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Danielle Wilde on her work with the FUSILLI project: ‘Working with the food system, for me, seems a like no-brainer’

By: Frederikke Malling

Our culture is centred around food – when something is being celebrated, we celebrate with delicious food in the company of our loved ones. Food is of great importance in our lives. But food is also crucial when we talk about sustainability and sustainable development – at least if you ask Danielle Wilde, Design Researcher at the Department of Sociology, Environmental and Business Economics. She has done research centred around food, and she is taking this knowledge with her to the four-year FUSILLI project in Kolding.

Food plays a key role in the project as it explores how to create sustainable food systems in the cities of the future. The project is part of the EU sustainability project FOOD2030. With an EU grant of DKK 8.2 million, Kolding will act as a ‘living lab’ alongside other cities in Europe as they work with SDU and the citizens to develop new ways of producing and consuming food.

Danielle Wilde talks about the ideas and ambitions for the project and at the same time puts into words how much food and nutrition really impacts sustainable development.

The power of the food system

Danielle Wilde explains that our food systems are responsible for a large amount of carbon emissions. This is also emphasised in a United Nations news release from 2021. Based on a UN-sponsored study, they point out that a large part of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity can be attributed to our food system in the way we produce, process and package our food.

The FUSILLI project in Kolding works within all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, and according to Danielle Wilde, it’s a way to actually do something:

Working with the food system, for me, seems a like no-brainer . It’s just really obvious that this is a really impactful way for me to do my research. It’s a space for me to actually do something when facing the crisis that we’re facing’ she says.

For her, it therefore makes sense to work on the food system, given its adverse impact on our climate.

According to her, they want to make sure that the project is sustainable in the long run, so they would rather create some prototypes of solutions that can actually become reality.

‘What I do is I work with people to try to work out what do they need to be empowered to be able to do things for themselves,’ she points out.

She explains that it’s about engaging people and citizens to make Kolding’s food system sustainable, whether you work in the food industry or not, because we all have a say in what the food industry looks like.

‘The food system is the most impactful human activity or system of activities on the planet. It’s one of the most impactful things. And the thing is, everybody eats. Everybody eats every day,’ she says, adding:

‘We don’t just eat to survive; we don’t just eat for nutrition. We eat for togetherness and sociality and culture and for taste and for aesthetic reasons; we eat for a lot of reasons aside from the nutritional aspects.’

According to her, we therefore all have a power and a task when it comes to making our food systems more sustainable because we all eat, and because food affects us on many different levels.

Food is politics

‘We’ve lost the connection to the soil basically’

Danielle Wilde points out that we get our food from the sea, the land and the natural systems that we are part of, but according to her, we have forgotten that we are part of them.

‘Reconnecting with our nature I think is critical if we want to be eating in ways that are nourishing emotionally, socially and physically, culturally, politically’ she says.

According to her, eating is a political action – food is politics.

It’s not that there isn’t enough food for everyone on Earth, she says, but many people are still dying of hunger – some from malnutrition, others from over-nutrition. For her, it is more about a great inequality:

‘We have some incredible inequalities in the food system, and it’s not a question of food security, it is a question of food sovereignty. It is a question of empowerment and ownership and what we eat – it is incredibly political,’ she emphasises.

A future of food

One year has already passed in the lifetime of the FUSILLI project, and there are many exciting things on the horizon.

The project in Kolding is now entering its second phase, and while Covid-19 has had an impact on the project’s beginning, there are a lot of things in the pipeline for the next three years.

In April, you can keep up with the ‘pollinator project’ with a pollinator hotel and restaurant with the ambition of creating more biodiversity in the city. Or you can look forward to their upcoming series, ‘Cooking with’, where you can learn more about cooking from ordinary people like you and me.

One thing is certain: The project hopes to shake up our understanding of the food system over the next few years, so that we can hopefully become even more sustainable when we eat Saturday dinners with our loved ones.

Last Updated 27.01.2023