Katelyn Mann

Time for a “Fika” Break

Katelyn Mann, an undergraduate student at Green Mountain College (Vermont) and Youth Ag-Summit alumna, recently spent a week at the EAT Stockholm Food Forum discussing the future of nourishing a growing population. Finding a solution to the challenges our global food system faces requires working with a diverse group of stakeholders across boundaries – both geophysical and ideological. And since coming back from Sweden, Katelyn has become a big fan of the concept of “Fika” to help break down those barriers…
Katelyn and the other delegates stressed the importance of cross-industry collaborations to feed a hungry planet.
Katelyn and the other delegates stressed the importance of cross-industry collaborations to feed a hungry planet.
Katelyn and the other delegates stressed the importance of cross-industry collaborations to feed a hungry planet.

In Sweden, I quickly discovered a concept I thoroughly enjoy - that of the “Fika”, a break for coffee and probably a delicious accompaniment such as the wonderfully salty dark chocolate cookies provided at the EAT Forum. “Fika” functions both as a verb and as a noun, and one of the most important aspects of “Fika” is slowing down. I found this greatly needed throughout the jampacked weekend of the EAT Forum, as a way to reflect on the inspiring presentations and empowering connections, while remembering what it really all comes down to – the need to nourish ourselves. And that is what brings us all together: the need to feed ourselves, and everyone on this planet, in a socially just and environmentally regenerative way. We are far from meeting that requirement, which is why we gather great minds from all backgrounds at interactive conferences like EAT to collaboratively brainstorm how to get there.

The EAT Stockholm Food Forum was a unique opportunity to work across boundaries (of background, ideology, opinions, etc.) and create collaborations, which is what I believe to be necessary to the future of nourishing humanity. We have no time to lose sticking to our academic, professional or bureaucratic silos to solve ever-expanding issues such as quickly depleting fish stocks and ever-mounting food waste. We need more agribusiness representatives and agroecology students talking to each other. We need more development specialists and smallholder producers discussing what strategies really work. We need youth at the table to present our ideas for the future. And the EAT Forum gave me a glimpse of the great things we could accomplish if we gather together and make these things a reality.

Katelyn Mann
Katelyn Mann

Katelyn Mann

My hope for this collaborative future shined brightest as I approached a young woman from Zimbabwe who asked a question of the panel of young leaders in agriculture I was participating in, moderated by Adrian Percy, after the panel ended. I discovered she is a member of the junior parliament in Zimbabwe, a group of youth organized in the same manner as the country's parliament that work as representatives from their communities to the national government, making sure local needs and youth interests are portrayed in national policy. This is a step toward a truly participatory system. To make real change and save the future of humanity, we must hear the voices of all. We must democratize the decision-making processes and democratize information. The EAT Forum presented an opportunity for this, by placing youth on the agenda.

So, let's carry this lesson on with a collaborative “Fika” break. Let's bring what took place at the EAT Forum to our homes, workplaces, schools and communities, breaking down barriers of difference and sharing a cup of coffee or tea, and solutions-focused discussions, with others. I am sad to leave the land of cinnamon buns, but excited to bring the ”Fika” brainstorming home.

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