On “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg, Roy Steiner, Senior Vice President for the Food Initiative at The Rockefeller Foundation, talks about creating the future of food—starting with a hopeful outlook for the food system in 2050. “We need to begin thinking differently what we really want [for food],” says Steiner. “You create what you imagine. Right now, we’re at risk of perishing because we’ve become so good at describing the [dystopian] world we don’t want.”
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“The power of vision, it gives you a direction and a way of thinking that can prevent unintended consequences that happen if you act without a vision,” says Steiner. The Food System Vision Prize, an invitation for organizers, companies, governments, and other entities around the world to collaborate on concrete visions for the food system, runs on the power of vision. The prize asks applicants to envision their local food systems as capable of feeding a rising population— with the effects of climate change, automation, and more. “You have to act in a way that understands the system you’re working with, with multiple sets of goals. Visions are things that enable us to persevere when there is darkness all around us when it is hard to see forward,” says Steiner.
“We’re hoping this will bring together producers, supply chain people, chefs, and consumers, schools, university students, and businesses. You really want to get multiple sets of perspectives,” says Steiner. By bringing in multiple perspectives, Steiner says that The Rockefeller Foundation has evolved its approach to changing the food system. “Taking a step back, we are now struck by how diet is the number one risk for early mortality and the food system disproportionately causes environmental harm and climate change,” says Steiner.
“It is an emergency to get the quality of our diet up,” says Steiner. But to encourage diet change, Steiner calls upon stakeholders of the food system to not just blame unhealthy foods, but also celebrate healthy, fresh, and biodiverse foods for the tasty way they protect health and the planet. “We need to increase the optimal consumption of good, whole foods that are produced in a way that protects the environment,” says Steiner.