What is on the menu? The New Nordic Diet

Myriam Welvaert, a Wageningen University student who is participating in the CFS as a social media reporter, has written a new blog post on the New Nordic diet.Here is what she had to say.

A healthy diet is a sustainable diet and the New Nordic Diet may just be the answer to some of the world’s food ills, according to experts in public health nutrition.

“Many countries have developed dietary guidelines. But there is now increased recognition that sustainability needs also be part of those,” Dr. Liv Elin Torheim, Professor in Public Health Nutrition at Oslo and Akershus University College, told those at the side event “Ensuring nutritious diets in a climate constrained world” at the 43rd Committee on World Food Security (CFS43).  These national dietary guidelines should not only recommend what to eat, but how food should be produced. They should be developed in each country.

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions in food production we have to make diets more sustainable. But many countries do not have national, official dietary guidelines, especially lower-income countries. Of those countries that do have national dietary guidelines, only a handful include environmental sustainability: Germany, Sweden, Qatar and Brazil.  These countries promote a diet and food system that is healthy and sustainable and they all emphasise the benefits of plant-based diets for the environment and for health.

What is a sustainable healthy diet? What is healthy goes hand in hand with what is sustainable. That means a diet including fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains and limited amounts of food high in fat and sugar.

The New Nordic Diet represents such a diet, according to Dr. Susanne Gjedsted Bügel, Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of Copenhagen. Developed in 2004 in Copenhagen, the Diet integrates cuisines from the five Nordic countries. It consist of more fish and seasonal vegetables and fruit. It contains low fat, less meat and sweets, and avoids processed food. This diet seems to be healthier. It  features food that is locally and organically produced.

The New Nordic Diet is a prototype of health, food culture palatability and takes environmental issues into account. This diet could be applied in any region in the world according to Dr. Gjedsted Bügel.

So, it’s time for action. All stages of food production need to address these aspects of health and sustainability. Only then will this lead to relative changes in food consumption and production. So can you imagine a world where the Nordic diet is on every restaurant menu?

Curious about other side events taking place at the CFS? Check out the events blog.

Photo Credit: Chuttersnap on Unsplash


CANCELLED: Gender Dilemmas in Sustainable Development




The Wageningen University Gender & Diversity working group presents a lunch-time lecture on Gender Dilemmas in Sustainable Development

by Dr Wendy Harcourt

Date: Wednesday, October 12

Time: 12:30-13:30

Place: C68, de Leeuwenborch, Wageningen



Wendy Harcourt argues that feminist theory brings important political lessons to sustainable development. Her talk explores: development as transformative politics; intersectionality; and the inter-section of gender with sustainability issues. She argues that new methodologies are required in development that bridge the divide between practice-based analysis and universalising ‘global’ theory. She presents the case for why it is important to learn from those who are breaking new ground listening and learning from the perspectives of communities living and working on the margins of mainstream development.

Dr Wendy Harcourt is Associate Professor in Critical Development and Feminist Studies at the International Institute of Social Studies of the Erasmus University in The Hague. She is Research Programme Leader for the Civic Innovation Research Programme. Dr Wendy Harcourt joined the ISS in November 2011 after 23 years at the Society for International Development, Rome as Editor of the journal Development and Director of Programmes. She has edited 12 books and her monograph:  ‘Body Politics in Development: Critical Debates in Gender and Development’ published by Zed Books in 2009, received the 2010 Feminist Women Studies Association Book Prize. She is series editor of the ISS Routledge Series on Gender and Sexuality and Palgrave Gender, Development and Social Change book series.


Interdisciplinary Postdoc position – “Food system transformability to ecologically intensive production and sustainable value chains”

We are hiring a Postdoc for a neat project in Chile and Uruguay. Deadline for applications is September 19th

Based in Wageningen with frequent travel.

More information here:

The development of sustainable food systems depends on

  • resilience and adaptability of socio-ecological systems to respond to short term variation in drivers, and
  •  system transformability to reach new equilibria under drivers that change over longer periods of time.

The different food system components, their interactions and feedbacks, and the different time scales on which they operate give rise to complex systems in which interventions may have diverse and unexpected outcomes. Systemic learning and co-innovation have been advocated as key elements for analysis and decision making in complex (food) systems.
The Postdoc will develop and implement a systemic learning approach on ecologically intensive production and value chains.

The main research question will be “How can stakeholders stimulate transformation towards sustainable vegetable food systems in Chile and Uruguay?”

The Postdoc will engage with actors in selected case studies and implement a reflexive interactive design process. Starting from a baseline assessment of a longlist of case studies (joint work with the PhD projects), the Postdoc will engage with selected case studies to jointly build and monitor a change trajectory of their food system. Methods may include workshops and interviews to build case study innovation histories; fuzzy cognitive mapping and scenario development; Agent Based Modelling or game development. The Postdoc will be involved in running the project together with the project coordinator and enhance the systemic capacity for food system innovation.

Join the #CFS43 social media bootcamp!

A great opportunity to update your social media skills and to spread the word about the Committee on World Food Security


Join our social reporters team and sharpen your online media skills Join our social reporters team and sharpen your online media skills

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) are joining forces to extend the social media outreach for 43rd session of the CFS (#CFS43). #CFS43 will be held in Rome on 17-21 October 2016.

CFS is the foremost inclusive platform for all stakeholders to work together to ensure food security and nutrition for all. As well as the official #CFS43 session, “CFS week” also includes a wide range of side events on a variety of themes as well as other activities.

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PhD Masterclass on the conceptual foundations of public governance

A great opportunity for PhD candidates to learn from Prof. B. Guy Peters, University of Pittsburgh.

Organised by Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS), Public Administration and Policy
Date Wed 26 October 2016
Time 09:00 to 17:00
Venue Leeuwenborch, building number 201
Hollandseweg 1
6706 KN

This class will examine the conceptual foundations of contemporary public governance, interrogating key ideas and concepts that currently frame governance theory and practices. Recent decades have witnessed shifts of societal steering from ‘traditional’ hierarchic government to public-private networks surrounding ‘complex’ or ‘wicked’ problems. These shifts have been accompanied by a rapid development of governance theories, studying new modes of governance (e.g. network governance, collaborative governance, adaptive governance, interactive governance), new types of policy instruments, ideational dynamics (belief systems, framing, discourse coalitions), and challenges of coordination and integration, inter alia. Getting to grips with conceptual innovation is important for scholars as they seek both to understand the complex evolution of governance, and to be more rigorous and self-conscious about conceptual usage in their own research practice.

This master class will allow students to explore the evolution of the conceptual field of public governance; to interrogate critically the concepts which play a central role in governance practices and innovations; and to present conceptual problems they are experiencing in their own research for collective discussion. Since the topic is broad, the aim of this short course is not to provide exhaustive coverage of individual concepts but rather to present an historical overview, to examine approaches to conceptual analysis, to explore a series of conceptual exemplars, and to focus on conceptual issues students are wrestling within their own research activities. Students will be asked to nominate up to three concepts — which they find particularly interesting or important for their research work — when they register for the class, and as much as possible these will be incorporated into the discussion.

More info here: http://www.wageningenur.nl/en/Education-Programmes/PhD-Programme/Graduate-Schools/Wageningen-School-of-Social-Sciences/Courses/Show/Masterclass-on-the-conceptual-foundations-of-public-governance.htm

‘Change agents facilitating ecologically intensive production and value chains’

We are looking for two PhD candidates with knowledge and experience working in Chile to contribute to the project ‘Horticultural food systems based on ecologically intensive production and socio-economically sustainable value chains in the transition economies Chile and Uruguay’ (HortEco).  These are  4-year research positions at Wageningen University, with scholarships.

1) PhD position in sociology of innovation and transitions ‘Change agents facilitating ecologically intensive production and value chains’

Transitioning towards ecologically and socio-economically sustainable production and marketing require combined ecological, technological, social and institutional change. Current innovation systems in Latin American countries, including Chile and Uruguay, are oriented towards high external input agriculture, and see innovation as science-driven technological change.

Co-innovation, while successful at a small scale, requires work beyond the farm level. Public and private actors throughout the food system need to fulfil key change agency roles in the transition to ecologically intensive production and value chains providing knowledge and mobilizing resources.

2) PhD position in management studies and supply chain economics ‘horizontal and vertical value chain collaboration models: arrangements to support ecological intensification’

Value chains play a key role in determining food availability and affordability. Vegetable marketing in Chile and Uruguay is currently characterised by limited farmer collaboration, fragmented retail, heterogeneous quality and few opportunities for value-adding. As an answer to this challenge, vertical collaboration through contract farming (CF) between farmers and agribusiness, and horizontal collaboration of ecological producer organizations (POs) are emerging in both countries to market sustainably produced vegetables for urbanising consumer markets.

Horizontal and vertical collaboration in value chains can promote sustainable socio-economic development and improve food availability and access. However, there is limited understanding how these value chain networks establish and maintain sustained market relationships. In this PhD research the focus is on how sustainably producing farmers and processors can be integrated in value chain networks that (successfully) address urban markets. The research will largely take place in Chile, with comparative work in Uruguay.


More info here: http://www.wageningenur.nl/en/article/Two-social-science-PhD-positions-in-HortEco-project-in-Chile.htm

Applications must be received by 14 August via horteco.chile@wur.nl

Podcast – civil society participation global governance of food security

The Perfect Storm scholars

As part of the perfect storm seminar series (see poster), Dr Jessica Duncan, Assistant Professor in Rural Sociology at Wageningen University (The Netherlands), gave a seminar about civil society participation in the global governance of food security on the 26th of January at the University of Edinburgh.

She kindly made the time to talk to me (Sara) about her seminar and research when she was in Edinburgh. You can find the result of this conversation in a podcast. Click HERE to listen to it.

Podcast structure

We talk about her seminar and research until around 24:40 min. From that point onwards we discuss the practical dynamics of undertaking empirical research in general, and specifically on global governance. At 30:00 min she shares her views on interdisciplinary research.

Podcast notes:

You can find out more about Jessica’s research in her latest book: Global Food Security Governance: Civil society engagement in the reformed Committee on…

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Call for Paper Abstracts – Sustainable and Just Rural Transitions: Connections and Complexities

XIV World Congress of Rural Sociology
August 10-14, 2016,  Toronto, Canada
Call for Paper Abstracts: Open May 19 – November 1, 2015
Sustainable and Just Rural Transitions: Connections and Complexities
Global environmental changes, shifting resource scarcities, deepening social inequalities, both innovation and crisis in urban centers, and new patterns of voluntary and involuntary migrations are among the conditions and dynamics now shaping the futures of rural places and people. Intensifying and intertwining forces of commodification, industrialization,  neoliberalization and globalization over the last several decades have produced uneven and arguably illusory gains, given evidence of the increasingly precarious position of labour and livelihoods throughout the rural world and the widespread distribution of environmental harm and ecological degradation. Within these general patterns and trends, circumstances can vary greatly across rural contexts within and between continents.
Rigorous analysis of the interconnected challenges now experienced by rural people and places, as well as comprehensive assessment of the proposed solutions and diverse experiments now underway will increase our understanding of the pathways which may be open, blocked or yet to be created for movement towards more sustainable and just rural futures. Sociologists and other social scientists addressing rural concerns play indispensable roles in identifying, analyzing and assessing the forms and consequences – both intended and unintended – of the diverse transition aspirations and experiences of rural people and places.
We invite you to submit a paper for presentation at the Congress. Abstracts (in English and limited to 300 words) must be submitted to one specific session. Session organizers will be responsible for selecting papers that fit their topic, and reassigning others to the conference ‘open paper’ session. The program committee will work to ensure disciplinary diversity and content compatibility when assigning individual papers within the ‘open paper’ sessions.
Congress guidelines and a link to the abstract submission system can be found on the IRSA Congress 2016 website.

The XIV World Congress of Rural Sociology encourages interdisciplinary dialogue, exchange and collaboration in order to enhance the contributions and applications of sociological inquiry for understanding and improving the life conditions and experiences of people located in, identified with, and concerned about, rural places and communities worldwide. The program for the Congress will include keynote lectures by invited speakers providing fresh, integrative insights and challenges for rural sociological inquiry and practice. It will also include varied opportunities and venues for participants to present results of their research and engage with other scholars and practitioners from around the world, within traditional paper sessions, thematic panel discussions or debates, roundtables, workshops or performances.

The Earth is mud, be calm: Reflections on the PhD process

I was recently asked to a group of potential PhD candidates about my own experiences during and after my PhD.

I think in many ways, my PhD was one of the more positive stories I have heard. I would do it again in a heartbeat (I often lament that it was too short). I had taken time off before starting and went back motivated and sure of what I wanted to get out of the process and where I wanted to end up. I had amazing supervisors, an engaging research project that connected with with inspiring supervisors and good funding. I had the tough job of choosing between a post-doc or a tenure track job both at amazing institutions. Continue reading The Earth is mud, be calm: Reflections on the PhD process