Intelligent Nutrition improves the understanding of how we think about, produce, and consume food. Intelligent Nutrition’s easy-to-use nutrition label system engages nutrition and medical experts, producers, and consumers throughout the food chain to build healthy and sustainable food behaviors for the planet. The Intelligent Nutrition model is gaining traction across Europe.
The New Idea
Because scientific information about food and environmental issues is often complex and lacks a user-friendly interface, Intelligent Nutrition (IN) has created a system based on simple messages about nutrient availability and environmental impact of the food’s production on soil and carbon emissions (proximity and seasonality). IN boils down a 1,500-page reference guide, based on hard science, into a unique, accessible and practical certification system for food chain professionals, doctors, and consumers. Geneviève’s strategy combines trainings, coaching, and a smart incentive and certification system, strengthened by a large and growing network of experts along the food chain to build a new generation of changemakers ranging from health professionals (doctors and pharmacists), chefs (in restaurants and large catering areas such as schools, hospitals, and companies) and food producers (farmers and agro-industrial companies).
Convinced that the only way to bring about fundamental change in the food system is through leveraging a large group of key stakeholders to promote intelligent forms of food that are good for humans and the planet, Geneviève has built a robust network of experts that spans the entire food chain. Geneviève’s model first builds an understanding of what she calls intelligent forms of food. She then connects a broad group of stakeholders ranging from chefs, food producers, nutritionists, medical professionals, food retailers, farmers, and consumers to apply and spread intelligent forms of food—foods that are good for people and the planet. Built off of the IN model and fully recognizing the interdependencies within the food chain, Geneviève pioneers a set of innovative and measurable solutions that empower professional players to improve the food chain.
In addition to IN’s focus on the producers and professionals who influence the food chain inputs, IN also impacts the demand side of the food chain to promote IN-food. Through certification of doctors, restaurants, and even food products, the goal of the label is to inform and educate consumers on good food choices and credible nutrition information. Using a broad range of communication tools, ranging from books, TV shows or online coaching, Geneviève customizes IN principles for a wide range of people, including athletes, senior citizens or pregnant women to raise citizens’ attention and make it as easy as possible for them to improve their nutrition statuses.
Due to the rising prevalence of chronic disease, there have been many attempts at improving awareness of issues relating to our food ecosystem. Despite these efforts, our ecological footprint continues to harm our nutritional intake and food behavior. We face ecological damage resulting from transportation patterns, packaging, meat production, mistreatment of animals, and the disconnect between food production and consumption. Several initiatives have emerged to tackle these problems, including national public policies to organic, fair trade, slow food or vegetarian movements, but they have only created minimal recognition. In addition, these approaches exist in silos and focus on specific issues or target populations rather than integrating the key players throughout the food chain. The Slow Food and organic movement target ecology and food purchasing behavior, for example, although pay little attention to personal health. As such, one can eat organic foods, yet still be at risk for cancer. The Veggie Day and similar initiatives are based on a cross-cutting approach but are limited to only one social mission: reducing our meat consumption. Several public health programs work on health-related issues, but neglect ecology and the true impact of food choices—so you may eat healthy, but also damage the planet in the process. A more holistic vision is needed to power these ideas on a large scale and fundamentally change the way the food value chain operates and interacts.
In addition to this complex and fragmented food system, professionals and nutrition experts lack oversight and a systemic vision. Scientific researchers focus on isolated problems and food producers do not realize the full impact of their production methods on public health or on the ecological balance. Chefs lack a deep understanding of the impact of the meals they cook and serve. Medical doctors have limited insight into the strong connection between food and health and the link between food and environmental impact on the planet.
On the consumer side, citizens get confused between all the different logos they can find in the local supermarket, and often will have to pay a higher prize for the better choice. In addition, many people living in urban environments resort to restaurants for their meals, which can mean choosing less sustainable food choices. Furthermore, the consumer continues to be confronted with communications that do not take into consideration health or sustainability arguments, whether it is through cooking programs, product nutritive information, public programs, brochures or information on the Internet. It now seems essential to focus on eating the right and balanced foods (grown, produced and seasonal) in the right and balanced combinations.
Geneviève believes that changes in the food system value chain require a systemic social solution backed by strong scientific evidence. In collaboration with a highly respected French medical physician—Olivier Coudron—Geneviève has brought together a diverse group of Europe’s leading food specialists, and co-created the first holistic Terms of Reference for food that is good for people and good for the planet—a document of 1,500 pages that is at the core of the IN model. This reference guide is organized into seven chapters—each one focusing on key components of IN: fat, oil, liquids, sugar, refining, ratio sodium/potassium, and micronutrients.
Convinced that influencing key professional actors is the best way to improve nutrition practices, Geneviève has translated the IN scientific model into easy-to use trainings, a labeling system, and a business-to-business approach. Relying on the scientific consensus around IN, she has gained the legitimacy that enables her to easily communicate to highly-trained professionals in the food field. She then offers a large set of trainings and tools to empower chefs, medical professionals including doctors and pharmacists, food producers, and retailers. Her goal is to build a network of all stakeholders in the food value chain and integrate the IN-criteria into their goods and services.
The first component of Geneviève’s strategy targets chefs and restaurants. Through partnerships with food guides like Gault & Millau, cooking books and TV shows, conferences and networking in the medical sector, Geneviève has built a diverse outreach strategy that enables her to impact Michelin-star chefs as well as chefs from companies’ cafeterias and catering services. She has even worked with the catering service of the largest cancer-treatment hospital in France. Engaging them in the IN network with a yearly fee, she provides them with on-site and online trainings to understand how to prepare IN meals. By committing to apply the IN principles, they can obtain the IN label, delivered and controlled by an independent certification company. The training and rating system is completed with smart incentives. The label offers a low barrier to entry and a high potential for improvement. IN can be used as an internal benchmark and creates a healthy competition between chefs with IN to create a competitive advantage. In one year, 350 chefs have been trained and 500,000 meals have been prepared according to the IN-Terms of Reference.
Geneviève also targets the medical sector as key to building an IN movement throughout the entire food chain. Advised by recognized doctors and researchers, Geneviève’s nutrition trainings and conferences are in high demand as they open the door for medical professionals to enter the robust IN network. She has developed six-day training, covering all chapters of the Terms of Reference and currently available for three medical groups: MDs in France and Belgium and pharmacists in Belgium. Further e-learning tools leverage the trainings and enable continuous knowledge improvement, all helping to build the network IN stakeholders and spread the IN movement throughout Europe and across sectors. While 300 medical professionals have already been trained in France and Belgium, Geneviève has also reviewed the overall curriculum of the most important post-university education on nutritional medicine, based in France, from which 400 doctors graduate yearly.
The last target groups of Geneviève’s strategy are the food producers and retailers. She works with major food producers to improve the nutrient availability of their goods and the environmental impact linked to production. Her goal is to improve their practices until obtaining the IN label. She has also developed partnerships with food chains, such as Delitraiteur, a food retailer with thirty-five shops in Belgium and France, to train the suppliers and modify the products to fit the IN guidelines. Eventually, Geneviève will collaborate with existing nutrition labels so that they can integrate into the IN network.
The strength of a simple solution for a very complex reality offers a strong competitive advantage to the professionals who use the logo. Nevertheless, the logo needs to be recognized by consumers to be most effective. To stimulate the demand for IN goods and services, Geneviève’s communication strategy has broad public outreach which has enabled key milestones to be reached: a TV prime-time cooking program applies IN principles, a cooking book on IN, and partnerships with newspapers and magazines for regular articles and recipes. Because all revenues generated from the program are reinvested into the organizational structure to sustain its impact and scale, Geneviève has also been able to go further in the promotion of IN and invest in a dedicated website offering e-coaching and smartphone applications.
Beginning at a very young age, Geneviève became committed to making a positive contribution to society, always thinking from the perspective of finding permanent solutions to the world’s problems. She studied medicine to become a general practitioner, rather than a specialist. She wanted to work with the whole patient, and not specialize in one particular body part or syndrome. Through her experience as a practitioner, Geneviève became increasingly aware of the impact of what we eat on our health. This awareness became much more personal when Geneviève’s son suffered from an anaphylactic shock. Inspired both personally and professionally, Geneviève began investing time and resources into becoming an expert on nutrition and developing a deep insight into the link between nutrition and health. She returned to university, linked up with other specialists and became a nutrition expert. Geneviève was frustrated, however, by the limited amount of people she could reach through her private practice as a nutritionist. She decided to launch an initiative that engages food scientists, professionals, and consumers. Through the process, she developed a new concept: Intelligent Nutrition. To do this, Geneviève built a team of teams. She proved to be a leader without ego—someone who can bring the best out of a diverse group of people.
Being an entrepreneur, Geneviève does not stop at the “understanding” and concept stage. She actualized her ideas to create new norms. Geneviève began the Terms of Reference for IN, although she did not stop there. Her vision and drive is to ensure that the whole world can and will eat intelligently. Geneviève is fully committed to this goal, and she has invested a lot of her own money to provide start-up funding for the training and the launching of her idea.