Accepted Paper:

'I can be part of that cool new thing if I eat more soft boiled wholegrains'. Developing new food/nutrition policies (and cultures) in Denmark and Scotland  


Isabel Fletcher (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation describes the results of a pilot research project interviewing expert stakeholders in Scotland and Denmark about their understandings of the concept of sustainable diets, and the policy measures that are needed to reduce the environmental impacts of the food system.

Paper long abstract:

Food production and consumption have significant environmental impacts, accounting for approximately one third of global greenhouse gas emissions. As part of attempts to mitigate these impacts sustainability criteria - mostly related to reducing meat consumption - have recently been incorporated into the official dietary guidelines of China, the Netherlands and Sweden. Combined with a growing academic and policy literature on the topic, this suggests the development of new forms of nutrition policy that straddle health and environment research.

In order to investigate this new policy area, I have conducted qualitative interviews (n=24) with expert stakeholders in Scotland and Denmark. These countries have similar agricultural systems geared towards the production of livestock for export, and Scottish policymakers are currently advised to emulate the success of Danish food policy as they attempt to make Scotland a 'Good Food Nation'.

Debates about sustainability are more visible in Danish food policy and everyday food cultures. However, I will argue that there is still no canonical definition of a sustainable diet in either country, and that in both different professional groups prioritise different elements of sustainability - health, environment or ethics - in their work on diet and nutrition. By acting as a shared research topic, the concept of sustainable diets does appear to be increasing collaborations between nutrition and environment researchers. However, these initiatives have not yet led to the breaking down of policy silos, as dietary guidelines are still very much part of health policymaking.

Panel C28
Meetings over and around food