'Apply true cost to the price of food'

Jacob Seidell

Professor of Nutrition and Health

My name is Jacob (Jaap) C. Seidell. Since 2013 my position is distinguished professor of the VU University and director of Sarphati Amsterdam. I find it incredibly interesting and valuable to be involved in informing and researching topics such as nutrition, the influence of nutrition and the future of the earth.

1. What are the main challenges in the food system change?

In my opinion, the main obstacles are the governments unwilling to regulate food systems and commercial and vested interests in the current food system undermining change.
2. What will the future of food look like in 25 years, what will we eat?

In the future, we will eat a more plant-based food pattern. Still, convenience, price and taste will be important, but health and sustainability will have a more prominent place in food choice.

3. What is the way forward, what can we do today for a better tomorrow?

We should apply the principles of true cost to the price of food. Especially applying true cost pricing to healthy food. In this way, we make it more affordable to live a healthy life, now and in the future.

Recycled paper provides a benefit to nature and the environment.

4. What role can branding and brand design play in driving the change?
I am not sure of that. I think that branding is one of the main reasons for the current food crisis. Branding is a means of communication with the consumer. At present, this is one of the resources that can influence the thought process of a consumer, but can also have an adverse effect.
5. Can you name a role model who is making the right future steps in your eyes?
The people leading the “Partij van de Dieren” are a pretty good example. They fight for a better living environment for people and animals. One of their aspirations is a healthy society and a livable earth. In my opinion, they are very progressive in terms of a better future for everyone. 
6. With whom would you like to discuss this subject over dinner?

The new undersecretary of VWS (Maarten van Ooijen) and minister of agriculture (Henk Staghouwer) fight for a good and healthy future for everyone. Care and health are of paramount importance to them.

7. What do you think is the most progressive / sustainable packaging solution so far?

Recycled paper

Making both recycled and virgin paper requires water and energy. These both impact the environment, but the production process of recycled paper does so less. There is less water needed to make new paper from recycled fibers (scrap paper) than from cellulose (wood), 10-15 liters of water per kilogram of paper versus 25 liters. Thus, the use of recycled paper provides a benefit to nature and the environment.

I try to inspire and motivate people to think about human health and the health of our earth.

8. Which characteristics are crucial for people and companies to be able to keep up with the future and the associated innovations?

Have a long-term vision on stewardship and planetary boundaries and human health.

Nine boundaries have been defined within which the earth must maneuver to remain healthy. These boundaries allow us to track and measure the health of our planet. The boundaries cover biodiversity, climate change and ocean acidification. People, but also companies, will have to take this into account in all decisions to keep the earth a livable place. 

9. How do you contribute?

My research and advisory activities as well as publications (opinion, books) are mostly in the direction of sustainable and healthy food systems.

In this way I try to inspire and motivate people to think about human health and the health of our earth.

10. What is your biggest desire or ambition?
My ambition is to provide a healthy and sustainable food environment for all people that take into account the health of soils, plants, animals and humans.

Jacob Seidell

Professor of Nutrition and Health