Breaking bread to celebrate the transformative power of food

International chefs serve up algae, unusual tropical fruits and other lesser-known ingredients to celebrate the transformative power of sustainable, diverse, and healthy diets

World-class chefs and the conservation community organise inspirational meal at second Global Conference of the One Planet Network: Sustainable Food Systems Programme 

5 February 2019, San José Costa Rica – Today, in Costa Rica at the second Global Conference of the One Planet Network: Sustainable Food Systems Programme, several world-class chefs are serving up a meal with a difference to over 150 people as food industry influencers come together to address the challenges facing our food system and help achieve the UN SDGs. 

The meal consists of diverse and under-utilised ingredients, which deliver high nutritional value while also helping preserve nature and biodiversity, and providing livelihoods to food producers.

Co-organized by the Costa Rica Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Hivos, World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF), the Costa Rican Gastronomy Foundation (FUCOGA), the Food Forever Initiative, the SDG2 Advocacy Hub, and the Nordic Food Policy Lab (Norden), the dinner will be an opportunity for influencers in the food system to break bread and foster meaningful conversations about changing the way we look at food.

“Producing enough nutritious food for 10 billion people by 2050 requires a shift towards a more resilient, sustainable food system,” says Marie Haga, Crop Trust Executive Director. “Some of the lesser-known foods featured here will give guests a glimpse of what the future of food could look like.”

“Revaluing and promoting diverse local cuisines is one way to halt and mitigate the prevalence of persistent malnutrition, especially growing overweight/obesity figures”, says Myrtille Danse, Director of Hivos in Latin America and the Caribbean. “Empowering local communities in maintaining access to a nutritious and culturally acceptable diet is key in ensuring food and nutrition security.”

Producing enough affordable food that is simultaneously good for people, farmers and the planet has been recognized by scientists as one of the most challenging problems of our time. Estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization suggest that of the 30,000 edible plant species that exist, just four account for nearly 60% of our calories, meaning that we rely on a narrow foundation for our food.

Costa Rican chefs including Randy Siles, the country’s first Chef Ambassador for the National Plan of Sustainable Healthy Gastronomy, Emilio Valverde, Mayra Salas and Saúl Cordero, together with American Chef and Co-Founder of Tender Greens restaurant chain, Erik Oberholtzer, will cook up dishes of the future including locally celebrated ingredients. At the same time, guests will have the opportunity to learn more about each of these species and how these and other varieties have the potential to invigorate the food system – and make it more delicious.

Dishes will feature important crops such as cocoyam, a highly versatile and nutritious aroid important in developing countries; Tacaco, a crawling vine that produces a small, green football-shaped vegetable and a key ingredient in olla de carne, a favorite “comfort food” in Costa Rica; and cassava, a hardy staple with the ability to tolerate drought and poor soils.

Since 2015, the Costa Rican government has prioritized the importance of native varieties through the Costa Rican National Plan for Sustainable and Healthy Gastronomy. This acknowledges food as a cultural expression of its citizens and aims to protect and promote the country’s national species and beloved dishes.

Chef Erik Oberholtzer said: “We don’t reach people’s hearts until we go through their stomachs. That’s why if we really want to change the food system for the better, we must showcase how these ingredients can be nutritious, sustainable, and best of all, delicious. What better place to do this but in Costa Rica, a country with a wealth of biodiversity.”

This dinner is part of a growing movement that sees chefs taking center stage in inspiring consumers, decision makers and other stakeholders on healthy and sustainable food, and driving change in our food systems.

Director of the SDG 2 Advocacy Hub, Paul Newnham said: “Chefs can help transform the global food system into something that’s more resilient and tasty. They bridge the gap between farm and fork influencing what we grow, what we put on our plates and how we think and talk about food.”

“What we eat is determined by availability, affordability, culture and preference – but we can all make an effort to eat a more balanced diet with better produced foods. Reducing our dependence on a small group of foods in favour of a diverse set of ingredients that are ideally local and seasonal is one way of improving the health of both people and planet,” said João Campari, WWF Global Food Practice Leader.

The organizers hope that by demanding more diverse foods and changing our production and consumption practices, we can provide the foundation for a nutritious and resilient food system.

Follow the evening at #puravida #goodfood 

Consuelo Mora, Hivos:
Mei-Ling Park:
Cierra Martin, Crop Trust & the Food Forever Initiative:
  • Erik Oberholtzer
  • Randy Siles
  • Emilio Valverde
  • Mayra Salas
  • Saúl Cordero
  • Small basquet of tiquizque with pejibaye (peach palm) salad
  • Season fish with roasted spine sauce
  • Cheese cubes and ripe plantain with green mango relish
  • Turmeric Cooked Sprouted Lentils, Chayote, Zapallo and Blistered Cherry Tomatoes
  • Saddled steak with malanga and coulis of tacaco
  • Tuna Roll
  • Stone Soup
  • Heart of palm samosas with Carambola (star fruit) chutney
  • Tacaco soup or purée of Pablo Bonilla
  • Small sacks of sautéed mushrooms with gully root
  • Homemade cassava cake
  • Cashew flan
  • Arroz con leche
Organizing Partners
  • The Ministry of Agriculture in Costa Rica: The Ministry of Agriculture and LIverstock promotes the development of technical skills and business management for competitiveness, equity and social, economic and environmental sustainability of organizations and companies in the agricultural sector in Costa Rica.
  • Hivos: Hivos is an international humanist organization founded in the Netherlands in 1968 that seeks new and creative solutions to persistent global problems; solutions created by people taking their lives into their own hands. We offer a positive counterbalancing force against discrimination, inequality, abuse of power and the unsustainable use of our planet’s resources. Our mission is to innovate for social change. With smart projects in the right places, we work towards more open and green societies.
  •  WWF: WWF is one of the world’s largest and most experienced independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
  • The Food Forever Initiative: Food Forever is an awareness raising campaign to support Target 2.5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It aims to ensure the importance of conserving crop and livestock diversity reaches as many people possible, so that come 2020, the prospect of ending hunger isn’t just a goal – but a reality. Food Forever is rallying support from stakeholders – be they politicians, farmers, chefs, businesses, or individuals – to drive the campaign. The Initiative is operated by the Crop Trust and Netherlands Government with support from high-level Champions and partner organizations from politics, business and civil society that have agreed to advocate for the biodiversity of our foods.
  • The Crop Trust: The Crop Trust is an international organization that is working to support crop conservation in seed banks, forever. It supports international seed banks, national seed banks and the world’s backup facility, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The Crop Trust allocates funds to support seed banks through its endowment fund – a self-sustaining fund that generates investment income to support crop conservation. The Crop Trust is recognized as an essential element of the funding strategy of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. 
  • Nordic Food Policy Lab: of the Nordic Council of Ministries is a flagship project under the ”Nordic Solutions to Global Challenges” initiative, launched by the five prime ministers of the Nordic countries in 2017. Nordic Food Policy Lab aims to create international exchange on innovative policies encouraging consumers to choose more sustainable food. Through global partnerships, Nordic Food Policy Lab curates and disseminates examples of Nordic food policy for health and sustainability that can help inspire action to achieve the UN Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
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