Chinese song, students & teachers sing at the local Nanshan school:
Mother earth, mother earth, gives seeds life
Father sun, father sun, gives seeds root
Sister rain, sister rain, gives seeds sprout
Brother wind, brother wind, gives seeds growth
Earth and sun, rain and wind, we thank you for your work
Ringing in 2020 and the Decade of Action on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a group of 30+ Chinese chefs gathered in Xinzhuang Village near Beijing to launch the Chefs’ Manifesto and celebrate locally sourced, nutritious ingredients at the Xinzhuang Village Good Food Festival, hosted by the Good Food Fund (GFF), a China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) project.
The Good Food Fund was initiated in 2017 as a knowledge hub, providing public education on food sustainability and food-related issues in China. It organises events throughout the year, including the Good Food Speaking Tour and the Good Food Hero Summit, raising questions such as “How can we eat healthier and greener?”, “What kind of food do we need?” and “How is food produced, consumed, and recycled?”. The fund also provides small grants and fellowships to research, communication, education, and entrepreneurship efforts related to the food system.
At the Xinzhuang Village Good Food Festival, chefs, their families and representatives of different organisations gathered for three days to participate at various events, including the Xinzhuang Eco-Market, the New Year Food Awards, the Chefs’ Manifesto launch and a Plant-Forward Cooking Competition.
At the Chefs’ Manifesto Launch, SDG2 Advocacy Hub Director Paul Newnham introduced the group of chefs to the Manifesto’s origins and background and encouraged them to work with other chefs in their communities. In a group discussion, chefs discussed experiences of what constitutes a good meal, how to nourish both people and planet, and how to connect the ingredients they use in their kitchens to farm and fork. Together, the chefs then signed the Chinese Chefs’ Manifesto bill.
During a panel discussion, Dr Jinfeng Zhou, Secretary-General of CBCGDF shared with the audience his organisation’s perspective on the links between development, climate change and the loss of biodiversity, concluding that we urgently need to solve these human-induced crises. Eating, according to Dr Zhou, is not a personal matter any longer, but a matter affecting all of us and our future generations. Slow Food Great China’s General Secretary Qun Sun highlighted that the answers to all questions and the potential for change lies in every one of us.
Also attending the festival were Kaipeng Hu, the founder of the local Nanshan School (pictured on the right) and Kaipeng, a teacher, sharing their school’s approach to food education. From kindergarten onwards, pupils at Nanshan learn about their food’s origins, about the environment, plants and animals, and how to prepare nutritious meals. The school has also introduced experiential farming classes running from primary to middle school.
In 2019, the Good Food Fund had facilitated collaborations between Chinese chefs and world-leading schools and companies such as Harvard, Yale and Google, to work on a New Year menu, highlighting the diversity of Chinese ingredients and connecting chefs from East and West. For the 2020 edition of the New Year Menu, the Good Food Fund organised a Good Food Designer Contest, in which chefs and homecooks submitted 367 plant-based recipes. 22 of those recipes were then selected for the 2020 New Year Menu and their creators attended the festival to cook and serve the dishes. Amongst the finalists was Yan Li with his recipe for a millet salad and reunion dumpling. He won a special prize for striking a perfect balance between color, taste and nutrition in his dish. The Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner is probably the most important meal in Chinese food culture – what better way, therefore, to highlight the importance of initiating meaningful change in our diets than with a sustainable 2020 New Year’s meal encouraging healthier and greener eating?
Photo credits: Good Food Fund