Organic Without Boundaries (Paul Holmbeck). – On May 23, a broad alliance of Danish trade unions, educational- and advisory institutions, and business organizations representing thousands of farmers, restaurants, and food companies launched a joint proposal for the upcoming Danish Climate Plan. The national climate goal in Denmark is one of the world’s most ambitious: a reduction in climate emissions by 70 percent in 2030.
The coalition proposed an upscaling of the successful efforts in Denmark with a conversion to healthier, climate friendly, and organic meals in public kitchens. Thousands of schools, hospitals, childcare centers, retirement homes, ministries, and even military barracks all over Denmark have transformed meals and food preparation so that meals are more plant-rich, with less meat, more seasonal products, and much less food waste.
The savings (generated through decreasing waste and the share of meat,) have paid for the price premium on organic food, allowing for 60 percent organic in public meals, within the same operating budgets. In Copenhagen, public institutions are at 86 percent organic.
The Danish Model was a key case in October when climate leaders from many of the largest cities around the world signed the declaration Good Food Cities: Achieving a Planetary Health Diet for All at the C40 Mayors Climate Summit in Copenhagen. They will work for healthy, climate friendly, and organic food. Together with other strong organic policies, the Danish conversion of public kitchens was also recognized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), World Future Council, and IFOAM – Organics International with a Future Policy Award in 2018.
The Danish Model has changed the food that cities buy and has transformed the way meals are made. It is a holistic approach, addressing multiple interconnected sustainability challenges by implementing “the whole package” with reduced waste and more plant-rich meals based largely on food from organic farms. It is a solution with unusually broad sustainability benefits, for climate, biodiversity, drinking water quality and health. Research also documents a new pride, motivation, higher job satisfaction, and decreased sick leave among kitchen workers. It makes sense. Driving positive change with your own hands and craft is rewarding!
The Danish Model—and the offensive for upscaling it– is a strong example of positive interplay between ambitious and transformative government policy frameworks, on the one hand, and the simultaneous mobilization of the food sector and NGOs on the other. At a cost of under 2 euros per citizen per year, it includes: