#YEEinterview: Food Print Tales

Today you get to know Lara and her project about sustainable food systems – Food Print Tales. This exciting initiative, which sounds as dreamy as it is, is basically an Instagram account sharing inspiring stories of people experimenting with more sustainable food approaches. Let’s find out more! 

Who is Lara? Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m Lara, and for years I’ve been searching for the best way to share my interests in sustainable food systems, and to encourage people to connect to the source of their food. 

First, I began by working in the world of academia, focusing on these issues in my BA and MA degrees, and almost beginning a Ph.D. on the topic. Later, I was inspired to pursue a career in the world of international development and cooperation; I spent one year working in two UN agencies, thinking that with a background in international relations, being part of such a large international institution would be the most fulfilling way. However, something didn’t feel right for me either in academia or in international institutions. I felt isolated in this work and wished I could directly see the impact of what I was doing.

How did you come up with the idea of FoodPrint Tales? 

FoodPrint Tales came to me totally unexpectedly. I realised that what was missing for me in my work was human contact – engaging in debate about these topics. I felt a desire to be part of a community, and one day, while taking a look at some interesting Instagram pages, I had the idea: share inspiring stories with inspired people, using social media to create a network of like-minded people! 

I decided to create a blog on Instagram, where I would share the stories of people experimenting with more sustainable food approaches, ranging from people collecting food that had unnecessarily been thrown away in Copenhagen, to people creating products with wild seaweed in the UK, to people experimenting with permaculture systems in Central America. 

This idea was a total surprise for me because I have never been a fan of social media: I publish on my own Instagram page roughly once a year, and I only use it to see updates from friends and to follow a handful of interesting initiatives. Despite my general lack of interest in social media, the idea of connecting with like-minded people from across the world filled me with excitement! I knew that I had to give it a try, even though I had no experience in communications. Little did I know, this hobby I was so excited to try totally changed the direction of my career!

Which kind of reactions/feedback has FoodPrint Tales received?

I received great feedback, which provided me with what I was missing in my previous jobs: sharing ideas and inspiration with great people. At first, it was just my friends, family, and closer network that followed me, who were very encouraging. Slowly, as my network grew, I even began receiving messages from initiatives I’d never heard of, such as a lovely family-run permaculture farm in Portugal, who directly reached out to me saying they really enjoyed the stories I shared and would love to be a featured – that was an exciting moment!

How would you describe the food system of the future?

This is a very complex question, because the food system is changing fast, and moving in different directions. On the one hand, in some countries, people are increasingly interested and informed about where their food comes from, and what the environmental and social impacts of their different ingredients are. This is a great step in the right direction. On the other hand, in other parts of the world – most notably fast-growing economies such as China – growing wealth is leading to increased consumption of resource-intensive foods such as meat and dairy. Ironically, whilst we hear about the rise of plant-based products in the western world, the global consumption of meat is increasing by the day! There are many contradictions; for example, environmentally-conscious consumers who on the one hand are interested in consuming local produce, often consume resource-intensive products at the same time – such as almonds and avocados – which come from the other side of the world. So, with these juxtapositions, it’s hard to have a clear vision of the future of the food system, but I certainly like to think that we’re moving in the direction of consuming local and organic produce. 

This is feasible, because if conscious consumption – which means knowing the story behind everything you eat, such as the difference between oat and almond milk, and not just jumping behind the vegan bandwagon – manages to become mainstream in western countries, this may be transferred to other countries across the world which take Europe and anglo-North America as an example. This is my vision of the future food system – urban agriculture, community-led farms within schools, shared allotments in urban areas, and engaging people with growing their own food.

Which is the most inspiring Food Print Tale you have come across in your project?

They all impacted me in their own way, especially the very small rural initiatives I came across in Nigeria and India, but there was also one initiative I remember well – Impact Berry – because of how the German couple (Sonja and Timo) began their project. After recognising that they were totally unfulfilled by their jobs, they both quit and went traveling across Asia to explore ways of putting their passions to good use. Whilst in a town in Indonesia, a tsunami took place, destroying 90% of the houses; the two of them stayed to volunteer and help rebuild the town. Many people in the town began discussing ways of boosting the local economy, and Sonja and Timo took this opportunity to begin exporting locally-grown coffee, which they exported to their new hometown, Hong Kong. This project continues today, building a strong link between the local producers, and the Hong Kongers who are increasingly interested in the stories behind what they consume. The story of Sonja and Timo stook with me, because they were so passionate about leaving behind what didn’t serve them mentally and emotionally, and encouraging others to do the same, putting their energy where their passions lie.

In your opinion, which role does youth play in raising awareness about environmental issues?

They play the central role! We must act as role models, both for the young people around us, and for the older generations that have not grown up with environmental awareness, but that may be inspired by our dedication.

Which advice would you give to young people like you who want to be more active in food safety and security?

Think about your talents and passions and how they can contribute to activism and awareness-raising on this topic. I knew that communication – visual and written – and online communications are something I’m good at, so I used my passions, talents, and available tools to make the impact within my reach.

 

Thanks a lot to Lara for taking part in this YEE interview! Food systems are evolving at a fast pace. At YEE, we share Lara’s belief in a future based on conscious consumption – we strive to encourage everyone (and especially young people) to think about the impacts of their food choices in a critical manner. 

This inspiring story can show us how we, as individuals, can be proactive and start to do the things that make us happy rather than waiting for someone else to act and make a change. Life can be so unexpected and lead you to a direction you might have not thought about before: the key is to be open-minded and to allow it to surprise you.  Good luck with your career!

Don´t forget to follow FoodPrint Tales on Instagram 

 

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *