Internship: the role of dairy in a sustainable diet

Dairy-products-1024x752 There are many definitions of a sustainable diet. A sustainable diet should not only be sustainable, but also be nutritious and healthy. Furthermore, in order to insure compliance, attainability is also an important aspect.

Sustainability, health and attainability all are very broad, overarching terms. In order to create a better understanding of those terms one should break them down in smaller more concrete determinants. E.g. sustainability can be determined by CO2 footprint, land use, water use, animal welfare, ……
In order to understand the role of dairy in a sustainable diet it is important to understand how dairy does score on the different determinants of sustainability. Furthermore, it is important to understand the influence of the dairy production process (from grass to glass) on the different parameters of sustainability.

Once the position of dairy in the sustainability landscape is defined, it is important to include other elements such as health, nutrition, food availability, habits, affordability etc. By taking all those elements together you can determine the position of dairy in a sustainable diet. Continue reading

Hungry for Food Waste?

hungry for food wasteThis course is organised by Boerengroep, RUW, WEP, Green Office, ILEIA, Rural Sociology Group.

The “Hungry for food waste” course is half way in terms of lectures. Time to check the balance. Each evening we have been moving to a different room to accommodate the growing number of students, yesterday evening we counted 100 students. That shows food waste is hot and students are hungry to discuss it. The course approaches the topic from a multidisciplinary way, which suits the audience very well: nearly all Bachelor and Master programmes of Wageningen University are represented in the audience of students. A short overview of the evenings so far and what to expect.

Last week on Tuesday 28th of October, the new course ‘Hungry for Food waste” was kicked off with a dinner made with ingredients that would otherwise have gone to waste. The dinner was attended by 30 students and 2 speakers, who were very thankful to Humble Harvest for investing their time and energy in collecting the ingredients from the farmers, cooking the meal and delivering it to the Leeuwenborch.

This first evening was devoted to distribution. For this course we discuss food waste generated at different levels in the food chain. Logically, you start with production: how farmers (are forced by powers higher up in the chain to) produce food waste at the farm level. However, due to practical reasons, we started with distribution. We invited Han Soethoudt (FBR) and Drees Peter van den Bosch (Willem&Drees). Their presentations were very inspiring in resulted in good discussions about what is actually considered food waste and how is to blame? The course divides the evenings into nodes in the chain, but in reality these parts are interconnected and interdependent. What a farmer does is directly related to how it is distributed, to how the supermarket is organised to what the consumer demands.

Back to production on the second evening. Jan-Douwe van der Ploeg (Rural Sociology) introduced the students into the debate on peasant farming and how certain farmers are locked into a system where they are volatile to generating more waste. André Jurrius, an organic farmer close to Wageningen, then took over and presented the dilemmas he is faced with daily on his farm. Like every evening, the rest of the evening was easily filled with all the questions raised by the students.

The third evening was devoted to retailing with presentations by René Haijema (ORL), Onno Franse (Ahold) and Chantal Engelen (Kromkommer). We invited Stefano Pascucci to be our keynote listener but the students were so full of energy to comment on the presentations and criticise the speakers, that there was too little time to go in-depth. We had to stop the discussion with about 25 arms raised in the air. Hopefully, the questions will be kept for this Thursday when we continue.

Students aiming to collect 3 ECTS with this course, will start shooting a documentary on food waste next week, when we have the first workshop on ‘How to shoot a short documentary? ‘ by What to Film Wageningen (Emil Kuijs). Furthermore, these students will keep a personal food waste diary, based on pictures taken during the first 6 weeks of the course. What impact do the lectures have on your own food waste behaviour, how critical are you? On the 17th of December the documentaries will be shown.

Are you inspired and want to join? There are still 2 evenings to come that are open to the public. Thursday 6 November we will talk about consumers and the efforts made to reduce waste at consumer level. It is often said that the big gains are to made at that level. Hilke-Bos Brouwer (FBR) will introduce us to the project ‘Food Battle’ and Wageningen Municipality shows are food waste is combatted at city level. Tuesday 11 November is the last evening and we will bring things together by closing the cycle. How do nutrients come back into the chain? How does waste create input for food? What is the role of policies to stimulate unwasteful practices? Jeroen Candel will touch upon the political & policy dilemmas, while Theo de Vries of Capuchinha Catering will talk about how a restaurant chef deals with food waste and how he closes the cycle. Finally, we will have a presentation by Stephen Sherwood who started an inspring initiative in Ecuador called ”250 thousand families! Ecuador’s agroecology collective’s campaign for closing the loop between production-consumption”.

For more information, go to the Facebook group on ‘Hungry for food waste’. Hope to see you one of these evenings!

CITIES is looking for an intern! Do you want to work with us on our project WASTED?

Internship: WASTED Project Intern


Duration of position
6 months

Basic requirements
Keen interest in innovative urban development and local, circular economies, Background in urban studies or related field field of social sciences, Dutch and English writing skills, part-time availability

How to apply
Send motivation letter and CV to barbara(at)citiesthemagazine(dot)com.

WASTED is a community LABORATORY for small-scale reprocessing of plastic waste. In the initial stages, the project is located in Noorderpark in Amsterdam Noord. The main goal is to work with the local community to up-cycle plastic waste collected from the neighborhood into products for the neighborhood because plastic collection should have a positive purpose and goal for those that make the effort to recycle.

WASTED is developing along the following activities:

• Collecting community plastic
• Reprocessing waste with kinetic sport processing machines
• Addressing neighborhood needs
• Organizing educative summer waste programs
• Establishing a long-term waste up-cycling economy

In this respect we are looking for a junior producer.

• Doing field research amongst the local community in Amsterdam Noord
• Online communication – social media and blogging
• Production of events and activities
• Assisting the project manager

You have:
• An interest in innovative urban development, circularity and co-creation on a local community scale
• A background in Urban Studies or a related field of social science
• Excellent Dutch and English writing skills
• The possibility to commit to this project for 3 days a week for 6 months

We offer:
• The chance to be part of an innovative project from the start
• Experience in production, research and communication in the creative sector

To apply, send motivation letter and CV to barbara(at)citiesthemagazine(dot)com. The position is open until filled.

If you are interested, please also contact els.hegger(at) to discuss supervision!

Stage bij de Christenunie


Door Monique Jongenburger (Boerefijn) – MSc-student International Development

Als onderdeel van mijn studie heb ik zes maanden stage gelopen bij de Tweede Kamerfractie van de ChristenUnie. Mijn stage bestond uit het ondersteunen van de beleidsmedewerker landbouw & natuur en daarnaast het schrijven van een nota over voedselverspilling.

De werkzaamheden tijdens mijn stage waren heel divers. Ik mocht concepten schrijven voor debatteksten, schriftelijke vragen en moties over allerlei onderwerpen, van asbestverwijdering in boerderijen tot genetische modificatie. Naast deze werkzaamheden heb ik me verdiept in het onderwerp voedselverspilling en hoe verspilling kan worden aangepakt op nationaal niveau. De start van deze nota was een mini-symposium met verschillende partijen in de keten (zie foto). Met de ideeën die tijdens dit symposium naar voren kwamen ben ik vervolgens aan de slag gegaan. Uiteindelijk bevat de nota zeven voorstellen van de ChristenUnie voor het kabinet. Op dit moment worden de laatste puntjes op de i gezet en daarna zal de nota worden aangeboden aan de staatssecretaris van Economische Zaken.

Voor meer info, neem contact op met Monique:

Special Issue on Cooperatives and Alternative Food Systems Initiatives – Free in July

A special issue of the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (JAFSCD) on Cooperatives and Alternative Food Systems Initiatives has just been completed and will be freely available — no subscription needed! — through the month of July. We are doing this to make these papers more readily available to researchers and practitioners. It also offers prospective subscribers a chance to explore the contents of JAFSCD. I encourage you to share this notice with your colleagues and networks.

The Special Issue: 

Working Together to Build Cooperative Food Systems

Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development 4(3)
Edited by:  Anderson, C.R., Brushett, L., Renting, H. and T. Gray
A recent emphasis on cooperation and innovative forms of collective action within the food movement invokes a community-centered approach to food provisioning where collective problem solving and democracy take centre place in the development agenda. Cooperative alternative food networks are becoming powerful tools for community development and Continue reading

More local food??

Today I experienced something very personal that I would like to share with you. After an intensive week of project meetings, workshops, presentations, discussions, inspirational sessions and an excursion about urban and local food, I was convinced of the result of the combined effort of the past years. I really thought: Wow! This is really going somewhere! My spirit was up!

However, biking home from our final PUREFOOD project meeting, I was thrown back into reality. As I have been in Spain (see previous posts about life in the Alpujarra) in the past months I went to my favourite bakery for the first time in 4 months. At least, that was my intension. I have been very loyal to this bakery ever since I started living in Utrecht, as it was the only (yes, the only!) true bakery left in the city of Utrecht. All the other places that call themselves ‘bakery’ are actually served by large factory bakeries located out of the city. And you can taste the difference, bread is not bread. You have real bread and you have bread that can sit in your kitchen for a week and still feel fresh (hence: that is not bread). As I am a true Dutchy, I eat a lot of bread and thus was a good customer of the bakery. I had a personal relationship with the owners (the lady was also called Els, which instantly creates a bond) and the people working there, and so I was aware that the son who was actually already owning the bakery had a brain tumor. I always assumed (or maybe hoped…) that a brother, uncle, nephew, or someone would take over temporarily or permanently. It was always packed in the bakery and it was so so nice to be there. The atmosphere was like 25 years ago, nothing fancy, just bread and friendlines.

By now, you probably know where this story is going. I naively biked to ‘my’ bakery to buy something for lunch. I parked my bike and saw they changed the interior. Very fancy ‘rough’ wood, everything neatly in order, no familiar breads and certainly no familiar prices. Hmmm… I was at unease with the situation but had to wait my turn to be helped by a young lady I had never seen before (and I knew all the people working there). Finally, I could ask the burning question: has the bakery a new owner? Very happily she responded positively. All I could say was: “O”. She told me that with the young ill baker it was impossible to keep the bakery running, the parents were getting old and there was no-one that could take it over. But at least they were also a traditional baker, she told me. So, I was relieved. Until she told me that they bake the bread in their traditional bakeries 35 km away! What?? There’s a bakery in this shop, why don’t you use that? “Too expensive and we already bake the bread overthere anyway.” I had to swollow my tears. Yes, really.

On the bike home, I tried to understand why I was so emotionally touched by the situation. For a week I had been discussing all the fantastic initiatives in cities to re-localise food; yet I can’t buy real bread anymore. So, where are we, really?

Life in the Alpujarra (2)

As promised in my first blog about our adventure in the Alpujarra, I will elaborate a bit more about the relationship between foreigners and the locals as it is an intricate one. Small villages like Yegen are doomed to become ghost villages within a generation if the current trend prevails. Young people leave the Alpujarra to study in Granada (or other nearby cities) to escape the old-fashioned rural life. Once they’ve seen life outside the Alpujarra, there’s hardly ever a way back. They grew up with their parents’ struggle in trying to make a living of the land; strenuous physical work in a harsh environment. Much of the land is now owned by the generation that is between 50-65 years old. They migrated (mainly Germany) many years back to earn money as there was little work and the salaries were low in Spain. Upon their return, the “re-migrants” invested their money in agricultural land as a pension for later. However, their children are not interested in working the land, they rather have a job in the city. So, no pension, no children close by to take care of you plus they’re sitting on a large plot of land that is worth close to nothing. The question that has arisen many times in the past months: what will happen to the villages and to the land? Continue reading

Life in the Alpujarra (Spain)

YEGEN-53Since the beginning of February my family and I have been in the Alpujarra; south side of the Sierra Nevada in Spain. We are here to experience the rough side of life: being a farmer in a tough arid land. We are trying to get a glimpse of the other side of the food story and feel what it is like to work the land (mainly by hand labour); and give our brain a bit of a rest. But despite the huge amount of physical work we do each day, the mind doesn’t rest. There is just too much going on here: the shrinking and greying villages, the contrast between coastal and hill-side farmers, the young versus the old, the ‘extranjeros’  vs the locals, fighting bush fires vs keeping a varied landscape, organic farmers selling mainstream to the world market, etc etc… I will start by telling you a bit about the village structure here, in Yegen.

Yegen is a small, typical white Moorish village in the centre of the Alpujarra. It seems just another village, but it is bit more special than all the other white towns. A certain Gerald Brenan (a British self-appointed anthropologist) was already fascinated by the life and customs in this village more than 90 years ago. He experienced Yegen as rather backwards (a way of life that he couldn’t imagine still existed) while at the same time the villagers as being extremely open to new comers. He ended up living in Yegen for about 30 years and produced a very popular book. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to get a hold of a copy but I did discover a 45 minute documentary about Gerald Brenan’s return to the village in 1974 ( Interestingly enough, he talks about the huge progress of the village and the change in customs and traditions, whereas to me – born in the late 1970s – it seems to be a pre-War setting. I couldn’t believe it was actually 1974; the streets were huge irregular stones mixed with sand on which only mules were to be seen, the women washed their clothes in a river, no motorised traffic at all. At the same time, Continue reading