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Towards an ecologically, socially and economically sustainable food culture

Publication date 2.12.2019 14.17
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Photo: Sera Martikainen, Prime Minister’s Office, Finland

Finland’s unique cuisine and food production have been shaped by the country’s northern location and natural environment. The tradition of material-efficient and energy-efficient food production is inherent in the manufacturing, development and innovation processes of Finnish food and beverages. Our food production is therefore geared towards observing the principles of circular economy, carbon neutrality and good nutrition.

A sustainable food system means that food is produced profitably by using natural resources sparingly and optimally. The goal is to have the largest possible share of production inputs originate in the region where foods are produced and consumed. To achieve this, the food industry is expected to make the most efficient use of raw materials, package foods energy-efficiently and implement the low-carbon principle in transportation. A sustainable diet is one based on ecologically sustainable alternatives, such as seasonal and vegetarian foods. In a sustainable food system, biowaste from the production chain and consumers gets a new life as biofuels and bio fertilisers.

The principles of sustainable development have been mainstreamed in the meeting arrangements during Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. The concept of a sustainable food culture has subsequently been applied at the meeting venues in Finland by serving organic, locally produced and mostly vegetarian Finnish food and by offering clean Finnish tap water instead of bottled water.

In collaboration with the Prime Minister’s Office and food industry experts, the ELO Foundation for the Promotion of Finnish Food Culture has compiled guidelines for a sustainable Finnish food culture, with tips for practical implementation. The professionals working in food services and restaurants are thus provided with concrete tips and advice on how to make responsible food and drink choices and communicate for a sustainable food culture.

A Finnish food week will be celebrated in the staff restaurants of the Council of the EU in early December, under the presidency theme. The special menu features traditional delicacies such as pea soup, salmon pie and Karelian stew.