Words by Chelsea van Hooven

“A chef, a farmer and a journalist are sitting on a bench…” No, this is not the beginning of some joke it’s the beginning of a wonderful afternoon in Berlin hosted by Terroir Talks and Die Gemeinschaft to advocate for a better food system.

Thirty food leaders including chefs, producers, farmers, journalists and food innovators from all over the world put their heads together to work on question related to how a better terroir driven food system can be created while reflecting on their day to day life. Much of the discussion centred around how they could all work together to bring about positive change in the industry. 

Every problem discussed was seen as an opportunity. This was the approach of the icebreaker game “How might we”. By framing the challenges of the food system with a how might we question, innovative solutions came bubbling to the surface and it was clear for all that change was needed and could be effected with better communication and collaboration amongst themselves with expansion to other likeminded people in the industry.

This was followed by a heated discussions in groups of ten. While eating delicious sandwiches topped with regional and seasonal ingredients, the starting point of the three teams, “Eat your Values”, “Intentional Intermediation” and “Zero Foodprint” was playing devils advocate and coming up with what they considered  the worst possible solutions to the questions posed. Such as increasing the prices for the farmers on crops or only allowing one big supplier for the entire landscape of German restaurants. By the end of the exercise great insights were voiced as they could now see things from a different perspective and punch holes in counter arguments.

The Eat your values group focused on how food leaders might inspire consumers towards a terroir driven kitchen and restaurants. The question of how food leaders can actually have an impact on what and where the consumers eat turned into a heated discussion. “It’s the young kids that have to be educated so that the new generation is more aware, sustainable and will therefor have an impact”. The discussions were high on energy and a great deal of ideas were exchanged. All were in agreement that a democratic agricultural system must be created and supported by a government that values diversity and pays producer a fair wage.

At the same time, just one table down the Intentional Intermediation group was discussing how to support a terroir preserved food supply chain with shared value distribution among the participants. While taking responsibility, they decided that accountable role models must be empowered to create a reliable and transparent supply chain. It was agreed that this only can be done by regenerating sustainable solutions based on trust so that mindful food choices can be simplified.

Finally the Zerofood Print group tackled the question of how they might encourage chefs and farmers to preserve their terroir by building a zero food print system. After an insightful back and forth the group agreed that there are tools missing to enhance communication of both sides. The collaborative brainstorming resulted in the idea for a platform to connect farmers and cooks so that there is a quick, easy & transparent tool that creates communication with out losing the personal touch.

While munching on the most delicious pretzels to be found in Berlin, new friendships were made and seeds were planted for a better future.

You find more info about Terroir Talk here: www.terroirtalk.org