable development and food that has a very ambitious goal: by 2020 all food served in Malmo will be organic and greenhouse gas emissions generated by food consumption will be cut by 40%. Learn more about Malmo’s food sustainability program here.
Brussels, Belgium: Boosting Urban Agriculture
The “Good Food” Strategy Action Plan deployed by the city of Brussels encourages the development of urban agriculture through the creation of collective vegetable gardens, ground and rooftop farms, orchards and chicken coops. The plan is for urban agriculture projects to provide 30% of the fruit and vegatables for local consumption.
Brussel’s urban agriculture strategy is not only about reducing the impact of freight transport and its nasty by-products (traffic and pollution), but also about changing behaviors by bringing people together on collective farms and improving air quality through green corners. Read more about Brussel’s program here.
Lisbon, Portugal: Mediterranean Diet with Local, Urban Produce
While Portugal is not literally on the Mediterranean, its cuisine has many Mediterranean influences and Lisbon residents love local, diverse and seasonal dishes. The city has built, within its infrastructure, urban gardens – 17 of them – that are accessed by 700 families and other public employees. Read more about urban gardens in Lisbon here.
Nijmegen, Netherlands: Food Forest – Sustainability Meets Preservation & Biodiversity
This is the first time we’ve heard of a food forest. So what is it exactly? It is a system designed to produce food that mimicks the ecological principles of a natural forest. You have the huge canopy trees, which in a food forest can be sweet chestnuts or apple trees, and then you have the lower levels of vegetation, which can be berries, grapes, or rhubarb.
The best part about Nijmegen food forest? An abundance of insects and birds, even rare species, have started to call it home. More about Nijmegen food forest can be found on the project’s Facebook page.
Ljubljana, Slovenia: Public Food Waste Campaign
While close to 800 million people worldwide do not have enough food on their plates, according to the Food Aid Foundation, wasting food continues on a rather massive scale in affluent societies. We buy way more food than we can eat and most of the time we throw the excess away. In the EU, a staggering 88 million tonnes of food are wasted, costing an estimated €143 billion, according to a public statement of the European Commission.
The city of Ljubljana has developed a public campaign to raise awareness of food waste among its residents. With help from its waste management company, waste bins are being put at the centre of the campaign ‘Raise your Voice against Food Waste’ (see campaign video below).
Oslo, Norway: Catching Salmon With a City View
During the past ten years, Oslo has reopened rivers and tributaries which were culverted when the city grew. Opening the rivers has meant a resurfacing of natural habitats for plants, fish and birds. In parallel, Norway has also worked on cleaning up its polluted waterways. The result: a reappearance of wild salmon and trout in Oslo’s waters and the joy of fishing in the middle of an urban jungle.
So what about the recipes? We loved so many of them so much that we asked permission (and were granted) to share a few of them on Chef’s Pencil. Enjoy!
More recipes to come soon. Stay tuned!