Ghent is one of the cities that takes part in our network, and their project is one of the experiences from which we will learn in the Seminar we are celebrating next December. Here we introduce you to ‘Gent en Garde’, their food policy.

In 2013 the City of Ghent launched ‘Gent en Garde’, a food policy that includes five strategic goals to pave the way for a sustainable food system. These goals were decided upon based on various stakeholder discussions, input from the city administration and political agreement:

1. A shorter, more visible food chain

Their first goal focuses on boosting contacts and relationships between producers and consumers. They strive to eliminate the intermediaries between producers and consumers as much as possible, so as to create fair, efficient food chains, allowing consumers to get an idea of the real value of their food. This will ultimately result in more respect between producers and consumers, as well as more space for agriculture, both in and around the city.

2. More sustainable food production and consumption

Individually, jointly or professionally – their aim is to guarantee a safe, sustainable, high-quality, honest and healthy food production, with an eye for animal welfare. They also strive for more sustainable consumption patterns. And they go for initiatives that aim to bring sustainable food to the table day in, day out. Food for thought!

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3. The creation of more social added value for food initiatives

A sustainable food system must also guarantee everyone has access to it. Moreover, it should create social added value. Their focus is on strong social cohesion and more social employment. Education must maximise efforts in the long term. They also need sound knowledge building on access to food, among other topics, so as to develop well-founded actions.

4. Reduce food waste

Nowadays, about one third of the food produced is wasted, mainly at the beginning and at the end of the chain. They are therefore doing all they can to make their food system more efficient, by looking for new markets and alternative processing opportunities for food surpluses.

5. Optimum reuse of food waste as raw materials

Even when food ends up as waste, it needn’t be lost. This waste can be reused as a raw material, creating environmental added value.

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Inspired by a similar approach in Bristol and Toronto, the City of Ghent set up a ‘food council’. The ‘Gent en Garde’ food policy council consists of about 25 members from various sectors, i.e. agriculture, associations, knowledge institutions and commerce.

The policy group acts as a sounding board for the city’s policy on food, issuing recommendations on new or existing projects, proposing new ideas, discussing the city’s strategic vision and acting as a major ambassador to help promote the city’s vision on sustainable food production and consumption.

There is much more to share and to learn from Ghent. You can come and listen to Katrien Verbeke next December in Zaragoza and, meanwhile, have a more detailed look at their ‘Gent en Garde’ brochure.

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