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Well-visited workshop on sustainable food

Published Mar 21, 2019

On March 14, the network KTH Food Sustainability arranged a workshop with speeddating at KTH’s library. It attracted great interest. The organizers had planned for 30 participants, but twice as many came.

The participants met to identify key areas of research in Food Science where KTH can have a unique role, since traditionally KTH has not been largely focused on food science. Another objective was networking and hopefully finding joint research applications and collaborations in the area.

- CBH was very well represented in the workshop, since we have different researchers already working on processes for valorization of food and agricultural waste, new materials from and for food (e.g. food packaging), sustainable strategies for pest control and crop protection, dietary fibre and their health effects. We hope that this could even be extended in the future when the network is consolidated, says Francisco Vilaplana, one of the organizers and associate professor at the CBH School division Glycoscience.

Welcoming by the vice president

The workshop started with a welcoming speech from Göran Finnveden, vice president for sustainable development. Then, a presentation of the network followed, with its general vision, mission and goals. Erika Ax from Formas spoke about the National Research Programme for Food, and Anna Ström from Chalmers presented the network Food Science Sweden. All attendants then quickly got to describe their interest in Food Sustainability and their contribution to the network.

- We are constantly in contact with food and it has a large effect on our health and well being. Food production has also a strong environmental impact on climate change, biodiversity, water and solil quality, and also large social impact in terms of quality, security, safety and affordability. Food systems are also very complex with many stakeholders involved, so from an engineering and biotechnological point of view it is a very fun challenge to work with, says Francisco Vilaplana.

"Now is the right time"

The theme of the workshop was broadly arranged and it hosted both students and researchers at KTH, as well as external collaborators from IVL, Stockholm University, and Stockholm city. The participation and discussions were very lively and the organizers have received very positive feedback, especially about this interactive environment.

- As scientists I believe we have a big opportunity to influence how food systems, processes, and products, can be shaped in the future to tackle all the challenges I mentioned before. And now it is the right time to get engaged, since there is increasing interest from society and many possibilities to contribute. It is a bubbly moment for food science in Sweden right now, says Francisco Vilaplana.

The network KTH Food Sustainability welcomes in principle all researchers and students interested in food systems and products. The vision is to align education, research and outreach at KTH towards a resource efficient and fair food system encompassing the entire value chain, resulting in sustainable food systems and products with positive impact on good health and well-being.

- There are future calls on Food Science coming in, and KTH Sustainability will help in organizing information events. Just be tuned from future updates on the topic, says Francisco Vilaplana.

Text: Sabina Fabrizi