Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Danish capital's organic model is a prime example of quality over quantity in public sphere


The city of Copenhagen in Denmark serves approximately 60,000 meals each day from 900 public kitchens, ranging from daycare facilities to nursing homes.

The quality of those meals is overseen by the Copenhagen House of Food, a body that was established 10 years ago. Today, the public kitchens under its remit serve 75pc organic ingredients and the aim is to reach 90pc organic ingredients by 2015.

The Danish national spend on organic food is 7-8pc annually. Organic food is readily available and is considered a completely normal part of mainstream food consumption. This integration of organic food with conventional food was noted by IOFGA members on a 2012 visit to Denmark, where they found that even the airport drink dispensers supplied Danish organic milk.

So in practical terms, how do the Danes operate this programme?

Well, to start with, organic food is measured in terms of weight and not in value. Non-organic ingredients are replaced by organic ingredients while maintaining the same budget allocation. This helps to reduce food waste, according to Anya Hultberg, from the Copenhagen House of Food (CHF).

"The focus is on quality. Price is not the only parameter – if it is you will get the lowest price and the worst product. I still want low prices but good quality ingredients. It is important to have quality as part of the parameters for the tendering contracts," Ms Hultberg told delegates at the National Organic Food Fair in Dublin recently.

The CHF food budget for public kitchens has remained unchanged every year for the past decade.

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Large catering companies who offer some organic products are used in conjunction with smaller specialist organic catering companies to ensure continuity of supply.

Alongside organic consumption, 'ethics of care' is another major aim of Copenhagen's food procurement policy. This means that where and how food is produced and processed is taken into account. For example, locally grown, high quality food will be preferred over food that has travelled for miles and lost quality before it can be served. Such a move would be a welcome development in Ireland, where the food served in many public institutions like hospitals, is of a lamentably low quality.

Irish Independent