Lise Walbom’s Journey from the Fields to Food Nation #FoodForThought

On a dark chilly evening in January, the warmth of community spirit and shared story telling gathered us together for our first Food for Thought of 2024. Held on January 25th, this event was an intimate experience, where candles flickered on long communal tables, setting a space for an evening of sharing both captivating stories and a delicious meal. It was an event full of ideas, conversation, and lively dialogue.  

Our guest, Lise Walbom, CEO of Food Nation, presented us with her life story that was deeply connected with her insights on the connection between our food systems and the future of our planet. Her core message that, “Food has a crucial role to play in a secure world,” resonated deeply in the room, echoing the collective realization of food’s pivotal role in the sustainability of the planet. 

From Strawberries to Sustainability 

Lise’s journey in the realm of sustainable food practices began while picking strawberries in the western part of Zealand in Denmark. These early experiences sowed the seeds for her future in organic farming and her pursuit of a degree in agronomy at the university.  

Lise shared her admiration for Gro Harlem Brundtland, the first female Norwegian Prime Minister and a pioneer in sustainability. Brundtland’s work, especially that contained in the book “Our Common Future,” published during Lise’s first year of high school, served as a guiding light throughout her career. 

Creating Partnerships for a Path Forward   

Her path led her to occupying public roles, including working in the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, focusing on organic farming. Eventually, her journey culminated in her becoming the CEO of Food Nation in 2017. Lise described Food Nation as a “dating platform for people within the food industry who would like new contacts,” a testament to her innovative approach to fostering global connections. Her work, and the goal of Food Nation, is to share ideas across the public, private and academic sectors throughout the globe. She asserted that though is Denmark is a small country, it is pioneer nation in terms of innovation. This makes the country able to share its knowledge and learning with others by crossing borders. She argues that “Collaboration is the essence of Denmark’s DNA within food and agriculture”, giving the example of how it was one of the first countries to establish farmer cooperatives. 

Lise described the endeavors of Food Nation as aligning closely with, and being inspired by, many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She highlighted local initiatives in the food sector and their power to make global impacts. She stressed the importance of engaging consumers in responsible consumption. Her global outreach has been marked by her presence at events like the recent COP 28 in Dubai and Climate Week NYC. These activities reflect Lise’s commitment to sharing knowledge and driving the change we want to see through collaboration. 

Coming Together Around a Meal 

The evening wasn’t just about words. It was also about action and experience. Following the enlightening discussion, we savored a delightful meal from Send Flere Krydderier (Send More Spices, in English). It is a social kitchen known for sharing the stories of the chefs through the meals they create. The food satiated our appetites and served as a delicious embodiment of Lise’s vision – diversity, sustainability, and deep connections in our global community. 

As the candles dimmed and the evening matured, the participants from various backgrounds and worldviews went home with smiles on their faces and hopes in their hearts, with one participant, Italy, stating he was ”inspired to engaged in sustainable farming at a local level” and Julia, from Greece, reflecting that There’s a different way of understanding the world if you grew up by the land”. Lise Walbom’s journey from a strawberry field to leading a national movement serves as a testament to Lise’s trajectory to fighting for a more sustainable future for all. 

Written By: Andrew Gibbons

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