Food and nutrition play a critical role in ensuring peaceful, secure and healthy individuals and societies for our sustainable future. They represent inclusive and interconnected areas embracing everything from the social, cultural, religious and nutritional aspects of food to systemic changes in agricultural practices, food retailing and consumerism. It is hard to imagine solving complex food challenges and improving our own wellbeing without ourselves becoming more conscious about what and how we eat and how this impacts our health and the environment we live in. Exploring this multi-dimensional relationship between food and mind is essential. However, it has not yet been part of the current dialogue nor global or national policies on healthy eating and sustainable food systems such as The Global Nutrition Report, “The Food for Thought Series” by The British Medical Journal, The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Health and Planet or the Sustainable Development Goals.
How can we create a new transformative initiative on mindful eating with Mind & Life Europe (MLE) and partners to build a community around a “Mind Your Food” initiative and respond to the growing challenges and rapidly evolving landscape of health, wellbeing and sustainable food systems?
One of the biggest beneficial impacts you (personally) can have is what and how you consume.From Research Interviews
Mind & Life Europe engaged Barbara Bulc as the lead investigator to assess opportunities for the underexplored role of the mind and consciousness in shaping healthy diets, lifestyles and sustainable food systems. The idea for the “Mind Your Food” initiative originated at the inspiring Power & Care dialogue with the Dalai Lama and leading thinkers from a range of disciplines. Here, Barbara Bulc, Cornelius Pietzner and Sander Tideman met for the first time. “Mind Your Food” would converge fragmented initiatives across all disciplines and sectors in the dynamic food and health ecosystems by creating the space for a budding “mind and food” community and cultivating the seeds for open-minded dialogue and action.
Through a series of consultations with thought leaders, experts, policymakers, businesses and innovators, we mapped the landscape of highly fragmented sectors and disciplines in this complex yet interconnected ecosystem. These included health, nutrition, cultural anthropology, neuroscience, psychology, behavioral economics, biochemistry, medicine, agriculture, food systems and contemplative science. Insightful contributions were provided by Esther Papies, Glasgow University; Constanza Baquedano, Université Claude Bernard Lyon; Francesco Branca, World Health Organization; Gunhild Stordalen, EAT Foundation; Martina Gewalt, Nestle Product Technology Center; Alan Jope, Unilever; Nicolas Gausseres, Danone; Lorna Davis, Danone; Birgit Schleifebaum, Firmenich; Patrick Holden, Sustainable Food Trust; Klaus Kramer, Sight & Life Foundation; Uwe Geier, WirkSensorik; Denise Loga, Sustainable Food Academy; Paul Newnham, Chefs’ Manifesto; Derek Yack, Smoke Free World and formerly the World Health Organization. All interviewees agreed that the “Mind Your Food” initiative could become an important and much needed catalyst for change.
We analyzed emerging scientific evidence, knowledge gaps and potential themes and partners for the “Mind Your Food” initiative which led to a strategy for MLE on how to adopt a transformative and change-making role, based on its history and its strengths of convening, catalyzing and building communities.
With MLE, we identified four potential areas of strategic opportunities: (1) building a partnership platform and a community based on strong scientific expertise across different sectors and its practical application for societal impact, (2) fostering further interdisciplinary research, (3) delivering catalytic training programs and (4) creating an independent innovation fund to incubate and catalyze product development.
This initiative is ongoing.