“Food should be a central part of local and regional planning” - Interview with Fredrik Fernqvist


In this interview, the workshop leader of Food Planning for Sustainable Consumption Fredrik Fernqvist tells us about his and his workshop colleagues’ common interest in the role of food in our landscape, and inspiring reflections on the role of food planning in securing sustainable food consumption and relevant areas.

Please tell us about your and your workshop colleagues’ background and the process of collaboration you went through to arrive at this year’s workshop topic.

Fredrik: We are a group with diverse backgrounds, with food as the common denominator. I mainly work with horticulture on the topics of consumer behaviour, innovation and market issues. Håkan works with ethnological food research but also has previous experiences as a professional chef. Ingrid is a landscape architect and has, among other things, initiated the new SLU master programme, Food and Landscapes. Andrew comes from environmental science and sustainability studies background in. Currently, he works at the SLU Urban Futures platform with questions related to food in an urban context. Annsofie is an agronomist focusing on animal science and has previously worked in the industry and is currently director of the SLU Future Foods platform. Our interest in the role of food in our landscape, both related to its production and consumption, brought us together. Given the challenges our food system currently faces, we found the Uppsala Health Summit as a promising ground to further discuss the emerging field of research and practice as regards food planning. In the workshop, we have connected two leading researchers for inspirational talks: Kevin Morgan, a professor in governance and development at Cardiff University with a great interest in the issue of food planning and governance, and Ciara Tornaghi, a critical human geographer and scholar-activist, with a background in politics, sociology and planning, currently working at Coventry University with issues related to urban agriculture, food justice and sovereignty. The workshop facilitator, Jannie Vestergaard, has worked professionally in developing regional food strategies and has long experience in development projects in the food domain.

In your opinion, what are the leading public health concerns in relation to food systems, and what needs to be done to achieve sustainable, equitable food systems promoting our health?

Fredrik: There are many public health concerns in relation to food systems. Much of our food consumption is unsustainable from many perspectives. Still, generally, we need to increase the consumption of, for example, vegetables and legumes and decrease our consumption of unhealthy convenience foods—both for health as well as for environmental reasons. In addition, we need living environments and lifestyles that promote physical activity and connection with green spaces. Among other things, I believe school children should learn more about food and our food system, that food and food production could be more visible in the urban space, and that food should be a central part of local and regional planning.

What are your expectations for Uppsala Health Summit 2022 and your involvement?

We hope that the workshop will inspire, create new networks and collaboration, and lead to creative discussions aiming at identifying areas of development in food planning.

Can you tell us about an ‘Aha moment’ you have had in your research?

I think that the recent crises we have seen; climate change and drought events across the continents; the Covid-19 outbreak; conflicts; have shown us how vulnerable our food system is. It is not an ‘aha-moment’ in that crises may come as a surprise, but the crises have shown that it is rather urgent to build a more resilient food system and to increase peoples’ knowledge and engagement in food. This is a food security challenge, where we need to ensure both that we have access to food and access to healthy food in the future.