eating planet 2012
barilla center for food & nutrition

Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition

nutrition today: a challenge for mankind and for the planet
advisory board

Barbara Buchner, Claude Fischler, John Reilly, Gabriele Riccardi, Camillo Ricordi, Umberto Veronesi
in collaboration with

Worldwatch Institute, Washington, D.C. Nourishing the Planet Editor: Danielle Nierenberg The European House – Ambrosetti Editor: Luigi Rubinelli editorial production Edizioni Ambiente srl Editorial Supervision: Anna Satolli Design: GrafCo3 Milan Infographics: Tati Cervetto English Translation from the Italian by: Antony Shugaar; chapter 2 by Jonathan Hine Charts, graphic elements, and tables that do not explicitly states their source should be assumed to be the creations of the authors. © 2012, Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Via Mantova 166, 43122 Parma, Italy © 2012, Edizioni Ambiente Via Natale Battaglia 10, 20127 Milan, Italy tel. 02.45487277, fax 02.45487333 Printed in April 2012 by Genesi Gruppo Editoriale – Città di Castello (PG) Printed in Italy This book was printed on FSC-certified Munken Print White paper
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the challenges of food introduction Danielle Nierenberg.8 1.12 Bringing Healthy Food Everywhere 1.1 1.7 1.3 1.10 Not by Calories Alone 1. The Political Challenge of Food executive summary XV 3 XI 1.13 The Importance of Information 1. Small and Large food for all 1.eating planet 2012 Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition nutrition today: a challenge for mankind and for the planet introduction Guido Barilla.9 How Rich Nations Squander Food New Techniques for the Transformation of Food Eating Better School Lunches and Nutrition Buying Local Rethinking the Green Revolution Yields and Environmental Sustainability Food Sustainability and Climate Change Integrated Animal Husbandry for Better Sustainability 10 14 15 16 17 18 18 20 21 21 22 26 28 28 30 32 32 33 food for sustainable growth food for health 1.6 1.14 The Role of Health Structures .11 The Role of Vegetables 1.2 1. Worldwatch Institute: It’s Possible to Work at All Scales.4 1. BCFN: the Answers to Three Paradoxes preface Mario Monti.5 1.

6 Strategies for Controlling Volatility 46 50 52 53 56 62 67 67 68 75 81 82 84 86 89 91 95 95 98 102 new tools to measure and promote well-being 2.16 New Computer and Communications Technologies 1.10 Principal Results of the 2011 BCFN Index 2.4 The BCFN Evaluation Model 2.8 Subjective Approach Versus Objective Approach: Different Outlooks in Terms of Measuring Well-being 2.5 Variables of the Model 2.7 Gross Domestic Product Versus Indicators of Well-being 2.17 Popularization “In the Field” 1. In Access the Key Factor Is Diversity Ellen Gustafson.11 The Different Dimensions of Sustainability interviews Paul Roberts.2 The “Food Paradox”: Underlying Causes 2.19 Increasing Awareness about the Importance of Agriculture 2.3 Possible Areas for Action a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices 2. How to Respond to Market Excesses facts & figures access to food: present and future challenges 2.1 The Global Scope of Food Security and Access Problems 2. food for all introduction Raj Patel. Agricultural Policies Must Take into Consideration the Health and Well‑being of Human Beings action plan .VI eating planet food for culture 34 36 36 38 38 39 42 1.9 The BCFN Indices of Well-being and Sustainability of Well-being 2.18 Incentivize Employment of the Young the three objectives of food 1.15 Relaunching Agricultural Systems 1.

3 3.5 The Food Pyramid as an Educational Tool Some Studies of the Mediterranean Diet The Environmental Pyramid The Double Pyramid for Growing Children The Double Pyramid over the Long Term 106 112 114 116 118 121 124 129 131 136 138 150 151 155 156 160 164 167 167 170 173 toward sustainable agriculture 3.12 Water Privatization and its Implications interviews Hans R.table of contents VII 3. Virtual Water Between Underconsumption and Poor Management action plan .10 Choices and Behaviors for Sustainable Water Consumption 3.11 National Water Footprints and the Trade in Virtual Water 3.9 The Right of Access to Water: Reality and Prospects 3.6 Current Leading Agricultural Paradigms 3.4 3. The Challenging Transition Toward Sustainable Agriculture Tony Allan. food for sustainable growth introduction Carlo Petrini.2 3. Herren.1 3.8 The Availability of Water: from Abundance to Scarcity 3.7 The Sustainability of the Systems Used to Grow Durum Wheat: the Barilla Case the water economy and the emergency it confronts 3. and sustainable food for the environment 3. Paying What’s Fair facts & figures the double pyramid: healthy food for people.

food for health introduction Ricardo Uauy.12 Recommendations interviews Marion Nestle.10 Diet and Lifestyle and Their Effects on Longevity and Diseases of Aging 4. Longevity. and the Economic and Social Impacts of the Principal Diseases 4. Food.9 Demographics.8 Recommendations longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition 4. Agriculture.2 Guidelines for a Healthy Way of Eating and Lifestyle 4. The Responsibility for Children Must Be Shared Alex Kalache. Companies Must Behave Responsibly Aviva Must.VIII eating planet 4. Lifestyles Influence the Way We Age action plan 176 180 182 184 187 191 193 193 194 196 206 207 209 213 218 222 225 227 227 231 234 238 .4 Recommendations food and children: educate today for a better life tomorrow 4.5 The Spread of Obesity and Overweight in Children and Adolescents and the International Economic and Social Impact 4.6 Nutrients in the Different Phases of Growth 4.7 Guidelines for Healthy Diets and Sound Lifestyles in Children and Adolescents 4.11 Inflammatory States and Caloric Restriction: Possible Interventions to Slow the Aging Processes 4.1 A Few Key Figures: Global Trends in Chronic Diseases and their Social and Economic Impacts 4. Nutrition and Health facts & figures food for a healthy life 4.3 The Most Common Guidelines and Dietary Models 4.

11 Guidelines for Redefining Man’s Relationship with Food the mediterranean culture: the value of a lifestyle and a culinary tradition 5.10 Toward a New Vision of Nutrition 5. The Consumer Culture War and the Food System: What Does This Mean for the Mediterranean Model? action plan notes . food for culture introduction Shimon Peres.1 5.6 5. and Power Roles The Symbolic Value of Foods in the Major Religious Faiths Food Prohibitions: Food and Purity Food and Culture: an Indissoluble Bond 244 246 246 248 248 250 253 254 255 255 256 261 262 264 267 268 272 273 280 282 282 284 286 289 290 5. Whoever Controls Food Controls Democracy Michael Heasman.7 The Relationship Between Food and Culture: the Origins How Food Contributes to Communication and Conviviality Delight and Disgust: the Cultural Classification of the Edible Food: Social.2 5.4 5.15 How to Recover the Significance of Mediterraneity interviews the great culinary traditions and the reality of food today Joaquín Navarro-Valls.13 The Mediterranean Diet and Commensality 5.3 5.5 5.14 Mediterraneity Today: the Decline of a Model 5.9 Food Today: Challenges and Perspectives 5. We Must Construct a Culture of Responsibility Vandana Shiva.8 The Great Culinary Traditions 5. Gender. Food for Peace—a Call for the Mobilization of Goodwill 242 facts & figures the cultural dimension of food 5.12 The Salient Characteristics of the Mediterranean Diet 5.table of contents IX 5.


scientifically accurate way. these are models we should rethink. have long attracted our attention and reinforced our belief that we are giving birth to a research center with innovative and entirely original characteristics. we decided to found in 2009 the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN). diabetes. The growing awareness of these imbalances has driven us to think about the most effective ways to communicate and to involve anyone who might be interested in exploring these topics further in a serious. a center for providing analysis and proposals with a multidisciplinary approach that has the objective of exploring in greater depth the major issues linked to nutrition and food on a . consequences that take the form of grave metabolic diseases such as. The third paradox is bound up with a further form of the improper use of resources on the planet earth: competition between biofuels and food. One third of the entire world production of food is destined for consumption by livestock. and debate with a view to coming up with solutions. Moreover. they should serve as a way of encouraging us to identify and propose new and effective solutions. involve. Three. In fact it is estimated that it is responsible for at least 50% of all agricultural emissions of greenhouse gases. The first paradox has to do with the coexistence on this planet of more than a billion people who are suffering from hunger. in particular. we choose to put fuel in our cars instead of giving food to human beings in need. The second paradox has to do with the presence on the planet of approximately three billion head of livestock. From this need to inform. the global food system is capable of ensuring an adequate nutritional intake for all human beings now alive on the planet earth. independent. for instance. as of this writing. but if anything. This however should not discourage us. The underlying causes for these situations are not easy to identify and solve. A growing share of farmland is being set aside for the production of fuel. By so doing. already.XI introduction by Guido Barilla * bcfn: the answers to three paradoxes We live in an era that is characterized by a number of global paradoxes. the activity of raising livestock contributes substantially to the phenomena of climate change. And yet. communicate. Once again. in the face of an equivalent number of people who are suffering the consequences of excess of nutrition.

hence the subdivision of the themes studied here into four macro-areas: Food for All. is meant to understand. Food for Health. The Food for Sustainable Growth area explores the issues of the sustainability of the agro-alimentary supply chain. In its first three years of operation. The Food for Health area has undertaken a process of study of the relationships that exist between diet and health. encouraging an ongoing and open dialogue. and the environment. and Food for Culture. through a balanced use of natural resources and a steady reduction of negative impacts on the environment. valuable ideas have emerged in recent years: with a view to understanding in what way diet and nutrition affects our . In line with this general approach. now on its third annual edition. It has moreover organized events open to the members of civil society. Umberto Veronesi (an oncologist). Guided by institutional timeframes and by the priorities present in terms of international economic and political agendas. Food for Sustainable Growth. it has reinforced. The Food for Culture area. and develops issues. The complexity of the phenomena explored in this context has made it necessary to adopt a methodology that goes well beyond the boundaries of the various disciplines. which proposes. and Camillo Ricordi (an immunologist) for the Food for Health area. on the one hand. Mario Monti (an economist and policy maker) for the Food For All area. last of all. and political decisions and government actions on the other hand.XII eating planet global scale. one or more specific advisors have been identified: Barbara Buchner (an expert on energy. including the International Forum on Food & Nutrition. its own role as a collector and connecter between science and research. The BCFN is designed to pay close attention to society’s emerging needs. a major opportunity for international interactions with the leading experts in the sector. Claude Fischler (a sociologist) for the Food for Culture area. analyzes. From the work of this group of experts. gathering experience and qualified expertise on a worldwide level. health. For each area. with the goal of thinking seriously about how best to encourage better governance of the agro-alimentary system on a global scale. describe. Gabriele Riccardi (a nutritionist). a body composed of experts belonging to different but complementary sectors. with a view to making it possible to undertake a more equitable distribution of food and encourage a more favorable impact in terms of social well-being. The Food for All area takes on the issue of access to food and malnutrition. climate change. after which it formulates concrete recommendations concerning those issues. and the environment) and John Reilly (an economist specializing in environmental issues) for the Food for Sustainable Growth area. the activities of the BCFN are guided by a multidisciplinary Advisory Board. and render more significant the relationship between man and food. the center has undertaken and produced numerous scientific publications. I believe.

whom we would like to thank here: Tony Allan. Mario Monti. we have also undertaken indepth explorations concerning proper nutrition at various ages of life. we believe. Hans Herren. The book that we have put together struck us as the best possible way to document our passion: for man and for his daily life. This is how Eating Planet came into being. * President Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition. Nobel laureates. with a special focus on children. that we lend a hand in an attempt to create a better world. Shimon Peres. but also for the work that we do. Marion Nestle. Raj Patel. Moreover. . and world-renowned experts. Just three years after the creation of the BCFN. in order to establish a landmark on our journey and begin to consider new developments. Vandana Shiva. Paul Roberts. we developed the environmental and nutritional double pyramid. Danielle Nierenberg. political leaders. Ellen Gustafson. Alex Kalache. with the contributions of scientists.introduction XIII state of health. Michael Haesman. It demands. with the development of the BCFN index of well being. Aviva Must. with the analysis of the Water Economy and the nutritional guidelines of the leading international medical and scientific bodies. Carlo Petrini. Joaquín Navarro-Valls. and Ricardo Uauy. which demands that we look at more than just our corporate profitability. we have decided it would be useful to offer a summary of what we have developed thus far.


we are willing to give up part of our national sovereignty because we believe that cooperation is the only way to solve the problem. An awareness of an emergency surrounds the topic of access to food. are infinitely more complicated problems that are more deeply rooted in our economic system and our society. we have however observed a dangerous trend: when a problem becomes a real emergency. and laws. we tend to become frightened. First of all. This means that. We live in a context in which. decisions are being made in an emergency situation. Therefore we must guard against the risk of reversibility as soon as a solution to the problem is glimpsed. I should make two observations concerning specific aspects of the topic of food and the contribution that the EU. we tend to go back to our old ways of doing things. as well. with much farther reaching and longer lasting consequences. institutions. in particular. we have decision-making bodies. can supply. I’m optimistic about the European Union. In that connection. demanding a prolonged effort. This is what happened with the financial crisis. could solve the problems of the financial system. or almost immediate. Thus. action. There are 27 nations. once a prob- . The minute that the problem seems to be somewhat less urgent and sensitive. At least in the case of financial issues and other macroeconomic problems.XV preface by Mario Monti * the political challenge of food ** Why did I feel a strong intellectual attraction for the work that the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition has been doing over the past several years? Because I believe that the enormous problem of access to food represents a synthesis of the difficulties that those who work in the fields of market competition and global governance find themselves dealing with. alone. because it sinks its roots deep into the structures of society. and by considerable concerted efforts toward a general coordination. and no region of the world. solving these problems is an infinitely longer term matter. as well as food security in its financial repercussions. as well as structures to implement those laws. it is obvious that no country alone. Agriculture and food. the risk of reversibility. more or less everywhere. on a short term basis. even though the solution of the financial imbalance may be daunting to achieve. which was followed by immediate. After all. As a result.

like users and consumers. There are a few proposals on the subject that I consider to be effective. thanks to the excellent work done by the European Parliament. in a country. together with the European Council and the European Commission. A third crucial aspect is the modification of the food production and distribution chain in an attempt to manage growing price volatility and ensure the existence of safety nets. * Mario Monti (Prime Minister of Italy and also the Minister of Economy and Finance of the Italian Republic.XVI eating planet lem emerges from the state of acute emergency. Governance does not mean repression. in my opinion. But now. I believe that the context in which it is possible to achieve the greatest return in terms of effectiveness is the capacity to establish increasingly good relationships between political tools and market reactions. Allow me to make a slightly more general macropolitical observation: we might say that one of the weak points of the world economical and political models over the past twenty years has been a decline in our focus on distribution. is not an excessively ambitious model of planning to be implemented worldwide. is where the food sector most closely resembles the financial sector. this is a sector that should receive much greater investment—in parallel with energy savings and respect for the environment from consumers (private citizens and industry). we have seen to their implementation and supervision. we have put together—pretty quickly by European standards—a new system of rules guaranteed by specific authorities. on a European level. if you like. governance does not mean blocking entrepreneurial initiatives: governance means governing the markets in general terms. And of course it is fundamental to encourage economic development and promote the increase of agricultural productivity. is less grave in the European Union. and now those rules will remain in place even once the emergency is over. Let us take as an example the financial crisis: after all. all the considerations concerning equality. This. Member of the . inequality. what is needed. the eating habits of consumers—is fundamental. as far as food security is concerned. beginning of course with the idea of once again assigning a central role to food in the international political and economic program. Therefore. “how” to undertake the distribution desired) come back full-force into the domestic and global political arena. More specifically. For various reasons that have to do with issues of sustainability. it is clear that a potential reinforcement of global governance is fundamental. President of the Bocconi University. and businessmen. But even the conclusive point on the production chain—which ends where the food reaches the end users. that is. and distribution (that is to say. understood as the possibility of achieving access to food. are the protagonists of the market. or in a group of countries. but also due to considerations of individual and family health. Quite to the contrary.

. ** The considerations set forth in this essay were originally developed on the occasion of the workshop “Can the European Union Face Up to the New Geopolitical and Economic Challenges of Access to Food?” organized by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition at the European Parliament on June 15.preface XVII Advisory Board of the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition from February 2009 to November 2011. 2011.


eating planet nutrition today: a challenge for mankind and for the planet .


food for all encourage economic development in the poorest nations Hunger is a direct consequence of poverty. export subsidies. and support concrete and sustainable development projects to define and diffuse solutions and instruments for developing nations. In particular. . and likewise with regard to the coordination of global policies and the reduction over time of unilateral protectionist policies. It is therefore necessary to identify.” and based on multilateral rules capable of guaranteeing greater access to food on a worldwide level. It is hoped in general that there will be drop in the use of trade barriers. reinforcing the mechanisms of global governance The particular nature of nutritional goods—which cannot be reduced to the mere status of commodities. we are talking about: • building a system of commercial exchanges that is transparent. “responsible.3 executive summary In this section we provide a selection of the most important actions in the field of food and nutrition. implement. in the key sectors for economic growth. and other restraints of trade. as has happened in recent decades under the pressure of their growing availability—and the failure of the mechanisms of distribution to operate properly. Agriculture. is often the most important sector toward which we should channel investments and encourage the creation of adequate structures of regulations and laws and good systems of incentives. make it necessary to move past the paradigm of the marketplace as a system capable of self-regulation. to highlight the move toward more coordinated and shared activities to improve health and protect the environment that are characterized in this book. which constitutes the sector that contributes most substantially to the growth of income for the weakest sectors of the population in developing nations.

manage ways of eating Government action and the approach of nutritional models designed to take into account a general profile of sustainability is destined to become a decisive variable in political economics. and environmental conditions in which people live. and tumoral diseases and illnesses that derive from improper ways of eating.4 eating planet • preventing the cultivation of crops for the production of biofuels from inter• regulating excessive financial speculation on food commodities. economic. then. There is a close tie between variations in stock and price fluctuations of food commodities. This is not. Instead we should include the vast array of real facts that contribute to define the overall social. restricted to its distinctive economic traits. it has been observed that a reduction in the stockto-use ratio of cereal grains corresponds. Moreover. not merely a matter of defining better indicators. the one thing that we can state with a relative degree of confidence is that financial speculation in the agricultural commodities market can amplify short-term volatility. but rather a case of increasing in real terms the quality of the public decision-making processes. This aspect is taking on concrete outlines in developed nations. by setting forth a future time horizon (sustainability of well-being as against current well-being) there is the opportunity of finally being able to introduce into the public debate on policy decisions the topic of the consequences of today’s choices on future well-being. in a more transparent form. given the impact that it will have on the global balances of production in the realm of agriculture. a rise in the stock-to-use ratio tends to drive down prices. This approach will also become crucial for the developing nations. in the final analysis. in an attempt to face up to a health-care emergency that is linked to the rapid spread of metabolic. to an increase in the price levels while. in contrast. the actual role that this phenomenon plays in influencing the increase in price levels of agricultural goods is still being widely debated. In particular. generally speaking. over a sufficiently broad time horizon. politic. Even though fering with the cultivation of crops for food. encourage the use of new approaches and tools to measure and promote widespread well-being When we establish the general overall lines of economic policy there is a need to free ourselves from an excessively narrow view of well-being. . • creating a multilateral system of food reserves and improving transparency in terms of volume flows and stocks. cardiocirculatory.

and technologies to increase water productivity (more crop per drop) and reduce wastage. promoting the necessary investments and removing restraints of a technical and political nature. availability of water. The search for solutions based on approaches that use reduced energy consumption and elevated knowledge content will in fact become one of the decisive aspects of sustainability. focuses on parents and on the school system for the nutritional education of the young.). It is particularly important to spread practices. models. without leaving the children themselves out entirely. etc. in fact. it is therefore necessary to undertake a process of collective responsibility that. something that has positive effects on one’s health and also helps to safeguard the environment. know-how. and management tools. guarantee widespread access to water and encourage better worldwide water management It is necessary to reinforce the commitment and the responsibility of the public institutions to guarantee access to drinking water and to adequate sanitation infrastructure for the most disadvantaged populations. The problems that arise in connection with water resources must be solved with integrated policies.) and reduced emissions. built in order to meet the challenge of phenomena of relative scarcity. encourage a balanced mix of agricultural models The global agricultural system shows a variety of aspects of fragility with which it will be necessary to deal in a positive manner through the promotion of a balanced mix of agricultural models. The factors at play are numerous (quality of the soil. etc. The various approaches to the Double Pyramid that are proposed. With special reference to future generations. adaptation to atmospheric phenomena. . water. entail smaller environmental impacts in terms of the consumption of natural resources (land. but certainly one of the most significant themes with a view to the future will be the issue of the availability of energy.executive summary 5 food for sustainable growth use the double pyramid to encourage healthy nutritional behaviors and environmentally sustainable choices Following the model of the Double Pyramid means adopting a proper diet in nutritional terms.

premature death. health doesn’t seem to be improving at the same rate: about 80 percent of all elderly people (older than . obesity. such as the Mediterranean diet. and encourage cooperation between the various entities and players involved (including the food industry) in properly feeding young people. diabetes.6 eating planet food for health adopt a balanced diet and an active lifestyle to prevent widespread major chronic diseases There is an unmistakable. The guarantee of good eating habits for children and adolescents seems necessarily to involve the implementation of a concerted effort. presents convergent factors in terms of health. for instance. life expectancy at birth has practically doubled. and cereal grains. Despite the lengthening average life expectancy. the product of the contribution of multiple subjects (school. cardiocirculatory diseases. In brief. and metabolic syndrome. pediatricians. tends to reduce to a significant degree the negative factors that cause disease and infirmities in individuals and. which at different times of the day take care of children. In the context of individual choices. are factors capable of minimizing at the same time and in parallel the risks of the onset of overweight. vegetables. medical and scientific discoveries. thus improving the lives of individuals. from the earliest phases of life. tumors. in some case. adopting a balanced diet and an active lifestyle. and the food industry). and salt and with a high content of fruit. in order to encourage proper food-related information and the promotion of a culture of prevention. These results are the outcome of improved living conditions of the population. which is less thoroughly studied than adulthood. encourage good behaviors and lifestyles from childhood on for better adult health The evidence in favor of the exceptional importance of a proper approach to diet and food from the earliest age appears to be undeniable. From the studies that have been carried out it has become clear that it is indispensable to promote the further exploration of existing scientific knowledge about childhood. In that sense. maintain an adequate diet throughout your life Over the last hundred years. direct. A balanced diet with low content of sugars. stretching from forty-five years at the end of the nineteenth century to roughly eighty years in 2010. adopting a balanced diet. diet therefore plays a decisive role. family. and intense link between lifestyle and health. inasmuch as there exists an elevated correlation between behavior and diet in the earliest years of life and the onset of disease in adulthood. and the constant improvement of medical and health technology. fats.

which may involve research into such particularly innovative fields as the link between inflammatory states and the onset of chronic illnesses. It is a matter of making the most of these aspects of conviviality. remains capable of implementing cooperative games aimed at the promotion of a new culinary paradigm. Therefore. taste. transferring the expertise and know-how linked to the preparation of foods. and enjoyment of life in order to live with close ties to one’s food It is necessary to revive a number of fundamental dynamics proper to the culinary cultures that are most focused on the bond between food and the individual. and an intact social structure. What is needed is a concerted effort. recovering age-old flavors capable of being renewed into a contemporary taste. while it preserves the distinctive character of competition in the relationships among the operators in a single sector. in fact. but rather to live healthier and longer. through a critical operation that makes it possible to preserve the best of the culinary tradition. for a significantly longer time. suffers from at least one chronic illness and roughly 50 percent are afflicted with two or more chronic pathologies. such as the Mediterranean culinary culture. though not so much to achieve a longer lifespan. In the face of a growing life expectancy and a dramatic increase in the spread of the leading chronic pathologies it is likely that—in the near future—mankind will experience for the first time in modern history an old age characterized by an average quality of life that is less than optimal. educating toward a new ecology of food We must make a grand overarching deal among all the players in the world of food—including public institutions—who are increasingly concerned about the devastating consequences of the bad food choices being made by the citizens of the world. in order to reorient the lifestyles and ways of eating toward modes of consumption that are more sustainable in terms of health. the environment. action must be taken. . food for culture recovering and spreading the elements of culture. The scale of the challenge is so great that it demands capacities to intervene that vastly outweigh the power of individual players. protecting local territorial varieties by preserving the wealth of identities.executive summary 7 sixty-five). returning to a healthy relationship with the territory and with the context of the raw material by focusing on the excellent quality of the ingredients. an alliance among the various entities that. as well as the benefits that can be obtained through regimens of caloric restriction with optimal nutrition.

11 1.7 1.1 1.18 Relaunching Agricultural Systems New Computer and Communications Technologies Popularization “In the Field” Incentivize Employment of the Young the three objectives of food 1. Small and Large by Danielle Nierenberg food for all 1.3 1.table of contents introduction Worldwatch Institute: It’s Possible to Work at All Scales.13 1.16 1.15 1.9 Rethinking the Green Revolution Yields and Environmental Sustainability Food Sustainability and Climate Change Integrated Animal Husbandry for Better Sustainability food for health 1.14 Not by Calories Alone The Role of Vegetables Bringing Healthy Food Everywhere The Importance of Information The Role of Health Structures food for culture 1.8 1.5 How Rich Nations Squander Food New Techniques for the Transformation of Food Eating Better School Lunches and Nutrition Buying Local food for sustainable growth 1.19 Increasing Awareness about the Importance of Agriculture .17 1.12 1.6 1.10 1.4 1.2 1.

. we identify existing challenges in the food system and highlight ways to alleviate hunger and poverty while also protecting the environment. 1. In this chapter. the challenges of food The Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project strongly recommends the importance of developing and encouraging new strategies for satisfying the worldwide demand for food in fair and environmentally sustainable ways.

land or financial services.000 rupees [US$350] per season.2 But the women in SEWA are not only interested in what’s going on in their own community—they’re also interested in what farmers thousands of miles away in sub-Saharan Africa are doing to combat climate change. a trade union bringing together more than 1 million poor women workers. marketing it under their own label. making these women nearly invisible—they don’t have access to credit.1 SEWA members sort and package rice. a group of women farmers and food processors is changing the way Indians eat. But by involving women in food production SEWA is helping women better their livelihoods by becoming more self-sufficient. India. the challenges of food Worldwatch Institute: It’s Possible to Work at All Scales. and most food is produced with pesticides and artificial fertilizers. and sustainably grown food to local consumers. and at a SEWA-run farm outside the city women are growing organic rice and vegetables and producing organic compost on what was once considered unproductive and “marginal” land. Ninety-three percent of the female workforce in India is nonunion. and build soils. “We now earn over 15. who has been a member since 2003. Director of the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project In Ahmedabad. and they’re providing an important community service by producing healthy. These women belong to the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). conserve water. Small and Large Danielle Nierenberg.10 eating planet 1. affordable. including bank accounts. an amount we had never dreamed of earning in a lifetime. Fifty-four percent of SEWA’s members are small and marginal farmers. During a meeting in early 2011 they wanted to know . Most poor households can’t afford high quality food. and the rice and other staples they buy are inferior products—rice grains are often broken or riddled with dirt and stones. These women earn more income and eat better than before.” says Surajben Shankasbhai Rathwa.

By working with local residents. togo Les Compagnons Ruraux is an NGO based in Togo that educates farmers living in the Kpalimé Cloud Forest about sustainable agriculture practices. the organization aims to keep young adults from migrating to cities. and locally processed palm oil. . medicinal plants.boy and the bucket. The organization also improves local food security by training members of women’s groups to grow and market organic vegetables. including agroforestry and intercropping.

“Hunger Statistics.200 1. There’s no doubt that the current food system is broken: vast amounts of food are wasted in both rich and poor countries. and the environmental impacts of agriculture— including deforestation.350 1. wheat. and GHG emissions—are increasing.fao. agriculture contributes to one-third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. they are one step toward enabling agriculture not only to feed the world but also to nourish livelihoods. environmental sustainability. as well as in other parts of the developing world.1 Hunger in the world (1969‑2011) Source: Worldwatch Institute elaboration of data from FAO. water scarcity. and malnutrition. These are problems in India and Africa high food prices. poverty. . And while SEWA’s training farms and agricultural credit services won’t change the global food system on their own. 4 Over the last three decades. soil degradation. foodrelated diseases are on the rise.” www.050 900 750 600 450 300 150 0 878 853 845 857 873 915 1. and vibrant rural and urban economies.12 eating planet what they could learn from their counterparts in an area of the world facing the same challenges—erratic weather events.3 we’re at a turning point. the Western food system has been built to promote over-consumption of a few consolidated commodities—including rice.020 925 925 estimated millions of people 825 1969‑71 1979‑81 1990‑92 1995‑97 2000‑02 2004‑06 2008 2009 2010 2011 figure 1. and maize—and has neglected indigenous foods that provide not only calo- 1.

and road map for the global food system—a system that nourishes both people and the planet by finding ways to make food production and consumption more economically. drought. and socially just and sustainable. at dinner tables in Italy. and other maladies. This needs to change. It’s been roughly half a century after the Green Revolution.5 billion people in the world are obese or overweight and thus at higher risk of diabetes.1).introduction | the challenges of food 13 ries but also essential vitamins and micronutrients and tend to be resistant to heat. environmentally. at research institutes in Taiwan. If we begin now. in edible school yards in the United States.5 But the challenges we face will not be easy to overcome. Agriculture is at a turning point. vision. . we can build a better strategy. cardiovascular disease. and disease. on rooftop gardens in Vietnam. The solutions are out there—in market garden projects in rural Niger. and in communities all over the world—but they are not getting the attention and the investment they need. however. One result is that 1. yet nearly 1 billion people in the world go to bed hungry each night and several billion suffer micronutrient deficiencies (figure 1.

could be a way to help fill bellies and pocket books in both devel- . In Latin America and the Caribbean. more than half the population. and Uganda. In sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia many farmers and consumers are earning just US$1–2 per day. 41 million in Bangladesh. NGOs. for example.14 eating planet food for all Famine reemerged in the Horn of Africa in 2011. Worldwide. are in need of immediate emergency aid.6 Nearly 4 million Somalis. Asia has the greatest number of hungry people: 225 million people in India. reminding the world that hunger and malnourishment continue to be a cruel reality for many of the world’s poor. “Traditional ways of looking at hunger are unhelpful because they focus on aggregates and increasing production. violence. Instead of being able to buy nutritious beans.” Governments. decrease malnutrition. is now creeping back up. Djibouti. and corruption.9 According to Olivier De Schutter. which fill people up but provide very few nutrients. where hunger receded dramatically throughout the 1990s. after falling steadily throughout the 1980s and 1990s. many households can afford only staple crops such as rice or cassava.7 The problem of hunger is not confined to Africa. and funders have invested in increasing production and improving yields rather than on the more neglected parts of the food system that have potential to improve livelihoods. the number is 53 million. Kenya. Since 2007. development agencies. Some 11 million people are at risk of starvation in Ethiopia. as well as of pervasive conflict. What’s needed are more investment to prevent waste from field to fork and a stronger focus on food aid and local school nutrition programs. eggs. or vegetables.8 Food prices also continue to increase (figure 1. It’s the outcome of decades of ignoring smallholder farmers and pastoralists and dismissing the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on the region. meat.10 Preventing the millions and millions of tons of food waste that occurs annually. that price spike has pushed an estimated 44 million people into poverty. making any increase in food prices especially painful. South Sudan.2). and protect the environment. More than 265 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are considered malnourished—approximately one out of every four Africans and one out of every three sub-Saharan Africans. the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. more than 1 billion people are undernourished—a number that. According to the Bank. the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO’s) Food Price Index has recorded a 70-percent jump in international food prices. however. Somalia. World Bank data show that food prices increased 15 percent for many developing countries between October 2010 and January 2011 alone. The famine is not the result of just one bad drought—although the region is experiencing the worst drought in 60 years—or one failed policy.

Much of it ends up in landfills instead of our stomachs.fao. and purchase too much food for home consumption. crop storage remains woefully inadequate.11 In poorer countries. drying equipment. As long ago as for all | the challenges of food 15 350 300 250 price index 200 150 100 50 0 sugar cereals meat oils dairy 1990 1993 1996 1999 2002 2005 2008 2011 figure 1. oping and developed countries. drying equipment. Most farmers don’t have access to proper grain stores. Food waste can total an astonishing 30 percent of the harvest. and plant breeds designed to extend shelf life—still squander vast amounts of food. fruit crates. over-order stock at grocery and “big box” stores. and another few percent at markets and at home. www. Food Price Index. or other post-harvest storage and processing technologies. wasting crops in the places that need them chemicals that inhibit fungi and molds. the United Kingdom.12 1. Source: FAO.2 Volatility of food prices (1990‑2011) Note: The 2011 data are the product of averaging the individual months. France. and other wealthy nations—which have mastered the art of preventing food losses with climate-controlled storage units and refrigeration. a few percent during transport. Italy. happening all along the food chain—a few percent is lost on the farm. We throw away cosmetically imperfect produce. refrigeration. a few percent in storage.1 how rich nations squander food Even countries such as the United States. especially those in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. dispose of edible fish at sea. the first World Food Conference (in Rome) called for a . It is insidious.

and Togo by the end of 2011. during the rainy season herders typically dispose of around 500 liters of milk per day because they have too much milk to . and other health problems. Niger. are investing in helping farmers and food processors find better ways to store and manage crops post-harvest. you can add 20 percent to the price. the PICS project expected to reach 28. and improved storage for half the area’s cowpea harvest would be worth US$255 million annually to some of the poorest people in the world. locally occurring strain of the fungus prior to harvest. The strain developed by IITA. Aflatoxin contamination is caused almost exclusively by consuming food that has become moldy because of poor food storage. Purdue University researchers have helped farmers use inexpensive. Unfortunately. inexpensive. and effective while improving health and nutrition. which prevents exposure to oxygen and moisture and inhibits the growth of dangerous fungi. a toxic fungus that can lead to liver cancer. In Mauritania. hermetically sealed bags— Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS)—to prevent pests and mold from attacking harvests. Nigeria.” In addition to preserving an important seasonal crop year-round. The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is working with farmers to apply a non-toxic.14 Another simple technology with great potential to reduce crop loss and waste is hermetic sealing: storing crops in re-sealable bags. Cameroon. unfortunately. the PICS bags also save farmers money on expensive—and toxic—pesticides.15 In Western Africa.2 new techniques for the transformation of food Finding better ways to process foods can also help prevent food waste. cowpeas (black-eyed peas) are an important staple crop. stunting. a smallholder farmer in northern Nigeria. Burkina Faso. it looks the same as the day I stored it.16 eating planet 50-percent reduction in post-harvest losses over the following decade. Ghana. making it an effective bio-control with the potential to save farmers millions of dollars per year and protect human health at the same time.000 villages in Benin.17 1. Chad. especially for women farmers. and help ensure safer transport of crops from farm to market. With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.” says Balarabe Kausani. “Because of the quality of the cowpeas. Mali.16 “When we open up the bag. Very few donors. That goal remains unachieved. and preventing waste remains a vastly underfunded dimension of the agricultural development process. Consider. safely outcompetes and virtually eliminates the toxic strain. The bags also keep out insects and suffocate any larvae already present. for example. and wealthy consumers remain uninformed about how their (over)buying habits impact the environment. Senegal. food contamination by aflatoxin.13 But reducing this waste can be simple. dairy production is important for both nutrition and incomes. trademarked as Aflasafe.

These collaborations provide steady and guaranteed income to smallholder farmers and fresh and nutritious foods to schoolchildren. India. or hunger season.000 tons of food from landfills over the last decade. saving consumers over US$970 million annually. is available. another way to deliver maximum value from food produced is by improving nutrition. This value-added product can be eaten during the lean dry months. school breakfast and lunch programs in Asia and Africa that rely on local and regional food sources are reducing child malnutrition and improving school enrollment while also boosting farmers’ incomes. This method removes moisture and promotes maturity. a nonprofit organization established in 2000 that works with businesses and individuals to improve knowledge and usage of resources and cost-efficient recycling programs. China.3 eating better Besides reducing waste. farmers tear the husks off maize cobs in the ripening stage so that the cobs can dry while maturing on the stalk. In northeast China. providing important vitamins and nutrients to people all year long. The same herders suffer extreme nutritional deficiencies in the dry season when very little food. 19 There are many novel and income-generating ways of transforming foods so that they don’t go to waste. and there are many examples of successful programs to do this from around the world. Hate Waste is a project of the Waste and Resources Actions Programme.20 Consumers are also changing their eating and buying habits to reduce waste. when villagers are most food-insecure. In the United Kingdom.22 . In Bolivia. which link local agriculture with in-country school programs. the organization Love Food. making it an important staple when very little other food is available. a global development organization that focuses on food security and governance. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is actively promoting such home-grown for all | the challenges of food 17 sell or drink themselves. and other fruits. Love Food. 21 1. The ulog (A-frame collapsible dryer) in Bolivia and the artisanal solar timber dryer in the Caribbean are allowing farmers to dry a number of different crops. solarpowered driers and dehydrators are helping to preserve abundant harvests of mangoes. including milk. throughout the year. Dried cheese retains higher levels of protein and fat than other dried milk products. The group’s work has resulted in the recycling of more than 1 billion plastic bottles a year and has helped divert 670. and other countries. Hate Waste educates citizens on food waste issues and gives simple suggestions on how to reduce personal waste. For instance. launched a multi-year assistance program that includes teaching women and subsistence farmers in Mauritania to turn milk into dried cheese. such as tomatoes and potatoes. helping to increase yields. papayas.18 In 2010 Counterpart International.

Food from the Hood is a group of student gardeners that began in Los Angeles after the 1992 riots.000 pupils in 200 schools across every district in the country.8 percent where they weren’t available. School retention rates increased by around 10 percent for schools with the programs. cabbages. where a national school lunch program is funded through the government. By the end of 2006. Much of the maize. school lunches reach 1. “it’s easier for them to become better students. Not only did yields and incomes decrease.3 percent. food aid in sub-Saharan Africa is now coming from farmers in the region rather than from thousands of miles away. eggplant.000 kindergartners. half of which has been funneled into scholarships for students.5 buying local In the same way.8 million primary school children and 700. The students and teachers know how to keep the operation going. and 16 varieties of heirloom tomatoes.” And when children eat. the president of Chigata Fettes et Development (Women and Development). tomatoes.26 The children who did attend school received meals that were often of poor nutritional quality because of inadequate funding. The students grow kale.” says Ouattara. Twenty-five percent of what they grow is given to the needy and the rest is sold for profit. “we can do the program.25 In Cote d’Ivoire. onions. Enrollment in schools where meals were served increased by 20. so that “even if we’re not there. eggplants. Much of this food is eaten by the children in the school canteen. As a result. whether it’s gang violence in Los Angeles or political violence in Cote d’Ivoire.23 In Thailand. but the WFP estimates that approximately 90 percent of participants purchase vegetables and meat from local producers. roughly 30 percent of all school children in the country.27 The project started with 300 students working with about the same number of women in the community to grow rice. haricot blanc (white beans). organized a women’s group to start growing organic food and cook meals for the children.18 eating planet 1. compared to 2. the program was reaching 69. says Ouattara. radishes.”28 1. and other crops. but many children stopped going to school because of the violence. . while the surplus is sold to help maintain the garden and the canteen. the conflict that erupted after a coup d’etat in 2002 had a huge impact on agriculture and education in the northern part of the country.24 School feeding programs can be especially important in areas where there’s conflict. Thailand’s school food program does not mandate where individual schools get their food.4 school lunches and nutrition Ghana began its own Home Grown School Feeding Program in 2005. an NGO in N’Ganon village. Mariam Ouattara.” Their hope is that by educating children they can also change how parents cook and eat vegetables through “trickle-up education. The program is estimated to have assisted more than 1 million children in 2010.

India. and the women sell them under SEWA’s own label. SEWA has more than one million members and helps train women farmers and food processors how to grow. These foods are higher quality than the food typically available to poor consumers. india Goods produced by the Self‑Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in the village of Gujarat’s Vadodara.self employed women’s association products in vadodara in gujarat. and market organic rice. spices. and other foods. package. .

20 eating planet rice. activists. they are preparing Zambian farmers to provide high-quality food aid not only to programs and consumers in their own country but also potentially to growing regional and international markets. In Liberia. Agriculture was blamed for many of those problems. Zambia. . and even provide aid to the needy. and soil degradation. This way. mobilizing individuals and organizations everywhere to address the world’s most serious environmental challenges. Sierra Leone. policymakers.S. conservation farming. Africa. water scarcity. including the U. Today more and more of the crops provided as food aid come from African farmers selling directly to the WFP through local procurement arrangements. and investment. But today agriculture is emerging as a solution to the planet’s pressing environmental problems—and agro-ecological approaches are seen.30 Working with local resources and local innovations in Latin America. WFP is not only buying locally but helping small farmers gain the skills necessary to be part of the global market. food for sustainable growth In June 2012. organic agriculture. business leaders. including deforestation. and other foods consumed locally have long come from the United States. support. And two decades ago. for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. As a result. WFP Zambia avoids distorting prices and helps create an alternative means for farmers to access markets through a network of Exchange-certified warehouses at the district level. Twenty years ago. WFP also works through its partners. farmers are finding ways to feed themselves and their communities. coordinator of the Zambia P4P Program. WFP buys food directly through the Zambia Agricultural Commodity Exchange while remaining “invisible. biodiversity loss. the Rio Earth Summit was a call to action.” according to Felix Edwards. and journalists will gather in Rio de Janeiro. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) PROFIT program. they have also disrupted national and local markets by lowering prices for locally grown food. and Asia. and several other nations in sub-Saharan Africa (as well as in Asia and Latin America). soy. but as the way forward in a world of declining fossil fuel resources and increasing hunger and poverty. scientists. not as naïve. and while they have provided much-needed calories. and other agro-ecological practices were considered backward and inadequate ways to feed the world. to help farmers and farmer associations meet the quality standards required by the Exchange. These are exactly the types of innovations that need more research.29 In Zambia. Brazil.

”31 1. the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) was released. What we want.32 Although the Green Revolution is considered a “success. Where it worked. while people in sub-Saharan Africa have remained poor and undernourished. it was not only just breeding of high-yielding crops. urbanization. “The ‘Green Revolution’ ran out of steam long ago [. Today. in parliaments and board rooms.” its benefits are unevenly spread. desertification. which helped. 70 percent of freshwater withdrawals are for agricultural irrigation. and in research institutes worldwide. Many of the poorest of the poor “have . water pollution. The most striking results in decreasing poverty and increasing crop yields were seen in South Asia. pesticides. there were many factors involved.. Hans Herren. Their major conclusion: that “business as usual” approaches to feeding the world were not working.] We need to reinvent agriculture [. causing salinization of water supplies in developed and developing countries alike. there were roads. According to Dr. And that’s why I think we need to reinvent [the Green Revolution]. for sustainable growth | the challenges of food 21 This shift is happening in farmers’ fields. and NGOs to outline the current state of agricultural knowledge. we want an agriculture which is self-sustaining. This monumental report took more than four years to complete and brought together 400 of the world’s leading scientists. and other environmental challenges. development agencies. unemployment. there was access to fertilizer. researchers.] Although the Green Revolution has promoted the production of more food. et cetera. actually. 1. World Food Prize Laureate and co-chair of IAASTD. there was an environment.. “Emphasis on increasing yields and productivity has in some cases had negative consequences on environmental sustainability. the Green Revolution technologies of the past—although they were effective at increasing yields in the short term—have not been as effective in addressing the real problem of malnutrition.” Nearly 2 billion hectares and 2.7 yields and environmental sustainability According to IAASTD..6 rethinking the green revolution In 2008.6 billion people have been affected by significant land degradation resulting from large-scale agricultural practices associated with the Green Revolution. The overuse and misuse of artificial fertilizers and pesticides have produced toxic runoffs which create coastal dead zones and reduce biodiversity.. Several major research reports throughout the 2000s have painted an evolving picture of agriculture. In other words. is an agriculture that is not based on those inputs. one that shows how food production can help address climate change.

to energy services. the World Bank World Development Report also recognized the need for agriculture to be more environmentally sustainable in the short. agrofuels. Robert Watson. and also to education. and political growth in sub‑Saharan Africa and Asia. agriculture can drive rural development and stimulate econo‑ mies in developing countries. “We need a more integrated approach that links agriculture to health. is “the inescapable interconnectedness of agriculture’s different roles and functions. chief scientist for the World Bank and the director of IAASTD. Agricultural development can only become a viable strategy if smallholder farmers. Global Food and Farming Futures. Foresight report. said that “we are putting food that appears cheap on our tables.” says Judi Wakhungu.K.34 1. Dr. but also non-commodity outputs such as environmental services. are given better access to capital. says the report. Several other major reports also point to more environmentally sustainable ways of alleviating hunger and poverty (table 1. and the biological diversity on which all our futures depend. medicinal products. and at least one out of seven members of the human family still goes to bed hungry each night. and ornamentals). Multifunctionality.8 food sustainability and climate change The IAASTD report isn’t the only one to come to these conclusions. We need a comprehensive approach to providing food security in Africa. soil. social. particularly women. The WDR notes that GDP growth originating in the agri‑ cultural sector is twice as effective in reducing poverty as GDP growth starting in other sectors of the economy.” The Green Revolution.” according to the report. . The concept of multifunctionality recognizes agriculture as a multi-output activity producing not only commodities (food. new tech‑ nologies. fibers. says the Bank. According to the U.” according to IAASTD.22 eating planet gained little or nothing. international governments need to make smarter and more targeted investments in rural development.”33 “Agriculture operates within complex systems and is multifunctional in its nature.and long terms. but it is food that is not always healthy and that costs us dearly in terms of water. tended to focus narrowly on yields and very little on biological interaction. According to the report.1 – the road toward agro-ecology 36 World Bank: “World Development Report 2008— Agriculture for Development” (2008) The 2008 World Development Report (WDR) highlights agriculture’s contribution to eco‑ nomic. and land. co-chair of the IAASTD committee. landscape amenities. to water security.” And in 2008. feed.35 table 1. To make this a reality. “Addressing climate change and achieving sustainability in the global food system needs to be recognized as a dual imperative.1). and cultural heritages. on the other hand. and policymakers must encourage local governments to implement agricultural and environmental sus‑ tainability measures more effectively. Nothing less is required than a redesign of the whole food system to bring sustainability to the fore.

In many parts of Africa. They’re also helping farmers find ways to add value to cassava through processing the crop into gari and foo‑foo. The introduction of these improved varieties has already provided food for some 50 million people in Nigeria.woman peeling cassava in ibadan. . nigeria. The International Institute of Tropical agriculture (IITA) is working with cassava farmers in Nigeria to develop cassava varieties that are disease and pest‑resistant and high yielding. cassava provides a daily source of energy.

which Bread for the World claims leads the way for effective and sustainable development policy by focusing on bottom‑up. and investments in pro‑poor agricultural development in Africa. and illustrates how these accomplishments can provide both lessons and inspi‑ ration for continued efforts in the future. The World Food Programme stresses the importance of institutional support for these processes from the local. The report summarizes its findings in four main messages: broad‑based economic de‑ velopment is central to improving living conditions. and recommends a number of aspects in which its policies can be strengthened. Dramatic food price increases in 2008 led 110 million people into poverty and 44 million people into hunger. Farming. focusing on improving both food access and food production. development assistance—a lack of technical capacity. with recommendations for the future. malnutrition. The IAASTD focused on ways of reducing poverty and hunger. leadership can drive international action. international leaders can create grain re‑ serves to be used as a buffer in times of emergency and eliminate biofuel subsidies that divert edible crops to fuel production. and emphasizes the threat it presents towards hunger. and reducing poverty in some of the poorest countries in the world. This report highlights 20 successful policies. foreign policy. As the global community is increasingly mobilizing around hunger and malnutrition re‑ duction. the rising world population. However. and technology (AKST). The report analyzes the causes of these price surges and provides recommendations on how to reduce the likelihood that a similar food‑price crisis will happen in the future. which is being further compounded by the impacts of climate change. pro‑ grams. By focusing on agricultural development. livestock. This report analyzes the role of the United States in fighting hunger globally and its for‑ eign food assistance policies. In the recent past decades. and cover cropping. To limit food price volatility in the short‑term. and Technology for Development (IAASTD): “Agriculture at a Crossroads” (2009) The IAASTD highlights past. The World Food Programme views climate change as the defining challenge of our time. and food production problems have created increasing strain feeding the world’s hungry. smallholder development. and innovations. fostering economic growth. To combat price vol‑ atility in the long‑term. including who will be most affected and what policymakers can do to facilitate successful adaptation for the future. and future agricultural development. the report states there is a growing consensus within the inter‑ national humanitarian community on the need to adapt global and local food systems through investments. In order to address this. national. Conventional agriculture hasn’t recognized that agriculture and local ecosystems are dependent on one another. In particular. and international levels. For the medium‑term. knowledge transfers. Science. policymakers need to limit the effects of global climate change by incentivizing more energy‑efficient lifestyles and promoting agriculture’s potential as a tool to fight GHG emissions. present.S. improving rural livelihoods and human health. and food insecurity for millions of people. significant progress can be made in eliminat‑ ing hunger and malnutrition. and support from the government—which the report recommends addressing by rewriting the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act and establishing the importance of poverty reduction and development in U. Bread for the World states that U. the poorest areas of southern and south‑east Asia. according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). and promoting eq‑ uitable sustainable development through a better understanding of agricultural knowl‑ edge.24 eating planet International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge. food price volatility. funding. and NGOs. 2010) International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI): “Food Security. A major finding was that the one‑size‑fits‑all approach to agricultural development hasn’t worked. and Latin America.S. It took more than four years to complete and brought together 400 of the world’s leading scientists. local‑led approaches.S. and Climate Change to 2050” (2010) . Feed the Future suffers the same weak‑ nesses of other U. and climate change by incorporating agroforestry. This report looks at the challenges of climate change and analyzes their effects on food security. and highlights its own role in these efforts. the report highlights the new Feed the Future initiative. particularly in Africa. disease. and more effective imple‑ mentation of AKST at the local level. and some regions of Central America. Asia. IAASTD recommends a greater emphasis on agroecological farming techniques. researchers. science. leaders must encourage smallholders to develop diversified farms that are resilient to pests. development agencies. climate change offsets some of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI): “Millions Fed— Proven Successes in Agricultural Development” (2009) The United Nations’ Environment Programme: “The Environmental Food Crisis” (2009) The United Nations’ World Food Programme: “Climate Change and Hunger” (2009) Bread for the World Institute: “2011 Hunger Report—Our Common Interest: Ending Hunger and Malnutrition” (Nov.

World Bank. food price volatility. reducing carbon emissions from agriculture. involving over 400 leading experts and stakeholders from 35 countries. advocates and international leaders need to promote diverse. women do most of the farming but typically do not have access to land rights. water flows and pollination cycles. reduced tilling. This “save and grow” approach to farming mim‑ ics natural ecosystems. Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). The United Kingdom Government Office for Science / Foresight: “The Future of Food and Farming: Challenges and Choices for Global Sustainability” (2011) The Foresight report was a two‑year project.” This “Brown Revolution” focuses on agorecological food production techniques. The FAO encourages farmers and policymakers in developing countries to reconsider the homogenous. The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change is an initiative of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change. or financial services. Their policy recommen‑ dations include raising the level of global investment in sustainable agriculture. They also need to concentrate on conservation agri‑ culture. international trade plays an essential role in mitigating some of climate change’s effects. incorporating organic fertilizers and zero‑till soil management. this means developing agriculture that is specific to its particular climate. with a full report to follow in 2012. The report suggests that Africa’s recovery will not come from the same strategies used in Latin America and South Asia’s “Green Revolution” of the mid‑20th century. industry and civil society. targeting the most vulnerable populations. The Commission is working to identify which policy changes and actions are needed to help the world achieve food security in the face of climate change. and basin planting. context‑specific solutions to hunger and poverty. Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). such as soil conservation. education. Finally. but rather through a grassroots “Brown Revolution. economic. advocates need to get loud and busy promoting the benefits of agroecological farming and small‑scale. These farming methods maintain a long‑term vision of sustainability that will allow fam‑ ily farms to prosper. incentivize energy efficient lifestyles and food pro‑ duction techniques. and reducing food waste. European for sustainable growth | the challenges of food 25 benefits of rising incomes. Buffett Foundation: “The Hungry Continent: African Agriculture and Food Insecurity” (2011) Climate Change. but adds inputs like fertilizers and pesticides in targeted amounts when necessary. Female farmers are just as capable as men. policymakers need to prioritize rural de‑ velopment and poverty eradication. legume planting. Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change: “Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change” (2011) . To help foster this type of agricultural renaissance.” or SCPI. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization: “The State of Food and Agriculture 2010‑2011” (2011) In developing countries. ecosystem. over 73 percent of farmers in Africa are considered small‑ holders. education. they increase the food security. One way to balance increased food production with the environment is to focus on “sustainable crop production intensification. but their lack of support and resources reduces their harvests by an average of 20 to 30 percent. This 350‑page text analyzes the political. The Commission began in early 2011 and has launched its Summary for Policy Makers. and agronomic factors that have created structural poverty and hunger in the African continent. Closing this gender gap would not only empower women and strengthen communities but it could also boost agricultural productivity and bring as many as 150 million people out of hunger. nutrition. and health of their children who will then have a better chance to become productive and engaged citizens. and helps respond to climate change adaptation and mitigation. These techniques have proven suc‑ cessful. This gender gap manifests itself as a yield gap on the farm. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization: “Save and Grow” (May 2011) The Howard G. cover cropping. and investing in agricultural productivity improvements properly can enhance food security and mitigate the impacts of climate change. with average yield increases of 80 percent in 57 low‑income countries. so it’s imperative to have their voices and concerns raised at the policy table. Leaders can also prioritize smallholder voices. implementing new science and technology. including the United Nations. regenerative systems that are inclusive. and geographic context. The Commission focused on bringing together existing evidence on sustainable agricul‑ ture that contributes to food security and poverty reduction. production‑intensive farming methods of the Green Revolution. To combat hunger and climate change. and help vulnerable populations adapt their food systems to chang‑ es in climate. Foresight notes that balancing future demand and supply. The report also notes that as women become equal shareholders in the home. will all be major hurdles. not exclusive. and academia. and protecting biodiversity. The report identifies critical food and ag‑ ricultural issues and possible policies and interventions for addressing those challenges. and reducing loss in the food production system. But international leaders can work to balance food demand and supply by improving sustainable production.

sorghum.26 eating planet But agro-ecology does not mean a return to old-fashioned or outdated practices. according to the World Agroforestry Centre. In Indonesia. plants. integrating trees with annual and perennial crops maintains green cover on the land throughout the year. relying on the extensive knowledge of farmers and an understanding of local ecosystems. while protecting the environment at the same time. and protecting crops from harsh sunlight. not dreamed up by researchers or scientists but has been a practice of farmers in places like sub-Saharan Africa for generations. And while forests and grasslands are still rapidly declining. These fertilizer trees provide shade. And the trees that make this system possible are trees that are readily available to millions more farmers in the future. The trees also provide a variety of ecosystem services. and vegetables are being grown along Acacia. Dr. preserving biodiversity. The ducks . millet. wheat. Zambia. such approaches are highly complex. Agroforestry. “We look at evergreen agriculture as a way of in fact assisting in reinventing agriculture for a more climate-smart farming in the future. stimulating higher crop yields.” says Garrity. including Central America. “It’s indigenous to Africa. Clearing land for agriculture. including sequestering carbon. whether it’s in the Brazilian Amazon or the rainforest of Congo. Both perennials and annual crops can be used.”37 This “reinvention” was. On the contrary. and other species. and add the natural fertilizer nitrogen to soils. especially of cereal crops. Kenya. Tephrosia.39 1.38 Integrating trees with crops can double or even triple yields compared to crops that are grown without a canopy. improve water availability. Malawi. agro-ecological systems integrate farming with the environment. In some regions of the world. Agro-ecology mimics nature. prevent soil erosion. Dennis Garrity. is a good illustration of how farming and ecosystems can work together. the soils become increasingly fertile. Because the trees “fix” nitrogen from the air and deposit their biomass and leaves on the soil surface. the former director general of the World Agroforestry Centre. crops such as maize.9 integrated animal husbandry for better sustainability Farmers in Japan and other parts of Asia are also finding ways to add nutrients to crops without depending on expensive artificial fertilizers or toxic pesticides. and many other countries. more than 30 percent of agricultural lands enjoy tree cover. destroys habitat for birds. rather than separating crops and livestock from nature. these farmers are providing additional protein for their families as well as increasing incomes. By using ducks and fish instead of pesticides for pest control in rice paddies. is actually increasing. calls this “evergreen agriculture”. and Faidherbia trees. for example. in fact. Gliricidia. Tanzania. the number of trees on farms. Sesbania. According to Garrity.

food for sustainable growth | the challenges of food 27 eat weeds. The study found the “sustainable” farms. They can resist the mechanical shear power of wind and rain. demonstrated higher resistance and greater sustainability than conventional farms immediately after the storm. and using a minimum amount of water instead of flooding fields. and other pests. which caused millions of dollars of damage in the country.40 These systems can also work with other animals. and the duck droppings provide nutrients for the rice plants. professor of government and international agriculture at Cornell University. Mixed-crop and livestock agriculture systems in communities in China. weeding regularly. helping reduce the labor needed for weeding. This type of system generates little waste and provides diverse and stable sources of food and income for farmers. the Philippines. A 2001 study by agro-ecologist Eric Holt Giménez compared “conventional” and “sustainable” farms on 880 plots of land with similar topography in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch in 1999. or those engaged in agro-ecological or sustainable land management practices. Practicing farmers have seen their net incomes rise by 80 percent. the fact that SRI practices allow crops to be more spread out has also helped make them more resilient to storms: “With less plant density. and enhancing their flavor. have larger root systems and thicker. weed seeds. in addition to having larger panicles. it killed at least 90 people and caused an estimated US$250 million in damage to the country’s agricultural sector.44 According to Erika Styger. The manure from the pigs is used to fertilize the tilapia ponds and rice fields. insects. tilapia. chickens. This helps create deep root systems that are better able to resist drought. the International Rice Research Institute reports that these systems have resulted in 20 percent higher crop yields. In Bangladesh. the domino effect of falling down with a strong wind cannot happen as . But farmers in the Luzon region in the northern part of the country are reporting that rice grown under the system of rice intensification (SRI) has shown remarkable resilience to heavy winds and rain. more grains. and heavier grains.42 When Typhoon Pedring hit the Philippines in October 2011. strengthening the plants. and Taiwan allow farmers to raise hogs. director of programs for the SRI International Network and Resources Center. while also increasing yields. and rice on the same farm. stronger tillers (stalks).41 Agro-ecological practices also help farmers better cope with natural disasters. synthetic fertilizers. pesticides. 43 One reason for the resilience to storms is that rice plants grown under SRI practices are generally stronger. SRI practices include transplanting seedlings when they are very young and growing them widely apart.” explains Norman Uphoff. and herbicides. adding compost from organic matter to the soil. “SRI plants. SRI increases the productivity of resources used in rice cultivation by reducing requirements for water.

Iowa. the economy. donors. and public health advocates all over the United States are helping start that conversation.” she says. “It doesn’t matter where you live or who you are. she says. locally grown food—visions for a healthier food system. The dinners she’s holding with corporate leaders. parents. especially to children in utero and under age three. wheat. to droughts and flooding. one very important thing that agro-ecological practices build is resilience—to price shocks. “which has long been an alien concept to the agriculture and even the hunger community. journalists. agriculture. and how we produce food haven’t always been clear. we need to refocus our efforts on nutrition. meaningful conversation at the table about what needs to happen to make sure that food is a tool for change. and governments still tend to focus on calories rather than nutrients. wildlife. sustainable. Gustafson wants to make sure that over the next 30 years we create an agricultural system that’s healthy. and public health. including maize. Gustafson started the 30 Project because she believes that hunger and obesity both spring from the same source: inadequate nutrition and poor agricultural infrastructure. food for health Ellen Gustafson. to discuss—around a table of nutritious.10 not by calories alone Funding agencies. and less on more nutritious indigenous foods. Investments in agriculture and hunger relief. and to extreme weather events.”45 Whether it’s SRI in the Philippines or agroforestry in sub-Saharan Africa. and rice. such as . and have a really important. That resilience benefits not only farmers but also consumers. have often not actually delivered in terms of nutrition.”46 That conversation is necessary because the connections among nutrition. “You can actually create an incredible dinner in an incredible space. wants to have dinner with you.” Focusing on agricultural yields or caloric intake in efforts to feed people has often interfered with delivering actual vital nutrients. farmers. the lead health and nutrition specialist for the Human Development Network at the World Bank. She’s been bringing people together in places as diverse as San Francisco and Sioux City. Over the last 20 years the food output of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia has become more concentrated on raw commodities. and affordable. executive director of the 30 Project.28 eating planet easily—which is different with the conventional high density population which also have weaker stems. According to Meera Shekar. 47 1.

gujarat. india . The Self‑Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) trains women farmers how to use sustainable and organic agriculture practices to grow rice. India.Organically grown gooseberries in the village of Gujarat’s Vadodara. fruits and vegetables. organic gooseberry plants in vadodara. banks and training centers that help bring an end to injustice and foster the social. economic and political empowerment of women. self‑help groups. SEWA is a country‑wide network of cooperatives.

” micronutrient deficiencies—including lack of Vitamin A.3). Many farmers who once grew vegetables have had to focus their attention on staple crops. While poor nations receive a great deal of attention for high malnutrition rates. but just US$15. and more than 2 billion people worldwide suffer from one or the other.and middle-income countries often also face a double burden of under-nutrition and over-nutrition. and anemia. there’s been very little funding for research on how to make those starchy staples palatable and nutritious. But ignoring vegetables and fruits can have disastrous consequences. In 2002. and vegetables. the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research invested US$118 million in research on cereals. starkly describes the importance of vegetables in the diets of children: in Mali. blindness. sorghum. especially among children. has about 100 grams of vegetables available per person per day.11 the role of vegetables Dr. They lead to poor mental and physical development. Not surprisingly. and other countries. though. Niger has one of the highest child malnutrition and mortality rates in the world. iron. Sixty-three percent of global deaths are caused by noncommunicable diseases. researchers and policymakers have paid less attention to the prevalence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). further crippling communities already facing poverty and other health problems.48 Vegetables. a research institute that works in Asia and Africa. Dyno Keatinge. and mortality declines and the average weight of children increases (figure 1. that result from unhealthy and inadequate diets.7 million in fruit and vegetable research. Niger. “Our food systems create sick people and failure to act decisively on this issue kills almost 3 million adults each year. lower rates of vegetable consumption are linked to higher rates of mortality in children under five years. 49 1. And while Africans in particular get most of their calories from starchy crops. and degrade performance in work and in school. for example. Niger. Vegetable production is the most sustainable and affordable way of alleviating micronutrient deficiencies among the poor. Obesity and malnutrition are the most obvious and painful symptoms of a broken food system. are a luxury for many of the world’s poor.51 According to Olivier De Schutter. which is at the low end of a scale that reaches 800. such as cardio-vascular and respiratory diseases as well as type 2 diabetes. the Philippines. Often referred to as “hidden hunger. Low.50 It’s not just the lack of vegetables and other nutritious foods in our diets. that leads to illness and disease. and iodine—afflict some 1 billion people worldwide. Tanzania. the director general of AVRDC–The World Vegetable Center. unfortunately.” . however.30 eating planet millet. Increase consumption of vegetables. and this rate is expected to rise.

and WHO 2011.53 At the conference.” brought scientists.” 52 The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has also recognized how the health and agricultural sectors need to combine forces in order to address malnutrition. well-nourished. and policymakers from around the world to discuss the issue. and other food-related health problems. researchers. and productive life. and poor health are denying billions of people the opportunity for a healthy. IFPRI Director General Shenggen Fan said.000) 250 200 150 100 50 philippines niger mali 60 50 children < 5 underweight (%) 40 30 20 10 niger mali b tanzania philippines tanzania 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 vegetable availability (g/person/day) vegetable availability (g/person/day) figure 1. “Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutrition and Health. NGOs. deputy director of global health at the Council.”54 . Source: FAOSTAT for health | the challenges of food 31 a 300 children < 5 mortality rate (1/1. or health—are inextricably linked. IFPRI’s February 2011 conference in New Delhi. “We are standing face to face with some serious challenges: hunger. malnutrition. according to research by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “The costs of dealing with NCDs are soaring in both rich and poor countries. and the poor of the world are the most vulnerable. said. Dr. Rachel Nugent. obesity. All of our efforts—whether in agriculture.3 Availability of vegetables and infant mortality Note: National vegetable availability as a factor in the health status of vulnerable groups associated with (a) preschool mortality and (b) childhood (<5 years) undernutrition. It is obvious that the health sector alone cannot prevent all these premature deaths and chronic illnesses. We are more likely to succeed in addressing the challenges if we understand these links and put them to work for people’s benefits. NCDs will cost $30 trillion globally between now and 2030. nutrition.

helping to support community initiatives that are in touch with local needs. Food Corps is working to address the country’s childhood obesity epidemic by focusing on nutrition education. The Center recently released its Nutritional Quality Index.55 Although the program is relatively young—it was established in 2009 and began operating in 2010—it has already achieved much. including vitamins and minerals. A more broadly based U. the World Veg- . To solve that problem. The NQI provides a comprehensive. One successful model is The Food Trust in north Philadelphia in the United States. foundations. and daily diets. a new tool that helps consumers identify smart. the White House launched the nationwide initiative Let’s Move.-based Organic Center are helping consumers make more informed food decisions. and researchers to know which foods deliver the biggest bang for the buck nutritionally. meals.S. Food Corps service members partner with local organizations in sites across the country. one of the newest parts of the AmeriCorps program. while also bringing in new energy and ideas. and not just in laboratories or at conferences.S.4 hours of nutrition education each year. but students in schools working with Food Corps will receive at least 10 hours. program is Food Corps. The Trust runs community-based nutrition and food systems programs that have helped reduce the number of obese children there by half.13 the importance of information Many consumers are simply unaware about what foods are nutritious. It enables consumers. and is the only profiling system that estimates overall nutritional quality based on 27 nutrients. data-driven measure of the benefits of individual foods. under the leadership of First Lady Michelle Obama. Vegetables are often cooked so long that they lose most of their nutrients.32 eating planet 1. Educating farmers and consumers about growing and buying more nutritious crops is important. American children on average receive only 3. nutrient-rich food choices.57 Moreover. farmers. Food Corps has received support from food policy activists. school gardens. 1.12 bringing healthy food everywhere Creation of those linkages to make agriculture healthier is happening. But researchers like Chuck Benbrook of the U.56 In 2010. moreover. for some time now the USDA has created and manages a database that provides a classification of all food products and gives their ingredients. and farm-to-school programs. but we also need to learn how to prepare vegetables in ways that help maintain their nutritional quality. and national media. which may help it reach its ambitious goal of reducing childhood obesity rates to below 5 percent by 2030. It is also occurring at the grassroots level in kitchens and back yards all over the world.

and herbs. It’s also a unique opportunity to help people . labor unions. a physician with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. and California. partnered with HIV South Africa in 2006 to create a one-hectare training garden at the Baragwanath Hospital. nutrition.59 Health Care without Harm (HCWH).” says GardenAfrica co-founder Georgina McAllister. “Hospitals and community clinics lend themselves to strong garden projects. Hospitals in California. food. nurses. Patients from the hospital’s clinics receive training in permaculture. bringing home nutritious vegetables. for instance.14 the role of health structures Surprisingly. a 41-hospital system in Arizona. Ohio.” says David Wallinga. to supply its hospitals with chicken raised without either antibiotics or arsenic feed additives. GardenAfrica. a U. the lack of nutritious food extends into many hospitals. environmental organizations. and indigenous medicinal plants. fruits. The women learn how much better the food tastes—and how much less fuel and time it takes to cook. is leveraging the purchasing power of hospitals and health care systems to support food that is more nutritious and environmentally friendly. Having hospital systems start to make these demands of their meat suppliers has injected a healthy dose of common sense into a very industrialized food system where health is often the last thing anyone thinks about. there’s a McDonald’s restaurant right in the building. even by health professionals. HIV/AIDS patients at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in the Soweto township in Johannesburg are not only eating more nutritious foods but growing them as well.61 “Often the connection between health care and nutrition is not made. Even richcountry hospitals can fail on this score: at the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. the largest hospital in the southern hemisphere.”60 In South Africa. They have high walls and guards to protect the plants. “But that didn’t stop the chicken industry from continuing the practice over the last 60 years. and hundreds of people are coming and going every day.58 1. and several other states also house fast-food restaurants. public health advocates. and religious for health | the challenges of food 33 etable Center works with women farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to improve the nutritional value of cooked foods by shortening cooking times. The patients then cultivate and harvest the garden.-based NGO. doctors. a New York producer.K. irrigation and water conservation. Nevada. whose staff co-founded HCWH and the food initiative. HCWH member Catholic Healthcare West. an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems. announced this summer a partnership with Murray’s Chicken. Minnesota. “Neither arsenic nor antibiotics [is] necessary for growing chickens.


eating planet

to make the connection between what they eat and their own health, creating sustainable approaches to healthcare and wellbeing.”62 And at the Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) in Siem Reap, Cambodia, families of child patients are given food to prepare in the outdoor communal kitchen, where a chef teaches cooking and nutrition. The hospital also has a garden, giving families the opportunity to learn which types of nutritious crops can be grown locally. The daily cooking classes and free seeds to take home encourage patients to start their own household gardens. AHC’s outreach programs follow up with patients, checking on their gardens, teaching basic hygiene and disease prevention methods, and digging wells for communities to gain access to clean water.63 With better and more effective food, nutrition, and agricultural policies—and better communication between public health practitioners and advocates and the agriculture community—we can look beyond simply increasing crop yields and caloric intake to building a better food system.

food for culture
In villages outside of Kampala, Uganda, something unusual is happening among rural youth. For the first time, many of them are excited about being involved in agriculture—and instead of moving to the city after they finish primary school, many are choosing to stay in their communities to become involved in the food system.64 Betty Nabukalu, a 16-year-old student at Kisoga Secondary School, manages her school’s garden. She explained how the project has taught the students “new” methods of planting vegetables. Before, she says, “we used to just plant seeds,” but now she and the other students know how to fertilize with manure and compost and how to save seeds after harvest. She says they’ve learned not only that they can produce food but that they can also earn money from its sale.65 Kisoga School developed the program with help from Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (DISC), which is also helping to build leadership skills. Betty represents students from her school in the local Slow Food Convivium (the convivia are groups of Slow Food International members dedicated to preserving local food cultures). DISC is now part of Slow Food International’s Thousand Gardens in Africa initiative, which hopes to start gardens in communities across the continent. Thanks to DISC, students no longer see agriculture as an option of last resort, but something that they can enjoy, is intellectually stimulating, and will provide a good income.66

cocoa pod, togo

Cocoa pod in Togo. Nearly 70 percent of the world supply of cocoa, the primary ingredient in every chocolate bar, comes from West Africa, where some 16 million people depend on the crop as their primary source of income. Unfortunately, many cocoa trees across the region face the threat of disease. To help these communities, groups like the World Cocoa Foundation are supporting programs that encourage the sustainable production of this valuable resource.


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1.15 relaunching agricultural systems Unfortunately, youth in both poor and rich countries confront serious obstacles to productive careers in agriculture. The International Labor Organization of the United Nations reports that global youth unemployment saw its largest annual increase ever recorded from 2008 to 2009, from 11.8 percent to 12.7 percent, representing an increase of 4.5 million unemployed youth worldwide. This leads to obvious economic insecurity as well as, in some cases, revolution. The recent uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and elsewhere are largely driven by angry youth who are protesting high food and fuel prices, lack of jobs, and other social inequities.67 And the disconnect between young people and the global food system continues to grow. Young people, whether they live in Italy, the United States, Thailand, Guatemala, or Togo, do not grow up wanting to be farmers, and consumers all over the world have forgotten basic cooking skills because of an over-reliance on processed foods. Agricultural diversity is declining: the bulk of diets in rich countries consists of six foods, including maize, wheat, rice, and potatoes. Agriculture is looked down on as a career and often viewed as work for the poor or those who have no other options. And farmers lack access to markets, making it hard for them to earn an income from their work. The concern to find ways to advance young peoples’ prospects through agriculture was front and center at an event at Chicago’s Field Museum in October 2011. Participants listened to World Cocoa Foundation President Bill Guyton, Kraft Foods’ Yaa Peprah Agyeman Amekudzi, and CARE USA’s Laté LawsonLartego speak about making the cocoa industry more profitable and more environmentally sustainable by involving youth. They stressed not just improving disease control, producing organic chocolate, or preventing unfair child labor practices—although all these things are occurring—but making sure that the rural areas of Ghana, Indonesia, Togo, and other cocoa-growing regions are vibrant places where young people want to live and work. Amekudzi, for example, spoke about how Kraft, in conjunction with the World Cocoa Foundation’s Empowering Cocoa Households with Opportunities and Education Solutions (ECHOES), has reached more than 5,000 students in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Kraft Foods subsidiary Cadbury’s Earthshare program is working with cocoa farmers and local university students to examine the local ecosystem and cocoa production techniques in Adjeikrom, Ghana. This has led to smarter land use, increased production, and stronger interest in farming among the next generation.68 1.16 new computer and communications technologies Another way to help youth become more excited about agriculture is by incorporating information and communication technology into farming. Already, one

food for culture | the challenges of food


out of four Africans and one out of three Asians has access to a cell phone. A visitor to the most remote regions of Ethiopia and India will find farmers using cell phones not only to communicate with one another but also to find out about weather or markets or for making financial and banking transactions. Farmers also need better access to information about prices and markets. Information and communication technologies, such as mobile phones, are enabling farmers to obtain real-time data about market prices, which is helping them make more informed decisions about crop production. Services such as FrontlineSMS allow farmers not only to get real-time food price data but also to connect with one another and with potential consumers, increasing their market size.69 Cell phone and computer technologies are especially important for women farmers because they help erase gender barriers—women can get the same information from a text or the Internet that male farmers are getting, which isn’t always the case when information is spread from farmer to farmer or from extension agents to farmers. 70 Universities and colleges are also increasing their efforts to educate the next generation of farmers and entrepreneurs. Agricultural development programs have tended to focus on developing better production techniques while neglecting the development of the managerial skills necessary to run successful agribusinesses. EARTH University in Costa Rica, for example, is teaching farmers how to be more entrepreneurial while training students to improve yields through sustainable agricultural and integrated farming practices. EARTH believes that building sustainable businesses, including family and small farm operations, is a crucial way to eradicate poverty. 71 EARTH University also makes sure that its students interact with local farmers, helping to bridge the gap between academia and rural communities. EARTH students are exposed to the challenges faced by these communities, including the lack of inputs, education, and access to markets. Students help train local farmers to use precision agriculture techniques, reduce pesticide use, and better market their products. In 2005, EARTH launched the Open School for Farmers, enabling smallholder farmers to take courses in advanced farming techniques and business practices.72 In addition to its educational programs in Latin America, EARTH University has developed an innovative tool kit to enhance the undergraduate curricula of partnering African academic institutions through the development of entrepreneurial skills. According to Wendy Judy, EARTH’s director of foundations, grant writing, and university liaison, “The tool kit will enhance the capacity of universities to provide entrepreneurial leadership needed to make African agriculture economically competitive, socially responsible, and environmentally sustainable in an increasingly globalized world economy.”73


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1.17 popularization “in the field” One obstacle farmers all over the world face is the lack of agricultural extension services. In the United States, the decline in the number of family owned and smaller farms has led to the disappearance of agricultural extension offices in many rural communities. In sub-Saharan Africa, extension agents who used to provide information to farmers about weather, new seed varieties, or irrigation technologies have been replaced by agro-dealers who sell artificial fertilizer or pesticides to farmers, often with very little education or training about how to use those inputs. But in Ghana, young and old farmers alike are benefitting from better-trained extension officers. At the Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension at Cape Coast University in southern Ghana, learning takes place not only in classrooms but also literally in fields and farms all over the country. As part of a program to improve agricultural extension services, extension officers are working with professors to find ways to improve food production in their communities. The extensionists are selected from throughout Ghana by the Ministry of Agriculture and the university and trained to better share their skills and knowledge with farmers. After attending a year of classes on campus, the students go back to their communities to apply what they’ve learned in supervised enterprise projects (SEPs). According to Dr. Ernest Okorley, the department director, the SEPs give the student-professionals the opportunity to learn that particular technologies, no matter how innovative they might seem in the classroom, don’t always “fit” the needs of communities. The SEPs also help them implement some of the communication skills they’ve learned in their classes, allowing them to engage more effectively in the communities where they work. Instead of simply telling farmers to use a particular type of seed or a certain brand of pesticide or fertilizer, the extension workers are now learning how to listen to farmers and help them find innovations that best serve their particular needs. “One beauty of the program,” says Dr. Okorley, “is the on-the-ground research and experimentation. [...] It allows the environment to teach what should be done.”74 1.18 incentivize employment of the young Cooperatives can be especially beneficial for marginalized groups, including women and youth, who might not otherwise have access to markets or financial services. Smallholder farmers get multiple benefits from joining agricultural cooperatives, including boosting their bargaining power and sharing tools, machinery, transportation, and other resources. And cooperatives create jobs: worldwide, cooperatives have more than 800 million members and provide 100 million jobs, 20 percent more than multinational corporations.75

the three objectives of food | the challenges of food


The connections between agriculture and education are also being made in rich countries, helping young people find concrete ways to become involved in the food system. In Italy, the University of Gastronomic Sciences is finding ways to combine the passion of food connoisseurs with the science of agriculture. The university was established in 2004 by Slow Food International to help students learn ways to renew traditional farming methods and protect agricultural biodiversity, while also learning the importance of traditional foods and the connection between the farm and plate. The university conducts courses in food anthropology, food cultures, and food policy and sustainability, and students participate in study trips to examine regional food systems. As a result, these students gain a better connection to their food and the people who grow it, regardless of their future careers.76

the three objectives of food
It’s clear that we need a better recipe for ensuring that agriculture contributes to health, environmental sustainability, income generation, and food security. The ingredients will vary from country to country and region to region, but there are some key components that will lead to healthier food systems everywhere. 1. Investing in agro‑ecological food systems. Although many authoritative reports point to the need for more investment in agro-ecological solutions to alleviating hunger and poverty, very little attention is given to ensuring that farmers know about those solutions. In October 2011, philanthropist-farmer Howard Buffett called upon the agricultural development community to “get loud and get busy” to ensure that sustainable crop production is “back on the table” at the annual climate change meetings, at the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio, and with every major agricultural donor and government in the world.77 In March 2012, the Landscapes for People, Food, and Nature (LPFN) initiative will bring together farmers, policymakers, food companies, conservation agencies, and grassroots organizations at a conference in Nairobi, Kenya, in one of several meetings to develop a long-term strategy to scale up and support agro-ecological solutions. According to Erik Nielsen of EcoAgriculture Partners, the organization facilitating the LPFN initiative, “Because over two-thirds of the world’s land area is shaped by cropland, planted pastures, or other agricultural practices, it is critical to scale up such integrated systems to combat both hunger and environmental degradation.”78 LPFN is documenting integrated farming landscapes around the world to strengthen policy, investment, capacity building, and research in support of sustainable land management. This sort of research can encourage policymak-

and other products get a premium price from consumers in wealthy nations. primarily by planting trees among crops. The Rainforest Alliance. bananas.S. and stewards of the land. which has declined precipitously over the last three decades. and farmer incomes—if they were fully funded. including a proposal to create an African Agricultural Carbon Facility that could incubate projects and help connect them with buyers. stewarding nearby forests. education. and plant species in some of the planet’s most fragile ecosystems. food security program) and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program could have a huge impact on malnutrition.40 eating planet ers to restore investment in agriculture.80 Another innovation is compensating farmers for the ecosystem services their lands provide. These farmers produce the ingredients for countless products while helping to protect bird. for example. and Africa to ensure that the sustainably grown cocoa. both initiatives have received very little of the billions of dollars pledged by donor countries. The World Bank estimates that high food prices in 2010 plunged an additional 44 million people into poverty and hunger over the last year. is working with more than 200 million farmers in Latin America. but they are often denied basic benefits such as land tenure. Building a better food system doesn’t mean producing more food—the world can already feed 9 to 11 billion people.79 2. which provides an entertaining vehicle to discuss these challenges in an open atmosphere. But initiatives like Feed the Future (the U. Farmers are businesswomen and -men. More than 2 billion people live on less than US$2 per day and global unemployment is at record highs. and access to banks. food prices have fluctuated wildly (2011 prices were nearly 20 . Recognizing agriculture’s multiple benefits. educators. Other projects will begin paying farmers for sequestering carbon in their soils. African farmers could sequester 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide—roughly a full year of global emissions— from the atmosphere over the next 50 years. Recently. Roughly 75 such projects in 22 African countries are in the works. Women farmers. Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network is helping communities and policymakers understand women’s rights and involve them in decision-making—and they’re doing it in innovative ways such as community theatre. Poor households in the developing world spend 70 percent of their income on food. coffee.81 3. access to markets. Asia. private businesses. Unfortunately. Cultivating better livelihoods. for example. and NGOs. Finding ways to compensate farmers for these multiple roles will become increasingly important as agricultural challenges increase.82 Financial speculation on the price of food has played a major role in this problem. and keeping their soils planted with crops for more of the year. wildlife. The Food. The real culprit is poverty. make up as much as 80 percent of the agricultural labor force in some countries.

poses a serious threat to this valuable resource: the U.N. the fish market of port de pêche in nouakchott. Fish is an important source of protein for coastal communities in Africa. Food and Agriculture Organizations estimates that 53 percent of fisheries are considered fully exploited. Mauritania. But over‑fishing. often by Chinese fishing fleets. fishers have to travel increasingly farther to return home with fish to consume and sell. mauritania .Fish for sale at Port de Peche Fish Market in Nouakchott. As a result.

By helping farmers come together to grow. including land. however. leveraged. distribute. Countries such as Ghana and Brazil have already reduced the number of people suffering from hunger through effective government action. and/or sell food. After investing in futures. this seems like an ideal scenario—farmers are guaranteed payment for their crops and food prices can be determined ahead of time. and healthy food. speculators then sell these in the marketplace. At first. and rice. Institutions such as agricultural cooperatives can help farmers operate more efficiently and earn more money than they can as individuals.83 A future is a financial practice which allows traders around the world to purchase a good for a fixed price. and even reducing climate change.42 eating planet percent higher than in 2010) as a result of investors and traders who view food as something to be indexed. but also causing wild fluctuations in the actual prices of the good. and bargaining power in the value chain. enhancing communities’ economic power and as well as their social service networks. Price volatility hurts these farmers. . which aims to improve food access for the country’s poorest communities. affordable.19 increasing awareness about the importance of agriculture Nations must recognize the inherent right of every human being to safe. This flood of speculative investment has contributed to volatility in agricultural markets. thus creating stability for farmers and consumers alike. such as national school feeding programs and increased support for agricultural extension services. insurance. creating jobs for youth.85 1. Clamping down on food price speculation—especially prices for maize. with grave impacts on the livelihoods of small-scale farmers. and speculated on for profit. credit. India recently approved a draft of the National Food Security Act. decreasing poverty. Some progress has been made in this area: the United States has already passed laws to limit speculation. 86 The projects highlighted by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition in this book are exciting because they are the perfect example of agriculture and food emerging as a solution to global problems—including reducing public health costs. who need stable markets and a fair price for their yields. and the UN’s Olivier De Schutter has argued publicly for less speculation and more transparency in agricultural markets. wheat. and back up that right with appropriate policies. cooperatives act as both business and social groups. making rural areas and urban communities more livable. which are the three most heavily traded food commodities and also supply the bulk of dietary calories for 2 billion poor people—would be a major step forward for both farmers and the hungry. allowing traders to hedge against risk. who lack access to the most basic aspects of domestic support. farmers need access to markets where they can get a fair price.84 In addition.

Supriya Kumar. and Joe Zaleski. statistics. nutrition. the Worldwatch Communications Direc‑ tor. From SEWA in India and DISC in sub-Saharan Africa to research institutes and governments all over the world.the three objectives of food | the challenges of food 43 There are many innovations that are working to ensure that everyone has access to nutritious. And these are exactly the sort of innovations that should attract the support of governments. and examples for the chapter. there is a growing realization of the positive impact agriculture can have on livelihoods. The Nourishing the Planet project would like to thank the following people for their help with Chapter One: Bernard Pollack. and the international funding and donor communities. provided invaluable input and advice. healthy. and our team of interns. including Jenna Banning. the private sector. helped track down information. . and justly grown food. and the environment. sustainable. Emily Gilbert. and Nourishing the Planet Research Fel‑ low.

6 The BCFN Evaluation Model Variables of the Model Strategies for Controlling Volatility new tools to measure and promote well-being 2.10 2.5 2.9 2.1 2.11 Gross Domestic Product Versus Indicators of Well-being Subjective Approach Versus Objective Approach: Different Outlooks in Terms of Measuring Well-being The BCFN Indices of Well-being and Sustainability of Well-being Principal Results of the 2011 BCFN Index The Different Dimensions of Sustainability interviews In Access the Key Factor Is Diversity by Paul Roberts Agricultural Policies Must Take into Consideration the Health and Well-being of Human Beings by Ellen Gustafson action plan .4 2.2 2.7 2.8 2.table of contents introduction How to Respond to Market Excesses by Raj Patel facts & figures access to food: present and future challenges 2.3 The Global Scope of Food Security and Access Problems The “Food Paradox”: Underlying Causes Possible Areas for Action a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices 2.

health. and the environment? . food for all Food for All explores the paradox of excess food in western nations and the challenges in gaining access to food in developing nations. We need to better understand how to ensure better governance of the agroalimentary system on a global scale. How do we find ways to have a more fair distribution of food and resources worldwide? How do we encourage better outcomes in terms of social welfare. 2.

NYTimes. posting record profits at the same time as a billion a fellow at The Institute for Food and Developpeople were undernourished. “but raj patel is an awardwhat we do have are levels of economic famine that are winning writer.” he said. and academic. This as Food First.46 eating planet 2. Mail on Sunday. the Chairman and CEO of the food. but perhaps a little oblique. the pattern is entirely consistent with an era of climate change which has reduced global wheat harvests by 5% over the past 30 years. Mr Page forgot to mention ment Policy.2 Second. with storms.”1 a visiting scholar at UC He is correct. “we live in a time where the world is the furthest it has ever been from caloric famine [. The San There are five short-term reasons why we’re in this mess. CarResearch Fellow at the gill and a range of other food and agriculture companies School of Development Studies at the University were surfing the waves of the international financial storm of KwaZulu-Natal and in style.5 billion people are overweight—and deepening on the Right to Food. Although no one individual event can be attributed to global warming. tributed to the LA Times. agriculture and financial services giant Cargill recently pointed to the central paradox in the global food system: “Today. food for all How to Respond to Market Excesses Raj Patel Greg] the number of calories that the world’s farmers are producing per inhabitant of the world are at all time record levels. also known that the economic famine is distributed unevenly. Until the recesBerkeley’s Center for African Studies.. an Honorary sion’s second downturn finally caught up with them. but failed to feed the world. He is more difficult to address.. and has conto produce calories and profit. investment in biofuels has distorted the planting decisions of farmers worldwide toward crops that can be used to . floods and droughts occurring with greater intensity and frequency than in the past. He regularly writes for The hunger is a sign that our modern food system has worked Guardian.” he said. Raj is an Advisor to the United Nagulf between calories produced. increasing obesity—today tions Special Rapporteur over 1. and The Observer. The The weather has behaved unpredictably. Francisco Chronicle. activist.

reduced social safety nets.3 Third. pricing the poorest out of the grain market. traders themselves have testified that they’re playing commodities markets at the expense of consumers. with its emphasis on meat and empty calories means that a great deal of land is diverted toward producing feed for animals. under-investment in sustainable agricul- 250 200 index − 1997 = 100 150 100 50 0 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011 supply demand price figure 2. These short term phenomena sit on top of a food system that has made shocks to the food system spread quickly.5 and this wouldn’t be the first time that reality has failed to live up to the models of economists.introduction | food for all 47 burn rather than to eat—estimates attribute between 15% to 70% of 2008’s global price rises to this source. (See graph below. 2011. With poor grain storage systems. .1 Price oscillations on the food markets Source: Worthy. increasing poverty. Some models suggest that while the amount of speculative capital in food futures markets has increased from 12% of the Chicago wheat futures market in 1996 to 61% earlier this year. increasing financial speculation has tied the price of food to other commodities. 4 higher levels of liquidity are not to blame for the increased price swings.) On the other hand. and costs. higher oil prices have driven up production and transport costs for food. in food markets. Fourth. It must be said this is controversial—economists are embroiled in heated debate about whether speculators are to blame for the problems. the spread of the western diet. Fifth.

but poverty. then I’d want nothing to do with it. it shows promise. Russia announced a wheat export moratorium. if a soda tax can work as part of a bigger programme to rein in food companies and provide real choices to everyone across the food system. particularly in Africa. with food policy councils—popular in North America where over 200 are to be found—experimenting with ideas for guaranteeing the right to food to local citizens. credit and extension services. governments are doing little directly to address the underlying problems. These taxes are regressive. That said. In the meantime.6 but caused a panic in global wheat markets in 2010 that led to food rebellions around the world. municipal and subnational levels. certainly. and push many millions more into hunger in 2008.5 billion people overweight. and many of the shocks. such as carbonated beverages. it was inevitable that a few shocks in the world’s key grainbaskets should ripple across the planet. This is a conversation long overdue. Advocates of such a tax have to answer the charge that they’re mongers of class war. which raises prices on items high in “empty calories”. In response to fires and low grain supplies. with everything from white bread to Coca-Cola conscripted into a great battle over class and identity. Unfortunately. which worked well for farmers there.48 eating planet tural research. if the move to tax soft drinks were an end in itself. of course. since taxing food will always affect the poor disproportionately because they spend a greater proportion of household budgets on food than the rich. Ultimately. There’s far too long a history of culture war around food. Many of the more interesting policy responses to the failures of the food system are to be found at local. What makes the difference is whether the tax is part of a bigger project to make the food industry pay for the health costs that will fall disproportionately on poor people. That a tax falls disproportionately on the poor is reason to worry. The underlying system. And. As one researcher argues. and with international grain markets tightly integrated. the goal is not to end soda. though.”10 If this is true.8 These are ad hoc measures that leave the central tenets of the global food system largely unaddressed. But tobacco taxes are similar. A controversial experiment involves a “sugar tax”. “obesity is the toxic consequence of economic insecurity and a failing economic environment. but at local and regional lev- .9 should we tax sugar? Some cities have attempted to address one of the other problems with the food system—that it is largely responsible for there being over 1. we continue to see experiments and ideas for change happening not at national or international levels. a soda tax blames the poor for being victims of circumstance.7 China and India have joined other foreign governments in an aggressive search for overseas sources of food for their populations. continue to be with us today.

in many cases for the first time. is a counter-movement against the status quo. . Their ideas aren’t the “nanny state” so much as responses to the wild excess of “Daddy Market”.introduction | food for all 49 els. and those merely unable to afford healthy food will continue to be profit centres for the food industry. asserting and experimenting with democratic control over the food system. What we see today. those who are poorest will go hungry. For as long as food is rationed according to the ability to pay. across the world.

550 calories. PEOPLE ARE UNDERNOURISHED men and women suffer from undernourishment 950 million  .800 calories per person per day.50 eating planet 2. WoRlD 53% In developing countries.550 calories Average real daily calorie requirement 2.  food for all WoRlD FooD SYSTEm  2.800 calories Average daily calorie supply produced The world food system is currently capable of producing just under 2. 53% of infant mortality is caused by malnutrition and undernutrition people die every year due to malnutrition and undernutrition 36 million WORLD POPULATION: 7 BILLION PEOPLE 1 1billion . while the average per capita daily calorie requirement for an individual adult is 2.

transformation. this increase helped to generate new conditions of poverty for 44 million people.3 billion people in the  world are obese or significantly overweight  1/3 WASTED FooD  One third of the world’s food production is lost. or consumption . destroyed.3 billion PEOPLE ARE OBESE OR OVERWEIGHT It is estimated that 1. Over the same period. 29 million DEAD EVERY YEAR Approximately 29 million people die every year   of diseases linked to excessive consumption of food  1.facts & figures | food for all 51 GRoWTH oF VolATiliTY in FooDSTUFFS on mARKETS + 44 million + 71% OF NEW POOR PEOPLE FAO CEREAL PRICE INDEX Between June 2010 and June 2011 the FAO Cereal Price Index increased by 71%. or wasted in the processes of preserving. distribution.

Undernourishment and malnutrition have serious harmful effects on the human immune system. lack of basic knowledge about nutrition prevents mothers from taking adequate care of their children. and the rights to a healthy life and peaceful coexistence are undermined. the lack of food is also behind many major forms of conflict over the availability of food and natural resources: • social tensions bound up with the issues of access to and control of agricultural resources • mass migrations triggered by sharp deteriorations in living conditions (malnutrition and lack of water). and they too can be devastating. There is also a range of secondary impacts on human health and welfare. poor economic and social conditions tend to exacerbate the link between malnutrition and disease. However. already aggravated by climate change. Moreover. The world is now experiencing a silent tragedy caused by humanity’s inability to produce and distribute sufficient quantities of food.52 eating planet access to food: present and future challenges Access to food is one of the first and most fundamental of all human rights. This relationship is reinforced by a broader system of allied conditions that are typically associated with situations of inadequate nutrition. In many cases. They stem from the chronic or acute conditions of undernourishment and malnutrition that plague many poor and developing countries. in some cases aggravated by the effects of climate change • situations of political and social instability and misgovernment and their effects on the response to the growing needs of populations • pressures on international governance bound up with growing imbalances between developed countries and developing countries In general. inadequate health care. This would occur mainly . making potential workers unsuited to employment and further marginalizing the unwell in social and economic terms. such as poor hygiene. social conflicts—especially fights over control of natural and agricultural resources—tend to undermine the potential of nations to develop socially and economically. and lack of access to plentiful drinking water and basic pharmaceuticals. This tragedy takes an array of different forms. throughout the world. it becomes impossible to live with dignity. Where food is lacking. starvation being the first and most tragic. They augment susceptibility to diseases and increase the gravity and duration of the ensuing illnesses. There are significant risks that a worsening of the viability and security of agricultural and food production will lead to a noticeable increase in the amount of social conflict.

prices for several leading food commodities began rising again. 12 Moreover.1 the global scope of food security and access problems The seriousness of the problem of food security around the world—by which we mean the level of availability and access to food for people and populations—emerges clearly from the analysis of the data available.2 Undernourished people on earth (millions of people) Source: FAO. 2. in developing areas.050 1. In 2010.6 percent). reaching and outstripping the levels recorded in 2008. The slight decline of those numbers during 2010 is a positive development and marks a change of direction from previous years.11. data trends show that inadequate nutrition affects 13. That development was made possible by an improved global economic situation and a decline in the prices of foodstuffs compared to the peaks in 2008. 2011 (the data shown for 2009 and 2010 are estimated values). This points to the real possibility of a new rise in the .4 percent of the world’s population of about 6.2). the total number of undernourished people on Earth was roughly 925 million (figure 2.9 billion people. the overall situation shows a serious worsening over the last 15 years at the global level.access to food: present and future challenges | food for all 53 1. where food and water issues exacerbate unresolved ethnic religious and economic tensions. Still. Indeed. in the months between late 2010 and early 2011. with a drop of 98 million (9.023 915 878 853 843 787 847 833 925 ‑71 69 19 79 19 ‑8 1 9 19 92 0‑ 7 ‑9 95 19 0 20 0‑ 02 ‑ 05 20 07 0 20 8 0 20 9 1 20 0 figure 2.000 950 900 850 800 750 1.

3 million) in the period from 2005 to 2007.8 million (+65. The optimism of the time was justified by the positive results achieved in the first half of the 1990s by the aid programs undertaken by the FAO World Food Summit. thanks to a series of focused interventions undertaken by individual governments.4 million.2 million of people. The greatest number of undernourished people lives in the developing nations. in sub-Saharan Africa and in the regions of North Africa and the Middle East. In Latin America. the trend is toward a slight decline: in fact. In 2010. In Asia. in 2007 98 percent of the world’s undernourished people lived in those countries. more than one out of every six people.13 Over the mid.4. on the other hand. moreover. inadequate nutrition affected a limited number of people (12. India. In developed countries. and Pakistan.54 eating planet overall number of people suffering from hunger in the developing countries. The same thing happened in Latin America (a decline of 7. The opposite happened. China. It is also worth noting that two-thirds of the world’s undernourished people are concentrated in seven countries: Bangladesh. these were initiatives and measures aimed at social and economic . 16 percent of that population was suffering from hunger. it is estimated that the number of undernourished people dropped by 5. concentration in asia. it could well lead to a jump of 64 million in the total number of undernourished people. inadequate nutrition in Asia affected 554. the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to data for 2005-2007. with a further deterioration in the wake of the economic downturn and the food crisis of 2008-2009. The drop from the 1996 level—the year that world leaders expressed a commitment to reduce and finally eliminate entirely world hunger—is considerable. 16 The trend. we foresee a general worsening of the overall picture. Indonesia. A closer look at developing countries shows that Asia is the region with the highest number of undernourished people. As the reader can see in figures 2. Unless this situation is addressed and resolved very rapidly. the figures were 47 million. respectively of 36. while in the regions of the Middle East and North Africa the number was roughly 32.2 million people). more than twice the number for sub-Saharan Africa (201. For the most part. showed improvement for the years from 1990 to 2007.3 and 2.7 percent (approximately 33 million people) in the period from 1990 to 2007.14 there were 835 million people living in conditions of inadequate nutrition in the developing countries. equal to −13. where increases were recorded. In fact. Ethiopia.5 million people15 in the period from 2005 to 2007. radically different trends have been observed in different areasover the past 15 years.3 percent). in long term. More than 40 percent of those people live in China and India. in contrast.3 million (+22 percent) and 12.3 percent) in the total number of undernourished people. therefore. that is.

access to food: present and future challenges | food for all



588 532 555





300 239 200 165 187 202 201


54 53

51 47 53

32 32 37 20 30 Middle East—North Africa 2010


Asia 1990‑92 1995‑97

Sub‑Saharan Africa 2000‑02

Latin America 2005‑07

Latin America 5.7%

Middle East—North Africa 4.0% Developed Nations 2.1%

Sub‑Saharan Africa 25.8%


Asia 62.5%

figure 2.3
Undernourished people in certain regions of the world (millions of people and %) Note: The Latin American region also includes the Caribbean nations. Source: FAO, 2011 (the data shown for 2010 are estimated).


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21 19.4 19.0

18 16.7 17.0


12 1990‑92 1995‑97 2000‑02

12.3 2005‑07 2010s

figure 2.4
Undernourished people in developed nations (millions of people) Source: FAO, 2011 (the data shown for 2010 are estimated).

assistance in the context of the various national welfare systems. It is important to point out, however, that the number of undernourished people in the developed countries increased by 54 percent in the period from 2007 to 2010, rising from a little over 12 million people to 19 million. In order to understand how the picture described here can change over the coming decades, we must analyze the development of the underlying variables and the effect of the interventions aimed at eliminating the causes of the current critical situations. 2.2 the “food paradox”: underlying causes Even though, technically speaking, the current capacity for the production of foodstuffs is theoretically sufficient to feed the world’s entire population, this has done nothing to prevent the persistence and spread of enormous inequalities in terms of access to food. Evidence of this is given by the coexistence on Earth of roughly a billion undernourished people, at the same time as a billion obese people. The gap of this “paradox,” over the course of the last two years, has only spread: more undernourished people, more obese people. structural factors. Some major structural reasons underlie the uneven distribution of access to food.

access to food: present and future challenges | food for all


The first cause of inadequate nutrition is poverty. The crucial needs in the battle against inadequate nutrition are therefore an increase in wealth and a more equitable distribution of that wealth. It is important to keep in mind that economic growth, through agriculture, constitutes one of the best economic tools with which to approach the problem, given the fact that most of the people who lack sufficient resources for adequate access to food are small farmers living in rural zones. It is worth pointing out, in this connection, that a study done by the World Bank has shown that an increase of just one percentage point of the gross domestic product generated by the agricultural sector is twice as effective in terms of reducing poverty as an equivalent percentage of economic growth produced by other sectors.17 That means that the agricultural sector is centralto the development of strategies designed to improve the living conditions of rural populations. It is not enough, however, to invest in a simple increase of production and productivity (first and foremost through improvements in technology transfers and better management of access to water). What is also needed is a more equitable distribution of wealth through the creation of income opportunities for the poorer sector of the population. Without a process leading to a broader distribution of wealth, the agriculture of many poor and developing countries is, in fact, destined to remain at the level of pure subsistence. Similarly, it is crucially important to build up basic infrastructure and create local markets to facilitate the conditions for at least a partial “market-based” agriculture. Second, there is the issue of policy choices. These are complex matters; many actors interact at various levels. Here, political decisions will prove to be decisive, eitherdomestic (affecting the general and specific direction of political economy) or affecting relations between countries, especially on issues of trade. (The trade policies of the last decade—coming on the heels of the second half of the 1990s, a period of modest but continuous progress over time—seem by and large to have been spectacularly unsuccessful in improving access to food. This is not the first time that a lack of coordinated action by many countries has led to such a failure.) In light of the world’s current economic conditions and the general state of political instability, we should keep in mind the clear risk of food security being downgraded to a secondary priority. The issue of focus and priority is an important one. Developed countries must recognize that the 925 million undernourished people in the world urgently require aid. Such aid can only be provided through effective policy actions, and those actions must be planned with a view to a sustainable future. All too often, the debate narrows to the mere mechanics of food aid: while that response is laudable and fundamental in the face of emergencies, it is not enough, and it is not sustainable.


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Unfortunately, a number of emerging factors have led to growing turbulence in recent years. For example, certain rising powers eager to enhance their own prominence on the geopolitical stage have turned to the option of the land grab. Other countries have erected trade barriers in the form of tariffs and other obstacles to imports, or else they have subsidized domestic farming in an attempt to counter the instability of global markets. Then there is the seesawing trend of oil prices and, in general, the larger global challenge of energy; concomitantly there is the developing market for biofuels; it goes without saying thatfarmland planted for biofuels can no long produce crops to feed people. To summarize, increasing uncertainty on the global economic and geopolitical stage has made it harder to adopt policies of openness that might include the flexibility required to take into account the needs of the poorer countries. The problem is that governance mechanisms with respect to food security are weak and inadequate. At recent international summit meetings, however, a potential response has emerged, based on three crucial approaches: • investment in food aid and in food security networks on behalf of the neediest and those at greatest risk; • increased investments in agriculture and development policies; and • the adoption of more balanced trade policies between developed and developing countries. short-term business factors. Alongside these structural factors other elements of equal importance—rooted in specific short-term aspects of the business environment but destined to become permanent unless we are able to root out their causes—have emerged in recent years. Key among these is the increasing volatility of agricultural and food markets. Such volatility is caused by broader global phenomena, such as the volatility of the energy markets, the effects of climate change, and economic and demographic growth. We deal more extensively with this phenomenon in this chapter. What follows here is a summary to help understand the subject of access to food. As shown in various statistical sources (e.g., the FAO Food Price Index), food prices have not only increased significantly in recent years but have also been subject to greatly increasing volatility.18 The public countermeasures put in place in order to deal with the economic slowdown have highlighted the limitations of the current system of regulated markets. These limitations extend to the levels of both transparency and efficiency. Due in part to these factors, the rapid rise in agricultural prices has made it especially difficult to cushion against the effects of the slowdown. The ensuing consequences have been tragic for the most vulnerable sectors of the population in the poorest nations. This is more than just a matter of the way markets work. It is crucial to keep in mind that the factors determining agricultural prices are diverse, complex, and

chronic famines

Every year, Niger suffers a food crisis, which reaches its peak of gravity between the months of May and September. That is when NGOs like Doctors Without Borders swing into action, distributing nutritious foods. Here, like in many other countries, access to food still depends on the presence of international aid agencies.


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closely intertwined. The reasons for the resulting imbalances are to be found on both the supply and demand sides of the agricultural market. Among those factors, we should consider aspects of the world macroeconomic and demographic stage, such as population growth, the rapid economic development of countries such as China and India (with a corresponding increase in demand for food), and the first appearance on the world consumer market of populations that once couldn’t afford to buy. There are also the dynamics of oil prices and the progressive changes in climate conditions. Other factors in the distortion of markets are narrower and more specific: the growing financialization of food commodities, the sharp increase in demand for agricultural products used in the production of biofuels (though biofuels are likely to become a permanent and structural factor), and the persistence protectionist policies implemented by many governments. This situation highlights the previously mentioned lack of adequate joint and multilateral interventions in the realms of political economy and social, environmental, and trade legislation designed to safeguard access to food by modifying, with structural measures if necessary, the inequalities we have encountered. In particular it underscores the failure of pure market mechanisms in the sector of food. The gains in productivity made possible in the last 30 years by technical developments and the diffusion of knowledge in the agricultural world could explain the drop in public and private investment in agriculture in the last 20 years and the simultaneous lack of political attention (except for agricultural and trade policies that were often distorting and protectionist). In real terms, the so-called Green Revolution led to steady increases in production and reductions in prices. This created the illusion that the sector no longer needed close policy direction. a misleading view of matters. Now that productivity is struggling to keep up, we are realizing how wrong and misleading that perception was. Some observers have pointed out that the demand for food today could drive greater investment by the sector, thanks to the increase in the average prices of agricultural commodities. These investments could support the launch of a new Green Revolution. However, the expected high volatility in agricultural markets involves a high level of risk, which is still blocking investment in agricultural development. In the future, a host of new global pressures will play an extraordinary role in aggravating the current food security problem. These include not only the gradual transition from oil to renewable energy sources and biofuels, but also climate change, which could seriously affect food production in the next 40 years. Demographic and economic changes in some of the emerging countries will also upset the traditional balance.

access to food: present and future challenges | food for all 61 With regard to climate change. new changes. It is steadily emptying rural areas and creating a demographic explosion in the inhabited centers. While energy sources have been the subject of broad discussion. violence.” both worldwide and in the . the global demand for food. agriculture must also compete with urban settlement for land and water resources. and the ever more difficult environmental conditions have driven some governments to find alternatives to traditional methods to ensure the necessary production levels to satisfy their food needs. Projections of population growth in 40 years bring us back to the problem of identifying new ways to increase agricultural productivity. we should remember that there are two response strategies: mitigation and adaptation. In various parts of the world. The desertification and degradation of arable areas represent additional challenges for the agricultural sector. agricultural products could be increasingly grown for non-food purposes (for example.” Economic and demographic pressures are also producing challenges that must not be underestimated. as are concerns about their more efficient use and their preservation. To the extent that broad and concerted actions taken to confront the phenomena of climate change are effective. The profound structural changes occurring today require greater attention to the systematic management of natural resources. Already forced to adapt to climate change and the need to respect natural habitats. one significant aspect seems to be underestimated: “food style. We should also remember that the current. agricultural strategies could succeed in the area of mitigation. Often the competition to grab and exploit scarce and unequally distributed natural resources degenerates into conflict. It should also be remembered that during the first half of this century. as well as containing the negative effects of economic development. biofuels). significant urbanization is expected to continue. the pressure on natural resources is growing. and drought alter cultivation conditions. forage. This competition can be exacerbated when climate change. This causes failures in agricultural production and upsets the delicate management of distribution and overall sustainability in cities. Meanwhile. Agricultural production is already down in some areas of the planet. mainly in the developing countries. extreme meteorological conditions. The resulting phenomenon is called “land grabbing.” which FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf has called “a form of neocolonialism. The debate concerning the need for a technical paradigm shift toward biotechnologies has been going on for some time. and impoverishment of the common natural asset. and fiber will nearly double. mainly through adaptive adjustments. which will need to produce ever more food on ever less available space.

• the marketing of agricultural products.5): • research and development.e. • research for places to achieve productivity gains along the different stages of the overall chain. seed and fertilizers) and access to natural resources needed for agricultural production (for example. we need to define not only the demographic dynamics of increased economic well-being. in our opinion. etc. • production of inputs (for example. etc. which must not be abandoned purely for market reasons.62 eating planet emerging countries. the size of land parcels. This is the unknown in the equation. compensate producers. we need to focus attention: • oversight of the entire chain.3 possible areas for action To frame possible answers to the problems highlighted.and long-term strategic alternatives. especially in the case of food production. • agricultural activity. . in this order (figure 2. this activity can have very different characteristics depending on geographic location. optimizing inputs to production. the degree and type of mechanization. In our opinion. and • consumption processes. in order to strengthen the conditions of equity needed to attract investment. soil structure. 2. i. the cultivation. the use of chemical agents. this variable needs more research to shift the bar on productivity increases to sustain a greater demand for food under equal conditions of demographic growth. we need an initial understanding of the organization of the food sector. A detailed outline of the conditions needed for the proper functioning of this complex and carefully constructed system is outside the scope of this chapter. both to the final consumers and to a possible later phase of industrial transformation. concerning all possible action areas (soil fertility. • the industrial transformation and consequent distribution of the finished product. and increase access to food.. In order to identify and possibly guide the components of the demand for food in the near future. water). In a very simplified form. We will limit ourselves to highlighting five main areas on which.).. • the reduction of waste along the entire agricultural and food industry supply chain. but also their intersection with the consumption habits of the populations. • stabilization of food markets and access to them. harvesting. the flow of activities in the agricultural sector can be broken down into six principal areas. and storage of agricultural products. which could reveal medium. knowledge transfer.

The pressure from the greater availability of foodstuffs and the failure of distribution mechanisms make it necessary to get past the paradigm of a self-regulating market. considering the assumptions.” through a communications strategy aimed at increasing general awareness not only from a nutritional point of view. reinforce worldwide governance mechanisms. 2011.access to food: present and future challenges | food for all 63 A Control of the Production Chain Research and Development Input Factors Agricultural Activity Trade in Agricultural Products Industrial Transformation Consumption B Productivity Savings C Stabilizing Markets D Reduction of Wastage E Ways of Consumption figure 2. but also in cultural terms. There is an obvious lack of governance in the overall food system. and the complexity of the subject? For the five areas indicated. The following steps are essential: • return food to a central and primary role on the international political and economic agenda. What are the solutions to these problems. This means that the entire food chain must be structured and governed more openly with goals of accessibility. sustainability.5 Governance of the supply chain Source: BCFN. Indeed. and nutritional quality. • the direction of “food style. we suggest the following. which requires quick and precise action at various levels. it seems fundamental to ensure the quantity and quality of produced and distributed food. Food cannot be treated simplistically as a commodity. the scope. . It also means coordinating global policies and reducing unilateral protectionist policies over time.

in order to eventually upgrade the average standards of the sector. Some pathways have already been outlined. realize. with ad hoc programs to close the know-how gap between advanced and underdeveloped countries. they constitute one necessary prerequisite among others for an orderly functioning of the sector. We must look at updating agricultural and production models. . political. Also. Therefore. credible solutions that developing countries can implement in those sectors that are key for economic growth. the increase needed in the next 40 years to sustain the growth in food consumption worldwide depends on a complex pattern of variables. Rather. better quality. and support real progress in sustainable development in order to define and disseminate solid. or business player in the industrial food chain is in a position to single-handedly meet the environmental. one that involves all public and private players directly and indirectly tied to the industrial food sector. • economic policy actions take place one level higher. supported also by significant flows of public investment.64 eating planet • to this end. achieving higher productivity. and economic challenges that this context poses. could make it possible to contain the increase in productivity needed to sustain worldwide consumption. and reduced environmental impact. and must be aimed at supporting growth and development in the poorest countries. will be decisive. facilitate economic development and increase agricultural productivity. including initiatives to support developing countries. However. and to make those innovations accessible. the maintenance and development of local systems in the production/distribution/consumption chain of agricultural goods must be facilitated. institution. the choices are enormously important and very difficult to realize. if managed correctly. a multilateral approach is needed. We must identify. social. scientific and technological research on these subjects. No country. These actions require the active participation of the international community. Concerning this aspect. particularly those harming developing countries. using suitable policies and incentives/disincentives. The latter. we need to create common room for dialogue and analysis of subjects related to food security. In terms of productivity. These local systems should preserve high quality production and pay attention to biosustainability. These should be aimed at achieving food independence by transferring scientific and knowledge and agricultural best practices to these countries. in our opinion. The challenge is to innovate continuously. But we must also challenge those tax and trade policies that distort world food markets. from the increase in the global population to the impact of climate change on agricultural yields and the composition of the future global food basket.

price volatility In July 2011. As a result. the local government was forced to adopt price stabilization measures. Large quantities of fresh produce was left to rot in markets. China. . in the autonomous region of Ningxia Hui. average wholesale prices for food dropped by 7.58% from the previous month.

because of the objective uncertainty of possible impacts. For example. government action and the molding of food patterns to take sustainability into account are becoming crucial variables of eco- .g. timelines. etc. and roles for such a process of global “insurance. Any consideration of food supplies must include the future composition of the demand for food. on the other hand. • coordinate trade policies at the international level. For the first time in history. update the food production chain to manage price volatility and ensure safety nets. Demographic growth across a wide area of the planet is giving access to sophisticated patterns of consumption by vast strata of the populations of emerging countries.” • define a new system of rules for the food commodities markets. It must implement technical solutions to manage this new reality better. if we remain aware that many different aspects of using them still need to be researched and evaluated carefully. In our opinion. prejudice global food security. it should provide oversight by an independent authority and impose position limits to ensure that amounts invested are not excessively speculative. favoring market access and qualitative growth for production coming from developing countries. three steps would seem appropriate: • evaluate and select the best practices at the international. estimating changes in food consumption patterns remains difficult. and local levels for creating stocks of food and raw materials. biotechnology) certainly must be explored at the same time. in view of the extraordinary changes that we can foresee today.66 eating planet Combined with a more rational use of the land..) can differ greatly with different dietetic choices. national. they downplay the difficulty of including forecast data concerning climate change. defining the costs. the Western diet and the Mediterranean diet differ mainly in the amounts of meat consumed. over time. on the subject of price volatility of agricultural goods. predictive models used today suffer two serious limitations. For a more detailed presentation of suggested actions. these measures alone can make it possible to achieve significant results. feed. Other pathways tied to the technical paradigm (e. It can be shown easily that consumption patterns entailing high consumption of much meat and animal products can. manage food styles. On one hand. capable of valuating more than just the economic role of the products traded. water. we know that environmental impact and natural resource consumption (land. The industrial food sector is destined to undergo significant and growing price volatility in the near future. In fact. For example. please see the next section. In order to be in a position to resist and prevent future food crises.

a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices | food for all 67 nomic politics. rapid oscillations taking place even within the same trading day. the BCFN carried out research aimed at identifying. Moreover.3 compared to 13. mainly because of the impact it will have on global production equilibrium in agriculture. the FAO Food Price Index increased 38 percent. Above all it highlights the factors that can be traced to the demand side (inventory levels of product. market prices for agricultural raw materials began increasing very rapidly in the second half of 2010.19 has more than doubled compared to the prior 15 years (29. the price of cereals alone increased 71 percent. food choices) and to the supply side (agricultural production. as mentioned) and on the economic and political stability of countries (particularly those in development). In the last five years. cardiovascular.5). we see a worrisome increase in the volatility of prices. in order to assess their effects on the food security of families (mainly low-income families. which face a health crisis from the spread of metabolic. the standard deviation. and sometimes extraordinary. 2. produc- . studying. The BCFN evaluation model attempts to display the many elements that combine to define trends in food commodity prices. This is taking firm shape in the developed countries. scarcity of natural resources. Between July 2010 and February 2011. In fact. and tumor-related diseases caused by harmful eating habits. Over time. and clarifying the causes of the high.4 the bcfn evaluation model Faced with this situation. demographic factors. In just 12 months. Choosing sustainable food consumption models for the future will allow us to reduce the emphasis placed on productivity gains. which in turn create pressure on natural resources and environmental sustainability. this will become crucial also in the developing countries. with sharp. surpassing the previous peak during the food crisis of 2008. a measurement of volatility. June 2010 through May 2011. economic growth of emerging countries. in the developing countries). increase in the prices of food commodities. a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices The level of attention paid to the dynamics of food prices is higher than ever at this time. high and volatile prices are a grave threat to the food security of families (particularly low-income ones) and to the development of the food industry and the economy overall (mainly. but not only. Combined with the difficult world economic crisis. This causes uncertainty and instability on the markets.

all in a context of low product inventories. All the elements identified and shown in the evaluation model above can also be subdivided by the type of effect they have on prices and their relative reference timeframe. there are many interconnections among the factors themselves. and significant investments in the production of biofuels. Some indirect. and in the progressive worsening of the scarcity of natural resources. These evaluations also show that the effects of some factors can be changed only over the middle to long term and that answers may be found as the system adapts to changed structural conditions in supply and demand. this is ground on which international finance gladly treads. In equilibrium. In reality. The evaluation model takes into account financial and exchange markets. the price of oil and energy. In a context of extremely difficult capital markets. and their points of interaction. . in urbanization. The outcome can only be a powerful shaking up of the markets. prices do not have a tendency to increase and volatility peaks are less likely. international trade policies.68 eating planet tion of biofuels. These are called endogenous factors. in the rise in temperatures caused by climate change. Add a major weather disaster (drought. The need to prepare an easily understood graphic representation required placing different factors on the demand side. because the consequences and impacts of the two phenomena (absolute price level and volatility) are very different. we must analyze the different variables at work. This distinction is crucial. and geopolitical dynamics. the global result will be a sudden increase in prices and greater uncertainty. the demographic and economic growth of emerging countries is creating a significant increase in the demand for food. or flood in key world agriculture areas). The imbalance between supply and demand is at the origin of the changes in price levels. the increase in price volatility can be short-term or long-term. absolute price levels can increase over the middle to long term. For example. By way of example: consider a situation containing factors such as present and forecast global demographic growth.5 variables of the model To understand in depth the reasons for price increases and their extreme volatility. their movement. however. conflagration. shown by the dotted lines in the figure 2. this is what has happened in this recent turbulent phase. 2. heated economic development in emerging countries. impact of climate change). exogenous factors that affect price levels directly or indirectly can be added to these. Moreover. More or less. or among the indirect factors.6. on the supply side. likewise. If the policy responses are protectionist. many of these factors interact in a complex way in the demand-supply relationship. That is.

Water is also becoming an everscarcer resource as per capita consumption increases worldwide. which directly affects the consumption of agricultural products and has a heavy impact on the consumption of resources to support animal husbandry. Water tables . 2011.62 percent less than that from 1961 to 1990 (figure 2. This is due mainly to urbanization. To try to limit this phenomenon. which seriously threatens the growth of agricultural productivity. The risk of insufficient global supply arises from the increasing scarcity of natural resources. the consumption of agricultural goods is constantly growing (figure 2. degradation of the land. on one hand. and changes in the intended use of crops (particularly for the production of biofuels). insufficient supply globally and high levels of waste and losses. demographic and economic growth.a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices | food for all 69 demographics Population growth Urbanization exchange markets trade policies geopolitical dynamics agricultural production Productivity Technology/Innovation Loss and wastage ways of eating Increase in calories consumed “Westernization” of diet biofuels DEMAND prices SUPPLY limited nature of natural resources Arable soil Water economic growth of developing nations level of inventory stock financial markets (speculation) price of oil and energy climate change Rising temperatures Variations in precipitation Adverse climatic events Contextual factors Structural factors Contingent factors figure 2.7).6 Interpretative model of food price volatility Source: BCFN. These include. structural factors. The annual rate of growth in productivity from 1991 to 2010 was 0.8). As a result of the increase in population and per capita income in the developing countries. The increase in the rate of urbanization and changes in food habits are bringing about a radical—and resource-intensive—increase in demand for foods such as meat. scientists are studying alternative ways to favor the consumption of vegetables with high protein content and to stimulate replacements for the consumption of meat. and on the other hand.

There are additional.70 eating planet 3.054 1974‑1976 2. which 2. and inventories.850 2015 Industrialized nations figure 2. Climate change is implicated in the rising incidence of adverse weather events.450 1997‑1999 2. which have had a role in driving up the price of food over the middle to long term (figure 2. raged in early 2011. (such as the drought last summer in Russia and later in Argentina or the strong rains in Canada and Australia at the beginning of this year) partially contributed to the current spike in the price of food.20 The international scientific community agrees that current changes in weather conditions at the global level are responsible for an intensifying of “extreme” weather phenomena.440 1964‑1966 2. Decisions about international economic policy (trade policy) by individual States have always played a fundamental role in determining price levels on a global scale.980 2. One of the most critical problems involves the level of waste and losses along the chain (upstream losses in developing countries. and increased rains in Indonesia. drought in the southern United States.681 2. 2010.9).152 1984‑1986 Developing nations 2. It takes eight to ten times as much water to produce meat as to grow grains.947 2030 3. trade policies.065 3. such as La Niña. and Australia.206 3.380 3. Malaysia. macroeconomic factors. financial speculation. short-term factors.7 Daily per capita consumption of calories (1964—estimates to 2030) Source: BCFN on FAO data. short-term factors that could either exacerbate or mitigate the effects of the structural factors by acting on the volatility and instability of prices. at least 30 countries implemented restrictive export policies in an effort to safeguard internal food security. are threatened by growing urbanization and intensive use for livestock. downstream in developed countries). During the crisis in 2008. Recurring phenomena. and meager harvests caused by such events.500 . These include climate change-related phenomena. oil prices. causing colder winters in the Northern Hemisphere.

400 CAGR 1991‑2010: + 1. 2010 Oct.84% 2. 2010 Dec. 2010 Sep.900 1. 100 = oct. Compound Annual Growth Rate. 2010 Aug. Source: BCFN on World Bank data.8 The global yield of cereals 21 (1961‑2010) Note: CAGR. 2010 Nov.400 CAGR 1961‑1990: + 1. 2011 May 2011 Jun.S.a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices | food for all 71 3.22% 1. 2011 Mar. 2011 Feb. 2005 Severe droughts and major wildfires have reduced forecasts for the wheat crop in Russia Drop in harvest forecasts for Indonesian soy seeds because of excessive rain Heavy rains damage the wheat crop in Australia 200 150 Drought has damaged the hard red winter wheat harvest in the United States Most of the hard red winter wheat zone in the U. 2011 figure 2. July 2011. in India cold damages the cereal grain crops Heavy rains and flooding destroys the corn crop in the American corn belt 100 Jun. .9 Trend of cereal prices and principal climatic events (June 2010—April 2011) Source: BCFN on USDA and FAO data.400 2009 2003 2005 2007 1999 1969 1989 2001 1993 1963 1983 1995 1979 1997 1967 1965 1987 1985 1973 1977 1991 1975 1961 1981 1971 figure 2. suffers from light rainfall Poor harvests in the Chinese farming regions. 2010 Jul. 250 fao cereals price index. 2011. 2010 Jan.900 kilograms per hectare 2. 2011 Apr.

production activities (irrigation. in general the effects are not positive. and storage).72 eating planet The government of Ukraine revokes the tariff on exports 400 350 300 250 200 150 Because of drought.10 International trade policies and grain prices (January 2010—August 2011) Source: BCFN on CBT data and wire services 2010. which can lead to aggressive buying policies intended to protect against trends and future availability. The two-way bond between food and energy makes the price of oil a determining factor in food production and distribution. Libya. greater volumes than their customary purchases + − Russia announces that it is suspending its prohibition on exports + − + Turkey reduces its tariff on public‑sector imports from 130% to 0% − + − Europe suspends tariffs on imports of fodder grain − Europe reactivates its tariffs on imports Algeria acquires 800KT above the market price 10/2010 12/2010 11/2010 9/2010 6/2010 8/2010 4/2010 2/2010 3/2010 5/2010 7/2010 1/2010 6/2011 Monthly wheat price (Hard Red Winter) − Restrictive measures imposed on international trade + Suspension of restrictive measures imposed on international trade figure 2.10 shows major international trade policy actions (blue for impacts on exports. distorted the international market. or taxes on exports may provide short-term stability for internal prices. High prices for oil will help raise the price of food by increasing production costs and the demand for biofuels (figure 2. animal husbandry). These restrictions prevent achieving equilibrium between demand and supply and send uncertainty signals to the markets. tariffs. Figure 2. 2011. On a global level. Moreover. Russia announces a prohibition on exports Ukraine eliminates export price supports Jordan. the consumption of fuel for transportation. overall. 8/2011 4/2011 2/2011 3/2011 5/2011 7/2011 1/2011 .11). harvesting. in the production of inorganic fertilizers. export restrictions can aggravate instability and cause prices to increase. Indeed. either internally or externally. freezing. crops are increasingly going for the production of biofuels. which reduces the food supply. the latter accounts for 10-15 percent of the energy in the industrialized countries. red on imports). and Morocco increase imports to replenish their reserves − Iraq and Tunisia acquire 350KT and 100KT of wheat. Although duties. and in the final phases of the value-added chain (processing the harvest. There is a very tight connection between the energy sector and the food sector.

In India “unseasonal” monsoon rains hit southern Asia. leading to higher prices for staple foods. .food and social instability In parts of Asia in 2011 there were sharp rises in food prices. This led to fears of a repeat of the food crisis in 2008 that caused instability throughout the region.

and how they could influence the volatility of prices and threaten access to food. the flow of significant amounts of foreign money for real economic purposes .11 Correlation between oil prices and food prices (January 2004—April 2011) Source: BCFN on FAO and IMF data.12 shows the relationship between the cereals price index. and major events in American trade policy. What of financial speculation as a short-term factor? Today. upsetting the balance between supply and demand internationally. one wonders about the role of derivatives on the agricultural markets. The increase in food prices caused by the depreciation of the dollar is a unanimously recognized phenomenon. According to many observers. Figure 2. such as futures. to which supply reacts in the medium term. These assets allow cash to flow in the markets and send powerful signals about prices. Looking at the crisis of 2008. the financial derivatives markets for agricultural products offer various instruments to limit risk. Because the United States is the principal exporter of agricultural commodities in the world and many prices are denominated in dollars. and interest rates are also very important in determining agricultural policy. exchange rates. options. Macroeconomic factors such as the inflation rate. and swaps. a depreciation of the American currency causes an increase in the buying power of importing countries. the Euro/ dollar exchange rate.74 eating planet 250 $ 140 $ 120 $ 100 200 150 $ 80 $ 60 $ 40 100 50 $ 20 $0 10/2009 10/2008 10/2006 10/2004 10/2005 10/2007 10/2010 4/2004 7/2004 4/2009 1/2009 4/2006 4/2008 7/2009 1/2008 7/2006 4/2005 4/2007 7/2008 1/2006 1/2004 7/2005 7/2007 4/2010 1/2010 1/2005 1/2007 7/2010 4/2011 1/2011 0 FAO Food Price Index Oil price ($ per barrel) figure 2. 2011. This translates into a significant increase in demand for imports.

6 0.12 Exchange rate $/€ and the Cereals/Food Price Index (March 2006—June 2011) Source: BCFN on USDA.55 0.5 figure 2. For example.a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices | food for all 75 250 200 150 100 50 0 Between March 2006 and November 2007. and corn decreased worldwide between 2000 and 2011. (hedging operational risk) on the agricultural markets helped to aggravate the overall instability. when international inventories were low.65 0. 2.7 0.6 strategies for controlling volatility The picture that emerges from this analysis is extremely complex. How can we act on such a complex system. American grain exports rose by 46% Between July 2008 and July 2009. However. and FAO data. as they are recorded as annual aggregates on individual markets and therefore can only be guessed. American exports rose by 56% 0.85 0. This lack of equilibrium translates into a powerful volatility in short-term prices and the risk of a constant increase over the middle to long term. when inventory levels are low in the absence of a “cushioning” mechanism. between 1972 and 1973. OECD.75 0. figure 2. Finally. partly because of an imbalance between production and consumption. grain.13 shows that inventory levels of rice. World inventory levels are difficult to estimate. the response to a supply shock is a direct increase in price levels. in order to guide development along a sustainable path? 3/2006 5/2006 7/2006 9/2006 11/2006 1/2007 3/2007 5/2007 7/2007 9/2007 11/2007 1/2008 3/2008 5/2008 7/2008 9/2008 11/2008 1/2009 3/2009 5/2009 7/2009 9/2009 11/2009 1/2010 3/2010 5/2010 7/2010 9/2010 11/2010 1/2011 3/2011 5/2011 Food Price Index Cereal Price Index $/e .8 0. taking into consideration the many elements contributing to the current unbalanced situation. a reduction of less than 2 percent in the output of grain caused the price to double. It must be interpreted systematically. 2011. American grain exports dropped by 29% As a result of the recent depreciation of the dollar.

Stimulate the overall growth of agriculture.” as well as—for a more general treatment— to the chapter Food for Sustainable Growth.76 eating planet 2. grain. will be decisive.36% 2.03% Wheat − 0. In terms of possible leverage.5% CAGR production CAGR consumption CAGR Stock figure 2. either to reduce volatility or to stabilize prices at levels that are compatible with global food security objectives and development of the industrial agricultural sector. It is essential to consider the timeline for taking this action. there are seven principal areas for action: agricultural production. In our opinion. Source: BCFN on Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) data. we refer the reader both to the section “Facilitate economic development and increase agricultural productivity. and stock levels of rice.44% 0. Scientific and technical research on these subjects. and less environmental impact.95% 1.4% − 3. consumption.13 Rate of average annual variation of production. The challenge will be to promote innovation. Compound Annual Growth Rate. supported by significant amounts of public investment.93% Rice 0. For a more detailed description of our approach to an agricultural system and a food industry that would be better suited to the challenges of the future. by defin‑ ing optimal production models and agricultural patterns for various geographic con‑ texts. higher quality. and corn (World. where there is a detailed analysis of the requirements for sustainability of the agro-industrial system.7% Corn − 3.75% 0. 2011. it will be fundamental to sort the factors examined according to the concrete possibility of being able to affect them. 2000‑2011) Note: CAGR. guiding the sector to update production models and agricultural patterns for greater productivity. .

Moreover. Water usage in agriculture accounts for 70 percent of worldwide water use. in response to predictions of reduced harvests and higher international prices. According to the most reputable studies. some important agricultural exporting countries introduced export taxes to increase domestic supply and limit the internal effect . Reduce barriers to imports. Incentives are needed for various actions to reduce the impact of climate change.a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices | food for all 77 natural resource scarcity. increasing carbon reserves in the soil. Between 2008 and 2010. without radical intervention climate change is very likely to reduce future global agricultural productivity. Trade barriers and subsidies distort the dynamics between demand and supply on the international food commodities market. managing fertilizer use to reduce methane (CH4) emissions. heavy downpours). Disseminating technology and tools for managing agricultural irrigation for maximum efficiency does not always translate into costly investments in technology. and various forms of trade restriction. but often simply means spreading awareness and know-how. We also need to adopt advanced techniques for collecting rainwater to be used for irrigation. It is also necessary to support actions to adapt to climate change in order to sustain agriculture production. Concerning production processes. subsidies to exports. including the diversification of crops. improving production techniques for growing rice and raising livestock. restoring cultivated peat soils and degraded land. Act to reduce. with the most severe impacts possibly occuring in equatorial areas. action is needed to reduce the use of water in cultivation. which can cause significant crop losses. mainly because of the increase in temperature and greater difficulty gaining access to water resources. trade policies. climate change. the Mediterranean. etc. incentives are needed to promote investment in available technology that can save water used in production processes. delay. including managing cropland and pasture better. In response. heat waves. The limits of available natural resources. especially water and arable land. An additional threat is that climate change intensifies adverse weather (drought. and there is considerable room for improvement. represent a very important barrier to the growth of global agricultural production capacity. improving techniques for applying nitrogen-based fertilizers to reduce emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). floods. Come to grips with the scarcity of natural resources for agricultural production. Australia. and mitigate the effects of climate change. and improving energy efficiency. both by reducing waste and by using technologies that make water usage more productive (“more crop per drop”). climate change could disproportionately affect particular geographic areas and their ability to ensure adequate production levels.

78 eating planet of the worldwide increase in food prices. the price tends to go down. a reduction in the stock-to-use ratio of cereals tends to correspond to an increase in the price level. Various measures could mitigate this effect. different factors have made it necessary to draw on inventories accumulated over the years to satisfy the growing demand for food (growing more rapidly than supplies) and to stabilize domestic prices. it is critical to significantly improve market transparency while maintaining appropriate systems to protect developing countries. on the other hand. In particular. It would be particularly important to collect data about the levels of reserves and disseminate estimates about the size of demand and supply. thus increasing its efficiency. because these create distortions especially when employed by the more developed countries. we noted that. regional. one would hope for a reduction in the use of import barriers. with an increase in the stock-to-use ratio. Finally. in order to improve those countries’ efficiency and competitiveness and reinforce their integration into international markets. Analyses conducted during this research study show a strong connection between changes in inventories and the price trends for food commodities. supply. the price of food cor- . in terms of sharing information concerning demand. inventories. For example. it appears necessary to eliminate export restrictions and reduce subsidies with an eye to creating equitable conditions on the international market. In recent years. Recently. and other trade restrictions. the production of biofuels. responsible system of international trade based on multilateral rules that can guarantee greater access to food at the global level. In particular. Avoid competition between biofuel produc‑ tion and food in growing crops. export subsidies. and importexport dynamics. It would also be helpful toreduce the use of mechanisms to support internal demand. over a sufficiently long time span. One of the major challenges facing the international community today is the need to build a transparent. building a multilateral. Create a multilateral system for food reserves and improve the transparency of flows and inventories. these dynamics have been repeating themselves and are causing another rapid price increase. by providing harvest forecasts to support national government decision-making. Establishing a supranational authority to control the balance between demand and supply would also ensure the presence of an information system capable of collecting reliable data and offering operators more accurate analyses and statistical databases. and cross-border food reserve would increase the elasticity of the world food supply. inventory levels. would help dampen the recent volatility of food prices. At the international level. In general. Improving market transparency. This would require facilitating the coordination of storage policies at the international level.

food safety The outbreak of E. The outbreak led to the destruction of tons of foodstuffs. . even though they tested negative for the pathogen. coli from contaminated produce in northern Germany in 2011 had serious repercussions on developing countries.

which hold long positions. These products use food crops as raw materials and thus compete directly with food products and livestock for these raw materials. however. At the same time. to enable regulators to identify possible anomalies in financial . Incentives should be provided for research into new technologies to produce biofuels to respond to the growing worldwide demand for energy and to reduce its impact on agricultural raw materials markets. Increases in the price of oil make biofuels more attractive and increases the demand for them internationally.). The increase in the share of contracts held by non-commercial investors may have brought about speculation of the sort typical of stock markets. etc. In addition to limiting subsidies. sugarcane. that financial speculation in the agricultural commodities markets could have aggravated short-term volatility. performing two important functions: transferring price risk and helping to determine the price itself. How significant a role this speculation may be playing in the increase in the prices of agricultural assets is still widely debated. beginning with crops that do not compete with food for the use of land. We can state with relative certainty. However. governments should develop emergency plans to restraun policies (at least in the short term) that stimulate the production and consumption of biofuels when world markets are under pressure and food supplies are reduced. On one hand. vegetable oil. it is also important to facilitate the opening of international markets. Futures markets are an integral part of the food commodities market.80 eating planet relates strongly to the price of oil. and equilibrium on the markets. and hedge funds. the recent global financial crisis has led “non-commercial” investors (index funds. order. Without demonizing the work of the financial intermediaries or interfering with their legitimate activity. we can suggest some actions that could be taken to facilitate greater transparency. this creates competition between the energy sector and the food sector for the use of agricultural raw materials. financial markets. changes in the price of oil and biofuel subsidy policies cause strong volatility and price increases on food markets. One helpful response would be for governments (particularly in Europe and the United States) to significantly reduce support for production and consumption of first-generation biofuels. If the incentives are not removed. Because most first-generation biofuels are produced with the same inputs used for food and livestock (cereals. so that biofuels can be produced where conditions are economically advantageous. second-generation biofuels should be supported. Regulate financial speculation in food commodities. which operate aggressively over the short term) to increase their investments in agricultural commodity derivatives in order to diversify their portfolios. Thus.

the disconnect arises because con- . For example. In particular. As the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. in order to progressively harmonize trades on these markets. leaving the real market free to operate. In other words. it also appears desirable to introduce rules22 to define the perimeter of action for financial intermediaries on the agricultural commodities market. or the wide range of negative effects of economic activity. new tools to measure and promote well-being In recent decades there has been a growing sense of a gap between improvements in key macroeconomic variables and how well off people perceive themselves to be. But it is becoming ever more important to define the conditions under which economic growth can be considered sustainable. We wanted to paint as broad a picture as possible because we believe that there are no shortcuts or half-measures capable of effectively solving the problems on the table tools to measure and promote well-being | food for all 81 trends and to prevent possible excessive speculative behavior. For the fact is that there is often a strong disconnect between growth and well-being. mechanisms could be introduced to distinguish between sector operators and non-commercial operators. Olivier De Schutter. or most. The recent dramatic economic crisis has led many countries to focus their energies on the problem of trying to re-launch interrupted growth. On the other hand. This happens partly because there are costs associated with growth that are difficult to quantify but which nevertheless have a significant impact on people’s lives. the United States has had legislation concerning financial derivatives for about one year and the G-20 could encourage other economic powers to move in the same direction. removing the causes of the system’s current fragility. economic growth does not seem to be capable by itself of ensuring higher levels of overall well-being. of the various critical points. Perhaps even more important. This could be done by monitoring the activity of all operators (through a transaction/positions reporting system and by requiring operator registration) and possibly by imposing caps on their activity. such as excessive exploitation of environmental resources. the flow of information and the transparency of over-the-counter operations could be improved. so that limits could be placed on speculative operators to prevent excessive betting on the movement of prices. such as industrial water pollution or mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. it will be impossible to obtain significant results without acting on the system. underscored at the G-20 Summit of Agriculture Ministers in Paris in June 2011. We need balanced action that touches all.

said: “We will find neither national purpose nor personal satisfaction in a mere continuation of economic progress. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans. For the Gross National Product includes air pollution and advertising for cigarettes.23 It reflects the volume of economic activity of a country (except for activity carried out on the black market and not captured in the formal accounts). such as social inclusion. Yet the Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children. nor national achievement by the Gross National Product.” Back in 1934. The emergence of a greater awareness in this area has recently nourished a lively debate on the efficacy of the principal indicators that governments have used to make major economic and political choices. GDP growth is traditionally taken to approximate the ability of an economic system to generate wealth and therefore the level of economic well-being of its citizens. in an endless amassing of worldly goods. and ambulances to clear our highway carnage.. It measures neither our wit nor our courage. This was stated publicly as far back as 1968. inequality.7 gross domestic product versus indicators of well-being GDP is a quantitative measure of macroeconomic activity. 24 testified before the Congress of the United States that well-being and the GDP are two . when Robert Kennedy. and the state of the environment. over time the indicator has become a key index of overall social and economic development. economist Simon Kuznets. neither our wisdom nor our learning. or the joy of their play. in a famous speech at the University of Kansas. We cannot measure national spirit by the Dow Jones Average. in short. It needs to be supplemented by other measurements of a wide range of phenomena that influence living conditions. 2. the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. except that which makes life worthwhile.82 eating planet ventional economic indicators that measure growth by their nature obscure fundamentally important social and environmental aspects of well-being. which will only grow when the slums are rebuilt over their ashes [sic]. It counts [. The gross domestic product (GDP) is the principal focus of this debate. However. the quality of their education. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It grows with the production of napalm and missiles and nuclear warheads and research on spreading bubonic plague [sic] and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It does not count the justice in our courts or the equity of our relationships [sic]. neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. assuming a role for which it was not designed. the inventor of the GDP. It measures everything.] and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children..

Ireland.28 The process begun in France continued in other countries (the earliest were Germany. For example. and health issues. region. The purpose here is not to criticize an instrument that has shown its reliability over time. disposable income. albeit with well-known limitations. no matter how sophisticated. infrastructure. However. to construct summary indicators that possess great statistical and methodological rigor. Prime Minister David Cameron charged the National Statistical Institute with identifying new measurements for support the evaluation of economic policies. the two institutions traditionally charged with measuring economic data in the country. Therefore. Along this line. energy. recently established a Working Group to Measure Progress in Italian Society that consists of representatives of social and public agencies. city. employment. Australia.. Mexico. personal elements. even a detailed list of the factors that could affect any single dimension of individual well-being. Nobel-Prize winners Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen co-chaired the group of about 30 internationally renowned economists. in Great Britain. environment. This type of measurement combines several indicators focusing on crucial aspects that directly or indirectly influence quality of life. or territory. many multidimensional descriptive indicators have been developed25 with the intent of measuring well-being and quality of life for a particular nation. In a preliminary phase of their work. human rights.27 The work of the Sen-Stiglitz-Fitoussi tools to measure and promote well-being | food for all 83 different things: “The well-being of a nation [. was published in September 2009 and has become required reading for those working on new indicators of well-being.. the chairs of CNEL and ISTAT met with representatives of the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition to learn about their experience and the results they achieved in developing a multidimensional indicator focused on nutrition and lifestyle. the United Kingdom.” how to measure well-being. including education and training. . as well as the lifestyles of individuals and societies. health. and recreational and cultural activities. Well-being touches on economic. and the Netherlands). The point is that it is simply not possible to characterize well-being in one dimension. public and private safety.] cannot be easily deduced from an index of national income. as the group became known. which reports to Parliament on economic subjects. social. In Italy. would be incomplete. the United States. Frenchman Jean-Paul Fitoussi coordinated their work. Switzerland. it is worthwhile to consider as many factors as possible. and political factors. An important milestone in developing alternatives to GDP was reached in 2008 when French President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered the Commission for the Measurement of Economic Results and Social Progress26 to research alternatives. ISTAT (National Statistics Institute) and CNEL (National Council on Economy and Labor). environmental.

and the security or vulnerability of individuals. Well-being is shaped not only by economic conditions. we should remember the importance of free time and the need to measure social relationships. Coordinator of the Commission.” 2. Stiglitz. but did prepare a series of recommendations to capture social well-being in its many dimensions: • Material well-being should be evaluated at the level of the family unit. * Professor Joseph E. • Concerning the non-material dimension of well-being. IEP. “Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress.8 subjective approach versus objective approach: different outlooks in terms of measuring well-being In order to put the phenomenon of well-being into context—in terms of a methodological approach for its measurement—we should first and foremost define the standpoint for the investigation. political inclusion. healthcare and senior care provided within the family). and security. such as direct services between parties (for example. the level of democracy. as occurs with the GDP. in general both objective and subjective measurements should be considered. health. • Attention must be paid to environmental sustainability. as environmental problems may increasingly undermine well-being over time. and wealth. an increase in average income does not mean that everyone got a raise.84 eating planet social well-being according to the sen-stiglitz-fitoussi commission The Sen-Stiglitz-Fitoussi Commission* did not identify a new summary indicator. Harvard University. • Measurement of government-provided services should be based not on their cost. but also by education. More emphasis should be placed on income distribution. Chair Adviser. social networks. • Measuring the multidimensionality of well-being needs to be considered. in order to measure growth net of the destruction of resources and the risks of climate change. rather than production. Professor Jean-Paul Fitoussi. Professor Amartya Sen. environment. • Data collection and statistics need to be developed for non-market activities. We should choose. 29 It is important to include sustainability indices for well-being. consumption. Chair. because well-being also depends on activities that do not trigger market trades. in fact. to adopt the individual as a point of reference—according to what is ultimately a funda- . taking into consideration income and consumption. Finally. Columbia University. but on their impact on the well-being of constituents.

it is necessary to build indicators that include both objective parameters and personal evaluations. a factor capable of having a positive effect on the lives of all the people who live in that country. One possibility is that of requesting that individuals provide an evaluation of the latter elements. the level of wellbeing becomes the subject of an evaluation expressed by each individual contacted. With the first option (objective measurement) we give up the possibility of directly consulting the perceptions of individual persons. measurement. linked to the points of view of the choice. through forms of opinion surveys. The alternative is to remain within the context of objective measurements. This second approach too is not entirely devoid of critical elements. An approach of this kind was utilized recently by the OECD29 which issued three indicators for the measurement of subjective well-being relative to the number of positive experiences/sensations enjoyed over the course of the previous tools to measure and promote well-being | food for all 85 mental problem. In the first . making it all the more complex to make comparisons between different individuals and countries. and evaluation of the various factors that contribute to any definition of individual well-being. of the interpretation of the objective phenomena that each person formulates subjectively. expanding the spectrum of phenomena that are considered co-determinant with well-being. when the outlook is that of the individual person. In other words. gathered and evaluated in an objective manner because they are thus unbound from any partial and personal evaluation. There exist. thus limiting the investigation to a certain number of objectively measured indices. in fact. On the other hand. without exceptions. on average. the number of negative experiences/sensations suffered over the course of the previous year. as many objective factors as there are subjective factors of well-being. For instance. This makes the measurement of individual well-being more complete and in closer alignment to the real evaluation of quality of life of individuals. and the number of people who stated that they experienced an elevated level of well-being in their lives. It is evident that the use of these variables introduces elements of subjectivity into the measurement of well-being. since the evaluation of wellbeing depends upon perceptual and emotional factors. On the one hand the approach is that of the measurement of the factual elements of a person’s existence. According to the second approach (subjective measurement). the logic is that of the evaluation that individuals give of their own lives. in order to attempt to approach in an asymptotic manner a measurement of well-being that is as close as possible to the “real” value. There are different ways of filling the gap between objective measurements and subjective perceptions. we might decide that good-health life expectancy in a country constitutes. with all the challenges and difficulties that ensue when one is attempting to carry out comparisons over time and space.

86 eating planet place. when we discuss the various options. to measure the present well-being of individuals (what people feel and live today. the techniques of statistical measurement—however broad the array of indicators utilized may be—are linked. However. the two indices. and positively (protection against certain diseases). and the BCFN . generating the risk—all the greater the more one approaches phenomena in which the individual is at the center of interest—of a failure to consider a set of elements that can together play a decisive role. because they are responsible for consuming and degrading natural resources (from greenhouse gas emissions to soil depletion and water pollution). to broad simplifications and a necessary set of conventions. A limited number of variables observed and estimated. in the current state of the art in the field. the impact that food and nutrition have on the environment around us is also significant. an “inventory of well-being”). from a methodological point of view. In the second place. time spent preparing food. meals.9 the bcfn indices of well-being and sustainability of well-being The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition has tried to contribute to the subject of well-being as it relates to our principal area of research and analysis: careful consideration of nutrition and its impact on the quality of life. every decision brings with it an elevated and necessary level of approximation. On the other hand. etc. possess an intrinsic value of focusing and limiting the potential distortions due to the multiple accounting of an end effect on the phenomenon under investigation. We have avoided definitions that emphasized one element or one particular aspect at the expense of others. the choice of a limited number of variables pays the price of an elevated level of approximation in terms of the description of reality. Also. socializing. these are based on a trade off. both negatively (direct causes or risk factors for serious disease). that today the national statistical systems of the various nations are not yet structured in such a manner as to collect all the necessary information to effectuate adequate measurements and that. It is obvious that food and nutrition directly or indirectly affect well-being. the outcome of our work is two multidimensional summary indices for the quantitative measurement of national well-being: the BCFN Index of Current Well-being. We should take into account. in order to take into account the greatest number of factors that have an impact on well-being. there are aspects of food that closely involve the social sphere and interpersonal relationships (conviviality. in fact. We have also considered it fundamental to pay special attention to the impact of nutrition and lifestyles on the well-being of individuals in social groups. Consider first the effect that food choices have on the health of children and adults. 2.).

food waste More than 30 percent of all food is wasted before it ever reaches peoples’ stomachs. The program feeds people with food that would have otherwise been wasted. .000 initiative. where 6. But initiatives to educate the public are growing.7 metric tons of food are discarded every year. London has led the way with the Feeding the 5. In Great Britain.

through specific key performance indicators (KPI). because of lack of available data or the nature of the phenomenon itself.) in order to evaluate multiple aspects and dimensions of well-being at the same time. subjective well-being. the starting point was the work of Stiglitz.88 eating planet Index of Well-being Sustainability. a very high relative weight was assigned to lifestyles and personal relationships. 10 benchmark nations were chosen: • three European countries from the Mediterranean: Italy. For an international comparison. income. in the conviction that these were at least as important as economic factors in defining the state of wellbeing of individuals. To bring maximum consistency and scientific quality to the methodology. at the same time we must evaluate its future trajectory. by consuming environmental resources in excess. etc. and Greece. proxies were used to obtain a reliable measurement. the three sub-indices under consideration. • the United Kingdom. • two Scandinavian countries: Denmark and Sweden. The three sub-indices—the lifestyle sub-index. strength of social networks. health. While it is undoubtedly important to measure well-being today. the wealth . educational well-being. For these. to each dimension of well-being. • the United States. which suggested analyzing a wide range of different variables (for example. environmental well-being.14) made it possible to use a simple weighted average to calculate partial indicators for each of the seven dimensions of well-being. education. to measure the dynamics and future trends of the current level of well-being (the sustainability of well-being). Spain. for each of the reference nations. Sen. it was not possible to measure a phenomenon precisely. democracy. The performance of each nation was measured in seven dimensions (psychophysical and behavioral well-being. and the two final summary indicators mentioned above. and political well-being) using both the BCFN Index of Current Well-being and the BCFN Index of Well-being Sustainability. Assigning a relative weight to each KPI. and to each of the three sub-indices (figure 2. (which aggregate the results of the three sub-indices). For example. In some cases. material well-being. • Japan. social well-being. and Fitoussi noted above. thus compromising the well-being of future generations. Consistent with the assumptions. Only an integrated reading of both indicators allows us to understand wellbeing in depth. Each KPI measures one or more contexts for the methodology being used. • two Continental European countries: France and Germany. it is possible to achieve very high levels of well-being in the short term.

family. Using a simple weighted average to aggregate the scores of the 10 countries yields a classification in accordance with the BCFN Index of Current Wellbeing.14 The BCFN Index of actual well‑being and its components Source: BCFN. Of the 10 countries compared with the BCFN Index of Current Well-being on seven dimensions of well-being. and the social and interpersonal sub-index—are compiled from 27 performance indicators that measure the seven identified dimensions of well-being. tools to measure and promote well-being | food for all 89 bcfn index of well-being 35% lifestyle sub-index 35% wealth and environmental sub-index 30% social and interpersonal sub-index “psychophysical” and behavioral well-being (health) 25% (income. society. that is.15. Denmark led with 7. investments. and institutions) “social” well-being 10% “political” well-being (democracy and individual freedom) 10% figure 2. followed .5 points. and environmental sub-index. the Index represents a snapshot of the well-being of a population at a specific instant. shown in figure 2. 2011.10 principal results of the 2011 bcfn index The BCFN Index of Current Well-being is a multidimensional measurement of individual well-being from a static point of view. and property) “material” well-being 20% (education and culture) “educational” well-being 10% (perception of individuals in relation to their own lives) subjective well-being 10% “environmental” well-being (quality of the environment) 15% (welfare.

from a dynamic point of view. and Germany (5.5 4. Using a simple weighted average to aggregate the scores of the 10 countries into the three sub-indices.7 points). and the social and interpersonal sub-index.5) and Greece (3. Italy (5.5 3.9) were in sixth and seventh place.0 5. namely (in order).10 points.8 4.66 points. It is also an aggregate index.7 5.9 greece spain italy usa germany france japan great britain sweden denmark figure 2.30 The BCFN Index of Well-being Sustainability represents a multi-dimensional measurement of the future sustainability of the well-being of individuals. France (5.09 points.8) brought up the rear.0 7. the wealth and environmental sub-index. Sweden led with 7. consisting of 25 performance indicators to measure the seven dimensions of well-being in three sub-indices: the lifestyle sub-index.16.7 7. Spain (4. respectively. Japan (5. Table 2.7 points). 2011. Then came France and Germany with similar scores a little over 6.5 points). although the difference between third and fourth place was only one point.15 Ranking of the BCFN Index of actual well‑being Source: BCFN. we obtain the BCFN Index of Well-being Sustainability. significantly behind the others. Last was Greece with 3. By this index.0) and the United States (4. closely by Sweden with 7. followed closely by Denmark with 7.1 shows the detailed list of the 27 performance indicators used. shown in figure 2. .57 points.3 points.90 eating planet point scale from 1 to 10 6. The next three countries received similar scores.0 points.3 5. grouped into the dimensions to which they belong. The United Kingdom came in third with 6.29 points. Italy was in next-to-last place with 5.5 5.

new tools to measure and promote well-being | food for all


point scale from 1 to 10



5.8 5.1 5.5 5.5 5.6









great britain





figure 2.16
Ranking of the BCFN Index of sustainable well‑being Source: BCFN, 2011.

Table 2.2 shows the detailed list of the 25 performance indicators used, grouped into the dimensions to which they belong. We have placed among objective indicators those measurements of change over time that feature significant predictive capability. Thus, changes in education encountered today affect the overall value of the human capital of tomorrow, just as the reducing the incidence of various diseases has a positive effect on the expectancy of a healthy life. Similarly, current levels of economic investment condition the future competitiveness of the economy. For the subjective indicators, we have used existing measurements designed to gather assessments of future scenarios. 2.11 the different dimensions of sustainability The importance of this work is not so much to pinpoint the relative position of each country in a final classification (which discounts each country’s historical, social, and economic history and circumstances) as the existence of more or less equilibrium between the different dimensions of sustainability of well-being for each country and the possibility to identify specific areas for improvement in the different contexts, in order to increase the overall well-being of people. If the saying is true that “you get what you measure,” then only by developing more precise instruments for measurement can we design policies to maximize the overall well-being of a society. For this, however, we need to make a leap


eating planet

in quality, letting go of a narrow view of well-being reduced to its economic features, to include the broad range of real factors that combine to define the social, political, economic, and environmental conditions in which people live. Moreover, by introducing a future time horizon (current vs. sustainable wellbeing), we can call attention to the consequences of present choices on future well-being in public policy debates with more transparency. In the end, it is not just a matter of defining better indicators. What is at stake is the ability to increase noticeably the quality of public decision-making.

new tools to measure and promote well-being | food for all


table 2.1. performance indicators used in compiling the bcfn index of current well-being
psychophysical and behavioral well-being 1 life expectancy in good health 2 average time spent on meals 3 obese and overweight population (adult) 4 death rate from suicides 5 consumption of antidepressants and mood stabilizers subjective well-being 6 oecd positive experience index 7 oecd negative experience index 8 people reporting high evaluation of their life as a whole (present time) material well-being 9 disposable income 10 net family assets environmental well-being 11 pm10 levels (particulates) 12 urban waste 13 intensity of freight and passenger traffic on the street educational well-being 14 pisa (programme for international student assessment) score* 15 average annual number of college graduates 16 foreign students enrolled in the university system 17 number of newspapers sold 18 unemployment rate among graduates social well-being 19 number of hours dedicated to the care of children 20 inactivity rate among young people 21 unemployment rate 22 annual vacation days 23 diffusion of broadband internet connections 24 interpersonal trust index 25 national institution index political well-being 26 the economist intelligence unit ’s index of democracy 27 corruption perception index 50% 50% 25% 25% 10% 15% 15% 5% 5% 25% 35% 15% 10% 15% 40% 20% 40% 70% 30% 25% 25% 50% relative weight 30% 10% 20% 30% 10%

* The Program for International Student Assessment is an international survey sponsored by the OECD designed to evaluate every three years the level of education of adolescents in the leading industrialized nations. Source: BCFN, 2011.


eating planet

table 2.2 performance indicators used in compiling the bcfn index of well-being sustainability
psychophysical and behavioral well-being 1 variation in mortality from cardiovascular pathologies 2 variation in mortality from tumors 3 variation in mortality from diabetes 4 population ages 11 to 15 obese and overweight 5 percentage of smokers 6 consumption of alcohol 7 physical activity 8 spending on the consumption of fruit and vegetables 9 daily average individual consumption of calories subjective well-being 10 people reporting high evaluation of their life as a whole (future time) material well-being 11 variation of disposable income 12 per capita gross level of investment environmental well-being 13 adjusted net saving 14 contribution of renewable sources to energy supply 15 water footprint 16 total emissions (co2 /nox/sox) educational well-being 17 variation of enrollment in the tertiary educational system 18 rate of participation in ongoing education and training activities social well-being 19 persons at risk of poverty 20 rate of dependency among the elderly 21 variation from the national institution index 22 inequality in income distribution 23 differential between the rate of youthful unemployment and the overall unemployment rate political well-being 24 variation from the economist intelligence unit ’s index of democracy 25 variation from the corruption perceptions index 50% 50% 25% 25% 10% 20% 20% 60% 40% 30% 25% 25% 20% 40% 60% 100% relative weight 15% 15% 15% 10% 15% 5% 10% 10% 5%

Source: BCFN, 2011.

interviews | food for all


interview in access the key factor is diversity

Paul Roberts
What are the main reasons the global food system, on a global perspective, is not working properly? What are the key reasons for the unbalances we observe?

I would point to several factors that are destabilizing the global food system. Most obvious are the risks associated with the key agricultural “inputs,” such as energy, fertilizers, and water—risks that are only likely to grow as the system strives to feed a population of 10 billion by mid-century. Right now, the biggest input risks relate to energy. Keep in mind that our global food system was designed when oil cost less than $30 a barrel—around a quarter of the current price—which encouraged a business model in which low-cost production, not distance, was the dominating factor. But with oil trading at around $110, this system is now under extraordinary strain, with producers and manufactures, unable to easily shrink their market scale, struggling, not always successfully, to reduce costs without compromising quality or safety. Of course, researchers are working hard to find alternatives for oil. Unfortunately, the most successful current alternative—biofuels—may simply be adding pressure to prices. And, of course, transportation isn’t the only high-energy part of food production. Farming, processing, and packaging are all very energy intensive. And, of course, after the risk of energy there is the risk of water. In many areas, soaring crop yields have only been possible through rapid growth in irrigation, a practice that has gradually depleted some regional water sources to dangerous levels in both developing and advanced economies. According to a report by the National Academy of Sciences, roughly one sixth of China’s population is now being fed with irrigation that cannot be sustained. And we cannot forget the largest input—climate. Already, the effects of global warming are wreaking havoc in sub-Saharan Africa, where repeated draughts have pushed many millions of citizens into chronic food insecurity. But Africa isn’t the only climate victim. The United States, Europe, and Asia are expected to face dramatic changes in rainfall, temperature, and frequency of “extreme weather” events, such as severe drought and storms, which will significantly reduce crop yields. Add to this the risks as tropical pests migrate into temperate zones in Europe and North America, and climate change could seriously hamper global food output even as population is rising.

Paul Roberts is an American journalist and writer, the author of two nonfiction books: The End of Oil (2004) and The End of Food (2008). He writes about politics and energy issues, and regularly appears on national and international television and radio broadcasts. He is a contributor to the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, and Rolling Stone.


eating planet

In particular, do you think that the modern and industrialized agricultural approach to food, as a collection of interrelated mutually dependent parts, can effec‑ tively contribute to fighting hunger and malnutrition in the least developed and developing countries? If not, why? This is a very important question. The industrialization of agriculture was instrumental in allowing us to dramatically raise output and lower prices in the last century, and the developing world has unquestionably benefited from these advances. But too often, the developing world benefited as a recipient, not as a participant. Many developing countries lack the capital, infrastructure, and political stability to take part in large-scale industrial production, and are thus cannot compete with the developed world on price. As a result, these countries have failed to develop vital domestic food systems and must import a large share of their food, which only further drains their treasuries of the capital needed for economic development—a vicious cycle. If we want the industrial model to work in the least developed and developing countries, we need to re-design that model, in terms of scale and technology requirements, to fit the realities on the ground. Personally, I am optimistic that such a re-design is possible. But I also know it will require a lot of new thinking and strong political will, both within the developing world and elsewhere. What kind of agricultural models should be promoted and subsidized, and what should the role of R&D in agrifood systems be in order to make them more sus‑ tainable? The key point here is diversity: as we’ve seen in the developing world, we need to be promoting a whole spectrum of agricultural models. Consider the question of scale. Today, there are basically just two sizes in food production—the very large-scale model, which can be quite low cost, but also has many “external” costs, such as pollution and high-energy and water use; and the very small-scale, which can be better suited to high-quality, or specialty products, or “authentic” foods, but is often inefficient and costly. What is missing, and what we need to support, is a “middle-ground”—that is, a mid-size model that can produce food sustainably but also affordably, and which may be better suited to less developed economies. The need for diversity goes beyond scale. We need models for “polyculture”— that is, farms which grow not just one or two crops, but four or five or ten crops, all deployed in ways that help restore soil fertility or control pests naturally, with less need for synthetic inputs. Of course, we need low-capital, lowtech models of agriculture, which are appropriate for Africa and other parts of the developing world. But I think we also need a new model of agricultural

but in reality. I don’t agree. and a more sustainable model for aquaculture (in part because conventional livestock production consumes so much acreage and energy. But this very complexity undermines a hope for a simple solution. In the developing world. No doubt there are other factors. As we’ve seen. Volatility also makes investors wary about putting capital—another key “input”—into farms or. making them more prone to price swings and. as you can see. has tightened world food markets. the causes of volatility are still debated. especially Asia. food price spikes can be lethal. Urban horticulture is hugely popular in the media. Today. as some suggest. In my opinion. and one that must be reversed if we’re going to solve the food challenge of the next forty years. the future role for R&D is large indeed. importantly.or under -supply. that we must simply learn to live with higher volatility. But I do think volatility will pose one of the greatest challenges. as a specialty or a novelty.) And we must find ways to affordably produce food. prices for food. are now hugely unstable.interviews | food for all 97 production for another “undeveloped” part of the world—urban areas. coupled with biofuels production. but also backyards and parks—in other words. it is still practiced mainly in the margins. volatility makes it impossible to correctly anticipate demand or plan production. So. paradoxically. Of course. whose bets can then exacerbates price trends. high demand in emerging economies. with major repercussions for producers and consumers alike. more efficient irrigation systems. We need models that can bring urban horticulture to the urban mainstream.” Yet. how do you see the future of access to food? Volatility is quite worrying. But even among well-off producers. Among these are: food crops that require far less water or fertilizers. more attractive to speculators. considering the high level of volatility of the last few years. . into schools and resthomes and hospitals. and all the uncertainty that comes with it. it is the piece most at risk. which will have devastating long-term effects. municipal buildings and grocery story rooftops. a human-scale model for human-scale food production. Beyond developing these new models of agriculture. and for the energy necessary for food production. such as a ban on “short-selling”. and one hesitates to blame a single culprit. From a market perspective. R&D is the most critical piece of the future agriculture “puzzle. thus. into research. which are less vulnerable to food-borne pathogens. we will new elements for those models. resulting in over . because spending on agricultural R&D has been declining—part of a larger trend in all sectors. and especially fresh produce. In one theory.

98 eating planet interview agricultural policies must take into consideration the health and well-being of human beings Ellen Gustafson We know there is enough food in the world to feed everyone. then. soy and wheat. As farms in the developed world consolidated and focused on a few. Since 1980 these strong consolidated forces have over-produced corn. you can often still access soft drinks or packaged processed foods. What does it mean to deal with the “para‑ dox” in this perspective? What functional implications does it involve? . you invite us to view the “paradox” as a problem relative to the management of a single global system. Now that we are re-engaging with agricultural development. In the developing world. Products like soft drinks. What. both sides of the malnutrition coin— hunger and obesity—are likely to persist. In particular. ballooned with a population that came to assume that cheap. and fast food. food companies pushed for new ways to make “food” cheaply from those crops. but the most abundant is usually the least nutritious and most calorie dense. ever-present food was a new right and represented progress. LLC. very well known in her native country (the United States). Looking back at changes in the global food system. almost everywhere in the world to access nutritious foods. much of it is led by agribusiness with the goal of opening new markets to its fertilizers. She is the founder and executive director of The 30 Project and a cofounder of FEED Projects. package snacks. poured those crops into the Western food-stream as highly processed foods and into the developing world in the form of food aid (which dramatically increased at the expense of agricultural aid from 1980 through the mid2000’s). seismic shifts began around 1980 concurrent with consolidation in food and agribusiness. pesticides and commodity seeds. where she is fighting for a sustainable worldwide nutritional system. The fundamental problem continuing to cause both hunger and obesity is that it is difficult. You have often raised this point. where agriculture and markets are failing. highly subsidized commodities. whole grains and healthy proteins for good nutrition. a company that creates “good” products with the ambition feeding the world. are the causes of the “paradox” that has a billion people starving while a billion people are suffering the consequences of diseases linked to an excess of food? Ellen Gustafson is a young entrepreneur. what we all need is more fruits and vegetables. In the developed world. food is abundant. but not the diversity of healthy foods that are needed for good nutrition. Until those foods are focus of agricultural systems all around the world. Unfortunately.

Today. but we should also be considering the implications of our current food systemon economic development. soy. what choices of agricultural policy do you think western countries should make. Food and agriculture businesses often view the whole world as a single market but the development and policy communities have consistently segmented their work in siloes of agricultural development. We have to take very seriously the effects of agriculture’s negative externalities on human health. as farm and food factory jobs are done by migrant. and agricultural development focused on market commodities in lieu of nutrition). environmental health (especially water and soil) and the economy. almost anywhere in the world. and water issues in both the West and developing world. Specifically. even in the wealthy west. Over-pro- . vegetables. and mostly underpaid workers. environmental health. we import around 60 percent of our fruits and vegetables and we are the largest producer and exporter of corn (most of which is used to feed animals and to make processed foods. health. nutrition. drinks. and wheat dumped as food aid. We have created food economies and commodities markets that deeply link together many corners of the global system from pricing to agricultural inputs to our actual diets. to find the fruits. price fluctuations in commodity markets hurting urban consumers and small farmers. But. you can get western foods. it is much harder. The paradox of one billion hungry and one billion overweight in the world is that the same structural problems within this global foodsystem that have lead to obesity (over-production of corn. and what agricultural models should be promoted in the different geographical contexts? The first step for smart agricultural policy is for western countries to assess the damage that the current agricultural system is doing. and fuel). like soft drinks. The implications to the world’s consumers of a food system that is not rooted in health and nutrition are obvious. Cheap food has driven farmers from land and become an aggravator of our immigration and unemployment issues. lunch and dinner. undocumented. packaged sugary carbohydrates. and whole grains that we should be eating.interviews | food for all 99 The reality of the globalized economy is that we have created supply and demand systems that circumnavigate the earth—even for our breakfast. In the US. and economic development. and fried fast foods almost anywhere (even in the poorest communities) due to an unbelievable logistics network. soy and wheat leading to a preponderance of cheap foods produced from those same three ingredients) have also lead to continued hunger (over-production of corn.

fair jobs and fair trade. If people view their table as an advocacy platform.100 eating planet duction of a few commodity crops has also wreaked havoc on our diet. There is still a huge opportunity to engage the public in food system change. policy-makers. with it. especially in the west. The USDA My Plate says half of our plates . What are the main features and the results of these projects? What do you think can be the contribution of civilian society in sup‑ porting and urging their governments to resolve these serious problems? And what about the role of the agri‑food industry? The focus of my work with the 30 Project so far has been to gather the activists. as what we grow is what we eat. If we work to change our food systems through consumer shifts. helping farmers weather nature’s shifts and protecting our vital environmental resources. promoting innovation. water and soil. not just the outcomes themselves. there are some realistic pricing factors that should work to promote local and regional purchases and. Considering these externalities. with the purpose of talking about long-term shifts in the food system. along with policy changes. economic development. Although most countries will require or desire imported food. When people engaged in the food system sit down to talk about what their goals for the food system in 30 years are. Agriculture policy should be focused toward promoting more universal availability of the most nutritious foods. they agree: we need better access to healthy foods. and to re-educate people about food and nutrition. farmers. agricultural policies should be primarily focused on improved health and nutrition outcomes along with maintaining healthy soil and water. as consumers are demanding better food. Policies based on these principles are universal and will be as essential for the developed world as for the developing world. food companies and chefs from a particular city together. that the main stakeholders who are fighting hunger often work at odds with the main stakeholders who are fighting obesity through sustainable food systems. we can’t grow anything. We need to change the conversation to focus on the system problems affecting both hunger and obesity. and the 30 Project will be launching the ChangeDinner campaign with that goal. we can push to shift what is grown and how. I noticed in my work on global hunger. Companies have a huge opportunity to change food systems. food purchases and mealtime become great tools for social change. You have launched a number of important projects to deal with the parallel prob‑ lems of hunger and obesity. since without good farmers. more reasonable agriculture policies that protect all farmers as well as eaters.

so established food businesses should work to improve their practices and meet consumer demands or be eaten. better-raised foods.S. Entrepreneurs are cropping up to fulfill the demands of healthier. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Poll). .interviews | food for all 101 should be fruits and vegetables and 70% of consumers say their shopping decisions are affected by how food is grown and raised (according to a U.

reinforce worldwide governance mechanisms The special nature of food (which cannot be reduced to a commodity despite its abundance in recent decades) and the failure of distribution mechanisms make it necessary to get past the paradigm of a self-regulating market. one would hope for a reduction in the use of import barriers. Agriculture is the sector that makes the greatest contribution to income growth among the weakest populations in developing countries. while prices tend to decline with increases in the stock-to-use ratio. In general. over a sufficiently long time span. facilitate new approaches and tools for measuring and promoting well-being Policy must reflect the fact that well-being encompasses far more than one simple economic dimension and depends on the status of many economic. we can state with relative certainty that such speculation could have amplified short-term volatility. It is often the most important sector and the one toward which investment should be targeted to help build regulatory frameworks and good incentive systems. This requires at least four actions: • building a transparent. “responsible” trading system based on multilateral rules that can assure greater access to food worldwide. In particular. Policy . and other trade restrictions. political. • avoiding competition between biofuels and food in growing crops. To alleviate poverty. There is a strong connection between changes in inventories and the price trends for food commodities.102 eating planet action plan facilitate the economic development of the poorest countries Hunger is a direct consequence of poverty. export subsidies. • creating a multilateral system for food reserves and improving the transparency of flows and inventories. • regulating financial speculation on food commodities. Global policies must be coordinated and unilateral protectionist policies must be reduced over time. a reduction in the stock-to-use ratio of cereals tends to correspond to an increase in prices. and environmental factors that influence people’s lives. Despite the ongoing debate about the role speculation may play in the increase in agricultural prices. we need to develop and maintain clear and reliable pathways for sustainable development and to define and disseminate solutions and tools for developing countries in the key sectors of economic growth. social.

. and tumor-related diseases caused by harmful eating habits.action plan | food for all 103 must also acknowledge that present choices can have profound consequences for future well-being. This initiative will also become crucial in developing countries. cardiovascular. The creation of the BCFN dual indices is a small step in that direction. which are facing a health crisis from the spread of metabolic. however. better indicators are not enough. mainly because of the impact it will have on global production equilibrium in agriculture. In the end. manage food consumption styles Government action and efforts to guide nutritional patterns according to the demands of sustainability are becoming crucial variables in economic policy. they are simply one means to improve the quality of public decision making. This is taking firm shape in some developed countries.

11 3.9 3.3 3.2 3.table of contents introduction Paying What’s Fair by Carlo Petrini facts & figures the double pyramid: healthy food for people.5 The Food Pyramid as an Educational Tool Some Studies of the Mediterranean Diet The Environmental Pyramid The Double Pyramid for Growing Children The Double Pyramid over the Long Term toward sustainable agriculture 3.10 3.4 3.7 Current Leading Agricultural Paradigms The Sustainability of the Systems Used to Grow Durum Wheat: the Barilla Case the water economy and the emergency it confronts 3.8 3.6 3. Herren Virtual Water Between Underconsumption and Poor Management by Tony Allan action plan .1 3. and sustainable food for the environment 3.12 The Availability of Water: from Abundance to Scarcity The Right of Access to Water: Reality and Prospects Choices and Behaviors for Sustainable Water Consumption National Water Footprints and the Trade in Virtual Water Water Privatization and its Implications interviews The Challenging Transition Toward Sustainable Agriculture by Hans R.

The objective is to improve both human survival and the survival of the planet. food for sustainable growth Food for Sustainable Growth explores the challenges involved in making agriculture more sustainable. . 3. beginning with personal and collective lifestyle changes that help safeguard the environment and natural resources.

That pedal is pressed when the piano player wishes to prolong a note. he founded (personal and private actions as well as public or business Arcigola. nomic Sciences and Terra Today sustainability is a very widely used term. health. dent of the international association. we’re all Madre (Mother Earth). then a single level of action will not suffice. and “sustainability” has a fine etymology: it originates with reference to one of the pedals of a piano. panoramas.” It’s a fine word. food for sustainable growth Paying What’s Fair Carlo Petrini Sustainability is a concept bound up with an age-old idea: time. which in 1989 became the international projects) must be able to last over time and on a number of association. and our generation has the duty of preserving them for the generations still to come. But that’s not all. it’s significant that the carlo petrini is the presiFrench term is durabilité. and quality of life. different levels (social. economic. because the very idea of sustainability that brings together farmers and producers of food contains a germ of the understanding that the future doesn’t from around the world. We also know that if we wish to protect everything we enjoy ourselves and hope to pass on to future generations. indi- . Many of us think 2. known in English as the sustain pedal. climates. it is crucial to be able to rely upon daily acts. The clear understanding that the things we plan to do In the 1980s.000 food communities about it constantly. Slow Food. The future and natural resources are both shared patrimonies. And that is yet another factor: the idea of responsibility toward those who are not yet among us. Along with those factors. really belong to us.106 eating planet 3. Slow Food. along with international treaties and national laws. and environmental) is one Out of his ideas sprang the first University of Gastroof the crucial factors in the future of all human pursuits. It’s a concept that tells us “just how long something can last. capacity to endure. to make it endure. any more than natural resources do. In fact. We have a responsibility to those who will one day come into this world with the same rights that we enjoy: the rights to enjoy flavors. a network of more than thinking a little more about the future. What we need are certain high-level strategic approaches on the part of the governments of the world. We have certain responsibilities toward those generations.

This means that we must put emphasis not only on saving time and making money. those commodities have only one metric of value.) All too often. Farmers should be repaid for the many services that they perform for society and for the Earth. But production for the mere sake of production is not a sustainable activity and. A landscape that is covered with cement can never become fertile again. and we can never hope to restore it for the use of future generations. or vice versa. or else the prices that are influenced by various corrective supports and regulations imposed from above. Unfortunately intensive monocultures that are planted and harvested for many years without interruption permanently undermine both farmland and biodiversity. that keeps them rich and abundant for the future. Equally unnecessary and unsustainable is the unbridled spread of concrete over the landscape. Often these practices are justified by saying that they are necessary if we wish to increase production. making time and saving money. which cannot be compatible with the conservation of increasingly endangered natural and agricultural systems. the private level. and the yes-and-no decisions that each of us can make. It is lost forever. in many cases. which is the prices they fetch. We must also consider the money we spend on that food as an indicator of our involvement in a profession. the level of politics remains particularly vague and distracted. we should consider the time we spend choosing the food we will eat as time invested in the care of our health and the state of the environment at large. are profoundly bound up with the very idea of sustainability. (Even worse. . the micro-life that makes farmlands fertile and productive. That care involves a number of skills and bodies of knowledge: how to keep soil alive by the very act of farming. of commodities. not just for the price of a product. The failure to properly rotate crops and the misuse of fertilizers and pesticides only make matters worse. For instance. In terms of sustainability and food. the profession of farming. Instead. it is even genuinely ignorant. as it happens (and this is no accident). consider the care of soil and farmland. we think of agriculture as a productive sector devoid of the other values that actually do accrue to it. To politicians. a care that is also concealed in the countless array of microorganisms. not just for the products that they put on the market. This money pays for certain values. reordering the priorities of our everyday lives and business.introduction | food for sustainable growth 107 vidual choices. that makes them last. food is a crucial factor. In contrast. is certainly the forum for the most active and conscious decision making. And those factors. the care taken of a vital biodiversity that can be seen at a glance by observing the plants (whether or not they are cultivated) and the animals (wild or bred). as we shall see. Agriculture is frequently thought of by politicians as a stand-alone sector. where the actions of individuals take place. those prices can be influenced by financial speculations. it’s not even necessary. In the general context of sustainability. a mere producer of goods.

By this. and as a society. high-quality foods. two distinct ideas. Ethics and aesthetics. . if there’s no exchange. of communities that are perfectly in harmony with the environment. when we levy taxes. we are referring to the diversity of flavors and therefore of cultures: further guarantees of sustainability for the future progress of human life on this planet of ours. a collective. moreover. It is time for us to be done. It should be done through serious and carefully monitored parameters. And we should value good agriculture that respects the natural setting in which it operates. or by human activity) has rendered even more pleasant and charming. the things that we use. thus ensuring that they are sustainable foods. It should further mean including multifunctionality in our evaluation of the work done by farms. They result in the capacity to take the greatest possible benefit from a product. Those supplies should be characterized by diversity in accordance with the climates and the crops. in the context of sustainability.108 eating planet Fertile soil and biodiversity. with no confidence in our own “durability. are so complementary that they ultimately become the same thing. is much more than a mere exercise in weak-minded nostalgia or the epicurean activity of people who like to consume rare. and it is a product of the love that we feel for the things among which we live. there’s no reciprocal enrichment. the things that we transform with respect and which can therefore be perpetuated. two incompatible philosophies of life. Because if there’s no diversity there’s no identity. Actually that defense is a sustainable action that is valid for all kinds of food production. if serial standardization triumphs. especially those at risk of complete extinction. are prerequisites for abundant and healthful food supplies. with the idea that ethics and aesthetics are two separate fields. This should go well beyond lip service: it should take the form of actual strict regulations. then we become poor and defenseless. a guiding beacon.” These are only some of the leading values that we ought to pay for—both as individual citizens when we do our grocery shopping. and making its unique and distinctive flavor known far and wide. panoramas which positive anthropization (the transformation or adaptation of the environment to meet the needs of humans. Care for a territory is just one more prerequisite of sustainability. Such care and all the other values are almost automatically translated into beauty but also into goodness. And here’s why: multifunctionality—all these values—almost always translates into a more beautiful landscape. It is a defense of biodiversity. Places where it is unmistakable that someone is taking care of them. building upon its basic characteristics through agricultural techniques and techniques of transformation. a single lighthouse. The heroic determination shown by some in the defense of small local agricultural economies. once and for all. hesitant in the face of the future. and all the various factors that go along with that. Beauty and goodness are therefore integral parts of the concept of sustainability.

official figures on food waste are absolutely intolerable. Here are a few more commandments: produce a little less food. because eating is the act that is most directly and intimately linked with everything that surrounds us. In other words. are a few of the commandments that should be observed in the name of sustainability. in a world that actually produces too much food (the total quantity of food produced on Earth is more than enough to feed all the inhabitants of this planet) but wastes nearly as much as it produces. We are guests housed here. taken together with values. These. go hand-in-hand with the beautiful and the good. and everything on the planet is at our disposal. we will discover—if we haven’t already—that eating can be as pleasurable and healthful an activity as it is a sustainable one. a few actions that can be carried out on its behalf at all the levels mentioned above. “Eating is an agricultural act. But the food we eat is surely bound up with the vast and complex system that is the planet in which we live. distribute intelligently. doing our part can add small but significant portions of happiness to our lives. the fact that beauty and goodness are at the same time consequences and prerequisites of sustainability can only encourage us to change our routines. don’t overuse chemicals. Actions that. Those links are both evident and hidden because they remain impenetrable at the current level of scientific understanding. After all. Don’t destroy fertile farmland. Establish stronger and closer ties between city-dwellers and farmers and agriculture. acting first and foremost at the local level. not to mention how offensive they are in light of the billion or so people who struggle every day with outright starvation and malnutrition. the planet is our home. It must also become a sustainable act. we can do our part easily without making great sacrifices. Moreover. We can do so by learning to pay what’s fair: the right price. and small-to-medium-sized farming operations in challenging. produce better quality food. Stimulate local economies. don’t do harm in the name of mere profit to our resources. We are an integral part of it. moreover. but we are not just its tenants. We can add to that thought that eating is an ecological act. because we are part of that system.introduction | food for sustainable growth 109 Out of this thinking we can draw up a list of commandments: don’t pollute. the biosphere. until . to the land. and a political act. Encourage young people to go back to the land. To come back to individual city dwellers.” wrote the farmer-poet Wendell Berry. traditional crops and products. isolated. Defend biodiversity. an act of profound respect for the diversity of cultures. an act that affects the landscape. Very soon. or underfed areas. then. For too long now we have pretended that we are somehow an extraneous entity on that planet. Indeed. rooting production and consumption as far as possible in the various different territories. and to farmers. beginning with our food choices and our everyday grocery shopping.

110 eating planet we run out of it—which has been our reason for failing to act in a sustainable manner. But that is actually a decision that has the power to change the world. But to do so. beginning precisely with those choices that really have become insignificant for many of us—far too many of us—just because they are everyday decisions. Among them is the decision of what to eat each day.” also harms us humans. to harm our Earth and act so as to keep it from “lasting. And so even the selfish considerations that have always characterized us as a species demand that we change so many of our choices. .

with only 5% under 40. . where the aging of the farming population is taking on critical aspects: with an average age of 65.agrarian landscapes: tokyo The production of food crops in industrial plants is an increasingly concrete prospect in Japan. Production under controlled conditions furthermore makes it possible to stabilize product quantity and quality.

112 eating planet 3. the population of Earth will be 9 billion. 3 billion people will lack adequate drinking water 3 30% 2050 IMPACT OF AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITY 33% OF 80% PRODUCTION WATER CONSUMPTION . .  food for sustainable growth 9 bILLIOn + 2012 In 2050. compared to 7 billion today + bILLIOn THIRSTY PEOPLE ON EARTH In 2025.8/20% ARAbLE LAnD By the year 2050 the amount of arable land will diminish due to climate change and the geography of agricultural production will be radically modified GREENHOUSE GASES Farming is responsible for 33% of the global production of greenhouse gases and 80% of water is used to produce food.45% OF GREEn “LUnGS” Roughly 43% of all tropical and subtropical forests and 45% of all temperate forests have been converted into farmland .

500 LITERS RESOURCES In DAnGER OF EXHAUSTIOn 32% of the fishing areas have been over fished. impoverished. while a diet composed of cereals. or exhausted entirely 32% FISHInG COnSUMPTIOn OF VIRTUAL WATER The consumption of virtual water with a diet rich in meat is close to 5.8% of all farmland will be used for biofuels .600 LITERS 1.600 liters -THE EMISSIONS 30% OF 1% 2012 3. fruit. while a third of all farmland is cultivated for the production of animal feed.8% 2030 OF CO2 IN AGRICULTURE The use of climate friendly farming practices can reduce CO2 emissions generated by farming by 30% USE OF bIOFUELS Currently 1% of all farmland is used for biofuels.facts & figures | food for sustainable growth 113 LIVESTOCK bREEDInG FOR 1/3 FARMLANDANIMAL FEED 26% USE OF LAND THE PRODUCTION OF FOR PASTURAGE Livestock are the main users of agricultural land: roughly 26% of land is used for pasture or grazing. 5. and fish uses somewhere between 1.5% and 3.400 LITERS 2.500 and 2. between 2.400 liters. By 2030. vegetables.

on the basis of further analysis. but also the health of the planet we inhabit. The food/nutritional section of the Double Pyramid was built with an eye to the model of the Mediterranean diet. The reason is simple: it is from this “agro-alimentary” sector that many of the problems—and a great many of the solutions—of sustainability first arise. In fact. which is the traditional approach to food adopted in such Mediterranean basin countries as Italy. the Double Pyramid was updated and redesigned in the version shown in Figure 3. In 2010 the BCFN created and published the Double Food and Environmental Pyramid. and sustainable food for the environment It’s impossible to get a grip on the topic of development unless we put into the foreground all the pieces that make up the vast system that transports food from farms to tables. the level of each food category suggests the proper frequency of consumption. Further. the producers. the collective advantage is frequently at odds with individual advantages. and the foods at the base of the pyramid should be part of every meal. In 2011. in fact: it is fair to say that the reduction of one’s “nutritional environmental footprint”—which benefits everyone—not only incurs no additional costs. but also—and perhaps even more so—on the behaviors of individuals and families. the sustainability of the agro-alimentary chain of production depends not only on the commitment of the farmers. it actually benefits one’s own health as well.114 eating planet the double pyramid: healthy food for people. asking people to be more responsible in no way diminishes their well-being. But in the food sector. a communications tool for linking the nutritional aspects and the environmental impacts of food. But there is a key difference between the food sector and other sectors. While it is crucial to ensure the greatest possible variety in one’s diet. and millions of other cars—and the traffic jams and congestion they create—can make owning a car almost pointless. In other words. the foods closest to the top of the pyramid should be eaten least frequently. In transportation. Quite the opposite. . your having a car interferes a little bit with my enjoyment of my own car. In the food pyramid on the left. and the distributors.1. for instance. who have such a powerful effect on the entire market with the daily choices and decisions they make. the BCFN has analyzed the data available concerning the ecological footprint of certain foods and has discovered unexpected and interesting “environmental” qualities of those products that nutritionists tell us we ought to eat more of. It has been shown that if you adopt as a regular menu the choices that appear on the classic food pyramid (which places at the top the foods that should be consumed less frequently and at the base the foods that it is healthiest to eat in abundance). not only do you respect your own health.

in fact.1 The model of the food and environment double pyramid Source: BCFN. It was built by reclassifying the same foods that appear in the nutritional pyramid in terms of their impact on the environment: those closest to the base have the greatest environmental impact. The new portion of the Double Pyramid is the environmental pyramid.1. Pasta Milk. Rice. Eggs . Greece. Potatoes. Conversely. en Fruit Potatoes Vegetables v ir Oil on me n dc ste tal Bread. though inverted.the double pyramid | food for sustainable growth 115 environmental pyramid low Sweets Red Meat Cheeses Eggs White Meat Fish Cookies Milk Yogurt high Red meat Cheese Fish su mp ti on ge Bread. in a single food model. and southern France. It has been recognized by a number of nutritional scientists as one of the finest diets available. This brings together. and those closest to the top are most eco-sustainable. The Mediterranean diet stands out for its completeness and its remarkable nutritional balance. especially cardiovascular diseases. also the foods that result in the smallest and most limited environmental impact. Legumes Fruit Vegetables su g high low food pyramid figure 3. Rice. two different but equally significant objectives: personal health and safeguarding the environment. Pasta. becomes unmistakable if you turn the environmental pyramid upside-down. when it comes to physical health and the prevention of chronic diseases. hands down. This pairing of the two pyramids shows that the sequence of foods is roughly the same. 2011. Sweets Yogurt. this correlation. the foods that are recommended for the most restricted consumption are also the foods that have the greatest environmental impact. generally speaking. Spain. Portugal. Cookies im pa c Oil Poultry on t Legumes. shown on the right in figure 3. The double pyramid makes it easy to see that the foods recommended for greatest consumption are.

with an emphasis. and how much. Keys discovered that it was due to this diet (which he dubbed the “Mediterranean diet”) that rates of death from heart disease in the countries of southern Europe and North Africa were much lower than the rates found in English-speaking and other northern countries. typical of the dietary habits of the Mediterranean region. in Italy and elsewhere. mineral salts. The carbohydrates found in fruit and vegetables consist for the most part of simple sugars. which are foods with limited caloric content that provide the body with water. the base of the pyramid. The secret of longevity lies in the balanced consumption of all natural foods. The first level contains fruits and vegetables. Protein and fat content is very low. and grain products. vitamins. Continuing upward. Unfortunately. As we move upward. which can be easily utilized by the body. At the same time. which helps regulate intestinal function and makes us feel full. We hope to help reverse this sad trend with the Double Pyramid. there has been a striking increase in the number of people who can freely choose what. where the diet tended to be rich in saturated fat. Let’s take a more detailed look at the food pyramid. we find foods with progressively greater energy density (very much present in the American diet). which contributes to lower consumption of high-energy foods. potatoes. vegetable. Plant-based foods are also the chief source of fiber. Pasta . water) and protective compounds (fibers and plantbased bioactive compounds). which ought to be consumed in smaller quantities.1 the food pyramid as an educational tool In recent years. that are rich in nutrients (vitamins. since then the Mediterranean diet. are at great risk of developing imbalanced diets because they lack an adequate food culture or widespread nutritional guidelines that are clearly understood and easy to apply. and sweets. thanks to its simple and intuitive graphic nature. carbohydrates. and legumes. we find pasta. rice. and fiber. The American physiologist Ancel Keys. American fast food). The general pattern is obvious: at the base we find plant-based foods. and small amounts of starch. it is important to reduce the consumption of foods rich in saturated fats. was one of the first to explain to a worldwide audience why people were longer-lived in certain regions. which has two strengths: it is an excellent synthesis of the principal knowledge developed by medicine and by food studies. These people.116 eating planet 3. on fruit. meats. minerals. who published the best-seller Eat Well and Stay Well in 1958. in terms of frequency and quantity. has been challenged by competition from global food models (first and foremost. they eat. however. One unmistakable indicator of this fact is the recent galloping spread of pathologies caused by excessive consumption of the wrong kinds of food (as well as a concomitant decline in physical activity among all age groups). bread. In particular. and it is a powerful educational tool for changing patterns of consumption.

Legumes are also an excellent source of B vitamins (especially B1. In general terms. Just beyond that we come to milk and yogurt. and even lower fat content. is considered to be beneficial in the prevention of cardio-circulatory diseases. B2. but practically no carbohydrates at all. It may be more easily digested than milk by people who suffer from lactose intolerance.the double pyramid | food for sustainable growth 117 is rich in starch. The vitamins found in the largest quantities in milk are A. phosphorus. Milk is also the chief source of calcium in the human diet. fish. vitamin E. in particular. niacin. eggs. while they are rich in starch and carbohydrates. Milk is almost 90 percent water. because it contains the necessary level of carbohydrates to provide the human body with the ideal fuel. Fish fats contain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Last of all. and calcium. white meats. and B12) and such minerals as iron and zinc. which belong to the category of essential fatty acids. such as cheeses. we find a vast assortment of diverse products. which is made up of galactose and glucose). legumes are the highest-protein plant-based foods known (proteins of excellent quality) and also contain lots of fiber. which is composed of triglycerides (rich in monounsaturated fatty acids). Cheeses also contain significant amounts of calcium in a form that is well absorbed into the bloodstream. Cookies are composed of a wide variety of ingredients with different nutrient and energy content. there is a significant content of simple sugars. essential fatty acids. Potatoes have very low fat and protein content. Cheeses contain proteins and fats. is a food with high nutritional value. like all cereal grains. Then come fish and eggs. with trace contents of high-quality proteins. . like milk. Yogurt. the second part of the pyramid. fish contain proteins with an elevated metabolic value and variable quantities of fats up to 10 percent of the weight of the food. Rice also contains small quantities of minerals and B vitamins. the family of the omega-3 fatty acids. mostly easily digested short-chain saturated fats (many of which are also rich in animal fats that encourage the rise of plasma cholesterol levels and should therefore be consumed in moderation) and sugars (chiefly lactose. has high starch content. B12. At the next higher level. with a substantial protein content and a negligible lipid ratio. Bread is a staple. Rice. B1. B vitamins are present in small quantities and there is a good quantity of vitamin A. Eggs contain proteins with such a high metabolic value that for years the protein composition of eggs was the benchmark used to evaluate the proteins of other foods. on average between 9 percent and 25 percent. polyphenols. low protein content. They are also a very significant source of potassium. and cookies. while the fat content is quite variable. They are a good alternative to meat. and pantothenic acid. One level farther up we find extra-virgin olive oil. Legume proteins are rich in essential amino acids and are easily digested. and phytosterols.

It can range from virtually zero to almost 30 percent. legumes. depending on the kind of meat. especially lean meat. a series of studies has also shown a strong correlation between diet .2 some studies of the mediterranean diet From an analysis of the many reference studies. and cereal grains (which in the past were largely unrefined). Fat content is variable. is important because it helps to provide high quality proteins. fresh and dried fruit. the diets adopted by various populations were compared to determine their benefits and critical points. It also showed that elevated levels of saturated fatty acids in the diet and of cholesterol in the bloodstream are factors capable of explaining the difference in rates of mortality and predicting future rates of coronary disease in the populations studied. About half of the proteins in meat consist of amino acids that are essential to the human organism.118 eating planet The consumption of meat. and zinc. B12). which is the same model employed by the BCFN for the construction of the food pyramid. cancer. This is evident in the many versions of the food pyramid developed by national and international institutes that place red meat at the very top of the pyramid. we can see that one protective factor against many of the most common chronic diseases—especially cardiovascular diseases and tumors. and limited consumption of red meat. and animal fats. From Keys’s study to the present day. but also Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases—is the adoption of a way of eating based on the Mediterranean nutritional model. with a small proportion of polyunsaturated fats. That diet is characterized by high consumption of vegetables. In that study. olive oil. moderate consumption of fish and dairy products (especially cheese and yogurt) and wine. along with sweets (which are rich in fats and simple sugars) and should be consumed in moderation. 3. The consumption patterns typical of the Mediterranean diet in fact appear to be consistent with the nutritional guidelines set forth by the most respected international scientific societies and institutions working on the most common pathologies of our time (in particular. The study demonstrated associations between types of diet and the risk of developing chronic diseases. White meats are therefore recommended and the consumption of red meat should be reduced. cardiovascular diseases. white meat. and diabetes). extensive research has analyzed the links between ways of eating and the rise of chronic diseases. The nutritional value of the Mediterranean diet was scientifically proven by the well-known “Seven Countries Study” conducted by Ancel Keys. Beginning in the mid1990s. copper. We also find B vitamins (in particular. selenium. The fats are mainly saturated and monounsaturated. which are crucial to children’s growth and to the formation of muscles.

. Popular with families and used by schools. for people who live in major urban areas. but also as means for teaching about food and food production. they offer a chance to experience. “in the places of knowledge Community gardens and vegetable patches are becoming. especially in big cities.” where food comes from. increasingly common. and not only for food production.

Alzheimer’s disease).120 eating planet figure 3. Last of all. For instance. A major international effort is under way to make the arguments of the food pyramid and the Mediterranean diet increasingly accessible to ordinary people. sexual disturbances (both female and male. from the pyramid to the dinner plate. 2011. which evaluated 485. A recent broad-based European study by EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition). found some 70 scientific publications focusing on the Mediterranean diet. One example is what the United States . respiratory diseases or allergies.2 The graphic representation of food advice issued by the USDA Source: USDA. over a three-month time span. erectile dysfunction). showed that strict adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a significant reduction (-33 percent) of the risk of developing a gastric carcinoma. it is worth noting that research shows that the Mediterranean diet has a positive impact at all ages. and longevity. cardiovascular diseases. including metabolic conditions.044 adult subjects over a period of about nine years. from the prenatal period into advanced old age. for instance. Those publications presented the findings of clinical or epidemiological studies showing that following the Mediterranean diet resulted in measurable benefits in a broad array of areas of human health. that a study appearing in the PubMed scientific database. as well as a number of oncological (cancer-related) pathologies. neurological or psychiatric diseases (for instance.

3. a different visual translation of the contents of the Food Pyramid (figure 3. transport. distribution. . and tumors.3 Scheme of medical guidelines Source: BCFN.4). it is clear that a large share of the most respected scientific research on the relationship between diet and chronic diseases shows. 2009. and follows them through processing. that the Mediterranean dietary model must be taken as a point of reference for proper nutrition and that “healthy” lifestyles should be associated with that diet. fabrication. The LCA approach offers the most objective and complete evaluation possible of the system (figure 3. recycling.3 shows the guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. and final disposal.2). It was constructed from research tracing the environmental effects of various food types using the life-cycle assessment (LCA) method.3 the environmental pyramid The food pyramid based on the Mediterranean diet is clearly among the healthiest dietary approaches available. assembly. healthy diet and lifestyle 30 minutes of physical activity every day 1 Avoid conditions of overweight and obesity 2 Avoid the excessive consumption of alcohol Prefer complex carbohydrates and increase the consumption of unrefined cereal grains 3 Don’t smoke 7 Increase the consumption of legumes 8 4 5 Adopt a balanced diet Increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables 9 6 Consume 2‑3 portions of fish every week Restrict the consumption of meat and poultry to 3‑4 portions a week Prefer plant‑based condiments 10 11 Restrict the consumption of foods with high fat content Restrict the consumption of foods and beverages with high sugar content 15 Restrict the consumption of fried foods 12 13 Restrict the added consumption of salt 14 16 Avoid the daily use of food supplements figure 3. reuse. diabetes. However a healthy diet is depicted. beyond any reasonable doubt. use. Figure 3. LCA analysis follows a product or service throughout its entire life in order to evaluate the energy and environmental loads imposed by its production.the double pyramid | food for sustainable growth 121 Department of Agriculture is doing in America with the USDA food plate. But what about its impacts on the health of the environment? The BCFN Environmental Pyramid is an effort to illustrate those impacts. LCA begins with the initial cultivation or extraction of raw materials.

600 9.000 / 25. Transportation figure 3.000 3.000 4. Cooking 3.850 3. 2011.900 3.000 4.500 26. Packing 4.000 figure 3.200 2.100 900 670 665 600 0 2.200 legend average value + cooking cooking max min 8.4 The LCA method of analysis is regulated by the international standards ISO 14040 and 14044 Source: BCFN. .250 3.122 eating planet 1.000 Bread Fruit Vegetables Potatoes 3.900 1.5 Carbon footprint of foods (gCO2 eq per kg or liter of food) Source: BCFN.600 8.300 1.300 2.640 4.000 2.000 6.000 Beef Cheese Butter Eggs Pork Fish Rice Poultry Oil Dried Fruit Pasta Breakfast Cereal Sweets Cookies Legumes Margarine Milk Yogurt 1.000 8.000 1. 20.000 / 45. 2011.400 1.600 1.000 4.000 2. Transformation 5. Cultivation 2.

and the capacity to regenerate the territorial resources that are utilized in producing food. .775 1.400 3. BCFN chose to construc the environmental pyramid using only the ecological footprint. It is measured in volume (liters) of water (figure 3.000 Beef Dried Fruit Oil Cheese 15.140 1.000 6. 2011.000 min max 1.000 4.000 5.6 Water footprint of foods (liters of water per liter or kg of food) Source: BCFN.6). We include the descriptions of the carbon and water footprints to make it clear that a truly complete accounting of the environmental impacts of food would require using multiple “lenses. A food’s water footprint (or virtual water content) accounts for the consumption and means of use of water resources.000 legend average value 1. In the interests of brevity and clarity.800 3.” 10.000 1. Finally.300 3.160 3. the utilization of water resources. however. It important to note that the impacts considered in the BCFN environmental pyramid are not the only ones generated by the food production sector.300 1. They are.000 Butter Pork Poultry Rice Eggs Legumes Sweets Pasta Cookies Bread Milk Yogurt Fruit Potatoes Vegetables 2.360 5.000 / 15.000 930 920 900 240 0 2.900 3.500 8.555 5.000 4. the ecological footprint of a food measures the quantity of biologically productive land (or sea) necessary to supply resources and absorb the emissions associated with a system of production.000 4. measured in equivalent CO2 mass (figure 3. the most significant impacts.000 8. To measure greenhouse gases.560 5.000 Breakfast Cereal figure 3.the double pyramid | food for sustainable growth 123 environmental indicators. A close look at the chains of food production reveals that the chief environmental loads are represented by three factors: the emission of greenhouse gases (which help drive climate change). It is measured in global square meters or hectares (figure 3.5).7). BCFN used the carbon footprint.

Imagine how great a reduction of environmental impact an individual could bring about by merely modifying his or her eating habits! Let’s take a sample week’s diet.4 the double pyramid for growing children The generic Double Pyramid is aimed primarily at adults.124 eating planet 100 Beef Cheese Butter Fish Margarine Oil Pork Poultry Legumes Sweets Yogurt Eggs Pasta 15 15 93 71 40 109 86 50 66 28 25 19 16 25 18 16 15 Milk Cookies Breakfast Cereal Rice Bread Fruit Potatoes Vegetables 15 13 13 13 legend average value + cooking cooking max. If we limit the consumption of animal proteins to just twice a week. so we also explored the concept of the Double Pyramid for growing children and adolescents. and carbohydrates). as recommended by nutritionists. and imagine three different dietary regimens. Figure 3. 3 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 / 160 0 10 figure 3. it is possible to “save” as much as a total of 20 square meters a day. fats. the proteins are from plants (“vegetarian menu”). In the first menu. 3.7 The ecological footprint of foods (global square meter per kg or liter of food) Source: BCFN. both for caloric content and nutrients (proteins. with varying frequencies of a vegetarian menu as opposed to a meat menu. 2011. the influence of food choices. 7 4 12 4 min.8 gives an idea of the degree to which individual food choices can affect the ecological footprint by comparing two different daily menus. The meat menu has a three‑fold greater environmental impact than the vegetarian menu. while in the second menu the proteins are for the most part of animal origin (“meat menu”). . Both menus are balanced in nutritional terms. however.

the double pyramid | food for sustainable growth 125 2.210 g CO2 eq 140 g CO2 eq figure 3.095 Breakfast vegetarian menu total kcal g CO2 eq 14% 30% 56% Mid‑morning snack 1 Portion low‑fat yogurt 1 Fruit Lunch Protein Fats Carbohydrates 1 Portion of fruit (200 g) 4 Zwieback toasts 1 Portion of pasta with fennel 1 Portion of squash and leek quiche 195 g CO2 eq 210 g CO2 eq 555 g CO2 eq Snack 1 Portion of low‑fat yogurt 1 Packet of unsalted crackers 145 g CO2 eq Dinner 1 Portion of vegetables: steamed green beans (200 g) and potatoes (400 g) with grated cheese (40 g) 990 g CO2 eq 2.720 g CO2 eq Snack 1 Portion of low‑fat yogurt Dinner 1 Portion of vegetable soup/pasta with peas 1 Grilled beef steak (150 g) 1 Slice of bread 4.455 Breakfast meat menu total kcal g CO2 eq Protein 15% 25% Mid‑morning snack 1 Portion of fruit (200 g) 135 g CO2 eq Fats Carbohydrates 60% Lunch 1 Cup of low‑fat milk 4 Cookies 250 g CO2 eq 1 Portion of cheese pizza.140 6. mixed green salad 1.030 2.8 How the ecological footprint varies as a function of food choices Source: BCFN. . 2011.

There are three critical factors that should be avoided during adolescence to lower the risk of chronic disease during adulthood: • developing bad eating habits. While the public is fairly well aware of this correlation in the case of adults. or gaining excessive weight. • neglecting prevention or ignoring risk factors. such as by failing to monitoring the adolescent’s weight or scheduling checkups with a pediatrician. But even considering diet alone. and arterial hypertension.126 eating planet Breakfast 20% Dinner 30% Mid‑morning snack 5% Afternoon snack 10% Lunch 35% figure 3. or in front of the computer instead of engaging in physical activity. playing videogames. based on nutritionists’ and pediatricians’ understanding of the nutrients needed for proper development in various phases of growth.10 illustrate the daily allocation of calories and the makeup of an optimal weekly diet. it has been clearly shown that there is a strong link between poor nutrition. such as an acceleration of the processes that lead to diabetes and to cardiovascular diseases in adulthood. and increased risk of contracting chronic diseases. They can also generate longterm effects. consuming alcohol and tobacco.9 and 3.9 The recommended breakdown of daily caloric intake for children and adolescents Source: BCFN. Figures 3. dyslipidaemia. excessive body weight. In combination these three factors can rapidly produce obesity. poor nutrition and chronic diseases. • adopting a sedentary lifestyle. insulin resistance. the crucial importance of diet in the prevention of many diseases in children and young people is less widely understood. 2011. such as spending one’s free time watching TV. .

Agroforestry methods improve soil and water availability.making farms and forests coexist Teaching how to make farm crops and forest harvests coexist is the objective of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). and fodder provided by farms. fuel. . while at the same time. which works in Kenya to spread land management models designed to ensure better living conditions for the poorest farmers. increasing the variety of food.

pasta.). etc. A proper diet will contain a lot of day-to-day variety: a mixture of foods that includes plant-based foodstuffs (fruit. 2011. numerous international studies show that poor eating habits are widespread among children aged 6 to 10 and that those habits tend to undermine proper growth and predispose them to weight gain.128 eating planet Consumption of cereal grains (bread. dairy products. cereal grains. vegetables. especially whole grains Consumption of fruit and vegetables Consumption of milk and dairy products EVERY DAY Consumption of meat EVERY DAY Consumption of fish EVERY DAY Consumption of cheese 2/3 TIMES A WEEK Consumption of eggs AT LEAST THREE TIMES A WEEK Consumption of legumes TWICE A WEEK ONE EVERY TWO WEEKS AT LEAST TWICE A WEEK figure 3. ham. but is also prin- . cheese. Despite these recommendations. The same studies also show that the daily caloric intake observed for most school-aged children is not only greater than their needs.) and animal-based foods (meat. seeds.10 The optimal weekly breakdown of food intake for children and adolescents Source: BCFN. Only 1 percent of all children consume portions and varieties of food that are nutritionally optimal. etc. legumes. and rice).

as well as meats and fish. And it is precisely in those terms that the table 3. and dinner. 2011. The need for unsaturated fats should be met with fish and dried fruit. (The needs of youth are comparable in terms of frequency of consumption to those of adults). Avoid excessive introduction of calories by not eating highly caloric foods. Moving up the pyramid. more bread. especially as an adult. For these products. or foods with elevated concentrations of fats. supplying all the nutrients and micronutri‑ ents (calcium. the BCFN has constructed a nutritional pyramid that is used in the development of the Double Pyramid applicable to children (particularly from the age of two) and adolescents (figure 3. simple and complex sugars (through the consumption of fewer sweets. Reduce as much as possible one’s sedentary life. instead of fruits and vegetables. pasta. Distribute the intake of food to five moments throughout the day: breakfast. As with adults. preferably utilizing plant oils as a condiment. etc.11). 3. morning snack. Source: BCFN.) that an adolescent needs. we find milk and dairy products (preferably in low-fat versions). Table 3.1 summarizes the BCFN’s exploration of the research on the nutritional needs of growing children in a set of broad guidelines for achieving a diet and lifestyle suited to the proper and healthy development of children and adolescents. to preserve itself intact and vital over the long term. or rice). which should have a 1:1 ratio. afternoon snack. The very concept of “sustainability” contains the fundamental value of “durability”—the capacity of any system.5 the double pyramid over the long term The symbolic power of the Double Pyramid grows if it is viewed in a long-term context. Engage in physical activity for at least an hour every day. iron. a relatively low frequency of consumption is recommended. until we finally come to products with higher fat and sugar content. Based on the information we’ve described in these pages. including both sports and play. potatoes. animal and plant fats (by using less lard and butter and more olive oil). Break down the nutrients during the day so as to assure the presence of a proper equilibrium between the intake of animal and plant proteins. in particular time spent in front of a video screen (television and computer). natural or social.1 – summary of the macro-guidelines for healthy growth Adopt a healthy balanced diet that alternates all the chief food groups on a daily basis. . Reduce to a minimum the extra intake of salt in order to reduce the risk factors for developing hypertension. especially whole and unrefined grains. These are very important because of their fiber content and the presence of nutrients that protect against disease. lunch. Avoid consuming food outside of the five moments just listed. the diet for children and adolescents ought to be based prevalently on plants. This is especially true of children with a tendency toward obesity. and in particular the various cereal grains.the double pyramid | food for sustainable growth 129 cipally oriented toward the consumption of fats and sugars. as well as fruits and vegetables. vitamins.

Such a campaign should focus on parents and the educational system. leads to certain implications that ought to be further explored and popularized among families and educators. en Milk and Dairy Products Yogurt ge Fruit and vegetables v ir on me n ste Legumes White meat Fish Eggs Cheeses su mp ti Legumes Sweets Yogurt Eggs Bread Milk and Dairy Products Pasta Rice Cereal Grains (50% unrefined) dc on tal im pa c Fats/ Oils White meat on t . On the one hand. and secondarily on the children themselves. On the other hand. Pasta.130 eating planet environmental pyramid low Fats / Oils Sweets Red meat high Red meat Cheese Fish su g Fruit and vegetables Cereal Grains (50% unrefined). beginning with children. The adoption of a proper dietary model thus has both direct and indirect effects on the future of our children. model of the Double Pyramid suggests that we evaluate all our dietary choices and behaviors—including those that may seem unimportant in the short term but which can loom much larger if measured over time. via the spread of overweight and obesity) and a corresponding reduction of their life expectancy. Bread. In this context. the same foods that ought to consumed less frequently) is causing a substantial impact on the environment and on natural resources that might well further reduce the quality of life and the overall welfare of the coming generations. applying the Double Pyramid to future generations. That development runs counter to a well-established trend of growing life expectancies. That makes it indispensable to create a collective sense of responsibility.11 The double pyramid for growing children and adolescents Source: BCFN. 2011. the excessive use of certain foods (generally speaking. increasingly widespread ways of eating are leading to a gradual decline in the health of younger people (in particular. Rice high low food pyramid figure 3. parents and school systems must commit to collaborating more intensely to the nutritional education of future generations.

and pesticides). These variables. briefly. technologically appropriate. economically viable and socially acceptable. Agriculture is a complex activity and its sustainability depends on many factors. There is also the population variable (now and in the future) and the growing significance of migration (especially in the most critical socioeconomic contexts) as well as the impact of the various agricultural models on food security and human health (epidemics. and fossil fuel-based energy. we must consider energy issues (the production and use of energy and. extreme weather phenomena. Interest in such practices has risen chiefly . Sustainable agriculture can be defined. in particular. optimize the consumption and use of water. changes in precipitation.toward sustainable agriculture | food for sustainable growth 131 toward sustainable agriculture The field of sustainable agriculture has reached a point at which the debate is focused increasingly on agro-alimentary biotechnologies. water. as “food production that makes the best use of nature’s goods and services while not damaging these assets.” 1 As the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reminds us. In that context. These measures ensure both that farmers and producers receive adequate income and that the land is protected and safeguarded. minimize the application of plant protection products (such as herbicides. etc. Western and otherwise) and the consequences of climate change (increase of average temperatures. and the availability and use of water resources. malnutrition). fungicides. and encourage biodiversity (which reinforces the resiliency of ecosystems and their ability to self-regulate). soil quality (soil loss and soil depletion). Given the possibility of energy shocks that could undermine one or more of that reality’s constituent factors. is environmentally non-degrading. In addition to the agro-alimentary production system in the narrowest sense (the actual productive chain).”2 The various models of sustainable agriculture share certain traits in their interactions with the ecosystem: they seek to protect the soil against erosion. work together to describe the complex reality of world agriculture (figure 3. plant and genetic resources. of fossil fuels).). in their reciprocal influence and interaction. In this section we will evaluate the chief characteristics of agricultural production paradigms with respect to their sustainability. And of course any evaluation of the world’s agricultural systems must address two additional underlying themes: dietary habits (current and future. it: “conserves land. it is urgent that new forms of equilibrium be found in order to make the structure sustainable over the long term. BCFN has developed its own vision of agricultural sustainability and has used it as a reference point in examining the critical issues and opportunities in various forms of agricultural innovation. undernutrition.12). synthetic fertilizers.

especially petroleum. herbicides. and potassium). corn.132 eating planet for two reasons: the spreading awareness of the damage conventional agriculture inflicts on the environment. 2011.12 The model developed by the IAASTD for representing the complex system of agriculture Source: IAASTD. phosphorus. the practice of monoculture. In the past 50 years farming has developed rapidly—though not at the same pace in all regions of the world—toward the adoption of technologies capable of increasing the productivity of individual farmers and toward a general modernization of production techniques. and the adoption of agrochemistry (the massive use of pesticides. and growing concern about the potential scarcity of key resources. These led to a striking rise in the volumes of production per working farmer. land loss & flooding energy sector Land Loss food production Life Sustaining Calories per Capita Biofuels Production Petroleum Use for Fertilizer o o Habitat Conversion s s o s health catastrophes Famines s Calorie Gap s s r Toxic Residue r Fertilizer Demand s o s b Acres in Agriculture o b Calories per Capita o o Human Human Population Human s Deaths Births Population Density Soil Capacity Soil Nutrient Productioin o Soil Nutrient Consumption s Plant Calories Plant Plant Consumption Production Droughts s o Plant Calories for Human Use s s human population o Migration Soil Salinization s s Irrigation Variation in Rainfall Pattern s Plant Calories for Meat Production s s s Exposure to a Higher Standard of Living s s s Water Demand s Global Temperature s s Pursuit of 1 st World Food Mix Meat Calories Meat Consumption migration s fresh water s Methane Production s global warming Meat Production s figure 3. the spread of mechanized farming. especially of wheat. In certain areas. and synthetic fertilizers developed through the use of nitrogen. fungicides. four new innovations appeared: high-yield plant varieties (HYVs). beginning in the 1960s and 1970s. and rice. .

But an organic pig farm can provide a different vision of meat production. In addition. These farms have series of smaller enclosures for pigs.single room With regard to environmental impact. leading to the overuse of antibiotics. factory farming represents the most critical sector of the entire food system. . animals are often raised in crowded and unsanitary conditions. allowing animals to have access to the outdoors.

with deposits rapidly running out in the three leading producing countries. It has made possible a lengthy period of rising productivity and low prices for foodstuffs. • The use of approximately 70 percent of all available water resources. Forty percent of world farmland is depleted or poor. • The gradual reduction of the expanse of large forested areas. 5-7 September 2011.” Paris. The develop- food. Roughly 43 percent of all tropical and subtropical forests and 45 percent of temperate forests have been converted into farmland. However. “Expert Meeting on Greening the Economy with Agriculture. Moreover. • The use of 80 percent of all available phosphorus. This accounts for some 30 percent of global emissions of greenhouse gases. . depleted. in the production of fertilizers. and loss of biodiversity. especially since the mid-twentieth century. in the last decade the trend of growth in agricultural productivity has dropped sharply. and mechanization. this includes the conversion of some 13 million hectares (32 million acres) of wetland forests in southeast Asia. agrochemistry. largely for the production of palm oil. in irrigation. agriculture. and in mechanization).134 eating planet This model. • The poor and exploitative management of farmland and forests. allows farmers to take advantage of potential economies of scale throughout the entire production chain. as the 2009 report from the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge. with the risks of ”peak oil pricing” leading to price surges and of climate change. Science. and 52 percent fully exploited. emerging from the combination of intensive monoculture. ushering in a period of stagnating yields. Thirty-twopercent of those areas have been overfished. water contamination. or exhausted. • Heavy dependency on fossil fuels as an input (for instance. this increase in productivity was won at the cost of the intensive and often irreversible exploitation of natural resources: soil erosion. • The intense exploitation of fishing areas. deforestation. and the scarcity of natural resources* The incessant drive to exploit farmland and increase yields. * FAO/OECD. and Technology for Development (IAASTD) (Agricul‑ ture at a Crossroads) firmly reminds us (the report was the work of 400 world experts over four years). has led to an array of alarming trends: • The grave depletion of arable farmland. pollution of drainage basins.

0% CAGR 75‑86 2. the trend was identified by using a moving five‑year average.5% CAGR 98‑09 1.0% CAGR 86‑98 1. economic. and social sustainability. meanwhile. 2011. ment that marked the first 30 years since the introduction of the intensive monoculture paradigm has progressively lost momentum (figure 3.toward sustainable agriculture | food for sustainable growth 135 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 CAGR 64‑75 3. and environmental.13). at least not one that is capable of delivering high-volume production. That is why the debate over the process of radically rethinking the prevalent models and approaches is nowadays more wide open and vibrant than ever before. 2009 1993 2003 1983 1999 2007 1963 1981 1987 1989 1991 1997 1969 2001 1961 1965 1973 1979 1967 1975 1977 1985 1971 . has led to experimentation with approaches that are more considerate of overall sustainability.13 The trend of corn yield per hectare–USA (metric tons per hectare. The critique of the intensive monoculture approach. high-quality product. for every single year considered. The first task is to identify the underlying prerequisites of the potential agricultural models in light of the demand for sustainability.6% 1995 2005 Annual yield per hectare (metric tons per hectare) Trend (simple moving five‑year average) CAGR = Compound Annual Growth Rate figure 3. a clear way forward has not yet materialized. Source: Elaboration of data from United States Department of Agriculture Database. 1961‑2009) Note: Yield per hectare has been calculated as the relationship between the level of production and the area harvested. But despite some promising results from the emerging new models.

This is because it is important to ensure sufficient yields.136 eating planet a future to be built. a central issue will continue to be the control and elimination of diseases and infestations of crops. In large areas of the world. In these areas. in which the numerous systems of agricultural production are broken down into three main categories:3 HEI (high external input) systems. What is crucial in this approach is the reference to the intensity of resources consumed (figure 3. the quest for a sustainable balance between . and the limited use of chemical products. IEI (intermediate external input) systems. IEI models call for the use of plant varieties modified by traditional techniques of crossbreeding and hybridization. agriculture is dominated by pure subsistence farming. by intense mechanization (which corresponds to a low level of manpower). Most agricultural models are IEI systems and fall somewhere in between. For instance. and food security. rightly. At the opposite extreme of the spectrum we find LEI systems. Systems based on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are emblematic of this approach. and by heavy dependency on synthetic fertilizers and plant protection products. Another open and important issue is agricultural productivity. It will also become increasingly crucial to identify techniques that allow us to confront the challenges of the changes under way (and expected only to increase) in two key factors: availability of water and quality of soil. 3. While it is true that the widely acknowledged problems of access to food are chiefly due to poor distribution than to any real insufficiency of world agricultural production. by the use of plant varieties with high yields in terms of productivity. the use of techniques involving considerable labor and knowledge.14). of particular interest in terms of sustainability is the approach proposed by the FAO. These are production models designed to maximize output in conditions of optimal efficiency through attainable economies of scale. stability of production. Here the focus is on the use of traditional plant varieties. Among these. especially when we look to those parts of the world that are still developing and need a significant improvement in average living conditions. and LEI (low external input). the focus of interest in agriculture.6 current leading agricultural paradigms The various alternative approaches to agriculture can be classified in a variety of different ways. in fact. it is equally evident that in some areas of the planet agricultural yields are still much lower than the levels achieved even in the distant past in economically more advanced countries. characterized by poverty of both means and knowledge. HEI systems are characterized by a sharp commercial orientation. the chief objective is simply to raise enough food to feed the farmer’s nuclear family. The proper application of agricultural techniques (including some very basic ones) to improve yields remains.

UPA (Urban and Peri‑urban Agriculture).14 The three main agricultural models according to the FAO Note: IPM (Integrated Pest Management). seem capable of ensuring better cultivation yields in terms of product per surface area. The sustainability of the various paradigms obviously differs. Source: FAO/OECD. are usually forced to “pay” for their lesser impact on resources with reduced cultivation yields. and the use of fertilizers and chemical products. man-made . low GHG emissions High diversity. Precision farming systems high-external input nature Organic agriculture Multi‑trophic marine systems Grassland and forage crops GMO‑based systems High external input livestock systems High external input cropping systems Biodynamic agriculture Agroforestry systems Mountain systems UPA SRI (Polydome systems ) Mixed rice‑fish systems Permaculture Traditional & perennial polycultures Mixed crop livestock systems perennial / integrated more resilient & efficient Less energy to maintain. in particular. natural management resource options low-external input intermediate-external input Aquaculture and capture fisheries Forestry systems Conservation agriculture. connectedness. on the other hand. but they do so by means of higher consumption of resources. the use of high knowledge-content techniques. Food availability and natural resource use in a green economy context.toward sustainable agriculture | food for sustainable growth 137 mechanization and labor. coherence annuals less resilient & efficient More energy to maintain. SRI (System of Rice Intensification). LEI systems. That is why they are also the most fragile systems under future scenarios of potential scarcity. HEI systems. 2011. coherence figure 3. connectedness. IPM. high GHG emissions Low diversity.

Figure 3. Our methodology focused on four regions: the Lombard and Venetian plains. In various studies it has been shown that the agricultural phase (actual work in the fields) is one of the most decisive in terms of the environmental impact of the production chain of pasta. . For all of these macro-areas. it can help us to formulate a number of broad observations in response to these critical questions: How do the various models (HEI. this is an extremely simplified depiction of reality.. Italian farmers can reduce the emission of CO2 (by as much as 40 to 50 percent.8 and the efficiency in terms of the utilization of nitrogen.9 The study revealed that the adoption of the traditional proper crop rotations drastically reduces the environmental impact and offers higher earnings for the farmer. IEI) measure up to the challenges of the future? How will those same paradigms evolve? To what extent will they be capable of taking on and sustaining a world of increasingly scarce resources? 3. Agronomic and economic studies were bolstered by the environmental evaluations done using life cycle assessment 4 and summarized in terms of water footprint5 and ecological footprint. Barilla therefore underwrote a study to analyze and compare different agricultural models for the cultivation of durum wheat. and Sicily).6 The study made it clear that. LEI. but so do the final quality and quantity of the material produced. Barilla decided to carry out a number of experiments to test the possibilities for improving its own agricultural supply chain. standard rotation practices were identified that were representative of the rotations of durum wheat in Italy (figure 3. The ultimate objective was to identify sustainable agricultural systems that could subsequently be tested in the various national territories of production. Still. or the equivalent of 300 kilograms of CO2 per metric ton of durum wheat) and the other environmental impacts of their agricultural practices without compromising the quality of their products—in fact. in this case.138 eating planet Clearly. durum wheat. When that setting varies. in many cases. and thus both increase the quality and the quantity of cereal grain produced. while improving both quality and profitability. Marches. and southern Italy (Puglia. are intimately tied to the agricultural setting where it is cultivated. C) shows a number of findings of the study concerning the carbon footprint. i. B. Basilicata. not only do all the parameters of its sustainability alter substantially. The study also made clear that the characteristics of a plant species.16 (A. This section summarizes the most significant results of this work.7 the gross revenue generated. central Italy (Tuscany.15). the Emilia-Romagna region. it is more sustainable in both environmental and economic terms. and Umbria).e.7 the sustainability of the systems used to grow durum wheat: the barilla case In keeping with the ideas discussed here.

.toward sustainable agriculture | food for sustainable growth 139 lombard-venetian plain Cultivation of Corn Industrial corn soy durum wheat durum wheat corn rapeseed corn corn emilia-romagna Cultivation of Cereal Grains Industrial Cultivation of Vegetables corn soy tomatoes durum wheat durum wheat durum wheat sorghum corn corn common wheat common wheat common wheat central italy Cultivation of Cereal Grains Protein Pasturage Industrial durum wheat garden peas alfalfa sunflower durum wheat durum wheat alfalfa durum wheat sorghum garden peas alfalfa rapeseed durum wheat durum wheat durum wheat durum wheat southern italy and islands Cultivation of Cereal Grains Pasturage Protein Industrial durum wheat pasturage chickpeas tomatoes durum wheat durum wheat durum wheat durum wheat durum wheat pasturage chickpeas durum wheat durum wheat durum wheat durum wheat durum wheat figure 3.” Filiera Grano Duro News.15 Crop rotations studied in the four macro‑areas of Italy Source: “Sostenibilità dei sistemi colturali con frumento duro. 2011.

3 0.7 0. 2011.4 0. on gross revenue b . ** Standard crop rotations normally adopted in each area. on efficiency of nitrogen use c Source: “Sostenibilità dei sistemi colturali con frumento duro. .6 0. c Cultivation of Cereal Grains ** Industrial Industrial Vegetable Crops Industrial Cultivation of Corn ** Cultivation of Cereal Grains ** Pasturage Industrial Vegetable Crops Protein 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 figure 3.1 0.2 0.5 0.16 Effect of farming sistems on carbon footprint a .” Filiera Grano Duro News.140 eating planet carbon footprint (t co2 /t kernel) { Δ cereal crop /rotations * = −0.31 t CO2 eq/t } Cultivation of Cereal Grains ** Pasturage Industrial Protein Cultivation of Cereal Grains ** Industrial Industrial Vegetable Crops Industrial Cultivation of Corn ** Cultivation of Cereal Grains ** Pasturage Industrial Vegetable Crops Protein 0 0.8 gross revenue (€ / t) { Δ cereal crop /rotations * = + 100 € } Cultivation of Cereal Grains ** Pasturage a Industrial Protein Cultivation of Cereal Grains ** Industrial Industrial Vegetable Crops Industrial Cultivation of Corn ** Cultivation of Cereal Grains ** Pasturage Industrial Protein 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 b 140 160 180 efficiency use of nitrogen (kg kernel of hard red winter wheat/kg nitrogen) { Δ cereal crop /rotations * = 100% } Cultivation of Cereal Grains ** Pasturage Industrial Protein Central Italy Emilia‑Romagna Lombard‑Venetian Plain Southern Italy and Islands * Difference between the average of values recorded in the rotations and the values recorded in the cereal crop system.

and crops. agricultural “knowledge” appears to be restricted. thereby improving the resilience of the system. or IEI). with equal macro reference models (HEI. The crucial steps are: 10 • Adopt crop rotation as a systematic practice.7 we offer a brief summary of the experimentation conducted by Barilla that reinstituted these sound guidelines among certain agricultural vendors that supply the company with raw materials. Science has brought to agriculture a great expanse of new knowledge concerning the characteristics of the natural environment and the physiology of plant species. shrubs. • Encourage the biological activity of the farmland and practice the integrated management of parasites and weeds. This merges with practical experience accumulated over centuries of . LEI. in order to preserve intact the soil’s structure and organic materials. pasturage. especially by making short-term use between crops of ground cover or organic residue from the harvest. underbrush. These techniques involve the use of high-yield plant varieties that are resistant to biotic and abiotic stress factors and with good nutritional qualities. the efficient management of water resources. when necessary. The results. are very promising. 2. • Improve and maintain a protective organic cover over the soil surface. Current scientific and practical knowledge has coalesced around several major principles which. • Minimize mechanized operations on the land. the integrated management of parasites and diseases through appropriate practices11 (based on biodiversity. are the underlying foundation of a truly sustainable agriculture. they allow farmers. sustainable agriculture is based on wider and more intensive adoption of already well-known principles. as of this writing. the optimized use of organic and inorganic fertilizers. to obtain better performance in terms of sustainability. adapted to diverse situations as appropriate.toward sustainable agriculture | food for sustainable growth 141 the six strategic points of agriculture 1. In section 3. the selection and the use of low-environmental-impact pesticides) and. Practiced this way. • Grow a broader array of plant species through the systematic (and oncecommon) practice of crop rotation on the same land in order to achieve the proper distribution of trees. in order to protect the surface of the farmland and conserve water and nutritive substances.

IEIs adjacent to LEIs. what matters is the general trend line: the shift toward increasingly sustainable IEI paradigms and the balancing among models within macroregions.142 eating planet farming to yield a vast patrimony of knowledge that is of extraordinary value—but which is currently being utilized only in part. and there are LEI models that will be impossible to implement in certain contexts. Still. The choice of the model depends on the context. we should not fall for the illusion that we can simply import paradigms from outside. LEI. such as considering a portfolio of managed agricultural models. bridging the gap between the knowledge that is available and individual system-wide expertise. in the United States. whatever the model adopted (HEI. we should adapt and revise models that prove to be appropriate to the specific characteristics of the local situation. Overcoming this hurdle will require significant investment to spur development that trends toward greater levels of sustainability. it makes no sense to propose or advocate extreme shifts in direction. Brazil. there is a wide belief that available technologies at least in part render superfluous an in-depth understanding of natural dynamics. alongside those extremes. and Argentina). 3. A different approach is required with developing countries. it will be necessary to consider the model’s limits in terms of sustainability and introduce the necessary course corrections. In much the same way. In other cases. as far as we are concerned there are no inherently good or bad agricultural paradigms. there is a broad array of possibilities. Having established these prerequisites. In some cases this is due to the lack of effective means to transfer know-how. . There are certainly HEI models that we believe will ultimately prove to be unsustainable in practice. or IEI). the obligatory path forward for Europe is that of practicing increasingly sophisticated IEI/LEI models. In places where higheconomic-yield HEI systems are solidly rooted (for example. In those cases. Where there is still a complete lack of agricultural models that are sustainable in economic and social terms. use the proper agricultural model for the context with the objective of reducing the level of external inputs. In other words. that can be managed on a practical basis in the light of the previously mentioned needs for sustainability. Instead. the biggest problem confronting agriculture today is the need to reinforce its foundations in terms of human capital. In other words.

when people talk about technology in agriculture. According to the approach that we are suggesting. From 2008 to 2010. It represents a third of world production and two-thirds of total exported volumes. biodiversity can and should be used as a tool for effective risk management.S. 6. Sound management of biodiversity and the use of different models. which takes the form of an integrated and coordinated management of a broad array of tools and approaches: plant varieties that are resistant to stress. in fact.12 The extensive use of corn for the production of ethanol in the United States has had significant worldwide repercussions. 5. they are frequently talking only about productivity and yield. corn. another issue is central to decisions about the allocation of financial and physical resources in the agricultural sector: the production of biofuels. The production of biofuels especially raises the demand for wheat. A substantial portion of the problems afflicting the agricultural and agro-alimentary system have nothing to do with the choice of models or their optimization. As noted in the previous point. technology too takes on a different connotation from the one that these days seems to be all too prevalent. address the exogenous factors of sustainability in agriculture: food waste and biofuels.toward sustainable agriculture | food for sustainable growth 143 4. all equally optimized for sustainability. invest in technology to make agriculture more adaptable to change.17 and 3. Nowadays. which competes directly with the use of raw materials in the food and feed sectors. In 2010 the U. bioethanol was produced mainly from raw cereal grains (55 percent) and cane sugar (35 percent). The belief is that these can only be increased by improving individual strains and varieties. etc.18). high volume. a scientific approach to fertilization. enhances the capability to respond to adverse events and to attain specific system objectives. when alternatives (maximum quality vs. In addition to food waste and loss. used . a pragmatic and open-minded approach to the choice among agricultural paradigms allows policies that maximize the overall resiliency of the agricultural systems in question. The most important issue of this kind is food waste. the use of advanced irrigation systems. which exists in truly unsettling proportions and represents one of the chief challenges for future agricultural sustainability (figures 3. while biodiesel production relied mainly (90 percent) on vegetable oils. for instance). But what is even more important is the capacity to adapt. and oilseeds. sugar.

The same dynamic seems to be at play in the production of biodiesel: in Europe. “Global food losses and food waste.6 million metric tons of vegetable oils.2 percent). an estimated 38.144 eating planet 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 5 Europe North America & Oceania Industrialized Asia Sub‑Saharan Africa North Africa.” 2011. roughly 3 percent of world production. was used in the production of biodiesel fuel. West & Central Asia South & Southeast Asia Latin America Consumer Production to retailing figure 3.4 percent of its total corn production to make ethanol. a much greater rate than the growth rate for production of vegetable oils as foodstuffs (4. The industrial use of vegetable oils grew by 15 percent annually from 2004 to 2008. . a total of 8.17 The per capita quantity of food lost or wasted in different regions of the planet (kg/year) Source: FAO.5 percent. Between 2004 and 2007. while the share of the total corn crop used in the production of ethanol increased by 36 percent. volumes of corn used in food and food products increased at an annual rate of 1.

” 2011. While growing shares of several agricultural crops are being sucked into the biofuels sector. With waste and biofuels alike.18 Share of cereal production lost or wasted along the production‑consumption supply chain. inadequate management of the problem and questionable energy policy decisions combine to produce massive pressure on the agricultural system to make up for shortcomings that are none of its responsibility.toward sustainable agriculture | food for sustainable growth 145 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Europe North America Industrialized & Oceania Asia Sub‑Saharan Africa North Africa. West & Central Asia South & Southeast Asia Latin America Consumption Distribution Processing Postharvest Agriculture figure 3. “Global food losses and food waste. That issue must be expanded as well to include the quantity of farmland that can be destined or reconverted to production for the biofuels industry. the problem of alternative energy production cannot merely be limited to the quantity of a crop that is used in the production of fuel. in different regions of the planet (% of initial production) Source: FAO. .

sowing. which assumes higher consumption of energy and use of inorganic fertilizers. expressed in terms of the agricultural models adopted. simulating agricultural models and their effects on food production. Considering a time span of 80 years (1970-2050) and evaluating the impact on the per-capita quantity of food calories (calories) produced annually. it becomes possible to form hypotheses about what the appropriate choices of production policy should be. In an effort to assess the performance of current agricultural models and to come up with alternatives for the future. Before going any farther. We ran simulations involving two principal models: an LEI (low external input) model characterized by low energy use and high labor input.. Germany. Sweden and Canada). nitrogenbased fertilization. and the protection of plants. summarized here by a very significant increase in the price of oil. while taking into account a diverse array of scenarios of the development of the shock. According to the simulations we conducted. can impact the world agricultural system. The study has shown that it is possible to evaluate in concrete terms the “sustainability” of a crop or an agricultural system through a multidisciplinary analysis. a series of recommendations for the sustainable cultivation of durum wheat was developed and a similar course of study was begun for other cereal grains (soft wheat and rye segale and in other geographic areas (France. BCFN (in collaboration with the Millennium Institute) has constructed a simulation model to study the impact of variations in current agricultural practices on the quantity of food available worldwide. since the current rate of increase in farming productivity is in line with the current and projected rates of demographic growth estimated by the FAO and the Organiza- .146 eating planet In order to consolidate these results.13 and an HEI (high external input) model.14 These two models differ primarily in terms of their varying characteristics of sustainability over time. we want to stress a key point. Turkey. combining various indicators of an environmental. Our objective was to understand how substantial external shocks. And it will continue to be sufficient. and economic nature. Greece. The findings of this model underlie many of the observations described above. the way the land is tilled. The theoretical results have shown that the transfer of knowledge to farmers and the use of modern decision-making tools can lead to further reductions of the carbon footprint at the same time as an increase in profitability. A second part of the study analyzed the results that could be achieved through already-sustainable crop rotations by improving the efficiency of the most common and relevant agricultural practices. agricultural.e. the quantity of food produced every year is enough to feed the world’s population. i.

The idea of constant availability of energy over time. very much to the test. in which practices using high external inputs spread at an accelerating pace and cover 90 percent of global cultivated area in 2050. prices of inorganic fertilizers rise substantially and their use declines. This suggests that there is no real problem in terms of total availability of calories. As a result. beginning with three different scenarios that assumed abundant availability of energy: a Business-as-Usual (BAU) case. reaching a price in 2030 of US$200 per barrel and then US$280 dollars per barrel in 2050. they account for only 50 percent of the global cultivated area. It is therefore reasonable to imagine that at a certain point there will be a shock in global energy supply that will put the world’s highenergy-consumption systems. Fossil fuel sources are constantly dwindling and renewable energy is not yet a viable alternative. and a Stopped-HEI-Growth case in which there is minimal diffusion of HEI models and their share of cultivated land is maintained at 45 percent in 2050. followed by the BAU scenario. which is the real problem. The costs of the change in production would take the form of a lower available output and the amount of time . the Stopped HEI Growth scenario. We ran a variety of simulations. is unrealistic. In this case oil prices rise rapidly.15 As we have already said.toward sustainable agriculture | food for sustainable growth 147 tion for Economic Cooperation and Development. In a hypersimplified world—in which energy is the most important factor of production. These models would become economically unsustainable and not very profitable. We also ran a simulation of the effects of an oil price shock between 2025 and 2030 (the Very High Energy Price case). we can assume there will be no energy shocks. and wastage of the food produced. there would be serious problems with the transition to models that would be more efficient in terms of energy use. a Strong-HEI-Growth case. such as the HEI models. The model does not take into account inequalities between the various geographic areas. the highest-yield production scenario—in terms of a sustainable approach—is Strong HEI Growth. a significant proportion of the problems that now challenge the agro-alimentary system hinge on issues of distribution. and we exclude all the other elements that help determine sustainability—a pro-HEI policy would result in the production of a quantity of calories much higher than the level needed. Moreover. HEI. LEI). The only crops for which they are affordable are those with high added value. and last of all. Assuming the constant availability of energy over our 80-year period. It is worth noting that the Stopped HEI Growth scenario also seems capable of supplying more calories than needed. however. in which practices using high levels of external input account for 60 percent of global cultivated area in 2050. decisions about ultimate use. In this case as well. the effects have been estimated on the number of annual per-capita calories for each of the three basic scenarioes (BAU.

. If there is no reduction in the quantity of energy available. We 3. the results of a strong HEI growth energy shock and a BAU energy shock should be less negative. an approach with low external inputs would lead to a Worse-Before-Better (WBB) result.250 2. in the case of reductions of available energy from 2025 on.e. FAO The HEI is fragile and does not withstand energy shocks Data BAU‑Energy Shock Stopped HEI Growth‑Energy Shock Strong HEI Growth‑Energy Shock The average calorie requirement (cal/person/day) from men and women from the ages of 18 to 60 recommended by the FAO figure 3. the world agricultural system is clearly fragile. leaving unchanged the rankings of the scenarios in terms of yields and calories produced. a modification of these hypotheses would not change the outcome in qualitative terms.500 2. a drop in productivity over the short term with a return to higher yield levels over the mid to long term.250 3. the results will be strongly dependent on how long agricultural systems will take to shift from an HEI approach to an LEI one.148 eating planet required to acquire the necessary know-how for the transition. The results of the simulation show that.. Figure 3.000 2000 2005 2030 2040 2020 2050 1990 1980 1995 1970 2010 2015 2035 2045 1975 1985 2025 min. As these results suggest.750 2. In case of an energy crisis.500 kcal/person/day 3.000 2. the results are sharply influenced by the share of cereal grains destined for animal feed and biofuels. If that period proves to be short. In any case.19 shows the estimated effects of an energy shock in the year 2050 on global output. i. 2011.19 Agricultural production for human nutrition (daily cal per capita) and the simulation of energy shocks Source:BCFN su data FAO.

but also to help deal with the issue of an aging population in the farming sector. returning veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq are learning organic farming techniques. .agrarian landscapes: california On a farm in Valley Center. An initiative designed to not only help returning veterans fit back into society.

Conflicts over water might well be far more serious. which are limited by nature. adaptation to atmospheric phenomena. In fact. it illustrates one of the most important topics of future development. After all. reality is far more complex than the intentionally simplistic representation of our simulation model. but matters might quickly change because “quality water”—fresh. availability of water. however. We know full well the nature of the interests and the dire litigious tensions that revolve around the control of petroleum deposits. and cereal grains. Until now. especially in agriculture (which represents the most “water-thirsty” sector . by calculating the quantities used for personal care. The search for solutions based on approaches involving low energy consumption and high knowledge content (according to the balancing calculus described above) will become one of the decisive aspects of sustainability. in the end one can survive without oil. As we noted earlier. That water is precious is something we realize only when it begins to run short. is by no means insignificant. both because the world population is rising and because the growing prosperity of many countries leads people to consume (and waste) more and more water. Of course. etc. water scarcity might have appeared to be restricted to less fortunate countries. That consumption should be considered not only in real terms (that is. And we are constantly using increasing quantities of it. must be managed in order satisfy the growing needs of man without creating social inequalities and unsustainable environmental impacts. one of the best ways to reduce one’s virtual water footprint is to change to a diet rich in fruit. the water economy and the emergency it confronts The water economy is the science that studies the way in which water resources. unpolluted water—constitutes only a minimal percentage of our water reserves. If demand grows and resources dwindle—in part because of both pollution and climate change—then clearly the economic value of water will grow and the inequitable gap between those who have plenty of water and those who do not will provoke new frictions and conflicts. while limiting the quantity of animal proteins. What is therefore necessary is a concerted effort to adopt a more rational use of water. and for cleaning house). vegetables. but also in the virtual terms of the water footprint (all the water that has been used throughout the life cycle) of any product or service we consume. The result presented here. for cooking.150 eating planet should take a positive approach to this fragility through the encouragement of a balanced mix of agricultural models designed to face the challenge of shortages. There are a great number of factors at play aside from energy inputs: soil quality.

and the production of biofuels) and the reduction of the available water reserves (climate change and pollution in particular) (figure 3. find themselves gravely short of water. absent serious action. while in developed countries the share given to industry is by far predominant (59 percent). in agriculture.000 to 14. Where the domestic use of water is concerned. taking into account the global factors that will affect water consumption (demographic increase. it must be closely controlled to avoid unfair price increases and limited accessibility for the more vulnerable members of the population at large. in turn.001 percent of the total) is actually available for use by human beings. however. rising prosperity of the population with a resulting modification of lifestyles and eating habits. the scarsity of water. that less than 45.000 cubic kilometers of water (approximately 0. and in our homes.000 cubic meters. industry. That means. our planet possesses some 1. industry. Freshwater resources are also distributed very unequally among the regions of the globe: 64. 3. while 22 percent goes to industry and the remaining 8 percent to domestic uses. and families. urbanization and expansion of economic activities. with annual per capita availability of less than 1. will only grow in the future and . more than one out of every six people on Earth does not have access to the minimum quantities defined by the UN (20–50 liters of freshwater daily per capita) as necessary to meet primary needs linked to food and hygiene.20).8 the availability of water: from abundance to scarcity To understand the current scenario in terms of water resources. While privatization may entail certain advantages in terms of greater efficiency in the management of water sources. A growing number of countries. now and in the future. The share allocated to agriculture is even greater in countries with a low to medium incomes (in some developing countries it reaches 95 percent). Demand for water is already quite high and. on the other hand. with water-saving diets). how much water do we have? Overall. how we use water: farming. present and future. we must consider the availability of water and its various uses.4 percent of all world water resources are found in just 13 countries.003 percent of the total) are theoretically usable and only 9.water economy | food for sustainable growth 151 par excellence) and on a personal level (for instance. We also need to formulate a new set of regulations that really will ensure the right to water while defining the boundaries of privatization. It is estimated.000 cubic kilometers of water (0. because it is of adequate quality and is accessible at an acceptable cost. The agriculture sector accounts for 70 percent of global freshwater consumption.4 billion cubic kilometers of water.

an especially significant role will be played by population dynamics and the growing rate of urbanization. especially in certain areas of the planet. The scenario foreseen for 2025 in terms of the scarcity of water appears starkly worse than the current scenario. and southern Asia. and for domestic use. why demand for water is increasing.20 The current and future scenario of water resources Source: BCFN. continental Europe. expanding to the entire territory of the United States. Estimates indicate that global population will rise to more than 8 billion people Today Tomorrow Climate Change Pollution Causes of increasing water demand Demographic growth Increasing prosperity and well‑being Socioeconomic development Processes of urbanization Changes in dietary habits Biofuels figure 3. In such cases the exploitation is coming close to (or may have even exceeded) the limit of sustainability. . and worsening significantly in terms of percentage values in ample areas of Africa and the Indian peninsula. From an environmental point of view.152 eating planet lead to a progressive scarcity. Among the factors that will influence the growth of world demand for water. 2011. Areas using a large share of available resources (greater than 20 percent) will increase substantially. water is considered to be “scarce” when more than 75 percent of the fluvial and subterranean water resources are drawn upon for use in agriculture. in industry.

2006.water economy | food for sustainable growth 153 in 2030 and reach 9 billion in 2050. 1995 2025 above 40 percent from 40 percent to 20 percent from 20 percent to 10 percent below 10 percent figure 3. The current population already uses 54 percent of freshwater resources in rivers.21). lakes. it is estimated that by 2025 rising demand will require increases in water supplies of 50 percent in developing countries and 18 percent in developed countries (figure 3. and accessible water tables.21 Amount of water used compared with available resources. WBCSD Water Scenarios 2025. Two scenarios compared: 1995 and 2025 Source: WBCSD. Business in the World of Water. . With the growth of population.

In developing countries. Among the chief causes of reduced water availability is pollution. The food sector accounts for 40 percent of organic pollutants in water supplies in developed countries and 54 percent in developing countries. as are those for the corresponding treatment and purification of waste water from domestic and industrial use. why water availability is declining. Biofuels are subverting the equilibrium of the water system and the biodiversity of several countries because of their heavy use of water (and fertilizers) for growing feedstock corn. the world’s urban population outstripped its rural population. In the past 20 years meat consumption in China. exert growing pressures on available water resources and on natural ecosystems. economic development and access to market economies by large numbers of people who had long been excluded from mass consumption are generating serious problems. 70 percent of industrial waste is dumped into rivers and streams without any purifying treatment whatever. The investments needed to ensure distribution of water to the growing number of city dwellers are rising. the production of biofuels has increased exponentially in recent years (ethanol production has tripled between 2000 and the present day). the rising global demand for energy puts massive pressure on water resources. and vegetable oils typically requires the use of a greater quantity of water than does the production of cereal grains. This leads to a rise in water resources utilized because the production of meat. Certain statistics throw a harsh light on the scale of the problem: it is estimated that every day 2 million metric tons of waste generated by human activity are dumped into watercourses. Economic development is also a key driver of the future rise in demand for water. In 2007.154 eating planet Meanwhile. by 2030 it will double again. for example. sugar cane. especially in terms of waste management. principally because of the volatility of oil prices and the support of national and international environmental policies. and other crops. which results in the pollution of a substantial part of available freshwater resources. In particular. Another major factor that will affect the future availability of water resources is climate change. Improvements in economic and living conditions in developing countries. By now there is a broad consensus about the effects of climate change on water and its availability: a sharp decline in the area of the Earth’s . In particular. has more than doubled. which threatens water quality. milk. with clear and direct consequences in terms of infrastructure for access to water. The increase in world population and the rising purchasing power of people in developing countries go hand-in-hand with the changes in eating habits and the rise in calories consumed. the process of urbanization is accelerating sharply. Above all. for the first time in history. sugar. as well as the general expansion of economic activities (ranging from industrial production to the service industry and tourism).

84 percent of them in rural areas. to enjoy physical and economic access to an adequate and secure supply of water. In fact.7 billion people will not have access to basic sanitation facilities.” Yet in 2008. the distribution of information about how to collect and store water resources . education. precipitation. The actions designed to improve water supply and basic sanitation in a community cannot be adopted in isolation. as well as a significant increase in the frequency of “extreme” weather phenomena.9 the right of access to water: reality and prospects The “right to water”—recognized for the first time in history. a gradual shift toward the poles of non-tropical storms (with resulting significant effects on winds. It demands immediate choices that must be both wise and courageous. it is estimated that in 2015 some 2. But it will not be possible to attain the goal of halving the number of people without access to basic sanitation. Moreover. without discrimination. There is no mistaking the necessity for indepth reflection that is directed toward identifying a truly sustainable model of growth that can ensure access to food for a growing world population in the face of increasingly scarce water resources. reducing to 672 million the number of people who still do not have running water where they live. and capable of altering current trends. In that same year. as well as the training and creation of an adequate professional staff. such as intense precipitation or strong heat waves. 3. Making drinking water accessible in sufficient quantity and quality to meet the primary needs of every person was Target 10 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). In fact. They must be framed within the context of an overall cross-sector development strategy that takes into account infrastructure. and only recently. by 2015. If we extrapolate from current trends.water economy | food for sustainable growth 155 surface and oceans that is covered with ice. roughly 884 million people lacked access to sufficient water resources of adequate quality. as a fundamental and essential human right through a UN resolution dated 29 July 2010—takes the concrete form of the right of each individual. 2. and governance. the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. and temperatures). to attain effective and sustainable operation of structures over time demands periodic maintenance activities. because the result is projected to be 13 percentage points below the stated goal. which aimed to “halve. in 2015 the percentage of the population with access to water in their own homes will surpass the stated goal of 90 percent. The future that looms before us therefore appears especially challenging. a substantial increase in average sea level.6 billion lacked access to adequate basic sanitation. Studies done by the World Health Organization and UNICEF on the progress so far in providing access to drinking water (Target 10) clearly show that we are only partway to the goal.

a good. depending on such factors as climate. the water footprint of a commodity. . milk.500 to 2.22 shows the quantities of virtual water linked to certain kinds of easily identified mass market products and finished industrial products. Figure 3. whether they are public agencies or private organizations.600 liters (in the case of vegetarian diet) to about 4. Moreover. in some cases for many years before being transformed into food products.10 choices and behaviors for sustainable water consumption As we discussed earlier. The term “virtual” refers to the fact that most of this water is not contained physically in the product. the agricultural techniques employed.1. in which the different food categories are arranged in hierarchical order.156 eating planet in homes is a critical factor in preserving the taste and smell of fresh water and in preventing the creation of potential environments for disease-bearing parasites. both when you compare different products with one another. A comparison of the water footprint (expressed in cubic meters per metric ton) of certain agricultural products in a number of countries around the world reveals substantial differences. have a powerful effect on our consumption of water resources. In the environmental pyramid on the right. Figure 3. depending on their environmental impact in terms of the water footprint. The water footprint of some of them may appear surprising. and when you take into consideration the place of production. the water footprint of a single product can vary considerably from one place to another. Individuals directly consumes a range of two to five liters of drinking water every day—but their virtual daily consumption of water linked to food ranges from roughly 1. etc. and derivatives) present a greater water footprint than cultivated products. 3. livestock and dairy products (meat.23 shows the food pyramid adjoining the environmental pyramid of water. As we described in section 3. both on a local scale and internationally. In particular. because livestock consumes a significant quantity of cultivated products as food. Our consumption habits and our behavior. especially our food-related behavior. eggs. but has to do with the direct and indirect consumption necessary for its production.000 to 5. the yield of crops. or a service—or in other words its virtual water content—consists of the volume of fresh water consumed to produce it throughout all the phases of its life cycle. To achieve the goals set by the United Nations will demand the coordinated involvement of all actors. the foods with the greatest environmental impact are at the top and the foods with the lowest impact are at the bottom.400 liters in the case of meat-rich diet. the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition has developed the Double Pyramid to describe both the principles of a sound diet and the impacts that diet has on the environment.

. heavy rains plummeted crops. in Liguria.landscapes at risk: italy In the fall of 2011. And. On land already vulnerable to hydrogeological imbalance. the effects of climate change became dramatically evident in one of the best known—and most fragile—agrarian settings: the Cinque Terre. phenomena of this kind are usually accompanied by desertification. in the Mediterranean basin.

.000 figure 3.158 eating planet An A4 sheet of paper (80 g/m2) A tomato (70 g) A potato (100 g) 10 13 25 A slice of bread (30 g) An orange (100 g) An apple (100 g) 40 50 70 An egg (40 g) A bag of potato chips (200 g) A slice of pie (80 g) 135 185 250 Cheese (100 g) Chocolate (50 g) A T‑shirt (250 g) 500 860 2. 2011.000 A hamburger (150 g) A pair of leather shoes 2.400 8.22 Average global water footprint of certain commonly used product typologies Source: BCFN.

it is possible to build another pyramid. By analyzing the water footprint of the most widespread and commonly consumed beverages. Potatoes. Yogurt dc on su p Cheese. White meat 15. and then we have calculated their impacts in terms of water consumption (figure 3.24).800 Pork 4. however minimal. If everyone on the planet were to adopt the average.5 k 1k 0. high meat-consumption .693 Pasta 1.water economy | food for sustainable growth 159 low Sweets Red meat 10 k 5k 4k 2k 1.25). Eggs ti o Cookies.140 Sweets 1. of red meat.900 Poultry 3.23 Water footprint of the food pyramid (liters of water per kg or liter of food) Source: BCFN. And vice versa: most of the foods recommended for low consumption are those that also impose a larger water footprint. Legumes Fruits Vegetables high re c om me n de Milk.645 Cereals 1. It is clear that individual eating habits.500 Meat 9. This is simply because of the considerable quantities of agricultural products fed to the livestock in order to bring them to market as food. The first daily menu calls for a diet that is rich in plant-based proteins and with few animal fats. both balanced in nutritional terms.795 Sunflower seed oil 5. it is clear that including dairy and livestock products such as milk and meat. which shows the water consumption required in order to produce each of those beverages (figure 3. 2011. results in approximately three times the consumption of water resources. A menu heavy on animal-based food products is decidedly less sustainable as a result. therefore.055 Legumes 3. entail substantial environmental fallout as well as nutritional effects. To illustrate the differences we have drawn up two daily menus.000 Yogurt average value 970 Fruits 900 Potatoes Vegetables: 325 n 0 1k 2k 3k 4k 5k 6k / 15 k 20 k food pyramid figure 3. Eating habits.300 Bread 1.500 Sugar legend 1.5 k 0 Olive oil Bread.065 Walnuts and hazelnuts 6. Fish. If we compare the water footprints of the two menus. Pasta Rice. There can be no doubt that most of the foods recommended for relatively higher consumption are also those that present a smaller water footprint. the second is based on the consumption (actually rather limited consumption). can have a very substantial impact on the availability of water resources.800 Cookies 1.000 Milk 1.400 Rice 3.300 Eggs 3. especially multiplied across whole societies.900 Olive oil 4.000 Cheese 4.

3 (tap) American‑style coffee 100 50 Carbonate beverage 25 legend average value min max 0 0 20 40 60 80 100 140 figure 3. 2011. In absolute terms. for instance.223) (figure 3. . an entire nation) or producers (private companies. amounts to 7. followed by China (883) and the United States (696).160 eating planet 150 140 125 Milk 120 Wine 106 Orange juice 43 38 Beer 34 Espresso 15 Tea 0. economic sectors). or cup .7 (bottle) Water 0. and the Thais (2. They can also be calculated for each well-defined group of consumers (an individual.243 cubic meters per person per year—twice the annual outflow of the Mississippi River.452 trillion cubic meters of fresh water a year. this would clearly be unsustainable.232). the country that consumes the largest volume of water is India (987 billion cubic meters per year). the amount of water used in food production would soar by an estimated 75 percent. In terms of per capita consumption. a family.26). The global water footprint. 125 ml. public organizations. . 30 ml. the inhabitants of a city. followed by the Italians (2. or 1.483 cubic meters per person per year.3/0. 3.24 Water footprint of beverages (liters of water per glass Source: BCFN. the citizens of the United States top the list with an average water footprint of 2. Given the strain water supplies are already under. however. of beverage) dietary regimen of the Western nations.11 national water footprints and the trade in virtual water We’ve seen how water footprints can be calculated for each product or activity.

030 1.530 Breakfast vegetarian menu total kcal liters of water consumption 14% 30% 56% Snack 1 container of low‑fat yogurt 1 piece of fruit 185 LITERS Lunch Proteins Fats Carbohydrates 1 portion of fruit (200 g) 4 pieces of zwieback toast 1 portion of “Caserecce Sicilian” with wild fennel 1 portion of squash and leek casserole 300 LITERS 152 LITERS Snack 1 container of low‑fat yogurt 1 packet of unsalted crackers 115 LITERS Dinner 1 portion of vegetables: green beans (200 g) and potatoes (400 g) with flakes of parmesan cheese (40 g) 780 LITERS 2. 2011. .300 Breakfast meat menu total kcal liters of water consumption Proteins 15% 25% 60% Snack 1 piece of fruit (200 g) 120 LITERS Dinner 1 portion of Barilla “Risoni” soup and peas 1 grilled steak (150 g) 1 slice of “Pan Bauletto” sliced bread 2.25 Virtual water consumption and eating habits: two menus compared Source: BCFN.325 LITERS 125 LITERS figure 3.water economy | food for sustainable growth 161 2.140 4.550 LITERS Lunch Fats Carbohydrates 1 cup of low‑fat milk 4 “Tarallucci” biscuits 183 LITERS Snack 1 container of low‑fat yogurt 1 portion of Margherita pizza Mixed raw vegetables 1.

That trade pays no attention whatsoever to the water component included in the exchange. the climate (which especially affects the level of precipitation. including volume of consumption (generally correlated to the wealth of the country). while of the top 10 wheat importers.500 Industrial products 2. three are blessed with an overabundance of United States Italy Thailand Nigeria Russia Mexico Brazil Indonesia Pakistan Japan India China 0 500 1. Yet “virtual water” trading goes on in huge volumes as crops requiring large amounts of water to cultivate are shipped far and wide—and not always with sensible results. and the quantity of water necessary for farming).000 2. for example.500 3. as noted above.000 1. as well as the utilization of industrial goods). 2011. plant transpiration. three are seriously short of water.000 Average world water footprint Home consumption of water Agricultural products figure 3. and the agricultural practices adopted (especially how efficiently water is used).26 Contribution of the leading consumers to the global water footprint (m3 per capita/year) Source: BCFN.162 eating planet The differences between countries depend on several factors. Today agricultural products are traded all over the world. the model of consumption (especially where eating habits are concerned. Of the top 10 wheat exporters. .

27 Virtual water flows between countries linked to trade in agricultural products (net virtual water importers—Gm3 /year) Source: Hoekstra and Chapagain. and in the possibility of “water colonialism. because of the option of trade. allowing local water resources to be preserved when high water footprint products are imported instead of directly produced. The globalization of the use of water seems to entail both opportunities and risks. Water Neutral: Reducing and Offsetting the Impacts of Water Footprints. lie in the possibility of excessive dependence on other nations’ water. Moreover.” In this process. it. which made the products using their own water resources. on the other hand. The level of interdependence among countries in the virtual exchange of water resources is. Figure 3. Water colonialism can be seen as a form of domination of poor countries by rich ones— even if no physical occupation takes place. net importers are shaded in red and next exporters in green. it is possible to achieve a net savings in the volume of water consumed when a product is marketed by a country with high water productivity for that product.27 gives some sense of the patterns and volumes of the global trade in virtual water embodied in agricultural products. given the ongoing deregulation of international trade. One of the chief opportunities lies in the fact that virtual water can be considered as an alternative water source. to suffer the problems of overconsumption. critical and is also destined to grow in the future. The greatest risks.water economy | food for sustainable growth 163 Eastern Europe 18 Former Soviet Union 13 North America Western Europe − 108 152 Central and Southern Asia Central America North Africa 2 − 45 150 South America Central Africa Middle East Southeast Asia − 107 − 16 47 − 30 Southern Africa Oceania −5 − 70 figure 3. . however. to a country with low water productivity. importing nations benefit from the products made using lots of water while leaving the exporting nations.

if water is a good that belongs to everyone then only an effective system of democratic control can adequately guarantee against the waste and abuses deriving from ineffective management of water resources. especially where poorer neighborhoods are concerned. and the failure of private operators to meet their obligations to contribute to the development of the water system. Entrusting these contracts to private operations also makes it possible to share the costs of infrastructure maintenance in exchange for profits. privatized and regulated. or agricultural) within a single country. • public ownership with temporary awarding to private operators through bid competitions. 3. as applied in the United Kingdom. The privatization of water brings with it risks and benefits. which is what happens in France. triggered by competition among the various uses of water (domestic. whether public or privatized. therefore. industrial. Any of three different business models may apply: • lifelong territorial monopoly. or else by the use of a body of water that extends over borders. Among the risks are price hikes. Among the chief potential benefits is the presumed greater efficiency of the private sector in optimizing the management of water distribution. but rather acquires the right to use it. The second context is the involvement of the private sector in the management of water services. • public ownership and operation. and reducing user costs and pricing. this model in effect transfers ownership of the entire infrastructure and control of the water to the private operators. allowing the free purchase and sale of water. does not buy the water. with the acquisition from the market of the resources necessary in order to provide the service. The third context is the involvement of the private sector in financing infrastructure and services. The potential for increasing conflict of this sort is reflected in the fact that water basins shared by multiple countries cover almost half the world’s surface and link 145 nations.12 water privatization and its implications The expression “water privatization” can refer to three different contexts. when the traditional means of public finance are no longer sufficient to do so in a timely and satisfactory manner. Given these risks.164 eating planet Water as a strategic objective is increasingly at the root of conflicts within and between countries. The European institutional system has in fact always been based not on the regulation of the use of water as a commonly owned resource which cannot be sold. The user. where water is firmly in the hands of the collective. The first is the context of the rights of private property for water resources. which can be substantial at times. as in Italy and Germany. . This context can be found in some parts of the United States and in some developing countries but is quite foreign to the European experience. controlling costs.

models. The water footprint is an invaluable tool for assessing the environmental impacts of individuals.water economy | food for sustainable growth 165 the potential areas of intervention needed to take on the challenge of the water economy It’s clear that this sobering litany of challenges surrounding the world’s water resources needs focused and ongoing attention. The existing correlation. 3. there are eight priority areas for intervention: 1. and tools that can be used to encourage a genuine integrated management of water. We must begin shifting individual behavior and models of consumption toward lifestyles that entail more careful use of water. Disadvantaged populations rely heavily on existing institutions to ensure access to drinking water and sanitary infrastructures. and technology for increasing the productivity of water (more crop per drop) and reducing waste. A key measure here is to reframe economic . demographic growth. the economic exploitation of water resources and the internalization of the cost of water in the price. 6. 2. and corresponding increases in the levels of water consumption. the practices. know-how. Major efficiencies in global water consumption could be achieved by rethinking the localization of cultivations requiring high water quantity in countries where water is abundant and trade them in the countries where water is scarce. with a focus on the most critical aspects of water use. must be broken. simple and easy to communicate. 7. the efficient localization of crops and virtual water trading. ways of eating and consumption requiring a lower water content. the policies. and countries. companies (of production and distribution. 5. Among the objectives of the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition is to increase that attention and awareness. support for institutions’ commitment to their responsibilities for ensuring access to water. nowadays very strong. and to remove technical and political obstacles. We have also provided a series of recommendations on how best to deal with the various emerging challenges of the water economy. within each sector). In our view. between economic development. the water footprint as an objective indicator. to promote the necessary investments. 4.

while the richer people on Earth use more water than necessary. in the global scenario of water. but translating that awareness into action is a slow process. • Four billion people have basic sanitation.166 eating planet thinking about water markets through the development of economic models that allow the precise valuation of water in various uses. . but not always where it’s needed. but the infrastructures needed to distribute it are extremely costly. there is both good news and bad news • There’s plenty of water on earth. • About 5. • Nature constantly recycles and purifies the water of rivers and lakes. whether it is public or privatized. but mankind is using it faster than nature can replace it. • There is a growing awareness of the water problem. and private companies must be required to operate ethically. • Millions of people are trying to escape from their condition of poverty. • The pace of industrialization is rising. 8. but people take it for granted that it will always be available.7 billion people have access to clean water. even though industry needs more fresh water. even though many companies still use water in an unsustainable and inefficient way. an effective democratic control on the water resource management either the water is privatized or public. but 2. • Water is free in nature. • Industry is becoming more and more efficient in the way it uses water. but humanity is polluting water faster than nature can recycle it. • The challenge of the water economy begins now: to win that match will take the collaboration of each and every one of us. • In many areas of the planet.5 billion don’t. but 800 million don’t. water is easily accessible at reasonable costs. Privatization must be considered from the point of view of its effects on individuals and communities. • There’s a great amount of underground water. A strong and effective democratic control systems must be built in order to protect users from the risks that derive from inefficient management and services of water.

with different levels of compliance to the sustainability and multifunctional goals. and Technology for Development (IAASTD). environmental and economic sustainability. He was the director general of the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi (ICIPE). These go by different names. diverse and quality food. feed and fiber at affordable prices while being remunerative for the producers and compatible with sustainable agricultural practices. The transition from these unsatisfactory systems requires a new approach to Hans R. and since May 2005 he has been the president of the Millennium Institute. Science. the increase of fossil energy prices and in the medium and long term also its scarcity. often non renewable inputs. In principle. Herren is a worldrenowned scientist. ranging from organic. . he was codirector of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge. more work is needed to meet social. the increasing competition from the bio fuel sector. Herren What are the key challenges for agriculture sustainability now and in the future? What are the problems with the current situation? The main challenges agriculture and the food system in general are facing are: How to eliminate the persistent nexus of hunger and poverty? How to deal with the nutrition and health issue? How to reduce inequities and cater for rural livelihoods? The main problems agriculture is facing today are in the realm of adaptation to climate change.interviews | food for sustainable growth 167 interview the challenging transition toward sustainable agriculture Hans R. Are there some agricultural production models which could help in achieving a higher level of sustainability? How is it possible to effectively manage the transition towards more sus‑ tainable production paradigms? Farmers and scientists have devised a number of agricultural practices over the years that are in line with the requirements of a sustainable and multifunctional agriculture. bio dynamic. low or zero tillage to conservation agriculture. as requested in the IAASTD report Agriculture at a Crossroads. a Swiss foundation with a worldwide goal of alleviating poverty and improving life for poor people while still preserving the pool of precious natural resources that support life. president of Biovision. and organic /bio dynamic agriculture. there is a need to develop and build into these and new systems more resilience and regenerative potential. He has won many prizes for his research. although even in these cases. Today he is a board member of many organizations. The closest models to the set goals are agroecology. given that the present system still uses too much water and external. producing sufficient. agroecological. as well as one of the directors of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Benin.

168 eating planet research and extension. science and technology needed to transition agriculture towards the sustainable systems required to address the above mentioned challenges are rooted in the soil.e. while in the developed countries. feed and fiber production. rather than to be delegated to the private sector alone. with more different crops in the rotation. such as consumers / users. There is also a need to recognize that agriculture and food are the responsibility of Governments and that these areas need major funding from the public sector. by these sectors that are beyond the farm gate and research lab sectors. include the production and transformation. Soil fertility restoration is therefore the number one concern. removing all perverse subsidies and replacing them with payments for ecosystem services and rewards for sustainable practices. The transition will be further help and supported by introducing true pricing of the products. as well as the indirect health costs externalities into the retail price. so to speak! The world is facing many challenges. New national agricultural policies will need to cater for the internal need of food. the consequence of each practice are degraded. devoid of the needed soil biota to assure sustainable fertility levels that allow quality and quantity production under the new stresses of climate change. that are just as important. as production systems are shaped in part at least. The latter still has a large role to play past the farm gate in particular. in particular the fact that in the developing countries the soils have been largely mined of their nutrients. we have mostly over-fertilized. as rural infrastructure. localized and includes the stakeholder beyond production. as well as for the enabling conditions. the inclusion of animals on farm and new methods for pest and disease management that take advantage of the gifts of nature in the form of natural control mechanisms. to identify the key leverage point and synergies to achieve the multifunctional agriculture goals while minimizing the negative feed backs. access to markets and both capital and insurances. from global to local. to which we need to add improved and more diverse cropping systems. This is necessary.. either already built into . providers of inputs and also the transformation and retail sectors. new institutions to support and manage the paradigm change as well as a change in consumer / user behavior. eroded and low fertility soils. i. along the value chain from the farmer to the consumer. which is participatory. Managing this transition will need political will and vision beyond what is presently experienced. at all levels of governance. What kind of technology innovation and agricultural practices are required to meet the goals of sustainability in agriculture? What should be done to improve and pro‑ mote agricultural best practices all over the world and further foster innovation? The main areas of knowledge. It will also require a new systemic and holistic approach to analyzing the agriculture and food system.

as suggested by most vested interest groups from the input agribusiness. The main factor being that agriculture needs to be green by design. for the present and future food. institutions and along the value chain to assure markets for agricultural products.interviews | food for sustainable growth 169 plants through evolution or through system management practices. rather than by making few changes at the margins (green washing). It has been demonstrated in the UNEP Green Economy Report Agriculture chapter (2011). provide quality jobs in and around agriculture to keep the younger population in the rural areas By making serious changes from agricultural sciences to political choices. with investments that are below today’s subsidy levels. agriculture and food systems can be made sustainable and able to deliver on the multifunctional goals. Investments need also to be made in enabling conditions. . such as rural infrastructure. feed and fiber needs of a growing and more demanding population and also for the long haul. that go from field to landscape scale. all key sustainability goals can be achieved. that by implementing the basic tenets of sustainable agriculture as suggested in the IAASTD report.

where most of the water needed by society is used and man- Tony Allan is one of the world’s leading international experts on water.400 litres and that favourite pair of jeans a whopping 11. Most of us don’t have the slightest idea about the sheer volumes of water involved in our daily lives. Our ignorance is immense. this ignorance simply did not matter.000 litres. In fact. We humans beings don’t understand the true value of water. To make a cup of coffee. producing. That’s the true amount of water used in growing. and we don’t know it. A lunchtime hamburger take 2. packaging and shipping the beans you use to make your morning coffee. it takes 140 litres. We are addicted to over-consuming water. How can we promote greater awareness of the impact of the use of water on the environment and encourage the diffu‑ sion and the adoption of sustainable behaviour among citi‑ zens and enterprises? Only with great difficulty. . His latest book (Virtual Water) is a textbook in the subject and one of the most original pieces of thinking in the field in recent years. all the goods we buy—from food to clothing to computers—have a water cost in the form virtual water: the powerful new concept that reveals the hidden factors of our real global water consumption. with a global population pushing seven billion. Already. water scarcity is not just a possibility. he was awarded the Stockholm Water Prize in 2008. It is already a reality for many. This is especially true on the farms of the world. Are the main economic players conscious of the problems and challenges involved in water management? Neo-liberal markets that operate in the food supply chain are almost totally blind to the costs of delivering water. with a global population of one billion. And now. But it is not. Unfortunately society has evolved not to value water. At the start of the twentieth century. The ratio of water to people was so massive that it was as if our water supply was infinite. and we are at a point in our relationships with nature’s vast but limited water resources where we simply cannot afford to stay ignorant.170 eating planet interview virtual water between underconsumption and poor management Tony Allan You introduced the concept of virtual water many years ago: the products we use and the foods we eat on a daily basis are produced consuming large quantities of water. our over-consumption and mismanagement of water has had a very serious impact on our water environments and the essential services they provide. For his revolutionary virtual water concept.

As well as the big four global auditors—PwC. the “right to water” will require new laws on both local and international levels in order to prevent the interests of a select few from prevailing. Is it possible that the value (and the price) of goods and ser‑ vices will be affected by the amount of water required to produce them? Getting the accounting rules establishment to adopt green economics and green audit principles will be a long elemental struggle. Of course. The food supply value chain is massively distorted by public policies that introduce financial pressures that have and will overwhelm attempts to get water valued to reflect its costs of delivery and to internalise the environmental impacts of its use. That is. These markets are regulated by water blind accounting rules held in place by armies of accountants and lawyers that populate powerful bodies such as the Federal Accounting Standards Board [in New York] and others world-wide. The big volumes of water are in our food. increase eco‑ nomic interests in it. They manage the big water. Although probably not as cheap as in the past when wheat . But these uses only account for 10% of the water needed by society. Just as with the “right to food”. They trade food. water and capital see little or no improvement in their water productivity. International trade is much cheaper and low risk compared to armed conflict. How can we guarantee water for everyone? Do you see the risk of “water wars” in the coming years around the globe? Nations do not go to war over water. consequently. Of the eight nations states I examined in my latest book. Developing economies. Food prices have been falling for 200 years and prices will be low again once the current price spikes are over. Sadly. In the near future. it is possible to reflect the costs and impacts in the use of water for domestic. E&Y.interviews | food for sustainable growth 171 aged: farmers are the “de facto” water managers of the world. the increase in the demand for water and the reduction in water supplies will make water more valuable and. the invisible 80-90 per cent of all water used in the global economy. KPMG and Deloitte and countless other accountants and lawyers in the transnational agribusinesses and traders and other private sector firms. We have indeed uncovered a golden rule: the development and diversification of economies is always associated with massive increases in the productivity of water. the converse is also true. that falter or face nearly insurmountable problems in combining their land. municipal and industrial uses. employed for the production of food. and these increases are delivered by farmers using big water.16 seven have seen significant improvements in their returns to water in farming. the big volumes of water integral to food production.

Sustainably intensifying the use of scarce water resources and using them in ways that are socially and environmentally just in these distorted conditions will challenge this generation and a number of future generations.172 eating planet and other staples were on the world market at half cost—as a consequence of the subsidies in the US and the EU. .

water. The model of the “double pyramid” (food and environment) in fact shows that with sustainable diets the two objectives can be easily attained. one that takes into account the actual availability of resources and different socioeconomic and geographic settings. the issues of water resources must be dealt with through models and instruments of integrated management that take into account the value of virtual water (included in all products on the market) and of water productivity in agriculture (more crop per drop). in part with a view to the reduction of waste. . in part due to the current and future effects of climate change. we should also take into account other significant variables such as the local availability of energy and human expertise. More in general. ensure water access. ought to focus on parents and the school system in order to encourage more responsible approaches to consumption. in order to better orient individuals to modify their behaviors and models of consumption in directions that entail a more careful and responsible use of water. while it should not exclude the children themselves. etc. and manage it in a sustainable manner on a global level It is important to reinforce the commitment and responsibility of public institutions to ensure access to drinking water and adequate sanitation infrastructures to everyone. it is necessary to encourage investments that make it possible to remove technical and political obstacles. With particular reference to future generations. encourage sustainable agriculture that takes into account local needs and considerations The global agricultural system reveals a number of aspects of fragility.) and reduced emissions. We should consider that healthier foods also imply lesser environmental impacts in terms of the consumption of natural resources (soil. the only possible solution is that of a differentiated approach. aside from the classic factors at play (soil quality. In this context. But it is also a good idea for the “water footprint” to be commonly used in order to assign a value to the production of goods and services. etc. water availability.). In that context.action plan | food for sustainable growth 173 action plan encourage nutritional behaviors and choices that are in keeping with the model of the double pyramid Following the model of the “double pyramid” means adopting a balanced diet both in nutritional terms and in terms of environmental impact. In the awareness that there cannot be a single model of production that is capable of ensuring sustainability in different agricultural context. it therefore becomes necessary to undertake a process of collective awareness of responsibility which. adaptation to atmospheric phenomena.

table of contents introduction Agriculture. Nutrition and Health by Ricardo Uauy facts & figures 4. and the Economic and Social Impacts of the Principal Diseases Diet and Lifestyle and Their Effects on Longevity and Diseases of Aging Inflammatory States and Caloric Restriction: Possible Interventions to Slow the Aging Processes Recommendations interviews Companies Must Behave Responsibly by Marion Nestle The Responsibility for Children Must Be Shared by Aviva Must Lifestyles Influence the Way We Age by Alex Kalache action plan .3 4.2 4. Longevity.7 4.11 4. Food.4 food for a healthy life A Few Key Figures: Global Trends in Chronic Diseases and their Social and Economic Impacts Guidelines for a Healthy Way of Eating and Lifestyle The Most Common Guidelines and Dietary Models Recommendations food and children: educate today for a better life tomorrow 4.8 The Spread of Obesity and Overweight in Children and Adolescents and the International Economic and Social Impact Nutrients in the Different Phases of Growth Guidelines for Healthy Diets and Sound Lifestyles in Children and Adolescents Recommendations longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition 4.1 4.9 4.5 4.10 4.12 Demographics.6 4.

4. . food for health Food for Health explores the relationship between food and better health. It analyzes the recommendations made by the most well respected scientific institutions around the world in the fields of nutrition and health. The chapter offers a set of concrete proposals designed to facilitate the adoption of healthier lifestyles.

the Reference Group for Global Strategy Diet Nutrition and the Prevention of NCDs (non-communicable diseases). A healthy diet is diversified. food for health Agriculture. added sugars. Food. micronutrients. while health ministries and the World Health Organization focus on the need for healthier food and controlling the pandemic of nutrition related chronic diseases. and FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Energy Requirements in Rome. and legumes (supplying the necessary energy. Because dietary patterns and foods differ across the world. and protein). Yet international and national agencies for agriculture and health interact little and often have different and sometimes contradictory agendas. Based on these goals. Dietary diversity may be difficult to achieve under conditions of poverty. He is also a member of many other scientific committees including: expert consultation on Prevention and Control of Childhood Obesity and the WHO expert panel for Scientific Update on Carbohydrates in Human Health/ Disease. Nutrition and Health Ricardo Uauy sor of Public Health Nutrition the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology (INTA). while limiting the amounts of saturated and trans fats. and salt. fruits. Since 2008 he has been a member of the WHO/FAO expert committee on Fats and Fatty Acids in Human Nutrition. ricardo uauy is Profes- There is no good health without good nutrition. utilizing the local foods available that contribute in meeting nutritional needs. and good nutrition depends on agriculture.176 eating planet 4. A healthy diet provides sufficient energy to maintain a balance between consumption and expenditure. Yet health and nutrition objectives can only be met if both food and health needs are addressed with a common agenda. fiber. because consuming a variety of foods across and within different food groups is the best way to secure the intake of all essential nutrients. Ministries of agriculture as well as nternational food and agriculture agencies aim for increases in food and feed production. . and since 2007 he has been a member of the WHO/FAO expert committee on Scientific Update on CHO 06 and on Trans Fats. vegetables. recommended food groups should be established according to the prevailing agricultural practices and cultural context. a healthy diet is one that is high in whole grain cereals. Chile and at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Our genes over the past several millennia were selected based on this model. The evolution of humans has been shaped by the nutritional quality of our diets. fruits. Refined carbohydrates and free sugars.introduction | food for health 177 where diets are based on single energy-rich foods (wheat. trans fats and sodium). What made us different was the diet of early hominids. we recommend the consumption of: Fruits and vegetables. We recommend moderating the consumption of: Processed foods (high in sugar. increased consumption of packaged foods. Added sugars and sugary drinks. Industrial partially hydrogenated fats (trans fats). Sugar-sweetened beverages. Added sodium and salty foods. Homo sapiens is virtually identical to most primates in terms of its genetic make up. A healthy life is conditioned not only by the food we eat but also by how much energy we spend. since we evolved under conditions of limited energy and food supply. Whole grains and fiber (intact plant foods not added fiber). . thus the difficulty of preventing obesity. or potatoes) with little consumption of animal products. In summary. or vegetables. the quality of the diet has been recognized from the earliest of times to play a key role as a determinant of health and wellbeing of human populations. Healthy vegetable oils (olive. rapeseed). rice. from being almost strict vegetarians we diversified our diets. Processed meats. In urban areas. soy. Low saturated fat dairy and milk products. corn. may aggravate inadequate micronutrient intake. Tree nuts. and animal foods and fats then provided not only increased energy density but essential fatty acids food based dietary guidelines In any diet. Fish. and if we eat beyond our expenditure we are very efficient in storing all forms of food energy as fat tissue. algae and other marine foods. We are equipped with a set of highly effective systems that allow us to get virtually all the energy available in our foods. even among the poor.. This allowed us to survive food shortages and even famine conditions.

Good health requires good nutrition. and good nutrition depends on healthy foods and sustainable agricultural practices. high-carbohydrate. Now. we evolved as scavengers.178 eating planet and micronutrients to form a progressively larger brain and a more complex nervous system. The solution to hunger and malnutrition is not achieved by providing energy in sufficient or excessive amounts. traditional diets in most developing and transitional countries are being replaced by high-fat. it should also be adequate in micronutrient content and in the quality of the macronutrients supplied (fats. More than hunter-gatherers. . carbohydrates and proteins). energy-dense diets with a substantial fat and sugar content. This increases palatability but also leads us into obesity and related chronic diseases.

The initiatives that encourage healthier diets among children and students are becoming more education: the schools Schools can play a fundamental role in teaching good eating habits. and they often involve very influential testimonials. Michelle Obama. . such as the First Lady of the United States.

180 eating planet 4. this figure will rise to 9 million in 2015 and to 11. equivalent to approximately 246 million people. there were 7.4 mILLION In 2007. with roughly a 27% increase over 2003 (194 million diabetics) 194 mILLION + INCREASE estimate 2003 27% 246 mILLION estimate 2007 .5 mILLION 2007 2005 2015 Equivalent to 30% of all deaths worldwide.9 mILLION 9 mILLION 11. the worldwide rate of diabetes was roughly 6% among people aged 20 to 79.7 million to strokes 20 mILLION 2030 This figure confirms heart disease as the leading cause of death worldwide GROWTH OF DEATHS DUE TO CANCERS 7. 7. In 2007.9 million deaths worldwide that can be attributed to cancers.6 million are due to heart disease and 5. According to future estimates.  food for health RISE IN DEATHS CAUSED BY CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE 17. 2015 + mILLION 7 YEAR DIABETICS/PER Every year there are more than 7 million new cases of diabetes worldwide: one every 5 seconds.4 million in 2030. Of these deaths.

The molecular. rising from 45 years at the end of the nineteenth century to roughly 80 years in 2010. 12. play a central role in the aging process In the United States. and hormonal alterations caused by an excessive and chronic caloric intake. Despite this.5 mILLION OBESE CHILDREN 25% 17% CALORIC INTAKE & AGING There is a significant link between food and problems in the aging process. and by a defective nutritional model and lifestyle. life expectancy at birth in western nations has almost doubled. and they live. for the most part. the percentage of people over 65 suffering from two or more chronic diseases is very high. they account for 25% of the entire world population of undernourished people . 17% of all children between the ages of 2 and 9 and one third of all adolescents are either overweight or obese 148 mILLION UNDERWEIGHT CHILDREN OF THE POPULATION IS UNDERNOURISHED That is how many underweight children under the age of 5 there are in the world. metabolic.facts & figures | food for health 181 LIFE EXPECTANCY AND CHRONIC DISEASES 80% of those over 65 are suffering from at least one chronic disease 50% of those over 65 suffering from two or more chronic diseases In the last hundred years. in developing nations.

noting where they agreed and overlapped. We analyzed the trends. The end result was a document that distills the best current understanding of diet’s role in preventing chronic diseases and promoting general good health. We also say greater efficiency because prevention costs less. These conditions have risen continuously and to a significant degree in recent decades within populations all over the world. The next step was to analyze the role played by different dietary and behavioral choices in preventing the most significant chronic diseases. diabetes/metabolic syndrome. diabetic diseases.) Building on this analysis. We say greater efficacy because prevention makes it possible to attain better results overall. worldwide and in Italy alone. including chronic diseases. tumors). We looked closely at the linkages between the ingestion of a broad array of macro. It is this second factor . The interpretative model adopted by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition begins with this key fact and goes on to analyze in detail the importance of various factors correlated with diet to human health. in fact.182 eating planet food for a healthy life Diet plays an increasingly crucial role in any attempt to enjoy a balanced lifestyle. BCFN has developed a set of practical recommendations intended to encourage the spread of beneficial ways of eating. we have also tried to quantify the benefits of adopting sound diets in economic and financial terms. Finally. First. We did this by reviewing the guidelines offered by the most respected international scientific societies on good nutrition.and micronutrients and the likelihood of the onset of these diseases. (Beyond their medical benefits. Food. an increasingly real critical factor in the overall picture of world health. in the chief chronic non-transmissible diseases (cardiovascular diseases. and cancers. Then we reviewed the principal findings in the international scientific literature on the relationship between diet and cardiovascular diseases. While doing this work BCFN has made a few general observations. over the last 50 years we have seen a growing awareness of the greater efficacy and efficiency of prevention as opposed to acting only when patients have already become sick. At this point it was necessary to translate the complex and deeply technical scientific findings into more user-friendly dietary and behavioral guidelines. diet and lifestyles for the prevention of chronic diseases. These are the three disease groups whose onset appears to be most clearly tied to diet and to overweight and obesity. we wrote a summary of the guidelines. in part because prevention works to the benefit ofit of a broader share of the population than does medical treatment. plays an essential part in the prevention of a number of pathologies.

environmental. however. One of the most important of those factors. For all these reasons. prevention is clearly also fundamental in emerging and developing countries. is simply information about diet and health. not just on their narrow dietary choices. Investigations followed into the nature of the underlying social. So it is fortunate that the awareness of the links among diet. We must rediscover and appreciate the social and cultural importance of the act of eating. The first and perhaps the most important task will be to correct the dietary . and health are growing. where we have seen a general movetoward the westernization of diet and lifestyles. information about diet is not enough. and the loss of value attributed to food as a central social and cultural element of everyday life. Prevention appears to be fundamental to ensuring that the younger generations do not find themselves saddled with inferior conditions of health and welfare (perhaps even radically inferior) compared with those enjoyed by preceding generations. The first studies establishing those links between behavioral choices and the onset of diseases began to appear in the 1950s. Everywhere we see a way of life emerging that involves an increase in the average quantity of calories ingested. with corresponding increases in the dietary disorders and diseases linked to them. public agencies. and the private businesses in the agro. but also on the quality of the way we live and the quality of the relationship between man and food. the emergence of nutritionally unbalanced dietary models. the gradual shift we’ve seen over the last few decades. what is required is the rediscovery and renewed appreciation of an idea of food and lifestyle centered on “quality”: a reduction of the quantity of food that we consume and a greater focus on the quality of that food. This shift will affect not just individuals. By itself. but also medical institutions. and cultural factors. especially in the face of the dramatic change in world dietary habits. then. is an overall paradigm shift that focuses on the person and his or her behaviors. from treating diseases to preventing for a healthy life | food for health 183 that ensures that prevention will be one of the chief strategic approaches in the effort to ensure the sustainability of health systems burdened by constantly rising levels of investment and operating costs. is welcome. if we have learned anything from the experience of the last few decades in Western countries. not surprisingly. as seems to be the case in every nation in the Western world. not enough has been done yet. significant reductions in time spent in physical activity. The problem is bigger than that. BCFN is convinced that prevention is an essential and not fully explored area for the future of medicine and nutritional science. What we need. however. lifestyle. To prevent these trends from spreading their devastation. At the same time. Still. In these areas it’s necessary to act before the bad habits can develop into deep-rooted practices.alimentary sector.

both current and predicted. However. Unless we begin. All the data are revealing a rapid decline in average health conditions. The most important studies reveal that roughly 80 percent of all cases linked to these diseases could be prevented by eliminating such risk factors as . doctors. represent the chief risk factor for human health.1 a few key figures: global trends in chronic diseases and their social and economic impacts Today the principal chronic diseases (cardiovascular diseases. diabetes. and immediately. These diseases cause some 35 million deaths every year—60 percent of all worldwide deaths and 80 percent of deaths in low. to modify the lifestyles and dietary habits of the current generations. any effort to improve the current scenario must fully and synergistically engage all the key actors in the agroalimentary world.and medium-income nations. including government. the rapidity and depth of the trends make time a crucial element in all and every corrective intervention. or not adequately disincentivized by many other forces shaping public health. In fact. This phase of life is absolutely crucial to all subsequent development. Unless the dietary and lifestyle trends that have emerged with such striking speed over the last few decades on a worldwide level are reversed. encouraged. but fundamental. in the modern history of humanity there has never been such a marked shift in the quality of life and the average conditions of health as the one that—to judge from the data at hand—we can fairly expect to see beginning in the coming 10-30 years. And we must act quickly. through the analysis. The dietary habits and behaviors adopted during the first few years of life are decisive influences on one’s health during childhood and adolescence and health and quality of life in later years. from pre-school age all the way up to adolescence. individuals cannot by themselves change trends that have been influenced. To succeed. what will we be capable of doing once all the medical and health consequences of those habits have done their damage? BCFN has come to the firm belief—through the work that it has carried out in these years. 4. starting with young people. future generations will be inexorably condemned to live less well than the generations that preceded them. even in areas (such as Italy) normally considered the homelands of sound diets and healthy lifestyles. the observations.184 eating planet habits and ways of life among children. This collaboration is not just important. the mass media. in mounting a successful prevention effort. and tumors). the discussions with the leading international experts on the issues of diet and health—that there is no more time to waste. as well as an enormous socioeconomic burden on society as a whole. and private companies and corporations.

nearly a third of all American children and adolescents have been found to be either overweight or for a healthy life | food for health 185 the consumption of tobacco. unhealthy diets. that is.3 Coronary diseases are responsible for the greatest number of fatalities (1. some US$70 billion. on the other hand. for example.5 million deaths due to cardiovascular diseases worldwide. 7. Throughout Europe. This value includes both direct health costs (hospital treatment and care. by the tripling of cases of overweight young people from 1970 to the present day. by 2015.9 million deaths in all Europe and over 741. The World Health Organization has noted that in 2005 there were roughly 17. the impact of cardiovascular diseases.6 million were due to heart disease and 5. some truly astonishing numbers emerge. cardiovascular diseases are responsible for 4. the increase in cardiovascular diseases is strongly linked to poor diet.3 million deaths every year (2 million within the European Union). The most recent estimates of the total cost of cardiovascular diseases in the United States indicate an impact of US$473. This makes cardiovascular disease the number one killer on Earth. they also have significant economic effects. their impact on global health could increase by 17 percent in the next 10 years. Of those deaths.000 in the member nations of the European Union). and the excessive consumption of alcohol. If we assign a cash value to these data. According to a recent study by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. and more than 860. In the United States. in nearly all the countries on earth. to cite once again a shocking American statistic. without adequate prevention. Aside from their importance to health. more than 65 percent of all Americans are obese or overweight.7 million were caused by strokes.000 die of those diseases. Over the last decade. Similarly. there has been an exponential increase in obesity. physical inactivity. pharmaceuti- . the number of deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases worldwide will grow to 20 million every year.3 billion in 2009. the World Health Organization (WHO)2 estimates that the direct cost of obesity accounted for roughly 7 percent of all health-related costs in 1995. This trend has been so marked that it led the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) to proclaim the prevention and treatment of obesity “the most important public health problem throughout the world. equal to 30 percent of all deaths.” Currently. and we are seeing this phenomenon spread to the younger sectors of the population. It’s been estimated that. The gravity of overweight and obesity among young people is documented. In the United States it is estimated that 80 million people are affected by one or more cardiovascular disease in any given year.1 Overweight and obesity are now fully recognized as diseases. On the other hand.

the total economic impact of cardiovascular diseases for 2006 was estimated at roughly €192 billion.5 for a total of roughly €8 billion annually. an increase of 54.8 billion per year. and diabetes in China will be equivalent to US$558 billion.1 percent of world population (380 million people). An even more worrisome growth trend is expected in India. Estimates for 2025 indicate a substantial increase in the rate. In China. it is estimated that there were approximately 39. the impact of diabetes. Another 37 percent of the total economic impact of cardiovascular diseases is due to the indirect costs related to the loss of productivity of the working-age patients due to sickness and death and the other informal costs for the care of patients. not only in the developed countries. in 2025 this number is expected to to rise to a little under 60 million (5. but also in developing nations such as China. strokes. where the current number of cases of 40. for example.3 percent of the population.6 the cumulative cost over 10 years of cardiac diseases. which will rise to 7. The spread of cardiovascular diseases entails serious economic and social repercussions. 4 Of these costs.8 million people with diabetes in 2007.8 billion) have to do with the direct costs charged to the health system. a 50-percent increase. and the indirect costs calculated as a loss of working productivity caused by the sickness or premature death of the patients. the total costs of cardiovascular diseases have been estimated at roughly €21. Every year. the costs incurred in the treatment and care of diabetes are very high.0 percent in 2007. With reference to diabetes (another disease strongly influenced by diet). etc. According to the estimates of the International Diabetes Federation. In Italy. which include the costs of hospital treatment and care and the cost of pharmaceuticals.8 million (7. According to recent WHO estimates. A study by the American Diabetes Association7 estimated the cost of diabetes . worldwide.2 percent of the population) is expected to rise to 69. The prevalence of diabetes will grow both in industrialized countries and in developing countries. with a projected rise to US$300 billion in 2025. those costs reached a global level in 2007 of about US$232 billion.5 percent over 2007. As in the case of cardiovascular diseases. among people aged 20 to 79 the worldwide incidence of the disease was around 6. equal to 4. there are more than 7 million new cases of diabetes—a new case every 5 seconds.). That’s an increase of roughly 27 percent over 2003 (when it was estimated that 194 million people suffered from this disease).6 percent of the population) by 2025.6 percent of the population).186 eating planet cals. or about 246 million people. home assistance. which corresponds to a total average per capita cost of €391.8 million (6. In Europe. 63 percent (€13.

and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. roughly 16.6 billion. cancers. at €56.4 million in 2030. by the European Society for Medical Oncology. direct medical costs alone for cancer in Europe have been estimated.7 percent of the total years of health lost by all European citizens to disease. National Institutes of Health. clinical for a healthy life | food for health 187 in the United States in 2007 to be US$174 billion. of them. Estimates point to a worldwide rise in deaths caused by tumors. Diet. heart attacks and cancer). A clear majority of these deaths will occur place in low.650 is attributable directly to diabetes. including US$116 billion for direct medical expenses and US$58 billion calculated as the loss of productivity of the patients and the family members involved in their care. of which US$6. American diabetic patients on average bear costs of over US$11. But what kind of diet and lifestyle? Analyzing the guidelines for preventing chronic diseases from the World Health Organization and the world’s most . diabetes. In a similar context. According to WHO data. and tumors is such that it demands an in-depth analysis of the role played by the different dietary and behavioral choices (physical activity first and foremost) in the onset of the leading chronic diseases.). is a fundamental component in creating a healthy lifestyle. The scope of the socioeconomic impact that can be traced to cardiovascular diseases. in 2002 cancer caused a loss of human life equivalent to nearly 10 million years.”9 while a healthy lifestyle is “a way of life directed toward the reduction of the risk of diseases and premature death. about 75 percent occurred in low. therefore.9 million deaths worldwide that could be blamed on tumors.400 annually. etc. an annual average cost of €2. In the United States. the economic impact of cancers rose to more than US$228 billionin medium-income medium-income countries.S. in 2007 there were 7.834 per patient was incurred. 4. Cancers are also tied to poor diet and nutrition. Another study done of European diabetics8 estimates that. but in many cases conscientious prevention can put off or reduce the risk of onset. just for the direct health costs of the disease (hospitalization. Most of those costs (55 percent) was due to hospitalization for acute and chronic complications. As for Europe (EU25). pharmaceuticals. to a level of 9 million in 2015 and 11.” 10 Not all diseases can be prevented (for instance.2 guidelines for a healthy way of eating and lifestyle The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical. including both health costs and productivity losses. according to the estimates of the U. mental.

10. conducted worldwide. over both the short and long term (and make sure not to regain any excess weight you might have lost). running. swimming. Arterial hypertension (diet and lifestyle). Increase (up to about 400grams/day) the consumption of fruit and vegetables. focusing especially on those that are rich in food fibers.e. Adopt a balanced diet. seven are linked to lifestyle and diet: 1. Eat two to three portions of fish a week. Choose sources of complex carbohydrates (cereal grains and legumes) and increase the consumption of unrefined cereal grains (for example.1): 1. pasta. 5. Engage in regular physical activity. respected international scientific societies11 leads us to the following key actions (figure 4. i. 7. Obesity (diet and lifestyle). Non-potable water and hygienic shortcomings. 9. 7. shows that among the top 10 health risks on Earth. for 30 to 60 minutes a day. Avoid the excessive consumption of alcohol (no more than one glass for women and two glasses for men a day). Low weight and malnutrition (diet). Avoid overweight and obesity. breadsticks made with whole wheat flour). which is easy to do through the elimination of snacking. 5. Smoke produced by indoor fires. Smoking tobacco (lifestyle). 8.188 eating planet risk factors and lifestyle The WHO has published an in-depth study of the vast array of negative factors that cause the premature deaths of millions of people. or bicycling) or high intensity (for instance. 6. characterized by careful control of the total caloric intake and by a proper composition of the various macro. 6. consume four to five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. 3. Unprotected sexual relations. most days of the week. Alcohol (lifestyle). bread. either moderate (for instance. 8. .. or team sports). 4.and micro-nutrients. 4. Iron deficiencies (diet). walking. Hypercholesterolemia (diet and lifestyle). 2. Don’t smoke. The study. 2. 3. 9. Increase the consumption of legumes.

teaching children to cook In addition to proposing healthier and more balanced menus in school cafeterias. In this photo. schools can involve children in food preparation through simple and entertaining activities. children are making pizza at a food education workshop at a school in Madrid. .

2009. .1 The methodology followed for the convergence of guidelines for healthy diet and lifestyle Source: BCFN.190 eating planet guidelines for cardiovascular prevention Fats: 15‑30% of total calories 30 minutes of physical activity every day Saturated fats < 10% and trans fats < 1% Less than 140 g of meat a day 4‑5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily 4‑5 portions of legumes a week 1‑2 portions of fish every week Avoid conditions of overweight and obesity Encourage the consumption of unrefined cereal grains Don’t smoke Consumption of alcohol not recommended Salt: 4‑5 g/day and no dietary supplements guidelines for prevention of diabetes Fats: < 30% of total calories 150 minutes of physical activity every week Saturated fats < 10% and trans fats < 1% Proteins: 10‑20% of total calories 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily 4 portions of legumes a week 2‑3 portions of fish every week Avoid conditions of overweight and obesity Encourage the consumption of unrefined cereal grains Maintain a normal BMI Consumption of alcohol not recommended Salt: 6 g/day and no dietary supplements guidelines for prevention of tumors Limit consumption of fats 45‑60 minutes of physical activity every day Don’t smoke Limit consumption of red meat and salami 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily Eat legumes regularly Prefer fish to red meat Avoid conditions of overweight and obesity Encourage the consumption of unrefined cereal grains Maintain a normal BMI No more than one glass of alcohol per day Moderate salt intake convergence of the guidelines barilla center for food & nutrition healthy diet and lifestyle 1 5 30 minutes of physical activity every day Adopt a balanced diet Consume 2‑3 portions of fish every week Restrict the consumption of meat and poultry to 3‑4 portions a week 2 6 Avoid conditions of overweight and obesity Increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables Prefer plant‑based condiments Restrict the added consumption of salt 3 7 Avoid the excessive consumption of alcohol Prefer complex carbohydrates and increase the consumption of unrefined cereal grains Restrict the consumption of foods with high fat content Restrict the consumption of foods and beverages with high sugar content 4 8 Don’t smoke Increase the consumption of legumes Restrict the consumption of fried foods Avoid the daily use of food supplements 9 13 10 14 11 15 12 16 figure 4.

Its first four components—fruit. Reduce the consumption of meat and poultry to three to four portions a week. actions and strategies should promote the rediscovery of regional diets and their most healthful nutritional components. Spain. If closely adhered to. which should be fully considered in light of the most recent scientific knowledge. 4. and the Asian model (which contains a number of important traditions and cultures. ranging from the Japanese to the Vietnamese and Chinese diets). U. To ensure that a diet can improve people’s state of health. and increase the consumption of “low-fat” products (such as low-fat yogurt and skim or low-fat milk). hot dogs. making any attempt to spread an ideal meta-diet both arrogant and pointless. roughly a teaspoonful).e. And for good reason: every region and country on Earth has its own native agriculture. for a healthy life | food for health 191 10. sausages). Reduce the consumption of foods with high fat content (for example. stands out for its nutritional equilibrium. and customs. The Mediterranean dietary model.3 the most common guidelines and dietary models Science does not identify a single hypothetical perfect diet. vegetables. the Mediterranean model is one of the most effective in terms of welfare and prevention of diseases. Avoid the daily use of dietary supplements. milk and dairy products—present a breakdown that is both balanced in terms of quantities ingested (from 200 to 260 grams a day of each food group) and in terms of daily consumption (the sum of the first four components amounts to more than 40 percent of daily consumption). pastries and sugary drinks). capable of ensuring the greatest possible benefits in terms of health and prevention of diseases. lard). Greece. prevalent in the countries of the Mediterranean region(in particular Italy. BCFN. unrefined cereal grains). products derived from cereal grains (in particular. creams. 12. different dietary models. 11. through a deliberate effort at simplification. and France). each is characterized by its own distinctive traits: the Mediterranean model. 15. sauces. Choose plant-based condiments (vegetable oils) over condiments with high contents of animal fat (butter. the North American model. The North American (i. and Canada) dietary model has long been at .. Reduce the consumption of foods and drinks with high concentrations of sugars (for example. 13. cheese products. above and beyond the levels naturally contained in foods (don’t use more than 5-6 grams of added salt.S. Limit the additional use of salt. dietary traditions. Reduce the consumption of fried foods. has found it possible to single out three great dietary traditions in the world. 16. 14.

Fish consumption averages 107 grams daily. The populations of Nicotera. This seems to be the result of an excessive consumption of food (about 2. This diet includes an abundance of mineral salts. . The Mediterranean diet appears capable of reducing the risk of heart attack by 72 percent. omega-3 fatty acids. That study compared the diets of the populations of seven different countries to test those diets’ benefits. including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Montegiorgio (Marche). capable of adhering—in different measures and ways—to the principles sanctioned by medical science. The Japanese dietary model 13 —taken as an example of the dietary style prevalent in eastern Asia—favors the consumption of cereal grains. equal to no less than 24 percent of the total daily intake. bread and pasta. much higher than the 45 grams of the Mediterranean diet and the 18 grams of the North American diet. garlic. who followed a Mediterranean dietary style.600 grams as against the roughly 2. respectively 11. red onions.192 eating planet the center of attention of the scientific world.000 grams daily of the Mediterranean model and the Japanese model) and an unbalanced nutritional composition that tends toward overconsumption of red meat and sweets. diets close to the Mediterranean diet help protect against the most widespread chronic diseases. A number of studies15 have shown that sticking to the Mediterranean diet produces significant reductions in overall mortality. and Campania had very low blood cholesterol levels and a minimal percentage of coronary diseases.1 percent of total daily consumption. These characteristics ensure that the North American diet falls notably far from recommended guidelines and should be to some extent revised and supplemented. and fish. but is protective against all causes of mortality. Their diet was based on olive oil.12 This diet.16 Similar results are also found in recent studies17 conducted for 10 years on a sample of more than 380. and polyunsaturated fats. is largely rich in proteins and sugars. was scientifically demonstrated by the well-known “Seven Countries Study” 14 directed by Ancil Keys. This diet is very similar to the Mediterranean diet in both components and preparation (a relatively modest use of frying as a way of cooking food). The indicated that the best dietary regime was that of the inhabitants of Nicotera. That diet has triggered concern over the exponential increase in obesity and metabolic diseases in the United States. The nutritional value of the Mediterranean diet.7 percent and 7. in particular. phosphorus. In general. aromatic herbs. especially from deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases and tumors. in Calabria. basically. diet and chronic diseases. All of this shows that very different dietary models can coexist side-by-side. largely derived from fish.000 Americans. which are not adequately counterbalanced by a high level of fruit and vegetables. and very little meat. vegetables.

is a serious risk factor for obesity in adulthood. This is an important finding. As noted above. those habits date back to a very young age. diet plays a decisive role. the risks of the onset of overweight. and metabolic syndrome. shows once again how profitable it can be to examine on a systemic level knowledge that has been codified in contiguous but separate areas.4 recommendations In conclusion. from the pre-school age to adolescence. in Western countries. tumors. for example. The fact that it was possible to reach these conclusions by means of simultaneous studies in three different fields (cancers. two principal findings have emerged from BCFN’s analysis up to this point. the way of consuming foods. the composition of one’s diet. and detailed messages concerning the preferable lifestyles and dietary choices. the BCFN concentrated its efforts in 2010 on an investigation of the link between nutrition and healthy growth in the various phases of a child’s life. Moreover—and this result is even more interesting than the first one—comparing the various guidelines issued by the most respected international scientific bodies reveals general agreement on this simple fact: there are lifestyles and ways of eating that are capable of reducing. but which are rarely considered on an integrated and comprehensive basis. diseases of the cardiocirculatory system. therefore. and analyses that are already in part familiar. obesity. as its very reason for existence. to work to generate “new knowledge” through efforts to assemble evidence. portions. diabetes. the tendency to an active or sedentary lifestyle—can be important factors in creating an overall dietary behavior that . cardiocirculatory disease. lifestyles and behaviors that are acquired during an impressionable age—such as dietary preferences. food and children: educate today for a better life tomorrow After devoting an entire year (2009) to the analysis of the overall relationship between diet and health. simultaneously and in parallel. In the context of individual choices. Childhood obesity. and children: educate today for a better life tomorrow | food for health 193 4. observations. dysfunctions of the metabolism). The scientific community is convinced that the linkage between lifestyle and health is direct and quite intense. On a more general level. The BCFN intends. In many cases. the distribution of meals through the day. a high number of adult deaths are linked to excessive consumption of food and poor dietary and life habits. It lays the foundations upon which it is possible to send citizens and consumers clear.

In Europe too the problem of childhood obesity is increasingly widespread: every year in member countries of the European Union approximately 400. as a result of a “memory effect” bound up with the habits acquired.000 children are considered overweight and more than 85. Of them. It therefore appears to be fundamental to focus attention—beginning in early childhood—on the adoption of healthy daily dietary habits and proper lifestyles. “The earliest years of life are a very important window in terms of the development of the organism.194 eating planet is either adequate or inadequate in adulthood as well.000 are considered obese. which states that nearly a third of all American children and adolescents are either overweight or obese. moreover.18 there are 155 million obese or overweight school-age children. metabolic and otherwise. which means 2-3 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 17.. [. but all the leading advanced nations over the last 20 years. According to the National Institutes of Health. Even though it is not an isolated case.] Eating right during the developing years is important because it not only ensures that the child will grow and develop properly. or 1 in 10.21 In Italy this issue has taken on growing importance. as a result of the rise of the .” 4. we should keep our eye on a further 15 percent who appear to be at considerable risk of becoming overweight. According to data gathered by the International Obesity Task Force. 30-45 million are classified as obese. As the pediatrician Claudio Maffeis pointed out at the Second International Forum on Food and Nutrition. must begin in the earliest phases of life. but it also guarantees a defense against diseases. Although some of the factors leading to overweight and obesity are genetic in origin and therefore resistant to therapeutic or preventive intervention.. alongside the 16 percent of children between ages 6 and 19 that are currently overweight. Twenty-five percent of American children are overweight and 11 percent are obese.5 the spread of obesity and overweight in children and adolescents and the international economic and social impact All Western countries are experiencing an exponential growth of the phenomenon of childhood obesity and overweight.20 As for juvenile obesity alone. if they are to be as effective and lasting as possible. the United States certainly exemplifies the trend of spreading obesity and overweight among the younger sections of the population (as well as among adults19). These fractions seem to be confirmed by a more recent study done by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. others can respond to preventive actions aimed at modifying diets and lifestyle habits. nowadays its prevalence in Europe has been shown to be 10 times greater than it was in the 1970s. The rapid spread of this phenomenon has been affecting not only the United States. that we might encounter in later phases. But these interventions.

it is estimated that more than 1. the impact of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence is extremely significant. Overall. The European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) recognizes that the prevention and treatment of obesity is “the most important public health problem throughout the world.6 percent) and more than 12 are obese (12. Four mothers of overweight children out of ten do not believe that their children are overweight for their height.3 percent). The statistics on physical activity are anything but comforting: only one child out of ten obtains enough physical activity for their age and one out of four engaged in no physical activity on the day before the survey. If we extrapolate these data to the entire nation. children are obese or overweight because of dietary habits that both fail to support healthy growth and predispose those children to weight gain. Finally. and US$12 more for emergency and children: educate today for a better life tomorrow | food for health 195 numbers of adolescents and children who are overweight or obese. and • 23 percent of parents state that their children do not consume fruit or vegetables on a daily basis. Particularly interesting are the findings of one recent research project22 conducted on young Americans between the ages of 6 and 19.” While the health consequences of childhood obesity and overweight appear to be well documented in the literature. the perception of the problem by the parents. In particular. obesity and overweight bad eating habits in children Often. Half the children. moreover. In Italy. • 82 percent eat too abundant a mid-morning snack. it appears that: • 11 percent of children don’t eat breakfast. have television sets in their bedrooms. which revealed that the subjects who are considered obese generated higher health costs compared with normal-weight children: US$94 more for doctor’s visits. As the reader can easily imagine. • 28 percent eat an inadequate breakfast. both for government health-care budgets and in terms of effects on the physical and cognitive development of children and adolescents.2 million children between the ages of 6 and 11 have problems of obesity or overweight: more than a third of all children. seems to be inversely proportional to the statistical frequency of the excess weight. almost 24 are overweight (23. . as of this writing the economic impacts on social and health systems have only been quantified by a small number of studies. US$114 more for drug prescriptions. out of every 100 children in third grade.

50-60 percent of the energy spent daily by the child is due to basal metabo- . Youth. and renal and cerebral function in conditions of rest (basal metabolism). but the carbohydrates ingested are almost twice as much and the quantity of fats is almost four times greater. childhood. carbohydrates. and weaning (first teeth). can itself be subdivided into early childhood. Specific dietary needs are associated with each phase. Body growth is accompanied by neurological and psychological development.” which includes the period from 6 to 11 years of age. circulation. 4. During the period of early childhood—which is characterized by very rapid growth—it appears particularly necessary to ensure that a child is supplied with an adequate quantity of energy. A measure of how important the ingestion of energy is in the early years is the fact that. In the first year of life. for every gram of macronutrients ingested and per unit of body weight. and youth. adolescence. The macronutrients contained in the foods that are capable of providing that energy are fats. and proteins. Energy is necessary for maintaining respiration. second childhood or the age of play: this includes the period running from the third to the fifth year of age. during the deposit of new tissues (growth). suckling. ranges from age 18 to 25 for males and from age 16 to 20 for females. and includes the period between the ages of 11 and 18 in the male. After the first year and until the ages of 9 or 10. and in physical activity. and third childhood. the demand for energy for growth is considerable compared to the total but it rapidly decreases. This long journey can be subdivided into three time periods distinguished by the particular anatomical and physiological modifications that take place in the child: childhood. Beyond that. and between 11 and 16 in the female. childhood. metabolism. which runs from birth to the first two years and includes the so-called periods of newborn (the first month of life). The earliest phase.1 billion dollars a year just for those three categories. energy is consumed in digestion.6 nutrients in the different phases of growth Growth is a continual process that begins at the moment of conception and ends with the attainment of sexual maturity. and warehousing nutrients (thermogenesis). as are the intakes of nutrients and lifestyles to be recommended for healthy development. from 35 percent in the first month to 5 percent at the end of the first year. finally. also called “school age. In this latter phase. The second phase is adolescence (or puberty).196 eating planet among young people appear to cause incremental costs to the American health system of US$14. the quantity of proteins ingested by a young child is almost the same as an adult. the nutritional and lifestyle indications are roughly the same as for adults.

In addition to producing crops. organic. and sustainable food. farms are changing their on the farm In many of the most advanced economies. Promoting direct knowledge about farming can encourage more conscious consumption among consumers. farms are now creating awareness among consumers about the benefits of local. .

453‑1.916 usa 806‑1. which can also vary considerably in terms of weight characteristics. FAO. 2006.204‑1. 1996.694‑1. and only 2 percent to growth. As noted earlier. in which tissue-deposited proteins are used for the generation of energy. In contrast. The chart shows average values. the body makeup. some of them quite serious. 5-8 percent to thermogenesis. excessive inputs of energy encourage the deposit of excess fat. Proteins constitute an essential component of all human cells and for that reason an adequate protein intake has proven to be fundamental.417‑1.088 1. in view of the rise of obesity among children and adolescents.1.792‑2. the WHO recommends limiting the excessive ingestion of fats and sugars from the earliest ages.094 1. the principal macronutrients. Their bodies are undergoing a phase of growth that demands the presence of the amino acids necessary for the generation of tissues. and carbohydrates. fats.398 1. And so there is an overall range of values that can be considered reliable.377 1. Prolonged periods of inadequate energy intake can lead to full-blown malnutrition and/or a state of reduced protein reserves. The WHO23 points out the fact that there is substantial similarity among the various recommendations concerning the quantity of energy necessary for preschool-age children.957 Source: Società italiana di nutrizione umana.034 countries / organizations who 906‑1. derived from the product of the estimated quantity of energy necessary per kilogram of body weight and the average weight of children at different ages (table 4.500‑1. Therefore. especially pre-school-age children. and the average level of physical activity of the individual boy or girl.1). especially for school-age and pre-schoolage children.198 eating planet lism. When the intake of energy is to be lower than the required minimum.613 1.667 1. in the child’s growth and ability to perform normal physical activities. the principal macronutrients necessary for the proper ingestion of energy for pre-school-age and school-age children are proteins. problems may arise. 30-40 percent to physical activity. the optimal average quantitative amount of energy to be ingested in one’s diet (kcal/daily) 24 age of the child italy 1‑3 years 4‑6 years 7‑10 years 768‑1. especially table 4. .

in part through the prebiotic effect exerted on intestinal microbial flora. while deposited fats (especially in the adipose tissue). while from age 4 on fats should account for 25-35 percent of the total. but they provide no other important nutrition. green beans.E. The second energy-vital macronutrient is fats. the result is higher risk of significant . Optimal sources of high-quality proteins include animal and children: educate today for a better life tomorrow | food for health 199 organs and muscles. some 30-40 percent of total energy input should derive from fats. and K. and they should not be reduced below certain given limits: for very young children (2-3 years). especially to the brain and to the red corpuscles that only use glucose as a “fuel” for cellular activity. The carbohydrates that are not absorbed into the small intestine are transformed inside the colon into lactic acid and into short-chain fatty acids. Fats ingested in food supply both energy and essential fatty acids. such as soy products. the categories of carbohydrates. The WHO suggests that. also serve the function of encouraging the acquisition and maintenance of an adequate level of tropism of the intestinal mucosa. starches. and certain plant-based products. Carbohydrates are the third and the most important (in quantitative terms) energy source of the human organism. and fibers. Numerous governments and organizations recommend that the daily intake of added sugars not rise above 10 percent of the overall energy intake. cheese. this translates into a daily average of no more than 25 grams of sugar. These metabolites. The carbohydrates in food—once they have been transformed into monosaccharides (glucose)—provide energy to all the tissues in the human body. In particular. the neural tissue. In part to establish a proper long-term dietary regimen. long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids have specific and important physiological functions. and legumes. There are three main types of carbohydrates in food: sugars.D. during the transition from weaning to the pre-school age (around age 2). serve as a long-term energy bank. If added sugars contribute more than 30 percent of total energy intake. The Nemours Foundation25 emphasizes that fats and cholesterol play an important role in a child’s growth. milk. the WHO believes that it is a mistake for the diet of school-age and pre-school-age children to be excessively rich in sugary foods and beverages. calories deriving from fats ought to account for 30-35 percent of total caloric intake. and the cellular architecture as a whole. The products derived from wheat are also a source of proteins. The ingestion of fats with food promotes optimal absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A. fish. In the case of a pre-schoool-age child. eggs. Sugars are a primary source of energy. while most plants and fruit contain limited quantities. especially in relation to cerebral development. along with a number of oligosaccharides. meat. Structural fats are an essential part of the cell membranes.

on other hand. unlike those food groups. and the risk of becoming overweight (they help to make the diet less energy-dense and increase satiety). reduce the post-prandial glycemic response. Fruits and vegetables. eggs. meat. B vitamins are found prevalently in whole cereal grains. which has been shown to have numerous positive effects on a child’s health from the the earliest years. Higher intake of starches is. thus limiting the overall ingestion of food and benefiting the digestive process. the role of vitamins and minerals. carrots and yellow-to-orange fruit). margarine. foods with high fiber content are characterized by low energy density. and do an excellent job of satisfying hunger. milk. and fish. cheese products. insulin. in particular cholesterol and glucose). Fruits and vegetables are strongly recommended for the diet of pre-school-age children and are. peanuts. in order to ensure the integrity of the epithelial tissues. eggs. especially significant increases in the levels of glucose. vitamins and minerals are essential elements of a sound diet for schoolage and pre-school-age children. Alongside the principal macronutrients.26 The WHO also suggests that a diet too rich in starches—principally found in products derived from cereal grains. and certain fruits and vegetables (for example. and blood lipids. leafy green vegetables. even though we should not overlook the fact that studies on the effect of diets rich in starches on pre-school-age and schoolage children are still relatively few in number. .200 eating planet health problems for children. The third main category of carbohydrates is represented by fiber. Fiber appears to have a beneficial effect on the speed of intestinal transit (they make the alvus more regular). even though starches are easily digested and absorbed. they do not contain elements that can reduce the absorption of the zinc and iron ingested with the food. In fact. especially those valuable during the phases of rapid growth. but they also contain high quantities of important micronutrients. the characteristics of intestinal absorption (they slow the pace of the absorption of nutrients. It also plays a central role in the development of the immune system and is involved in the development of taste and hearing. The chief sources of vitamin A are liver. An adequate intake of vitamin A is necessary for the proper development of sight. if anything. fish. even more strongly recommended for school-age children. The B vitamins also play a fundamental role in children’s growth. and for the development and differentiation of tissues. moreover. and in potatoes and rice—can be unsuitable. Fruits and vegetables. legumes. health. seem to have an advantage with respect to other fiber-rich foods recommended for the diets of children (such as whole cereal grains and legumes) because. are rich in fiber. and development. in fact. generally recommended as the child reachesschool age. especially at an early age.

The principal dietary sources of vitamin D are fatty fishes (sardines. phosphorus (milk. cheese products. and in added salt). fish. and zinc (red meat. bread. ideally to serve over time as a preventive factor against many diseases of later life.27 In this period. sodium (sausages. minerals are essential elements in the diet of school-age and pre-school-age children. which is present in cereal grains. and children: educate today for a better life tomorrow | food for health 201 Vitamin C is fundamental in the optimal functioning of the immune system and for the synthesis of collagen. only a few research projects have analyzed them. tomatoes. It also plays a significant support role in the process of iron absorption (especially from plant sources). beans. and beef. peanuts. pickled foods. tuna. During adolescence the daily consumption of food should be sufficiently rich to satisfy the increased demand from the growth processes. Alongside macronutrients and vitamins. In the absence of in-depth and sufficiently broad studies (both in terms of number of subjects and the time span) on the energy requirements of adoles- . and rice). and tumors. broccoli. atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). diabetes. fish oils (especially cod liver oil). Adolescence is a period distinguished by intense metabolic activity. in both males and females. At the same time. and fish). the available data derive from extrapolations of studies done on childhood and adulthood. salmon. in the proliferation and maturation of cells. eggs. sauces. ham. and herrings). Body growth is also accompanied by rapid psychological and behavioral development that leads the boy or girl to experience a progressively more intense need for independence and autonomy. and some varieties of green vegetables). which is present in meat and fish. adolescence. the foundation of proper diet and nutrition is laid. potatoes. In this age during which one’s psychic and physical development is being completed. and in green-leaf vegetables). in particular in spinach. nutrition must meet the need to safeguard against the metabolic and degenerative diseases that are characteristic of adulthood: hypertension. and fruits). dried fruit. Vitamin C is present mainly in fruits and vegetables. milk and dairy products. Vitamin D is essential in metabolizing calcium (by stimulating its intestinal absorption). and in the proper functioning of the immune system. salmon. Although the nutritional needs of adolescents is of great interest. berries. cheese. in muscle function. liver. herrings. liver. however. raw spinach. in fact. Nutrition and the issues bound up with the adoption of a proper diet and lifestyle take on a fundamental importance in adolescence. sardines. wheat. calcium (milk and milk products. Often. this has a significant effect on his or her dietary behavior. in fact. magnesium (roasted peanuts. legumes. and citrus fruit. These include iron (both hemoglobinic. margarine. and non-hemoglobinic. shrimp. there is a sharp rise in the rate of growth.

which may result in shortages of given elements. in most cases.2. the energy requirements during adolescence for males and females age energy requirements (kcal/daily) 11/12 years 13/14 years 15/16 years 17/22 years males 1.202 eating planet cents.215 females 1. The system generally works well to ensure the ingestion of sufficient quantities of energy to satisfy metabolic needs. Anemia due to a lack of iron is one of the most widespread and common diseases associated with inadequate diet.898‑2. but when adolescence begins males accumulate more lean body mass for every additional kilogram of body weight acquired during growth.864‑2. which means that they have a final value of lean body mass almost twice that of females.515‑3. Table 4.277‑2.393‑2. Peak growth generally occurs between the ages of 11 and 15 for girls and 13 and 16 for boys. Associazione italiana di dietetica e nutrizione clinica.29 especially of muscles. The most common nutrient deficiencies at this age are iron and calcium deficiencies. table 4.343 2. The ranges are sharply influenced by such factors as weight.739‑2.048 1. which involves a significant increase in the iron requirement needed to produce hemoglobin (a protein that serves to transport oxygen) and myoglobin (a globular protein contained in muscles). lean body mass is roughly equivalent in the two sexes. is more significant in male adolescents than their female counterparts.2 shows the intervals of energy requirements in adolescents.976 2. .338 1.993‑2.794 2.28 Adolescents can come down with anemia as a result of the sharp increase in the tissue demand for iron. The increase in lean body mass. body makeup. the regulation of the ingestion of nutrients may prove to be less than optimal. The nutritional requirements of adolescents are influenced first of all by physical growth. In contrast. The energy requirement. 2011. is efficiently satisfied through the finely calibrated and automatic regulation of the appetite by the hypothalamus. even for the same individual. in particular in the muscular and erythrocytic mass. and level of physical activity.942‑2.297 1. Requirements of energy and nutrients are variable from day to day. it is difficult to establish the requirement for individuals who present rapid swings in growth rates from one year to the next and differ notably from one to the next and between genders.411 Source: Developed by BCFN on data from the Società italiana di nutrizione umana. The appetite encourages the ingestion of food that satisfies the need for both energy and various nutrients. During pre-adolescence.

A number of studies31 confirm that attaining “peak bone mass” in adolescence is crucial to reducing the risk of osteoporosis in later years. Blood (and thus iron) loss due to menstruation requires supplementation of this fundamental trace element. who will be more exposed to the risk of osteoporosis with the onset of menopause later on.” between the ages of 10 and 14 in girls and 12 and 15 in boys. girls need to ingest a good 50 percent more iron than boys do. Therefore. On the other hand. encourages the absorption of iron from plant sources. it is very common for adolescents to have diets that are lacking in a number of nutrients. In fact. Because only about 30 percent of calcium ingested is actually absorbed. inasmuch as it forms part of the makeup of bones and teeth. they should increase their consumption of iron-rich foods30 such as lean meats and fish. The iron contained in foods of animal origin. Calcium also performs an essential function in adolescents experiencing rapid and children: educate today for a better life tomorrow | food for health 203 Another factor that helps to increase the iron requirement is the appearance of the menstrual cycle in girls. In this period the average daily retention of calcium is approximately 200 milligrams in females and 300 milligrams in males. walnuts. because of fads or because they want to lose . even though the growth of the skeleton continues almost until the age of 30. peak bone mass can never be attained if the individual fails to ingest an adequate quantity of calcium. This makes it clear just how important intake of calcium-rich foods is for boys and especially for girls. and a calcium shortage during this period can damage an individual’s proper growth. Because of this higher need for iron in adolescents. The human skeleton contains some 99 percent of the total body reserves of calcium and the increase in the skeleton’s size and weight reaches its highest point during adolescence. Iron supplements must therefore be taken on those specific days. it is fundamental that an adolescent’s diet provide an adequate intake of calcium in order to attain the greatest possible bone density. and cereal grains enriched with iron. also known as “iron eme. Although the maximum quantity of calcium that can be deposited in the bones is determined genetically.” that is. legumes. the greatest possible level of calcification. such as citrus fruits. adolescents who eat a vegetarian diet are more at risk of iron shortages.” is absorbed more easily than iron from non-animal sources (also known as noneme iron). The ingestion of foods that are rich in vitamin C. Once menstruation begins. The greatest need for calcium comes in what is called the “first adolescence. dark green vegetables. approximately 45 percent of the skeletal mass of an adult is formed during adolescence. Only during the period of adolescence can the youth deposit the maximum possible quantity of calcium in growing bone tissue in order to attain the so-called “peak bone mass. This means a daily requirement of about 18 milligrams as against the 12 milligrams daily requirement for boys.

yogurt. Addressing this problem requires not only a sound diet but also a focus on physical movement. or else just bicycling. but also of the later development of such chronic diseases as heart disease. constipation and intestinal diverticulosis. for about 60 minutes a day. Aged cheeses contain greater concentrations of calcium because they have been subjected to a process that leads to water loss. dance. Osteoporosis represents one of the most serious and potentially irreversible consequences of anorexia nervosa and of the rapid and excessive weight losses experienced by adolescent girls. hypertension. Conversely.32 adolescents should be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day. ball sports. adolescents must eat properly for health and growth.” For adolescents of both genders the daily consumption of 1. sedentary. they are. Adequate physical condition also correlates positively with the improvement of the body’s elasticity. and the reinforcement of the bones. who often therefore fail to reach “peak bone mass. which includes both athletic physical activity and play. calisthenics. eating properly means considering the quantity and quality of food ingested and the distribution of food con- . can help to increase bone mass and density. from three to five times a week. Motor activity helps to burn calories. and certain forms of cancer. gymnastics. have shown that most adolescents are physically inactive or else adopt a lifestyle that does not call for adequate physical activity. Physical inactivity is not merely one of the leading causes of overweight and obesity in adolescents. and cheese makes it easy to reach the recommended level of calcium. mozzarella. The principal dietary source of calcium is dairy and cheese products. Sports and motor activities such as swimming. in other words. Studies undertaken in Europe and in the U. obesity in adolescence is associated with metabolic diseases in adulthood and to higher mortality rates. equilibrium. the lack of physical activity among adolescents plays an important role in the development.S. osteoporosis. Regular motor activity encourages the maintenance of adequate body weight and an optimal body makeup. and coordination. Consuming various portions of such dairy products as milk. etc. and persistence of a number of diseases such as obesity.204 eating planet weight quickly and to an excessive degree.200 milligrams of calcium per day is recommended.. and weightlifting with an instructor’s supervision. progression. To be specific. it also makes adolescents stronger and accustoms them to adopting a lifestyle that will sustain healthier lives in the years to come. agility. skating. Aside from engaging in adequate physical activity. release tension and stress. Regular physical activity and sports bring notable benefits to the cardiovascular and skeletal systems as well as to the metabolism. On the basis of current recommendations. diabetes. and improve moods and psychological welfare. Overweight and obesity in adolescents constitute a serious nutritional problem that is very likely to persist in adulthood.

This is invaluable information to people whose responsibility it is to grow and prepare food for their families.advice for mothers Medical staff at a hospital in Uganda provide information and suggestions about the nutritional properties of food to a group of mothers. .

dairy products. cereal grains.7 guidelines for healthy diets and sound lifestyles in children and adolescents Given the importance of diet during adolescence. up to and including adulthood. . It also can help reduce risks linked to common chronic diseases in later ages. cheese.). seeds.2. As we have noted. Variety is also a good idea. it means a mixed diet that includes plant-based foods (fruit. good nutrition is not enough. sumed over the course of the day. vegetables. legumes.34 In general. regular physical activity (especially if practiced outdoors in the fresh air) is one of the factors considered fundamental to the health of children and adolescents. nutritional science indicates that children should eat five times a day. as well as alternating foods over the course of the week.2 Breakdown of caloric intake during the day Source: BCFN on Società italiana di nutrizione umana data. etc. with a specific focus on adolescence.) and foods produced by and from animals (meat.33 4. etc. prosciutto.206 eating planet Breakfast 20% Dinner 30% Mid‑morning snack 5% Afternoon snack 10% Lunch 35% figure 4. governments and international organizations that are involved in health issues have formulated guidelines to establish a balanced diet in the various stages of life. Caloric intake should be broken down as shown in figure 4. especially for the prevention of the chief chronic diseases. Dietary behaviors focused on a single diet and the repeated and frequent consumption of lunches and dinners away from home significantly increase the risk of overweight and obesity in adolescents. 2011.

• milk and dairy products: every day. However. The family and the school appear to be the principal focuses of effective education about proper diet aimed both at young people and—in the future—at the adults of tomorrow. Above all else. the result of the coordination of a variety of actors (school. family. • legumes: at least twice a week.) who provide care to children at different times of the day. • meat: two or three times a week. the findings undeniably reveal the extreme importance of a sound approach to diet from the youngest age. the school—by virtue of its growing importance in shaping diets and the potential the weekly menu for children During a given week. we can document at all levels a growing awareness of the importance of adopting proper dietary approaches in the earliest years of a person’s life (up to adolescence) in order to ensure conditions of good health in adulthood as well. a sound diet might mean eating various foods at these intervals: • cereal grains (bread and pasta): every day. pediatricians. • fish: at least three times a week. problems of methodology. It is in the family that a child learns to eat and internalizes dietary behaviors. • eggs: once or twice a week. awareness is spreading within both the scientific community and throughout society of the importance of disease prevention and of the fundamental role dietary habits and lifestyles play in preventiong obesity and chronic diseases. On the other hand. First. etc. and organization have made it difficult to study children and adolescents in sufficient detail. and although the general picture we present here is based to some degree on fragmentary evidence. • fruits and vegetables: every day. Second. most of the studies done to date have focused on adults. Nevertheless. . Prevention is also emerging as one of main lines of future action to ensure the financial sustainability of healthcare and children: educate today for a better life tomorrow | food for health 207 4. ensuring that children and adolescents eat properly seems to require a concerted effort. doctors. economics. • cheese: twice a week.8 recommendations Two key findings emerge from these observations and analyses.

including both athletic activity and play. vitamins. or rice). midmorning snack. • Stay active. . simple and complex sugars (through the ingestion of less sweets and more bread. especially in adulthood. • Avoid the excessive calories from consuming highly caloric foods or foods with elevated concentrations of fat. • properly structure the various interventions in accordance with the most broadly accepted international best practices. and especially reduce time spent in front of video screens (televisions and computers). • Avoid eating at other times. knowledge and information We consider it more necessary than ever to: • encourage the further exploration of scientific knowledge.208 eating planet lifestyle for adolescents The guidelines that should be followed in order to provide proper diet and lifestyle to foster the healthy development of an adolescent are the following: • Adopt a healthy and balanced diet. and • encourage the diffusion of proper dietary information and promote a culture of prevention. • Distribute daily nutrients evenly to ensure a good equilibrium between the intake of animal and plant proteins (a ratio that should be 1:1). potatoes. iron. • Engage in physical activity for at least an hour every day. afternoon snack. and dinner. • encourage cooperation among the various entities involved in feeding young people. • Distribute meals over five periods during the day: eat at breakfast.) that adolescents need. pasta. Alternating every day among all the principal food groups will provide all the nutrients and micronutrients (calcium. etc. and animal and plant fats (utilizing less lard and butter and more olive oil). • Minimize the additional intake of salt in order to reduce the risk factors for the development of hypertension. lunch.

longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition | food for health 209 involvement of the families themselves—can and should play a truly active role in encouraging balanced ways of eating. by inviting families to understand the most appropriate dietary choices and to become allies in a joint and concerted program of intervention. Finally. life expectancy at birth has almost (gr ow ) Fa m ( Sc il y ho at uc ed ol e) Diet and the child’s lifestyle Ped ( e ncourage ) i a tr i c i a n s figure 4. In particular. physicians are also key actors in establishing dietary and lifestyle virtuous cycles. the world will have more than 8 billion inhabitants. it is clearly fundamental that family doctors and pediatricians more fully become first-access “gatekeepers” to topics having to do with proper nutrition and adequate physical activity for all the members of the nuclear family. In the last hundred years. longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition In 2025. . principally as a result of the general increase in average life expectancy. according to United Nations estimates.3 The various actors in food education Source: BCFN. 2010. in the various phases of their lives from children through old ages.

strong. and the deterioration of lifestyles (sedentary lifestyle. a reduction of the gap between the duration of one’s life (lifespan) and the duration of one’s health (healthspan). independent. stretching out from 45 years at the end of the nineteenth century to approximately 80 years in 2010. In light of these demographic changes. that is. Those diseases are responsible for about 70 percent of all deaths in many industrialized and developing countries. In the period from 1950 to 2010. even among the younger members of the population. the world’s elderly population grew at an average annual rate of 13 percent. Overweight and obesity (in particular abdominal obesity) are associated with an increase in the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and tumoral conditions.9 billion people. In 2050. It is more necessary than ever before to identify and adopt lifestyles that promote healthy and successful aging. active. We must confront squarely the problem of aging and the diseases associated with aging by implementing a preventive and integrated approach. it becomes fundamental to design and implement interventions that are aimed at the prevention of the chronic diseases associated with aging and to work for improvements in the quality of life. We might find ourselves facing an old age characterized by a sharply reduced quality of life for a significantly longer time. the epidemic of obesity. cigarette smoking). Unless corrective interventions are carried out in the lives of millions. a trend that shows no sign of slowing: it is estimated that in 2050 the over-65 population will amount to 1. in Italy. The percentage of elderly people (over age 65) has also increased to an astonishing extent. These demographic changes are very worrisome and could cause a general crisis in the healthcare systems of many countries. for example rising in Italy from 4 percent in 1900 to 20. tumors.35 Those numbers are destined to rise because of the epidemic of obesity and diabetes that is currently under way. hypercaloric diets. diabetes mellitus. the fact that those lives are growing longer might no longer imply that they are also improving in quality. ideally for their entire lives. and chronic pulmonary diseases). people over 65 are expected represent 34 percent of the population: one out of every three people will be elderly.210 eating planet doubled. The strategy of combating each disease only when it comes to a doctor’s attention is conceptually faulty and fails to offer an adequate response to the challenge of the reduction of the gap between lifespan and healthspan. both industrialized and developing. Approximately 80 percent of all elderly people suffer from at least one chronic disease and approximately 50 percent are affected by two or more (such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. arterial hypertension. and socially useful for the longest possible time. and that ensure that individuals can remain physically and mentally healthy. The same trend can be seen all over the world.6 percent in 2010. happy. .

provides a daily lunch and water for drinking and washing.water. health Kibera. a resource that is as scarce as it is precious. Nairobi is a slum or “informal settlement” with more than one million inhabitants. run by a local NGO. . This school. food.

and physical activity—helps prevent mortality by extending average life expectancy by 5 to 14 years per individual. we have analyzed the general relationship between diet and health. cancer. toxic and radioactive substances. In this chapter. a hypercaloric diet. exposure to cigarette smoke. diabetes. paying particular attention to those diseases that by now represent full-blown contemporary epidemics (obesity. Although we cannot prevent or reverse natural aging. It is a crucial foundation for the truly sustainable progress of nations. On the other hand. either as individuals or as a society. and tumoral conditions. cardiovascular diseases. Now we will complete this in-depth study by examining the relationship between diet and a healthy longevity. and all its organs. diabetes mellitus. it is no longer sufficient these days to hope to live longer without also living well during the second part of your life. hypertension. For instance. due to a defect in the mechanisms assigned to repair the damage. diabetes. and pollutants) can have major influences on the aging process. The accumulated array of damages causes a progressive decline of many physiological functions and the vital structures of the organism. cardiovascular diseases. mitigating their effects and encouraging a qualitatively better form of longevity. arterial hypertension. rich in saturated fats and poor in nutrients (vitamins. etc. Quality of life is a crucial factor that no one wishes to do without. cardiovascular diseases. and tumoral diseases). Food and lifestyle have a critical role to play in preventing the onset of those diseases. the years of one’s maturity. and inflammatory processes). intervene preventively on the onset of the chronic diseases associated with those processes (obesity. It is possible to slow the natural aging processes and.212 eating planet Aging is caused by the progressive accumulation over time of damage to the body’s DNA.). Recent studies have shown that lifestyle (nutrition. . countless scientific findings have shown how a moderately hypocaloric diet (low in calories) that is rich in nutrients is capable of slowing the aging processes and preventing most of the chronic diseases associated with aging. alcohol consumption. As mentioned. its cells. physical activity. metabolic syndrome. and a sedentary lifestyle accelerate aging as well as encourage the onset of obesity. we can still act decisively to affect environmental (or secondary) aging and influence the processes tied to intrinsic (or primary) aging. mineral salts. We have also explored the links between good nutrition and healthy growth in the various phases of child’s lives. For example. numerous studies36 designed to measure the impact of behavior on increased risks of mortality have made it clear that the adoption of a healthy lifestyle—in terms of dietary regimen. smoking. especially.

71 years for men (figure 4. and Louisiana.4 percent of GDP (approximately US$2. This means an increase in economic inactivity and dependency on the younger members of the population. Life expectancies are rising even in countries that still lag in terms of economic and social development. average worldwide life expectancy37 has increased steadily since the turn of the century. numbers that are much lower than in the countries shown above. life expectancy is just 67 years for men and 74 years for women. the UN predicts that the rate of elderly dependency will grow from the current 11. and major challenges in terms of obtaining basic pharmaceuticals. who are showing the highest rates of obesity and smoking. In Italy. is beginning to witness a decline in life expectancy at birth in some states. Arkansas.6 shows the effects on healthcare costs of living longer lives but not in good health. Figure 4. In the United States. Kentucky. Alabama. inadequate healthcare structures. Chronic diseases are already the leading cause of death in the world. Figure 4. especially among women.longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition | food for health 213 4. but it is expected that between 2005 and 2015 deaths from such diseases will grow by 17 percent. alone among all developed countries. longevity. The United States. Worldwide. which is only three years less than men’s life expectancy in Europe. the global elderly population (over 65) is growing continuously and will reach an estimated 1. life expectancies are progressively falling.9 demographics.5 trillion) was invested in healthcare in 2009 compared with 5 percent in 1960. As was mentioned earlier in this chapter.4 percent in 2050. with a shift from approximately 6 percent of GDP per year in the 1960s to the current level of .14 years for women and 65. a general improvement in living conditions. too. In Mississippi in particular. there has been growth in healthcare spending.5 percent to 25. Estimates tell us that that rate will rise until it reaches 48 percent in 2050.4). the state with the highest rate of obesity. even though Bangladesh is a country with only partial suffrage. Tennessee. World values are driven by the Western high-to-medium averages and by the high rates of growth in average life expectancy found in developing economies. Oklahoma.9 billion in 2050. and the economic and social impacts of the principal diseases As a result of global economic growth. Europe has the highest rate of dependency on Earth. The chart shows the increase in the share of GDP spent on healthcare on average in the OECD nations and certain representative countries. for example. In Bangladesh. 17. A recent study38 has shown that in states such as Mississippi. men’s life expectancy in 2020 will rise to 71 years.5 shows the 10 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with the highest life expectancies. albeit more modestly. in 2010 it was 70. and scientific progress.

76 66.75 73. by eliminat- 1950‑1955 1955‑1960 1960‑1965 1965‑1970 1970‑1975 1975‑1980 1980‑1985 1985‑1990 1990‑1995 1995‑2000 2000‑2005 2005‑2010 2010‑2015 2015‑2020 2020‑2025 2025‑2030 0 10 20 30 40 48. goes for the treatment and care of those suffering from the chronic diseases we have discussed in this book.79 80 61.21 63. comparison between the male and the female Source: BCFN on UN (World Population Prospect) data.09 68.67 51.20 69.65 70.63 67.33 65.01 48. of course.59 72. perhaps 80 percent of all cases of chronic disease could be prevented.70 59.85 64.14 71.71 67. 2010.52 53.17 70. or are worsened by.47 68.10 49.08 64.42 56. diseases that result from.27 65.79 74. In general.09 50 60 70 figure 4. A great deal of this spending.83 55.64 58. In China and India.35 57.66 46.05 60.214 eating planet 10 percent (approximately €180 billion).4 World life expectancies. unhealthy diets and lifestyles.48 62.59 62. population (1950‑2030) . major increases in healthcare spending are also predicted.

70 per86 Italy cent of those costs are incurred in West80 ern Europe and in North America.24 percent 85 Switzerland in low-income nations. cardiac diseases. high levels of cholesterol. of Source: BCFN on OECD data. 77 For the poorest countries a fundamental 72 74 76 78 80 82 84 86 88 part of patient care is provided outside the healthcare system by the families figure 4. comparison between the male Currently in Italy it is estimated that 2 population (2010) and the female million people suffer from dementia.) By dementia we mean a condition of chronic and progressive failure of the cerebral functions that lead to a decline of a person’s cognitive faculties. tobetween 2 percent and 10 percent. finally rising to a rate of about 30 percent at the age of 80. . and the excessive consumption of alcohol. and cancer. physical inactivity. (Recent statistics have shown a rising incidence of dementia in individuals over 65. According to the Global Burden of Diseases Study. 83 and 1. dementia results in people living 11. Certain risk factors predispose people to both dementia and cardiovascular medium-income nations. and smoking) are often predisposed to contract neurodegenerative diseases as well (figure 4. diabetes.7). 84 Finland 78 While only 38 percent of the people who 84 suffer from dementia live in high-income Austria 77 nations.9 percent of their years on Earth in a condition of chronic disability and to lose 1.5 because of an absence of structured and accessible healthcare services. Korea 80 In England the social cost of dementia 84 Australia (₤17 billion) is greater than the cost of 78 strokes. 0. 72 percent of the costs are 84 Canada incurred in those very same countries.longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition | food for health 215 ing such risk factors as smoking tobacco.1 percent of their total years of life.35 percent in 79 high-income nations.24 percent in high-income nations. 0.50 per85 France 78 cent in medium. Dementia affects between 1 and 5 percent of the population over 65. with the prevalence doubling every four years. unhealthy dietary models and customs (diets).39 85 Japan 80 These costs represent approximately 1 85 percent of world GDP and significant Spain 80 shares of GDP in all nations: 0. Older people are also more likely to be stricken by neurodegenerative conditions (dementia) and osteoporosis as they age. Patients with high levels of cardiovascular risk (hypertension. The estimated worldwide cost of dementia in 2010 was US$604 billion. Life expectancy in 10 OECD countries. 2010.

216 eating planet whom roughly 63 percent are older than 80. . The costs are high. both for the healthcare and social welfare systems and for the patients and their families. 2009.6 Share of GDP spent on total health care costs (1960‑2009) Source: BCFN on OECD data. If we multiply the number of Italians suffering from dementia by the annual average cost per patient we come up with an estimate of the total annual cost 4% 1960 4% 4% 5% 6% 5% OECD United States Great Britain 7% 7% 7% 1970 5% 5% Italy France 1980 6% 9% 7% 7% 7% 12 % 8% 8% 8% 14 % 10 % 9% 16 % 11 % 16 % 11 % 10 % 17 % 12 % 1990 6% 2000 7% 8% 2007 8% 9% 9% 2008 9% 9% 2009 10 % 10 % 0% 2% 4% 6% 8% 10 % 12 % 14 % 16 % 18 % 20 % figure 4.

osteoporosis is one of the most common chronic diseases associated with aging. femur.3 percent). .1 minutes in 2001 to one every 3. Osteoporosis is a pathology characterized by the decline in bone mass and the deterioration of the microarchitecture of the bones. and the United States. Japan. Osteoporosis is increasing worldwide and the World Health Organization has identified it as a health priority. too. putting it third after hypertension (16 percent) and arthrosis and arthritis (17. 75 million of them in Europe.7 minutes in 2021. In Europe one out of every three women and one one out of every five men older than 50 have suffered an osteoporotic fracture at least once. In Italy. afflicting 7 percent. 2011. There are marked differences 30‑59 60‑64 65‑69 70‑74 75‑79 80‑84 85‑89 90‑94 > 95 0% 0% 0% 2% 3% 5% 4% 5% 7% 12 % 14 % 18 % 23 % 32 % 32 % 32 % 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% Women Men 1% 36 % 40% figure 4.7 Prevalence of Alzheimer’s by age group (2009) Source: BCFN on EURODEM study. Most of them have a 15 percent probability of suffering wrist. The incidence of osteoporotic fractures is expected to increase from one every 8. 40 Osteoporosis affects an estimated 150 million people around the world. In the United States perhaps 10 million people suffer from osteoporosis.longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition | food for health 217 of dementia in Italy: approximately €50 billion (€10 billion for direct costs and €40 billon for indirect costs). or vertebral fractures—very close to the likelihood of suffering coronary problems. and an additional 34 million have such low bone mass that they are at risk of developing osteoporosis.

and osteoporosis) and the role played by diet and lifestyle. Below is a summary of what’s currently known about the relationship between longevity and certain diseases (diabetes. 4. 15 percent between 50 and 59 are affected. 42 Numerous studies have shown that abdominal fat is perhaps even more strongly correlated with Type 2 diabetes than a high body mass index. but in women older than 45 osteoporosis is the cause of a greater number of hospital admittances than other diseases. may reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by as much as 60 percent. which is linked to Type 2 diabetes. and breast cancer. however: in Italy the disease afflicts 3. disability and suboptimal health. heart attacks. with life expectancies and the rate of principal chronic diseases both rising. diabetes. tumors. since it is also strongly correlated to insulin resistance. for the first time in modern history.218 eating planet by gender. it is likely that humankind will soon experience. In particular. That’s why it is more necessary than ever to identify lifestyles and diets that can extend the disease-free period of life at the same time that they prolong life itself.000 men.7 billion in 2050. diet is important in preventing the accumulation of excess abdominal fat. One of the most important non-dietary factors is smoking tobacco. with costs rising from €31. The nutritional approach is univerally recognized as a fundamental tool in preventing and treating Type 2 diabetes and its complications. compared with more than 30 percent in the 60-69 age range and 45 percent of the 70-79 age range. programs designed to alter lifestyles in the direction of weight reduction and higher physical activity appear to be help reduce the likelihood of contracting Type 2 diabetes. The economic burden of osteoporosis is comparable to that of the leading chronic diseases. . neurodegenerative diseases. A 5-7 percent reduction of body weight.7 billion in 2000 to approximately €76. a prolonged old age marked by the risk of fragility. obesity. Because overweight and obesity are both linked to the development of insulin resistance and the onset of diabetes. The number of osteoporotic fractures is expected to rise with the aging of the European population. Tumors and tumoral diseases are caused by many factors but harmful lifestyles and diets certainly increase their likelihood.41 Among women. combined with two-and-a-half hours of regular physical activity every week and a dietary strategy that reduces the intake of fats and calories. including diabetes. a practice that increases roughly thirty-fold an individual’s risk of contracting pulmonary tumors.10 diet and lifestyle and their effects on longevity and diseases of aging As we have said.9 million women and 840. a central feature of diabetes. cancers.

or old age. second only to tobacco smoke. On the other hand. lifestyle. high concentrations of sodium in the blood. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has indicated that overweight and physical inactivity account for somewhere between 20 percent and 35 percent of breast. laryngeal. Conversely. infectious agents. The relationship between lack of nutrients and dementia has long been clear. Recommended measures include daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. Although their causes include a diverse array of environmental factors. in particular colorectal tumors. especially at an advanced age. although cardiovascular diseases occur more often in middle. and esophageal tumors. Dementia and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are primary disturbances that tend to arise and worsen with aging. etc. If we add tobacco to alcohol consumption. the risk factors that cause them are largely linked to behaviors learned in childhood and youth and perpetuated into adulthood. and esophageal tumors. Smoking. Some studies have estimated poor diet may account for 30 percent of the incidence of tumoral diseases. kidney. A study44 of protective factors in the serum of patients suffering from either Alzheimer’s-linked or vascular dementia showed significant drops in the levels . colon. persistent overweight. therefore. Excessive Alcohol consumption is the principal dietary risk factor for oral. adequate physical activity. and behavior: smoking. and environmental toxins.longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition | food for health 219 Smoking accounts for 80 percent of all cases in developed countries and pulmonary tumors are the most common type of tumor worldwide. Tobacco smoke is also one of the principal risk factors for oral. the available research cautions against consumption of high quantities of saturated fatty acids. alcohol abuse. Cardiovascular diseases are also increasingly characteristic of aging populations. appropriate amounts of n-6 fatty acids and potassium. we explain the origin of more than 75 percent of all tumoral diseases in the mouth. and excessive consumption of alcohol. and esophageal tumors. and low alcohol consumption. neurodegenerative diseases. It is now clear that the damage is the product of an interaction between a genetic predisposition and environmental factors. the ingestion of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (contained principally in fish). Among those factors are lifestyle. Diet also affects the incidence of tumoral diseases. they too depend to a great degree on dietary habits. Both longstanding and temporary obesity and overweight can increase the risk of various tumors. cardiovascular diseases. All the studies agree that. laryngeal. is clearly linked to lower life expectancy. diet. many studies43 confirm that the right dietary behaviors and personal habits can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. sedentary lifestyle.

etc. It is certainly clear that a high consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.000 calories a day show a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease compared with the inhabitants of the United States or western Europe. Diets with high fish content are linked with lower incidence of dementia in general and of Alzheimer’s disease in particular. There are factors moreover that establish a linkage between forms of dementia like Alzheimer’s and other forms of vascular dementia. fruit juices). it is worthwhile pointing out that dietetic habits can certainly contribute to the definition of an individual’s risk profile. A shortage could be caused either by low dietetic intake of the mineral or a limited physiological ability to absorb or maintain it. vegetables (cabbages. turnips. A 2004 study explored the role played by fruits and vegetables in Alzheimer’s disease and concluded that elderly women who ate plants rich in folates and antioxidants such ascarotenoids and vitamin C (e. beta-carotene. and some beverages (red wine.). For instance. tomatoes. vitamin C. reflecting a possible link between poor diet and the disease. fennel. apples. restricting the ingestion of calories50 may help prevent such neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer’s.49 Finally.51 In summary. already known to be a risk factor for atherosclerotic diseases. wheat germ. and flavonoids) that are natural chemical compounds very commonly found in numerous varieties of fruit (citrus fruit. some populations in China and Japan ingesting only 1. zinc. Studies on cholesterol levels and on the relationship between saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids in the diet48 suggest that neurodegenerative disease involves the metabolism of fats. buckwheat. As for Parkinson’s disease. and radishes). meats. onions. can in fact be a joint causative factor in the development of dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.600-2. Hypercholesterolaemia. almonds. cress. broccoli. tea. showed a lower level of cognitive decline than women who had low intake of these vegetables.. carotenoids. in terms of a balanced diet and adequate caloric intake.46 There is evidence47 that dementia is associated with an insufficiency of magnesium (contained in cereal grains. even though the studies on the relationship between diet and neurodegenerative diseases point to fairly vague direct links between diet and neurodegenerative processes. peanuts. green vegetables.000 calories a day. etc. can protect against the onset of the disease in a small sample of participants. is essential for normal growth and for the development of all the . walnuts. who generally consume about 2. apricots. and albumin. osteoporosis.220 eating planet of vitamins E and C. green-leaf vegetables and cruciferous vegetables such as cabbages. it has been found 45 that a suite of nutrients (vitamin E. and starchy foods). Good nutrition.g. which can be associated with dementia. cocoa. lentils. broccoli.). spinach.

. the urban population exceeded the population of people in rural areas for the first time in history. health and nutritional education programs can limit the damage caused by poor living conditions. In cities. In 2008.eating in the global slum Growing urbanization can lead to extreme poverty and the marginalization of the poor.

and alcohol. retarding osteoporosis must rely upon proper diet—characterized by reduced sodium. in all age groups. when the ingestion of calcium through diet is absorbed and is able to contribute effectively to the consolidation of bone density.11 inflammatory states and caloric restriction: possible interventions to slow the aging processes Two new areas of research have emerged in recent years—into the role of inflammation in aging and the possible benefits against aging offered by caloric restriction—that could lead to new understanding of the possibilities of living better and longer. ingestion of at least 400-500 milligrams of calcium daily. Adequate calcium intake is fundamental to the prevention of osteoporosis—which makes all the more alarming the fact that. Recent studies52 have shown that the daily ingestion of vitamin D with calcium reduces the risk of fractures by up to 8 percent.222 eating planet tissues. milk and milk derivatives (especially butter). the studies conducted to date have found a moderate but significant link between diet and the prevention of osteoporosis. including bone tissue. fish oils (especially cod liver oil). Foods with the highest content of this vitamin are liver. In conclusion. Aging is caused by the progressive accumulation of damage to the DNA. However. 4. and the elimination of alcohol—as well as a healthy lifestyle marked by moderate physical activity. There is agreement that prevention must begin at an early age. Calcium deficiencies cannot be exclusively blamed for osteoporosis53 but are implicated in it. lack of vitamin D is very common in the older population. stable body weight. and of course being overweight. It appears. and eggs. the cells. that one of the keys to preventing osteoporosis in old age is laying down an ample “foundation” of bone mass during the developmental phases of youth to protect against the inevitable loss of mass later. And in adulthood and during old age. both because of reduced intake and in part because of diminished intestinal absorption. in fact. The risk factors we have discussed repeatedly here also contribute to the loss of calcium: excessive consumption of animal proteins. Vitamin D is among the nutrients critical to bone mass formation. increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. a diminished cutaneous synthesis. fatty fishes such as salmon and sardines. and reduced conversion to the more active form of the vitamin. and the elimination of smoking. tobacco smoke. the typical daily dose of calcium ingested is actually far lower than the recommended level. inflammatory states and longevity. and the organs of the human body due to the failure of the mechanisms responsible for repairing that dam- . sodium chloride.

Certain studies that have been done on telomeres show that there is a relation between the length of the telomeres and the onset of chronic diseases. the process takes place in the following manner: every time that a cell is duplicated. produce an inflammatory state in the blood and tissues that can intensify the repair processes and lead to their early exhaustion. The potential longevity of any individual is closely tied to the proper functioning of the cells that protect against damage and repair it when it occurs. Recent scientific research has studied the link between chronic disease and the state of low-level. reducing longevity and quality of life. in a more direct link. such as diabetes and obesity. non-painful “silent” inflammation generated by the adoption of unhealthy dietary models. it seems to emerge from some studies that cellular inflammation (even “silent” inflammation. that injuries or microbial attacks were the cause of inflammatory responses on the part of the organism. are no longer able to reproduce correctly. in the past few years studies have emerged that also indicate that dietary models can have a positive or negative influence on these inflammatory responses. increasing attention to telomeres on the part of the mass reader- . In this context. While it is known. Longterm silent inflammation accelerates consumption of the body’s repair capacity and thus the onset of chronic diseases. and has been known for many years. inflammation caused by diet) is one of the interpretative bases for the origin of a diverse array of chronic diseases. The cumulative effect of this damage is a decline of many physiological functions and the vital structures of the organism itself. This too can translate into a shortening of life expectancy. Those studies make clear that the dietary model adopted can either benefit or impair the body’s inflammatory responses. and they therefore age and die. the telomeres (the terminal region of the chromosomes). that is to say. it loses a sequence of telomeres. it dies. which serve the function of preventing the loss of information during the phase in which chromosomes are duplicated in the wake of cellular reproduction—a phase that takes place during the reparative processes—are reduced in length until they are no longer able to carry out their protective function toward the chromosomes.longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition | food for health 223 age. In other words. Cells. In summary. This failure to replicate and thus replace the worn-out reparative cells leads to the progressive onslaught of inflammatory and degenerative phenomena such as arteriosclerosis. Some degenerative chronic diseases can stem from a progressive incapacity to deal with conditions of continual inflammation and the progressive failure to repair the damage. depending on a number of factors. therefore. Other diseases and health conditions. Moreover. These cells can exhaust their capacity to replicate—and therefore their reparative potential—earlier or later in the course of life. When the cell runs out of telomere sequences.

the greater the frequency and intensity with which the telomeres are summoned to make repairs. and the greater the speed with which they are shortened to the point of running out entirely. require “repair actions” by the organism. that is. (1993). in mammals.58 approximately 28 percent of rodents on a regimen of caloric restriction die a natural death at an advanced age without any significant anatomopathological lesions. caloric restriction and longevity. “Silent” cellular inflammation. caloric restriction drastically reduces (up to a maximum of 60 percent) the risk of developing cancers. .55 Hundreds of studies on experimental animals have shown that caloric restriction prevents or slows the onset of most of the chronic diseases associated with aging and prolongs the average and maximum life span by as much as 50 percent.54 diabetes. These studies have found that caloric restriction can help prolong life in conditions of optimal health. In fact. In general terms.224 eating planet ship can be detected in recent years. it seems to emerge from some studies that dietary models too can have positive or negative influences on the organism’s inflammatory responses. while only 6 percent of the rodents who ate as much as they wanted died without any pathology. aging is not inevitably associated with the onset of chronic diseases. The second area of research has to do with the effects on the body’s physiology and biochemistry of reducing intake of calories while maintaining intake of the necessary nutrients. triggered by the kind of dietary model adopted. As we stated above. In a more direct linkage. The level of inflammation deriving from the adoption of improper diet would appear to be “low” level. the studies that have been carried out on telomeres demonstrate that there is a relationship between the length of the telomeres and the onset of chronic diseases. which are in turn linked to lifestyle and diet. which are the leading cause of death in rodents. The diet adopted by individuals in a population becomes a determinant factor in the care and treatment of inflammatory states produced by conditions of obesity. Many studies are currently under way in an attempt to understand the metabolic and molecular mechanisms that underlie this phenomenon.56 For instance. below the threshold of pain. and the presence of cardiovascular diseases. and therefore not perceptible. becomes one of the interpretative bases for the origin of a diverse array of chronic diseases. These data suggest that. inasmuch as these levels of inflammation. then. that is. and that it is possible to live a long life without getting sick. and those actions involve telomeres in a primary role.57 Moreover. since researchers first began associating them with the aging process. caloric restriction (without malnutrition) has proven to be a powerful intervention for slowing the aging process and increasing life span in many species. as shown by studies done by Shimokawa et al.

high arterial blood pressure. The objective is not just to live longer.12 recommendations This in-depth exploration of food and longevity captures current scientific knowledge about the linkage between proper diet and life expectancy in good health conditions. And the researchers saw a significant slowing in the atrophy of certain areas of the study chimpanzees’ brains. places itself on a “stand-by” and “protection” footing if it perceives the absence of nutrition. Inside our bodies. In general terms. The first piece of important information to emerge from the project is the fact that aging processes affect each of us. the processes of cell regeneration are constantly active. sarcopenia. and amenorrhoea.longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition | food for health 225 The mechanisms underlying the anti-aging effect of caloric restriction are complex and not entirely clear. glycemia. 4. carotid artery intima and media thickness. during caloric reduction the organism slows the aging processes and focuses on the systems assigned to repair damage. infertility. research on the inflammation. it is necessary to emphasize that excessive caloric restriction could also involve risks of serious health damage. It is not yet known whether such a diet can slow aging in humans as well. There are important differences between studies done on cells and on animals. Nature. once we emerge from the age of growth. and certain hormones and growth factors.) For the time being. (However. immune deficiency. longer. anemia. But studies conducted on a group of volunteers who allowed themselves to be subjected to a regimen of caloric restriction with optimal nutrition for a period of roughly eight years (consuming at least 100 percent of the recommended levels for every nutrient) showed significant reductions of the leading factors of cardiovascular linkage and on caloric restriction is not conclusive. remains at the current threshold of scientific medicine. has shown that a 30-percent reduction of caloric intake over 20 years in chimpanzees is capable of reducing mortality from cancer and cardiovascular diseases by 50 percent. Does it work in humans? A recent study of our genetic near-relatives. reduction of body temperature and sensitivity to cold. insulinemia. This research. The fact that mechanisms of cell repair are maintained in good functioning condition throughout our entire lifespan has a great deal to do with our overall life expectancy and quality of life. but rather to live better. inflammation. in a sense. paradoxically from the day of our birth. and it is premature to extend the results of the former to the latter. such as osteoporosis. for now. chimpanzees. . and studies done on human beings. These particular chimpanzees were also completely protected against obesity and diabetes. libido reduction.

scientific societies. it has become increasingly clear that those mechanisms are heavily influenced by diet and lifestyle. Governments. . It is necessary to find—with the coordinated contributions of all the subjects involved. with a view to the best international practices in the field. There are lifestyles that constitute a form of insurance for an adulthood and advanced old age in good health conditions: it is necessary that people be able to access an adequate level of information on the subject. the relationships between genes and nutrients and diseases.226 eating planet In turn. and further studies on those dietary models that are already providing us with significant findings in the prevention of chronic diseases and prolonging healthy lives. Diet has an influence on the multiple processes that underlie aging and the processes of cellular inflammation. and private companies must make an intense effort to communicate effectively. the topic of caloric restriction. we should also add “Eat well today to live better and longer tomorrow too.” points on diet and nutrition and longevity • encourage the further exploration of available scientific knowledge on the relationship between diet and health. the medical industry. • structure social and health care policies and interventions so as to promote the spread of healthy dietary behaviors. as well as on the prevention of the diseases mentioned above. which are a crucial factor in the acceleration of the aging process. This includes the mechanisms of aging and cell repair. • encourage the spread of proper information and dietary education in order to promote the adoption of adequate dietary habits and lifestyles.” But that’s not all. it might be “Eat well today to live better today. according to a systematic logic—new approaches for the transmission of the scientific knowledge available in the field of diet and health. in order to allow that knowledge to be translated into concrete interventions capable of having a real impact on the behaviors of individuals. So if we were looking for a slogan to capture this wisdom.

The message has to be “eat less” or “eat this instead of that. To these must be added anti-smoking policies that raise taxes. How can we overcome these prob‑ lems? And what are the most adequate prevention policies and best practices in this area? It is no trouble to think of many examples of prevention policies that are highly effective in public life. The big one is how to influence what people eat and how much they eat. and What to Eat (2003). That brings us to food and obesity. She is also a visiting professor at the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. Food Politics received many awards. But people have to eat. This is a new area of regulation and in the United States Marion Nestle is one of the most respected nutritionists in the world. and forbid smoking in schools. and Public Health (the department she chaired from 1988-2003) and Professor of Sociology at New York University. offices. . And the ultimate goal of anti-smoking advocates is to put cigarette companies out of business. She is the Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition. It did not depend on personal behavior. She is the author of Food Politics (2002). Foods are not cigarettes. Laws that require automobile drivers and riders to wear seat belts and cyclists to wear helmets are obvious examples. Therefore. it took aggressive action on the part of government to implement such policies. put warning labels on cigarette packages. regulating the food environment or personal choice presents different kinds of challenges. She is a writer and a university professor. topics linked to prevention tend to remain on the theoretical plane more than on the practical one.interviews | food for health 227 interview companies must behave responsibly Marion Nestle Recent authoritative studies have clearly shown the impor‑ tance of prevention within health policies. prototypical public health measure—turning off the Broad Street pump to prevent the spread of cholera—was an environmental change. buses. and airplanes have made it so expensive or inconvenient to smoke that many people have stopped. But in all of these cases. We just want companies to behave better. some more effective than others. The classic. it’s just one product. Water chlorination. and policies to change the food environment or personal eating behavior are necessarily more complicated. Food Studies. she specializes in the issues of food policy and dietary choices.” And nobody wants to put the food industry out of business. and don’t seem to be able to reach us in our daily life. The message is simple: stop. Despite this. make healthier products. Safe Food (2003). And many countries have food safety laws. With cigarette smoking. and stop marketing junk food as healthy or targeting children. and fluoridation to prevent tooth decay are other such measures. But I’m guessing that you are more interested in policies that change personal behavior. These aim to prevent illness or harm in one of two ways: changing the environment or changing personal behavior.

As an advertising executive once explained to me. Food companies spend billions of dollars a year to encourage sales of their products. so much so that food marketing has become part of the daily environment and is not consciously noticed. it must begin in early childhood. The goals of the movement are to introduce healthier food into school meals. The patrimony of scientific knowledge regarding nutrition is already very extensive and continues to grow. as a means of teaching them where food comes from. and introduce children to a wide range of food tastes and flavors.228 eating planet we are now experimenting with such measures as calorie labeling. In the United States. education programs must counter the effects of food marketing. much of today’s food movement focuses on reforming school meals. Food marketing is not supposed to be noticed.” If so. The more forward-thinking programs are making efforts to source the food locally. as any student of health education will tell you. environmental interventions seem well worth trying. But if we do try to make education be effective. also in the future? Education. harvest. Given rising rates of obesity. is only the first step in helping to improve behavior. People of every age are exposed to food advertisements all day long. came more and more to resemble fast food. grow. over the years. Measures like these are strongly opposed by the food industry and it has been difficult for regulatory agencies to make much progress. prepare. These. Early evidence from such experiments suggests that children exposed to these kinds of programs do indeed eat better and exhibit greater interest in a variety of foods. as they do not depend on personal choice. much of it on television but increasingly on electronic media. cook it well. Among the following subjects of study / frontiers of knowledge. which in your opinion are the most significant in the food‑health equation. Some schools have introduced gardens to teach children to plant. soda taxes. and eat food. and incentive programs for choosing more fruits and vegetables. For both adults and children. the concrete possibility does exist to make a note‑ worthy improvement in our level of understanding of the dynamics between food and health. just as expected. Large food portions are a major influence on calorie intake (larger portions have more calories!) and much attention is now focused on ways to encourage restaurants to reduce serving sizes. Government agencies are exploring ways to regulate food advertising directed at children and front-of-package logos that indicate nutritional quality. “marketing is supposed to slip below the radar of critical thinking. especially among children. Environmental interventions tend to be far more effective. I wish they would also improve regulation of health claims on food labels. Nonetheless. the objective of nutrition education . And we do not yet know whether these kinds of actions will help reverse obesity.

it is essential to ensure that everyone in the population has enough food to support life. regardless of their effects on health. Income inequality underlies most health problems. What is currently known about nutrition is already sufficient to create a massive. With that said. But let’s get back to “eat less” as essential for preventing obesity. growth. difficult to use. What you really want is to change the food environment to make it easier for people to make healthier food choices. the basic message for preventing obesity is quite simple: eat less (and move more. I like to add one more precept: get political. of course). That is why worldwide efforts to prevent obesity must focus on regulation of food marketing. “Eat better” also confronts a food industry determined to sell highly profitable processed foods and drinks. candy at the checkout counters of business supply and clothing stores. They should ensure that every child is fed adequately and healthfully . and health. but the basic “eat less” message is essential. But before getting to that message. Getting people to stop smoking required policies that made cigarettes expensive. Governments should do all they can to discourage frequent consumption of snack foods and sugared drinks. and cafes in bookstores. alas. is very bad for business. but also eat better. we have to help create a food environment that supports healthier food choices. pervasive and scientifically unassailable communication campaign on a global scale that could lead to saving a very high number of human lives and improve the quality of life on our planet. because education is aimed at changing personal behavior which is too hard for most people to do. product placements in supermarkets. Environmental changes are much more likely to be effective. This requires serious attention to inequalities in income and the widening gap between the incomes of rich and poor. Eating less. Telling people not to smoke cigarettes did nothing to change smoking patterns.interviews | food for health 229 clearly must be to teach critical thinking about food marketing in all its dimensions: advertisements. If people throughout the world are to eat less and eat better. What actions do you think should be undertaken to improve communication processes and encourage people to adopt lifestyles and dietary behavior in line with available scientific knowledge? Communication? I don’t see that as fixing the problem. messages and policy changes will have to be tailored to the particular food culture of each country. and socially unacceptable. Given that obesity is now a global problem. vending machines in schools. Noticing how food is marketed is the first step to learning how to resist it. We know that communication alone is not going to make much of a difference unless its messages come with substantial changes to the food environment. especially to children.

230 eating planet in school. Improving food environments to promote health will benefit individuals and populations and will help reduce the financial and societal burdens of obesityrelated chronic diseases on governments that can ill afford them. . They should establish agricultural policies that encourage production and consumption of vegetables and other plant foods and variety in food intake. but discourage consumption of highly processed food products.

For younger children. and a snack at school. when. She is also the director of the Clinical and Communit y Research Core at the Boston Obesity Nutrition Research Center. When schools prepare and serve food to students. such as adolescence and pregnancy. Schools should consider policies that ban use of any product names. coordination throughout the different settings children find themselves in is essential. It is useful to think about child feeding as a shared responsibility. lunch. In the policy arena. Children may eat breakfast. With respect to family. Parents. some schools have banned vending machines on school premises and limit the kinds of foods that are sold à la carte in the cafeteria. one must also consider the impact of culture. I certainly agree that instilling healthful eating habits in children and adolescents is a shared responsibility. In the US. school personnel.interviews | food for health 231 interview the responsibility for children must be shared Aviva Must Guaranteeing correct eating habits for children and adolescents would seem necessarily to involve a joint effort with the con‑ tribution of a number of players (school. and regional or national policies. In addition to these important players. with a special focus on the effects of obesity in critical periods of life. and where food may be eaten. alongside the pediatricians. those who are closest to the child. with parents responsible for serving food that is healthy and appetizing and children responsible for how much of it is eaten. Her chief area of research has to do with the epidemiology of obesity. Parents are definitely key given that they determine what food comes into the home. or “spokes-characters” on any curricula or other educational materials. pediatricians. where she is also the department chair. family rules around what. sports groups. and how treats are handled. often arrange for and provide the necessary equipment for children to participate in organized sports. family and school would appear to be the main players in an effective effort of teaching correct eating habits. it deserves serious consideration: the lack of cooking skills represents a important impediment to healthful eat- . What actions are necessary to promote cooperation among the various players involved in different ways in child nutrition? Aviva Must is a professor of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine.) involved in caring for children at differ‑ ent times of the day. so that as much as half the child’s intake may occur in the school setting. high-quality nutritious balanced meals and snacks should be the only kind of meals and snacks served. especially before adolescence. and health care providers. schools no longer teach cooking skills as part of secondary school curricula— although it would take a lot to bring it back. etc. logos. family. For different reasons. community values. opportunities for free play are in the domain of family life. Schools are important reinforcing environments and school policies can directly influence child food intake.

what actions can be or have been put in the field successfully to promote the spread of correct eating habits and lifestyles from the earliest years? The rise in numbers of obese and overweight children has occurred across all of the stages of childhood. healthcare providers should ask about eating habits. screen time (time spent viewing television. turning the television off at mealtimes. Health care providers can encourage healthy family behaviors. physical activity patterns. and the potential consequences of serious health problems persisting in adults (increased risk of chronic diseases). So. where increasingly youth prepare their own meals. and opportunities for physical activity should be established. and whether the toddler is permitted to walk around carrying the bottle the pediatrician learns about parental behaviors on which to counsel. partially due to women entering their childbearing years at higher weights. During the early years of life some data suggest that children who are breast-fed are more open to a variety of food flavors and less likely to be overweight later in childhood. In the home setting. such as eating meals together. and working on the computer). regardless of their sports prowess. playing video games. the pediatrician plays a central role in teaching mothers how to feed their child. By asking questions about what complementary foods are being fed. As the child grows older. Healthcare providers also should adhere to weight screening guidelines.232 eating planet ing at home. In afterschool settings. Children are born with higher weights. starting in infancy. Physical activity during the school day. in class or at recess may represent as much as half of the physical activity the child engages in daily. one promising area for intervention is women before they become pregnant. and not allowing a television in a child’s bedroom. what liquids are put into the baby’s bottle. as part of preventive care. Once established. whether the family eat meals together. which in the US call for annual screening of weight using BMI (weight in kilograms/height in meters squared). there must be a mechanism to ensure that policies are being followed. Although this latter association is not fully established. guidelines develop- . In childcare settings. From the first well-baby visits. it may reflect the mother child feeding relationship where the breastfed infant controls intake more than the bottle-fed infant. use of the television. High-quality physical education instruction should emphasize development of skills for a lifetime and insures that all students participate. policies around food served. In view of the increasing number of obese and overweight children from the earliest years of life. considerations with respect to food served and physical activity are important as well. The pediatrician serves an important role as a trusted source of health-related information to parents.

interviews | food for health 233 ment and their wide promulgation would help inform parents of young children about their role in ensuring healthful eating for the very young. especially restriction of sugar-sweetened beverages. Unfortunately. In recent years we have become more and more aware that the agrifood industry has a role that is both possible and necessary in contributing actively to the develop‑ ment of products and offers coherent with the information we have about correct dietary habits and lifestyles for children and adolescents. would represent a beneficial first step. just as they adjusted to greater sweetness. Policies around limits for screen time and for physical activity for the very young would also be welcome. the addition of key nutrients to otherwise unhealthy foods is a trend that may fail to deliver expected benefits as consumers no longer can distinguish between healthy and unhealthy foods in the context of an everincreasing number of choices and variations. the Dietary Guidelines are developed for individuals over the age of 2— guidelines for children younger than two. Foods could be reformulated to be less energy dense. with the food industries to promote healthy dietary habits and lifestyles from the earliest years of life? I agree with the premise that the agrifood industry has a major role to play— and one that is both possible and necessary. One would like to see the industry make a business commitment to health—elevating the manufacture of healthful products to be a key criterion for their activities. there are economic disincentives to many of the best ideas. The consumer would quickly adjust to less sweetness. . In the US. The marketing of low nutrient dense foods to children is an industry practice that runs counter to health and should be restricted. For example. In terms of food processing. the soft drink industry might reduce the amount of sweetener in all sugar-sweetened beverages. more nutrient-dense and of more appropriate portion size. What actions can be iden‑ tified and coordinated. in your opinion.

Americans are now living 18 months less than their European counterparts despite the fact that the US spends more than twice as much on health-care as a percentage of GNP. and introduced the Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities. Important gains of recent decades are already clearly under threat. with special reference to the care and treatment of the elderly and the epidemiology of aging. This paper shows that in the 1970s the USA led the world in terms of life expectancy at birth yet four decades later LEB in the USA lags behind European countries of comparable socio-economic development. Americans are not dying earlier because their health system fails them but because of their prevailing life-style. and a consultant to the municipal and state governments in Rio de Janeiro and Saõ Paulo. the better. contemporane‑ ous with this. It does not make sense. To illustrate this point I refer to a paper by the Canadian researcher PC Michaud and collaborators from both sides of the Atlantic. diseases such as diabetes.” The authors emphasize that inneficiency in the American health care system is not a factor. and over the last decade overweight and obesity have exploded. starting from the beginning of the 20th century. But. cardiovascular disease and cancer have continued to emerge. We are indeed facing the serious risk of turning the greatest achievement of the 20th century—an increase of more than 30 years in life expectancy at birth worldwide. The study also suggests that policies to reverse unhealthy behaviour are particularly critical among middle aged individuals. In 2002 he established the Active Ageing Policy Framework. average life expectancy has increased sharply thanks to the constant improvement in medical care and important scientific discoveries. the director of the International Centre for Policies on Ageing in Rio de Janeiro. published in the prestigious Journal of Social Sciences and Medicine last July. Policies and interventions to ensure good health and quality of life as individuals age are urgently required. even more than that for most of the developed world—into a major problem of the 21st century. while a general change in lifestyles goes ahead. as well as for Brazil’s federal government in Brasilia. middle age is the threshold to yield major health gains. Nonetheless. . considering the different concepts of lifespan & health span. a senior advisor to the President on Global Ageing at the New York Academy of Medicine. He was the director of the Department of Ageing and Life-Course at the World Health Organization (WHO) from 2004 to 2008. when they are around 50 years old. are we sure that living longer is living better? Alexandre Kalache is one of the leading world experts on issues linked to aging.234 eating planet interview lifestyles influence the way we age Alex Kalache In industrialized countries. The paper is based on a sophisticated study which concludes that “the difference between USA and Europe would disappear if prevalence of obesity in the US would be the same as in Europe. This caused a significant increase in medical costs. Although the earlier an individual is when healthy life styles are adopted. He is president of the International Longevity Centre (Brazil).

Diseases associated with obesity—such as diabetes. environmental. available evidence in these studies suggest that the calorie reductions might have to be at levels that would not be easily accepted by a large majority of the population. Equivalent figures in the 1970s . In addition. Over the last few decades study after study confirm the importance of our behaviour in relation to ageassociated diseases. thus slowing aging in individuals. they are still to be confirmed in humans. tobacco smoking. As soon as socio-economic levels reach a certain threshold this is followed by a spree of over-consuption of food in parallel to the adoption of sedentary life-styles. cardiovascular disorders and some forms of cancer—not only lead to premature death but also to many years of suffering through morbidity and disability. Jamaica. Modern‑day theories indicate there could be a common source to the various non‑ communicable diseases: gradual cell inflammation that then manifests itself in actual pathologies. some 15% of them obese. unhealthy diets and excessive consumption of alcohol. Numerous studies currently underway demonstrate that an approach which reduces caloric intake constitutes a powerful weapon in reducing inflammation. The problem is how to implement sustainable policies.interviews | food for health 235 While living longer does not necessarily mean living better. Similar results might extend human life span to 150 years or more. Control of four modifiable risk factors for non-communicable disease would lead to a huge decrease in their morbidity and mortality: sedentary life-styles. it seems that American are not only living shorter lifes but also worse lifes. osteomuscular problems. recreational) that would be translated into better quality of life for the population as a whole. India and the Phillippines. Although studies using animal models suggest substantial life extension through reduction in the amount of calories ingested. Take for instance what is already happenning in developing countries as varied as Brazil. However. Mexico. Gradual cell inflammation seems to be at the core of the pathogenic mechanism. Obesity is both taking years from their lives but also negatively impacting their quality of life. shows that virtually half of the adult population is now overweight. taking away billions of dollars from the public sector which could be otherwise used in interventions and policies (such as education. How to reduce inflammation with the adoption of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyles? While we do not yet fully understand the process of biological ageing there is no doubt that life styles affect it in important ways. in the absence of major intervention to invert recent trends. The very fact that obesity has become such a major public health problem throughout the world shows that humans are inclined to eat more than they need—and to burn less calories than they should. they substantially add to health care costs. Most recently available data for Brazil for example.

refined sugar. In addition. from a nutritional point of view. it is no longer enough to merely aim at living longer without also living well: quality of life is an indispensable factor that no one wants to give up. For instance. Health is the central pillar (to which “lifelong learning should be added) through which to guarantee participation. high calory/low nutrient food as well as overly-aggressive marketing strategies conspire to cause children to acquire unhealthy diets early in life. participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as individuals age. Finally. often. research to find out which health food is more easily accepted by the population (marketing campaigns through the media) at affordable prices (fiscal policies decreasing taxes for fruits and vegetables) while creating barriers to discourage unhealthy items (legal policies. This would require a combination of marketing research—to ascertain what are the healthy behavioural preferences of the population as well as how to encourage them—with fiscal and legal policies that would sustain effective policies. high in fat (fried food). Compare that with the Mediterranean diet (high intakes of olive oil. low consuption of meat and. What are your suggestions. for instance. From the nutritional point of view—and coherent with the active ageing approach—healthy diets should be encouraged as early as possible. alcohol. This implies a life course approach: the earlier one starts to invest on one’s own health. Changes in life-style that are more acceptable to the population at large should be pursued with more vigour. prohibiting trans-saturated fats or the provision of sugary drinks at school meals). in some cultures cooking styles are not healthy to begin with—for instance. the emergence of fast and sugary food. showing how fast negative trends are achieved. Pre‑ vention from the earliest years of life and change in lifestyle as adults (by which is intended eating habits and physical activity) has become an approach that can no longer be put off. moderate intake of dairy products. for healthy aging? The World Health Organization defines “Active Ageing” as the process of optimizing the opportunities for health. moderate to high intake of fish. fruits and vegetables. a “white diet” based on refined carbohydrates. salt and. and made sustainable throughout the life course. the higher the health capital for life. the second of the pillars of the Active Ageing concept. security: a system that should be there in place to ensure that those who do not age in good health will receive the adequate protection and care so that they continue to have some quality of life however low is their residual level of functional capacity (independence). This is easier said than done.236 eating planet and 1980s were at a fraction of these. unrefined cereals. Today. moderate intake . the easy availability of cheap.

low fat. In this respect. studies recently conduct by Professor Ng Tze Pin. little meat. high consumption of green and yellow vegetables. Inevitably. have shown that the importance of “health eating for healthy brains”—not only through high intakes of fruits and vegetables. virtually no eggs or diary products). Policies and interventions aimed at promoting and sustaining healthy diets should be followed from as early as possible in life—but not neglected later in middle age or dismissed in older age with the wrong assertion that “it is too late”.interviews | food for health 237 of wine) or the Okinawan diet (low calories and fat. high consumption of soya beans and other legumes. tumeric and cumin) possess strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflamatory properties) . from Singapore. fibers. small to moderate consumption of fish. some cultures predispose one to good dietary decisions while others induce one to a bad start. etc—but also demonstrating that there are other food ingedients that may well protect individuals from senile dementia later in life— such as green tea (polyphenols) or yellow curries (basic ingredients.

encourage good behaviors and lifestyles from childhood on for better adult health The findings in favor of the exceptional importance of a proper dietary regimen from the earliest age appear to be undeniable. We must also encourage cooperation among the various subjects involved (including the food industry) in shaping the diets of young people.238 eating planet action plan adopt a balanced diet and an active lifestyle There exists an evident. salt. Specifically. with a view to channeling proper dietary information and the promotion of a culture of prevention. such as the Mediterranean diet— with a low content of sugars. at the same time and in parallel. and the dietary industry) who take care of children at different points throughout the day. premature death. diet and nutrition play a decisive role. obesity. can help minimize. family. direct. health does not seem to be improving at the same rate: about 80 percent of elderly people (over age 65) suffer . states of infirmity in individuals and. pediatricians. Despite the prolonged average life span. and intense linkage between lifestyles and health and. medical and scientific discoveries. These results are the product of improvements in living conditions. In brief. cardiocirculatory diseases. which has been less thoroughly studied than adulthood. from the earliest phases of our lives. fats. and cereal grains—significantly reduces the negative factors that cause diseases. and a high content of fruits. in the context of individual choices. physicians. rising from 45 years at the end of the nineteenth century to about 80 years in 2010. maintain an adequate diet throughout your life Over the last hundred years life expectancy at birth has almost doubled. and metabolic syndrome. It is clear that we must encourage the further exploration of scientific knowledge concerning childhood. in some cases. Ensuring sound ways of eating in children and adolescents will require a concerted group effort by the numerous actors (school. the adoption of a balanced diet and an active lifestyle. the adoption of a balanced diet. tumors. the risks of overweight. diabetes. There is clearly a high correlation between poor behaviors and diet in the early years of life and the onset of diseases in adulthood. and continuous advances in medical and healthcare technologies. vegetables.

action plan | food for health 239 from at least one chronic disease and about 50 percent suffer from two or more chronic diseases. what is needed is not so much to find a way of living longer but actions to live better. In the face of a steady increase of life expectancy and the dramatic rise in the spread of the leading chronic diseases. longer. Therefore. it is probable that humanity will soon experience. This may mean studying fields that are particularly innovative. for the first time in modern history. a widespread old age characterized by a sub-optimal average quality of life. such as the link between states of inflammation and the onset of chronic diseases. as well as the benefits that can be obtained through regimes of caloric restriction with optimal nutrition. . for a significantly longer period of time.

11 The Great Culinary Traditions Food Today: Challenges and Perspectives Toward a New Vision of Nutrition Guidelines for Redefining Man’s Relationship with Food the mediterranean culture: the value of a lifestyle and a culinary tradition 5. and Power Roles The Symbolic Value of Foods in the Major Religious Faiths Food Prohibitions: Food and Purity Food and Culture: an Indissoluble Bond the great culinary traditions and the reality of food today 5.3 5.4 5.12 5.8 5.5 5.7 The Relationship Between Food and Culture: the Origins How Food Contributes to Communication and Conviviality Delight and Disgust: the Cultural Classification of the Edible Food: Social.1 5.6 5.15 The Salient Characteristics of the Mediterranean Diet The Mediterranean Diet and Commensality Mediterraneity Today: the Decline of a Model How to Recover the Significance of Mediterraneity interviews We Must Construct a Culture of Responsibility by Joaquín Navarro-Valls Whoever Controls Food Controls Democracy by Vandana Shiva The Consumer Culture War and the Food System: What Does This Mean for the Mediterranean Model? by Michael Heasman action plan .13 5.9 5. Gender.10 5.table of contents introduction Food for Peace—a Call for the Mobilization of Goodwill by Shimon Peres facts & figures the cultural dimension of food 5.2 5.14 5.

and their evolution. focusing on the importance of recovering its cultural value in the world we now live in. Particular attention is given to behaviors linked to food and the need to rediscover aspects of conviviality around eating. including the Mediterranean diet. 5. We highlight the great food traditions. food for culture Food for Culture explores the relationship between man and food. .

food consumption Prize in 1994 together with Israeli prime minisincreases.” the President of Israel Generations ago the source of livelihood and food supply since June 2007. Shimon Peres has enclosed by borders and based on an economy that was held major positions of national. food for peace has become a crucial and burning issue that needs to be urgently addressed. thinker and Zionist was land. and in the global era. like today’s economy.242 eating planet 5. erasing distances. Like a new and fresh wind they are blowing away bor1984 to 1986 and from ders. expectations also grow. it is easier to produce children than to produce food for them. Politician. which has led to a populalar thanks to the start of the Oslo Accords. desertification is spreading and people are becoming bitter. Kennedy’s words which encapsulate the very essence of the role of food in our global society: “Food is strength and food is peace and food is freedom and food is helping people around the world whose goodshimon peres has been will and friendship we want. Water is declining. breaking down barriers. and in particuand reduce child-mortality. science and technology have replaced land responsibility within the state of Israel as statesas our source of livelihood and food supply. He was prime minister from ity. I cannot help but be reminded of John F. It is easier to promise dreams than to realize them. overcoming man. The Middle East lives in a state of tension. In other words. With the growing population. their influ1995 to 1996. public administrator poverty and pointing to a tomorrow of hope and prosperand parliamentarian. But the answers are few. and therefore the main concern was territory— activist. Because ence is global. of his long-term commitment to the peace Science enabled us to have a longer life expectancy process. It has been subject to conflict and . ter Yitzhak Rabin and Yasand finding the right answers to meet the surging demand ser Arafat. food for culture Food for Peace—a Call for the Mobilization of Goodwill Shimon Peres. he was tion growth that presented new issues that call for new awarded the Nobel Peace answers. Today. for food is of the essence. President of the State of Israel In today’s changing world.

It needs food for its children. Only 23% of the surface of the globe is being cultivated agriculturally. Israel’s agriculture is based more on technology than on land and water. And for this. at the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Forum in December 2009 and the Villa d’Este Conference in September 2011. placing it as a priority above borders. developing plants that require little water. Today it needs a hopeful tomorrow. and of the world. And my greatest hope is that we shall succeed in combining both these elements to meet the need for food. and recycling water for home consumption and agricultural use that boosts food supply. With little land. is all a matter of experience which we would be glad to share with everyone. augmenting clean energy. has proven this point. By placing food above politics. we had no choice but to give up the cultivation of land and replace it with the cultivation of hi-tech. So we look upon science as a provider of food and existence. Matching the potential of water and land with the potential of science is a promise for the future. above prejudice. His Excellency Shimon Peres. poverty is more dangerous than anything else. Decreasing waterconsumption. a minuscule country with practically no natural resources. we have increased our yearly crops by twenty using little water. It needs peace. goodwill and volunteers with this in mind have to be mobilized to work together towards a common goal.introduction | food for culture 243 war. because in our view. As a result. above nationalities. With the power of innovation.* * Quoted from the addresses of the President of the State of Israel. It needs prosperity and well-being for its people. we can attain a better quality of life. Israel. . and without a drop of oil. countries can overcome deserts. There is no limit to human potential. and we can improve on this. meager water supplies. with hopes and dreams. Let us plant the seeds of innovation into the soil of human potential and we shall feed the children of the Middle East.

All of this allows human beings to avoid being faced on a daily basis with “the omnivore’s dilemma” Fairer food means that we have a responsibility for our weaker neighbors. regulations. and that we find ways to establish socio-economic equilibriums through the phases of production . recipes. GREATER FAIRNESS IN THE WORLD THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA Culture codifies the rules of a wise diet with a complex series of taboos. and these skills help people to avoid poisons and to find the most nutritious foods. Aside from their senses and memories. individuals based their food choices on culture and traditions that preserve the flavor and experience of countless “tasters” who went before them. and traditions.244 eating planet 5. rituals. that wet value food as a means of peaceful coexistence among peoples.  food for culture CHOOSE FOODS CONSCIOUSLY Humans have remarkable capacities for recognizing and memorizing.

more meaningful relationship with food. and conviviality. THE IMPORTANCE OF CULINARY TRADITIONS FIGHTING OBESITY AND FOOD‑BASED PATHOLOGIES Eating has become a banal experience. richer. leading to the epidemic of obesity and diseases linked to obesity Currently. as well as the loss of knowledge about cooking and the makeup of food . we are witnessing the progressive abandonment of the gastronomical traditions of the past. taste.facts & figures | food for culture 245 REDISCOVERING THE PLEASURE OF FOOD The great challenge of our time is to redevelop a deeper. where the relationship with the things we eat is restored to the dimension of esthetics.

have interacted with nature on the basis of one dominant imperative: survival. National cuisines. long before the adoption of agriculture some 15. the human relationship with the environment that surrounds us has always been transformative. defend themselves. It is not far-fetched to argue that the history of man’s relationship with food has been an extraordinary social and cultural saga of a quest for meaning. and even putrefying.2 embody the dietary wisdom of populations and their respective cultures. fire gave rise to progressive cultural developments of enormous importance. and create shelters. like every other species on the planet. Cooking then symbolically marks a transition between nature and culture. was eaten raw. they also devised a growing number of tools and weapons— first in stone. that imperative required protection from harsh climatic environments and the ability to turn to one’s own advantage the perpetual contest to eat. given the fact that. Used for heat. Roaming the landscape in search of food.246 eating planet the cultural dimension of food Ever since the earliest times humans. Our capacity to manipulate nature passed a crucial milestone with the discovery of fire. From this transition onward. In the same period. Whether we’re talking about picking a piece of fruit or killing prey for food.” Before we learned about cooking. food. protection. For eons. signaling. . What was perhaps the most problematic aspect of life (the hunt for food) was transformed from a critical challenge into an opportunity. 5. especially meat. We are all familiar with that process.1 cooking food with fire is “the invention that made humans human. Continually exposed to the danger of becoming food themselves.1 the relationship between food and culture: the origins Physically ill-equipped in comparison with other animals. especially in the realm of diet and nutrition. light. As early as the Paleolithic era humans had discovered and begun to use fire. our ancestors developed increasingly sophisticated abilities to manipulate nature. and also between nature and society. food becomes a point of departure for the extraordinary social and cultural developments that followed. but not be eaten.000 years ago. early humans sought survival through two principal practices: hunting and the collection of any and all possible edible objects. fish. The use of fire was a decisive turning point. later in metal—to hunt. rotten. hunter-gatherer humans were endowed with considerable brainpower and an exploratory curiosity to match. and drying (food and clothing). while the raw is natural in origin. the cooked implies a transition that is at once cultural and social. In the words of Claude LéviStrauss. as the psychologist Paul Rozin puts it.

demanding brain can survive is by using the brain to figure out how to draw on a wide range of good food to get the most nutrition with the least effort. . […] The only way an animal with a huge. They got better at finding meat. must devote enormous mental energy to refining the cognitive and sensory knowledge needed to distinguish which foods—among the many available—are safe to eat. distinguishes among three different categories of cooked food: the roasted. given human being’s pitiful lack of fangs and claws and the doubtful efficiency of primitive hunting equipment. the only credible theory of human dietary evolution is that the early hominids just became better and better at omnivory. make art and music about it. The “culinary triangle. the one closest to the natural order. Michael Pollan4 fully subscribes to this theory in his bestselling book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. His explanation of the link between brain development and diet is different: “In my view. we think about food—and write about it. seeds. pursue the opposite strategy and consume a very selective diet. the diet was actually largely based on game and the consumption of meat. and study it scientifically—a great deal. This is also true among the modern populations of hunter-gatherers in the arctic and subarctic regions. Over the course of the Paleolithic Homo erectus was replaced by Homo sapiens. where there is not much else to eat. and correspondingly possess much smaller brains. A large brain demands an extraordinary quantity of nutrients. so it’s no surprise that humans have developed our notions of cooking extensively. But many modern scholars believe that by far most of the hunter-gatherers of the past lived primarily on foods derived from plants. As noted earlier. this notoriously small-brained animal eats only eucalyptus leaves. In fact. roasting was the first form of cooking. The most ancient uses of fire for cooking simply exposed food directly to the flames. That effort is an essential part of humanity’s cultural processes.” Humankind’s first “cultural” elaborations were therefore by and large focused on the challenge of how to find food and accommodate an omnivorous propensity that was decidedly out of the ordinary. Other animals. Humans.the cultural dimension of food | food for culture 247 In some populations of hunter-gatherers. Some populations were almost exclusively vegetarian. or else. eggs. in contrast. both by scavenging and by hunting. shoots. food was held on sticks and simply scorched or burned. and the smoked.” for instance.400 cubic centimeters. The koala is an extreme case. cooking is deeply embedded in human culture. but also at finding roots. in areas near seas and rivers. the American anthropologist Eugene Anderson3 questions the theory that this specific factor explains the inclination to hunt and eat meat. the boiled. In short. Nonetheless. In all societies. and anything else edible. Pollan notes. on fish and shellfish. It is part of who we are. and brain size rose from about 400 cubic centimeters almost to the current size of 1.

5. . but also because in the animal kingdom direct eye contact. The extent of the territory occupied by the group also expanded. with different parents and children. but the same is true of the ability to smoke food in such a way as to extend its ability to withstand deterioration far longer than with any other method of cooking. 5. These practices are not found among other species. The contemporary table and the habit of mixing food and conversation in convivial circumstances of all kinds therefore derives from an experience with ancient roots very distant in time. succumbs to the human drive for cultural elaboration. Language probably also evolved in part due to the need to alleviate tensions bound up with the division of foods. opening the mouth. As the human brain grew. is certainly evidence of cultural evolution. in those rituals of sharing through which our ancestors managed to reverse signals of danger and transform them into the very essence of that conviviality that characterizes human social relations. So even the simple act of cooking. so did social groups begin to expand. This was undoubtedly one of the ways in which language developed. as noted by Lévi-Strauss. there is a clear recipe for conflict and violence. In a larger territory the discovery of a food source had to be communicated in greater detail. necessary for boiling. from the 20 or so members typical of Homo erectus groups to the roughly 50 to 150 members common during the period of Homo sapiens. The use of cooking utensils. in order to explain exactly where it was located and how many members of the group it could feed. an experience that allowed the human species to overcome natural instinctive tensions and climb a number of steps up the ladder of cultural and social development. and been in turn rewarded. probably discovered by accident.3 delight and disgust: the cultural classification of the edible The growing mastery of language and the higher brainpower of Homo sapiens do not imply that establishing what to eat was ever an easy choice. and showing teeth are typically hostile gestures. smiling.2 how food contributes to communication and conviviality Food took on a very important role in the development of the earliest forms of human communication.” So the ability to communicate must have played a considerable role. and water (plus a receptacle) in the other case. laughing—and eventually talking. Moreover. At the origins of what we now call conviviality were the primitive practices of sharing food around a fire by groups of human beings who sat face to face.248 eating planet Smoking food and boiling are distinguished from roasting by the inventive use of two different elements of mediation in cooking: air and smoke in one case. “if we add to this the idea of placing food in the middle of a group of individuals. not only because of the fear of fire.

As Pollan observes. worms. For. he finds himself dealing with two clashing feelings: neophobia. constantly confront the question of whether a certain edible substance would be beneficial or harmful. or deciding whether to sample McDonald’s’ newly reformulated chicken nugget.” The concept of the omnivore’s dilemma is already present in the writings of Jean Jacques-Rousseau and Brillat-Savarin. “Indeed. the ability to do this has allowed humans to colonize all of the Earth’s habitats. In our case. When an omnivore encounters something new and potentially edible. shoots. as Michael Pollan says. an American psychologist working at the University of Pennsylvania. the roots. by adapting to and exploiting the different types of food available. but it also figures in our less primordial encounters with the putatively edible: when we’re deliberating the nutritional claims on the boxes in the cereal aisle. rotten fish. or determining whether or not it is ethically defensible to eat meat. with that of animals tethered to specialized diets. For humans. lichens. the fear of eating an unknown substance.” in which he compared the existential condition of omnivores. there is probably not a nutrient source on Earth that is not eaten by some human somewhere—bugs. “The omnivore’s dilemma is replayed every time we decide whether or not to ingest a wild mushroom.the cultural dimension of food | food for culture 249 Humans and other omnivores. unlike animals that follow a very selective diet. or choosing to observe (or flout) kosher or halal rules. we are aided by our sense of taste. Humans are endowed with extraordinary abilities to distinguish and remember that help us to avoid poisons and toxins and to seek out the most nutritious foods.” This capacity for nutritional and dietary adaptation greatly assisted the evolution of the species. on the other hand. and Other Animals. but it also put humankind in constant difficulties in distinguishing the foods that were advisable to eat. have to devote time and study in an attempt to understand which of the countless foods offered by nature can be safely eaten. These animals waste no thought or emotion on deciding what to eat and what not to eat. buds. seaweed. when we’re settling on a weight-loss regimen (low fat or low carb?). the natural and instinctive mechanism functions perfectly because the digestive system is only capable of obtaining all that the organism needs from a few foods. or weighing the costs and benefits of buying the organic strawberries over the conventional ones. Humans. fungi. bark. that is. flowers. Omnivores. seeds. stems. These sentiments are completely unknown to animals with specialized diets. dirt. For these animals. every imaginable part of every imaginable animal. such as rats and human beings. In this process. which spon- . In 1976 Rozin wrote an article titled “The Selection of Foods by Rats. that is. and neophilia.5 but it was officially singled out and identified as such by Paul Rozin. The latter animals are untroubled by doubts about what to eat. the problem is acute. and fruits of plants. the desire to experience new flavors. inasmuch as their dietary preferences are written in their genes.

guide a certain perception of the social body. the crucial meanings of these processes of classification primarily speak to the notion of purity. That subdivision often includes many elements of a symbolic nature which. The hierarchy of rank establishes the rules governing access to food. a signal of a wealth of energy-packed carbohydrates. disgust flags potentially dangerous foods. disgust (a term of general meaning but etymologically derived from the nutritional and dietary concept of taste. frogs. foods such as snails. Humans have another advantage as omnivores too. we can rely on the culture and traditions that preserve the cumulative knowledge and experience of countless “tasters” before us. and makes us avoid the bitter. gender. As we shall see below. the banquets of aristocratic families contrasted with endemic starvation among the peasantry. recipes. even among other animal species. rules. and traditions. it should be said that the various human societies tend to restrict considerably the notion of what constitutes food. The culture codifies the rules of wise nutrition with a complex series of taboos. and vice versa. All this allows human beings to avoid having to deal each time with the omnivore’s dilemma. Aside from using our senses and memory in choosing foods. Between delight and disgust there seems to be a fairly thin line. Among human beings. and animal organs can be either hailed as delicious or considered repellent. As Rozin made clear.4 food: social. rituals. which is characteristic of many poisonous alkaloids synthesized by plants. In the Middle Ages. which often have no underlying reasons other than the cultural development of customs and habits. What we ingest—or reject—says a great deal more than a simple dietary preference. 5. such as stale or rotten food.250 eating planet taneously leads us to prefer the sweet. and in . Some things have the power to disgust individuals belonging to all human societies. Every culture tends to have its own way of dividing the world into that which can be eaten and that which cannot. depending on the geographic region and the social group. and power roles Access to food and nutrition—what might be called the nutritional order and hierarchy—is governed by power. Even in Western societies. Likewise. But specific societies express rather idiosyncratic forms of disgust. While humans as a species are ready to gobble down almost anything that comes to hand. and that boundary is almost always defined in cultural terms. the control of food was historically one of the principal sources of power. Even though lionesses do the hunting themselves. beginning with the physical body. as in “gusto” and “gustatory”) is the fear of ingesting substances that might prove harmful. they do not touch the prey until the lion has finished eating.

markets also attract tourists and visitors since they are the perfect place to watch the local culture and economy. Spain. In addition to selling produce and prepared foods. Markets tend to be one of the sites where people interact in urban areas.the importance of markets The wooden ceilings of the Mercat de Santa Caterina in Barcelona. .

According to some. and self-expression. the role of women can also be viewed in a more positive light. however gratifying they might be for those who perform them. purchasing autonomy. The categories of Lévi-Strauss’s culinary triangle allow us to understand this aspect very clearly. the sociologist Marjorie DeVault points out that the female practices of providing food for the family. tended to reproduce an ideology of their own role that was deeply reductionistic and strongly influenced by state institutions. and in some cases contradictory. and that in many societies this traditionally tends to place women in a subordinate position. because boiled food frequently tends to be associated with a more intimate. Our understanding of these issues has been updated and expanded by socioanthropological studies that examine the relationship between food and gender. are subtly but pervasively implicated in unequal relationships of subordination. on the other hand. which thus reinforces the “naturalness” sensed in their deference to the needs of men and undermines any progress toward forms of food culture under the aegis of reciprocity. On the African continent these conflicts are still under way. There can be no doubt that food practices give rise to countless varieties of hierarchy. women can take pleasure from their condition of chosen preparers of homecooked food. the anthropologist Anne Allison emphasizes that Japanese mothers. especially in the United States. For instance. and what was at stake was always getting the upper hand over a certain way of producing food. But it is interesting to observe that the cultural perception of such forms of prestige is fairly complex. Countless battles and wars have been waged between farmers and stockbreeders in many regions of the world. At the same time. Roasted foods. Of course. especially in the more prosperous Western societies. Food can be a signifier of power in terms of social prestige as well. A very significant example of the latter form is the barbecue. which tended to be associated with the world of males. Also playing a part in that context are increasingly articulated factors of market knowledge. The comparative specialization of women in the purchase and preparation of food can in many cases represent an area of strength in their relationship with men. boiled food constitutes a more evolved form and therefore communicates more refined values than roasted food. in their meticulous and dutiful preparation of the bento (the lunch-box for their pre-school-age children). nutritional expertise. often in the open air and with great ostentation. the pleasure of an activity that is no less intelligent and imagina- . family-oriented style of cooking (dishes such as stews or boiled meats). could be presented in public celebrations.252 eating planet various parts of Europe those who were caught poaching in the royal reserves or the preserves of local lords were put to death. foods that were generally cooked by women. In his analysis. But this relationship in terms of prestige and power can be overturned as well.

represents for Christians the means of communion of souls and a form of ongoing memory of the passion of Christ. some prescriptions require the faithful to restrict their consumption of meat and to engage in periods of abstinence and fasting. There is no comparable set of rules about food in Christianity.6 a great many rituals. there is no general distinction between foods that are permitted and foods that are prohibited. with reference to Émile Durkheim. defining the relationship of humans with nature and partaking profoundly of sacredness. Certain other religions are characterized in dietetic terms by the almost absolute prohibition against eating meat.the cultural dimension of food | food for culture 253 tive than other activities that are customarily considered to have superior standing. Moreover. Islam famously forbids the consumption of alcoholic beverages. In Judaism a substantial number of the 613 mitz‑ vot (commandments or precepts) that guide the life of an observant Jew have to do with the dietary sphere and originate within important passages of the Old Testament. designed to educate Muslims in the practices of patience. and tends instead to preach an attitude of moderation in the consumption of food. at least among the most devout followers. especially during the liturgical period of Lent. The chief limitations (less stringent than those in Judaism) also have to do with meat. ceremonies. the halal dietary tradition. Nonetheless. modesty. The importance of dietary practices as defined by religious strictures is emphasized by the fast of Ramadan. and religious celebrations inevitably include the relationship with food. The religions based in India—Hinduism. and spirituality. 5. and Jainism—share this commitment to what is called in Sanskrit . The third great monotheistic religion. such as music. However. The symbolic value of foods in the major religions is impossible to overestimate. rejects both the narrow strictures of Judaism and the dietary freedom of Christianity. The symbolic role of the wine and the host in the sacrament of Eucharist (Holy Communion).5 the symbolic value of foods in the major religious faiths As Eugene Anderson points out. which is based on the words uttered by Jesus during the Last Supper. unlike Judaism and Christianity. In particular. people’s relationship with food remains a part of the dimension of the relationship with God. Buddhism. also dictates some rules about what can be eaten and what cannot. a violent and anti-spiritual thing. Jewish tradition tends to perceive in the act of nourishment a significance that educates people to make a constant series of choices and verifications. which is followed by about 70 percent of all Muslims on Earth. Islam. Anderson points out that “meat is seen as involving the killing of animals. Even though the relationship with food in Christianity is a relatively free one.

Anderson also explains this point very effectively: “Typically. Even within those extraordinary processes of cultural elaboration that are the religions. This analysis broadly applies to food. and that the soul is potentially divine. to educational considerations (teaching man that not all goods need to be enjoyed directly and thoughtlessly). A great many rituals are therefore designed to ensure an attempt to approach some ideal of purity through practices of separation. food and final significance. and punishment. a number of prohibitions concerning food. is the narrow connection between food and destiny. or at any rate assigned to a lower rank of purity than the higher castes). and which have no specific foundation in the realm of religion.6 food prohibitions: food and purity Religious rules include.254 eating planet ahimsa. food is also an important factor in social aggregation. British anthropologist Diane Mary Douglas7 traces many rituals that are intended to define the relationship between the individual body and the social body back to the idea of purity. Of course. however microscopic. The clearest example is that of the Hindu caste system. nonviolence. are strongly present both in the primitive world and in contemporary societies. and the fears that derive from it. possesses a soul. in all these cases. as farmers. the idea of contamination. The sharers eat together at ritual meals. in particular. In most religions. from symbolic motivations (for instance. certain foods tend to be considered inedible for reasons that may be purely cultural. habitually participate in the production of food in various roles. given its ability to be a catalyzer of meanings and symbolisms. an element that serves the function—among others—of establishing who is a member of the congregation of the faithful and who is not. in .” 5. These prohibitions—and at the same time. assumes that every living thing. such as the violence practiced by modern factory-farming of animal products. aggregation and differentiation are stronger and more emotionally intense in religion than in other human activities (though political ideology and ethnicity have sometimes taken pride of place in the last century or so).” Jainism. which is a symbolic element of particular significance since it is a piece of reality that we literally incorporate. in which the lower castes (which are by definition impure. food plays a role of enormous importance. as we have mentioned. the rules about the foods that were allowed—have been interpreted on the basis of various orders of explanations. For that reason. for instance. What stands out. strictures against eating birds of prey out of a rejection of the violence intrinsic to those animals). Food is almost always a marker. In her vision. It therefore rejects the eating of meat as well as all useless forms of violence. ranging from disgust toward certain species to hygienic reasons. demarcation.

there are three great culinary traditions that we will attempt to describe in very abbreviated form in the following pages: Mediterranean cuisine. It is so innate to human beings to establish a relationship with foods that it is the point of departure for remarkable developments. with repercussions in social and individual terms of extreme significance. in view of current opportunities and challenges. Rather than working back to the origins or exploring the history of these three different approaches to nutrition. many books have been). food must be cooked by the family or by someone else who belongs to the same level of caste. the great culinary traditions and the reality of food today We showed in the previous section that there is a deep-seated link between food and culture. to unique and specific dietary approaches and gastronomical traditions. Keeping in mind that every tradition is the inevitably provisional product of a series of innovations and the changes that they have induced in the cultures that accepted those innovations. The interaction of these variables has given rise over time. Food has a marked effect on people’s lives and ways of eating reflect and are conditioned by individual lifestyles and the nature of relationships between people. and values. The very act of feeding oneself. and Anglo-Saxon cuisine. Asian cuisine. in some cases.8 the great culinary traditions mediterranean cuisine. It becomes even more so when it loses all semblance of equilibrium. memory. Beginning in the Neolithic Age. symbols. we will focus on trying to chart their trajectories. tradition. 5.the great culinary traditions | food for culture 255 the higher castes. intimate nature of the link between food and culture. was the destination of countless migrations. What we have chosen to discuss in this brief introduction to the topic is the close. 5. or Mediterranean Sea. The new arrivals settled in existing communities in search of better living conditions: . the Mare Nostrum. This is evident when this relationship is balanced. is a cultural thing. to the extent that it entails rationality. in an act of symbolic demarcation.7 food and culture: an indissoluble bond It would certainly be possible to write entire volumes on the relationship between food and nutrition (and in fact.

in particular. lemon water. as well as a number of varieties of beans. a milder climate for those coming from Scandinavia or Germany. from which they drew most of their nutritional resources. on the model of Greek culture. At first. during which a significant number of new food products were traded and introduced into the respective gastronomical cultures. While the central role of vegetables is one of the most distinctive characteristics of the Mediterranean tradition. which had developed. orange water. Those peoples lived in close symbiosis with the forest. the ancient Roman tradition—which. providing a decisive contribution to the new gastronomic model that was taking shape. during the high Middle Ages. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries C. the tomato. of Italian cuisine. rice. played a role in the change and the transformation of the cultural unity of the Mediterranean. the use of rose water. and pomegranate water was introduced as well. Islamic culture. initially treated as no more than an exotic curiosity and an ornamental fruit. along the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. then.256 eating planet more fertile soil for those who came from Asian or African deserts. The tomato. through hunting. almond water. it is also important to remember the role played by cereal grains as the foundation of the poor man’s cuisine and as a tool of . This discovery also resulted in a “to-and-fro” of food products: the potato. citrus fruit. Another chapter of great historic impact was the discovery and the conquest of America by the Europeans. the eggplant. contacts between Muslim and Christian communities based on the Iberian peninsula grew into intense commercial exchanges. as well as the chosen symbols of the new faith—encountered the culture of the Germanic peoples.E. The new agriculture introduced unfamiliar plant species or varieties that had only been utilized by the more prosperous social classes because of their elevated prices. and spices. and harvesting. identified bread. we should mention sugar cane. corn. Thereafter. was not thought of as edible until a relatively late date—the first red vegetable to enrich our pantry of edible plants—but it has now become a symbol of Mediterranean cuisine and. Moreover. its own specific nutritional culture. Among the products introduced into Mediterranean cuisine that originally came from the Islamic world. the new food civilization that emerged from the marriage and fusion of the nutritional models of the Roman and Christian civilization and its Germanic counterpart measured itself against the tradition of the Arab world. spinach. as Rome had so forcefully constructed it. and the chili pepper. herding. It was precisely the Muslims who gave rise to a significant process of agricultural renewal in which irrigated fields played a fundamental role. wine. the pepper. and oil as the products symbolizing the tradition of a farming and agricultural civilization..

food and urban space In many cities. at night it becomes a giant open‑air restaurant. It still preserves its roll as a meeting place. In Marrakech. Morocco. the market square is the true center of urban and social life. the Jamaa el Fna is the square around which the historic city has grown. . A market by day.

is not only a way of nourishing oneself. therefore. we should mention another important factor of the Chinese tradition: the central role played by food in festivities and the symbolic value of . The Mediterranean diet also represents a very important resource in terms of sustainable development for all the countries that overlook the Mediterranean basin. cuisine forces people to respect the dietetic rules that have been acquired as the foundation of traditional medicine. In daily life. which benefited from nutritional inputs that were originally typical of the Far East and Africa. In China. Rooted in a vast rural world. their distinctive territorial characteristics—and conviviality and a love of food. emphasizes the fact that the Mediterranean basin has long served as a crucible and melting pot of civilizations. given their capacity to fill stomachs and help assuage the hunger pangs of the less well-to-do classes. it is indispensable to place it in the broader context of a body of knowledge that defines the relationship between nutrition and health. They are the product of a historic and cultural tradition comparable in importance with the tradition that sprang up around the Mediterranean basin. Crossbreeding is one of the causes of its cultural diversity and peculiarity. because of the economic and cultural importance that food has in the entire region and for its capacity to inspire a sense of continuity and identity for the local populations. is emblematic of the concept of food that is central to the Chinese tradition. Chinese cuisine boasts an extraordinary variety of ingredients and excellent dietetic qualities. as they are representative of a broader approach.” then. The Chinese. in fact. for millennia. Asian cuisine—Chinese or Japanese. In order to understand the Chinese culinary tradition. Here we shall focus on the great Chinese tradition and its distinctive features. beliefs. asian cuisine. Thai or Vietnamese—is rich in flavors that are unexpected for the Western nations. This attention to diet. This vast geo-culinary movement. and lifestyles. and has been for thousands of years. but also the expression of an entire cultural system. Despite the changes in dietary customs and lifestyles that have taken place since the second half of the twentieth century. The food model that we now call the “Mediterranean diet.258 eating planet day-to-day survival. as well. the Mediterranean diet continues to be a point of reference. health has represented the focus of all nutritional behavior. to the nutritional characteristics of the foods and the nutrients that were being attentively studied by physicians and by Taoists. and not only in the Mediterranean region but also in regions throughout the world. in fact. the quality of the foodstuffs. In this connection. given its distinctive nutritional characteristics. identified proper and harmonious nutrition as one of the principal ways to improve health and seek longevity. based on healthfulness.

the great culinary traditions | food for culture 259 certain dishes. because their thin and elongated shape symbolizes longevity. a tendency toward hyper-mobility that prevents attachment to any given territory. A taste for that is translated into the taste for the consumption of food together with other people.8 Cutting the foods very thin before cooking. according to their yin and yang nature: cold and cool foods are yin. cold and heat). and social contexts that are very different from the ones described above. The cooking is designed to attain harmony of the flavors: cooking in fact is meant to achieve the “ideal consummation of the substance through fire. they are viewed as concrete categories of life which also permeate the realm of diet. In Chinese cuisine there is also a particular technical rationality that can be found in the methods of cooking and in the cutting of the raw materials. noodles are eaten.D. and vinegar. which is so characteristic of this cuisine. is also the chief criterion of differentiation from other cuisines. For birthdays and at New Year’s. and the production and consumption of tea were widespread throughout the territory as far back as the time of the Tang dynasty (A. oil. 618-907). we find in Chinese gastronomic culture (and more generally in Asian gastronomic culture) parallel traits to the conviviality typical of the Mediterranean tradition. These are far from being merely theoretical principles. rice. along with fuel. must take care to respect the equilibrium and harmony of these categories of ingredients. warm and temperate foods are yang. In fact. and lifestyles and ways of consumption based on individual- . anglo-saxon cuisine. According to the philosophy of Tao. Cooking and cuisine. In comparison with the Mediterranean tradition. develops out of a logic. an approach. The Chinese and Mediterranean cuisines in fact share important values with respect to the importance attributed to food. nutrition is a social concern of enormous importance. We’re referring to the absence of a sufficiently long history to permit the deep rooting of widespread cultural practices and values. therefore. the world is a continual process of becom‑ ing whose propulsive force derives from the dynamic opposition of yin and yang (female and male. The Chinese were the first to cultivate tea. a simultaneous vehicle for pleasure and relationships. In China. which was more accustomed to the consumption of wine. Tea was so important that it was listed among the seven products that were indispensable to life. and the attention to taste and the social dimension of eating. Anglo-Saxon cuisine. to the care and the creativity employed in its preparation. The practice can easily be traced back thousands of years and is quite understandable if we consider the use of chopsticks that is associated with it. soy sauce. darkness and light. salt. for instance. and in particular North American cooking.” as LéviStrauss put it. in China tea was the characteristic beverage of tradition. the objective absence of typical products that characterize a culinary style. Foodstuffs are therefore divided into four categories.

and speed. the capacity of choosing and selecting foods. women in every social class began to work. In the past. pragmatism. while over time the consumption of meals eaten outside of the house increased. a process of creative cross-fertilization capable of leading to the birth of original approaches. Prepared foods tended to become the norm. along with the absence of a strong nutritional tradition. despite the fact the United States is a land of transition and settlement for people of all nations and civilizations. we cannot ignore the fact that as early as the beginning of the 1960s in America. along with a growing mobility between countries. it should be pointed out that the process of exchange between cultural traditions—the so-called crossover traditions—is generally growing to an exponential degree. Moreover. To the contrary. and subsequently in England and Europe as well. While on the one hand it is certainly a positive development to see the choice of food as a channel of knowledge that makes it possible to appreciate and get closer . If we are to attempt to characterize the Anglo-Saxon culinary tradition. together helped to orient the American and Anglo-Saxon city dweller toward speed of consumption and choice. as well as in terms of the quality of the social interaction that accompanies the consumption of food. Women moreover began to work outside of the home: this significantly changed the female model prevalent until then. with a variety of outcomes. common choices—a nutritional culture—winds up “unloading” upon the individual. often in the form of fast food. and to a resulting disinterest in the characteristics of the product. there has been a general leveling toward a diffuse mediocrity. Today.260 eating planet ism. except on the margins. globalization. which had been that of a woman primarily devoted to caring for home and children. who then lacks basic tools of information and culture. in fact. have modified the picture. As we conclude this introductory overview. This is perhaps the most evident case of how the absence of a patrimony of knowledge and shared. there has not been. All of these factors seem to have prevented North America (and Great Britain9) from developing an original gastronomic culture of quality comparable to the Mediterranean and Chinese cuisines. changes in nutritional culture were for the most part the result of migration. The preparation of food lost its connotation as an everyday obligation and therefore became a moment of pure socializing. the desire to discover characteristic traits of other civilizations in a generalized process of drawing closer to “others.” and the strategies of industrial expansion pursued by multinationals. often with very negative results. it is possible to see that the deep social changes experienced in the United States many decades ahead of the other Western countries. bound up primarily with the sphere of recreation. In brief.

the omnivore’s dilemma. As Pollan writes. Bewildered by the excess of supply and information. What historically referred to a natural condition of humanity becomes. ironically. and incapable of thoroughly understanding industrial processes.) seem to emulate those “productivist” solutions of the past—presuming that the purpose of economic activity. the makeup of food. especially when some of the potential foods on offer are liable to sicken or kill you. indeed of human society. and conviviality.” it is quite worrisome to envision a setting in which the responses to the social changes now under way (changes in the role played by women. Such a radical change in eating habits is an unmistakable sign of a diffuse nutritional disorder. its almost complete opposite: an emblem of uncertainty generated by the prevalence of general conditions of unnaturalness. the capacity to transfer gastronomical knowledge and skills declines. deciding what to eat—has become an undertaking that requires aid from nutritionists. health concerns emerge. less and less free time. that happy balance among pleasure. deciding what you should eat will inevitably stir anxiety. to the moment of initial choices. that often lead creative “contamination. Nothing of the sort could ever have happened in a society that possessed solid traditions concerning food and eating. Although humanity’s age-old dietary history has introduced fairly strictly codified forms of the best nutritional practices from the various dietary traditions. the omnivore struggles to make decisions and choices. food scientists. today this body of nutritional information and knowledge seems to be vanishing from many places. is sheer production— that proved to be so misguided and dangerous. well-being. is increasingly disorienting individuals and taking them backwards in time. and suddenly Michael Pollan’s “omnivore’s dilemma” becomes relevant again. Lifestyles change. a growing demand for functionality intervenes. and doctors. health. The most natural of all human activities—nourishing oneself. The equilibrium attained by the great culinary traditions. or the health consequences of what he ingests. 5. appears to be increasingly precarious. The combination of excessive quantities and varieties of foods in the supermarkets. associated with the lack of adequate contexts of analysis and interpretation caused by a progressive loss of dietary identity.” This is the modern face of the omnivore’s dilemma.the great culinary traditions | food for culture 261 to novel experiences. “When you can eat just about anything nature has to offer.9 food today: challenges and perspectives The current relationship between food and culture is particularly challenging. etc. .

taste. linked to the rediscovery of sustainability in all its embodiments (environment. more satisfying relationship with food. The recovery of food rituals can confer a dimension of reassuring meaning that will help to render more immediate the experience of eating. Likewise. We are now seeing the possibility of rethinking our relationship with food in terms of a new overall vision. to the notion of universal portability. The domain of ritual is a powerful aspect of the relationship with food. 5. an increasing demand for authenticity is arising. social relations) and which points a finger at the food industry. We must try to reinterpret our relationship with food so as to reconcile the social dynamics of our times with a healthy and positive approach to nutrition and food.262 eating planet No doubt in reaction to this trend. From this point of view. that will influence the future of food in the coming decades: first and foremost is the demand for greater naturalness and the need for a rebalancing of ways of eating toward a healthier and more sustainable dietetic approach. will significantly influence our relationship with food—and in different terms than the ones that we already know (nowadays it is an expression of a stark poverty of cultural contents). which is in such short supply today. This introduces other significant dimensions: from the need to simplify the procedures for the preparation of food (in order to save time. in which the rapport with the food fully embraces the dimensions of aesthetics. there are three imperatives today: restore direct contact with the cultural dimension of food. and pleasure. This is a turning point. richer. a quality that in many ways lies at the foundation of the very possibility of a gratifying experience. health. asking it to take on new responsibilities. The emerging traits of this new approach could be—according to Bauman’s analysis10 —situated at the intersection between the pleasure of the sensory experience and the demand for a situational comfort that makes it possible to savor in full the flavor of the food. and to make up for the loss of food culture). as we have noted above. which has become a characteristic element of our time. and spread its flavor.10 toward a new vision of nutrition There are a number of different factors. The aspect of speed. understood as the ease of application of the desired way of eating within an increasingly frenetic society in constant movement. the temporal dimension appears decisive: we must find a way to ensure that time once again stretches out and opens up for this new approach to the eating experience. To put it in a slogan. But the great challenge of our time is probably that of reclaiming for ourselves a deeper. of equal importance is the recovery of conviviality. redefine its pleasure. .

400 species of insects are eaten by humans. Are current levels of meat consumption a problem for the environment and health? We can reduce the impact of meat production by beginning to eat insects. . for example. around the world some 1.excess supply It is probably more difficult to list the foods that are currently eaten than it is to list the foods that humans don’t eat. already a widespread habit in many countries. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

responding to and interpreting the need for roots. In order to induce consumption and remain in consumers’ preferences. understood as the ease with which a desired way of eating can be applied even within a society that is constantly moving at an increasingly frenetic pace. economically more polarized. of the loss of the magic of the symbolic exchange. In summary. with serious environmental concerns. gender. pressured lifestyles. and culture will become multiple and undergo continuous change. based on total mobility and fragmented. multiethnic. In short. by its very nature. products will need to integrate their functional and emotional aspects with symbolic elements. now at such a premium. depriving people of the human dimensions of tangibility. of the disruption and distortion of the space and time of lifestyle. resemblance. The link between food practices and culture is a strong bond that . anxiety relief. modern reality demands that we move toward a pattern of food consumption that complies with new paradigms of behavior. more feminine society. It will not be the products themselves that will encourage choices. the society of the future will be a society of multiplicity and uncertainty: an older. And food will require universal portability. the recovery of food rituals will confer a dimension of meaning and reassurance that will help to make more immediate the experience of eating. and help make up for the general loss of culinary culture and the guidance it passes on). durability. in an attempt to reconcile the social dynamics of our time with a healthy and positive approach to nutrition. localization. What role will food play in this emerging world? The basis of all consumption will increasingly tend to be the realm of the imagination. the future will see an attempted constructive reinterpretation of our relationship with food.264 eating planet Even as we do our best to recover traits that were typical of the ritual aspects of tradition.11 guidelines for redefining man’s relationship with food The consumption of food is. The risk is that a desperate need to find interaction and relationships with other people and the growing fear and inability to do so will tend to render fragile and ephemeral any sense of community and all temporary and fragmentary emotions. Speed of life and loss of conventional spatial dimension will determine the way we live. duration. and identities based on age. a cultural experience specific to humans. Globalization itself makes the presence of “otherness” a looming fact. Finally. Lifestyles will become fluid. and depth. connection. Food preparation will need to be simplified (which will save time. Post-modern society is the society of disenchantment. 5. and a reassuring physical and mental boundary. far more urbanized. influenced by changing situations and shifting moods. but rather their code of significance.

the great culinary traditions | food for culture


extends back throughout all human history. The progressive dying out of this important aspect of human culture seems to be the result of a process of alienation that, as we have shown, generates anxiety and uncertainty. Our era thus represents the most opportune moment to requalify, in positive terms, the cultural value of the relationship between humans and food. The social importance and the urgency of a vast operation of rethinking that relationship makes it impossible to put it off any longer. It is necessary if we hope to respond, at the root, to the needs and the aspirations of people everywhere. Food culture is the most effective lever for redefining the relationship between man and food. It is only by beginning from a nutritional culture that is more focused on the values of naturalness and sustainability that we might tackle the challenge of the great food emergencies of this century, ranging from those linked to food access, to the prevention of a broad array of pathologies and a more general respect for the environment. Culture has long been a multiplier of results, thanks to its innate capacity to activate and orient the energies of individuals into collective action. Limiting ourselves to technical solutions to the emerging issues, and overlooking the spread of a cultural dimension and the role of knowledge and understanding, means planning only short-term interventions and renouncing the possibility of having any real effect on the deeper causes of the current challenges.

redirecting the future of food

• make the best possible use of the bountiful reservoir of conviviality.

The times we live in are impoverished in terms of relationships. The proliferation of opportunities for contact (through new technologies, among other things) often correlates with superficiality in human relations. Food, on the other hand, is still a vehicle for opportunities for interaction and relations. It is necessary to recover this natural inclination intrinsic to food and restore to a more appropriate social dimension the moments in which it is consumed. • protect forms of local territorial variety and work to expand them. Food is an expression of the identity of a community and a territory. It thereby preserves a quality of unique individuality that makes it, on the one hand, an opportunity to rediscover one’s own cultural roots and, at the same time, an opportunity to establish relations with other traditions. For this to happen, however, it is necessary to preserve the wealth of food and cuisine identities, without giving up the taste for “contaminations” and cross-fertilizations, thus reinforcing the emotional capital linked to roots, distinctive traits, and territorial localization while capitalizing on their universally human aspects.


eating planet

transfer knowledge and know-how. These are extraordinary deposits of cultural wealth. The preparation of food is by its nature an artisanal experience; the consumer is summoned to contribute by joining into forms of co-production with the people who make foodstuffs available. Such participation demands major skills and expertise, which must be preserved and handed down over time. • restore healthy relationships with territory and the context of the raw material, with a view to the excellence of the ingredients. In the case of nutrition, the relationship between the physical and material quality of the food and the quality of the cultural experience is very strong. Poorquality food does not produce culture. It is therefore necessary to work carefully on the excellence of the ingredients, establishing a direct and respectful link with the soils and lands where the raw materials are created. • recover the value of food as a fertile link between generations. The table at which breakfast and the evening meal are served seems to remain, in many families, one of the few privileged places where they share the experience of their lives, a place for cultivating mutual bonds of affection. This should be recovered as a means of constructing (and reconstructing) a social fabric that modern life is steadily weakening. • recover the ancient flavors that can be renewed in the context of contemporary taste. We should strive to preserve the best of gastronomic traditions by reinterpreting them creatively. This, in all fields, is the principal mechanism for the transmitting culture across generations. • finally, spread the culture of taste and enjoyment of life through authentic food. If we can revitalize the magic and the astonishment of food in its rituals and its carefree pleasures—as an existential and cultural “fuel”—we can restore people, their feelings and human relations to the center of the human experience. Future luxury and health will consist to a very great degree in the art of living and conceiving of food in a cultural context.

the mediterranean culture | food for culture


the mediterranean culture: the value of a lifestyle and a culinary tradition
There is a strong cultural bond that has united and continues to unite the diverse peoples of the Mediterranean basin. The Mediterranean Sea has long been a special theater of encounters between diverse cultures continually exchanging material goods, ideas, and values. This created a geographic and cultural context made up of significant differences but also of numerous points of convergence. One of these is the attitude toward food: the Mediterranean peoples share a view of reality that identifies food as one of the essential components of their identity. It is not a matter of the sameness of the products consumed; to the contrary, they are rather diversified. It is instead the approach to food that is unique; an approach that attributes a central role in people’s lives to food and the moments of conviviality linked to food. This is, in other words, a combination of foods and types of relationships with food that is the basis of a durable cultural identity. Together with other factors (but no less a degree than the other factors), this identity helps to constitute the foundation of a rich and articulated system of sociability. As Claude Fischler, the French sociologist, recently pointed out, the Mediterranean approach to food—the so-called Mediterranean diet, understood here in the broader sense as an overall lifestyle and foodway—however now displays an unexpected degree of fragility. It is unexpected because in the past it was the Mediterranean diet more than any other that had proved capable of successfully assimilating elements of extraordinary novelty (think of the various New World foods, first and foremost the tomato) without losing its distinctive personality—indeed, being enriched by them. Secure in a clear and strong identity, the Mediterranean diet assimilated elements of innovation in a complementary manner, encouraging an even more complete structuring of the way of eating. Today, however, within the same Mediterranean countries the lifestyles and foodways of recent history tend to be lost very easily, giving way to nutritional habits, foodways, and approaches to eating that come from other traditions. Those traditions are often much less rich in terms of nutritional content as well as elements of sociability and significance. This seems to be happening to a much greater degree within regions that, more than others, once represented the select territories of the Mediterranean identity. What seems to be blocked is a strong mechanism for transmitting tradition. This exposes the people of the Mediterranean to the risk of losing a trove of knowledge and nutritional behaviors that are unrivalled on Earth.


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But before exploring ways to address this challenge, first let us attempt to clarify what we mean when we talk about the Mediterranean diet. 5.12 the salient characteristics of the mediterranean diet As discussed above, there are three principal culinary traditions in the world, each of them characterized by specific traits: the Mediterranean model, the North American model, and the Asian model (which contains a number of very important traditions and cultures, from the Japanese and the Vietnamese traditions to Chinese cuisine). We can describe the Mediterranean diet as the nutritional model inspired by the traditional dietary models of the European countries of the Mediterranean basin, in particular, Italy, Greece, southern France, Spain, and Portugal. This diet has spread widely outside of the borders of these countries and has been broadly adopted in South America (Argentina and Uruguay, in particular) and in certain areas of the United States of America and Canada. Many scientific studies have concluded that the Mediterranean diet is one of the best diets for promoting physical well-being and preventing chronic diseases, in particular cardiovascular diseases. the first intuition of the mediterranean diet. The concept of the Mediterranean diet was first developed in 1939 by Lorenzo Piroddi, a physician and nutritionist, who intuited the linkage between nutrition and diabetes, bulimia and obesity.11 Later, in the 1950s, Ancel Keys,12 a doctor and scientist at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Food Science and Nutrition, who later wrote the bestselling book Eat Well and Stay Well, the Mediterra‑ nean Way, spent time in Italy and noted a fact that at the time struck him as distinctly odd: the less well-to-do people (the so-called poor) of the small villages of southern Italy ate a diet mainly of bread, onions, and tomatoes—yet appeared to be much healthier than city-dwellers in New York, and even than their own relatives who had emigrated to the United States in previous years. In later studies, Keys observed a very low incidence of coronary disease among the inhabitants of the Cilento and the island of Crete and theorized that this situation was a result of the diet adopted in those areas. These early observations led to the renowned Seven Countries Study,13 based on a comparison of the diets of over 12,000 people, ranging in age from 40 to 59, in Finland, Japan, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, the United States, and the former Yugoslavia. From the findings of the Seven Countries Study, numerous associations were discovered between the kind of diet consumed and the risk of onset of chronic diseases.14 As seen in the findings, levels of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol

mediterranean constants

The balance in the makeup of the Mediterranean diet is represented in this traditional Turkish breakfast: tomatoes, olives, fresh cheese, cucumbers, bread, honey, and yogurt. Certain of these foods represent genuine “pillars” in the eating habits that are customary along the shores of the entire Mediterranean basin and in various combinations they characterize many moments of the daily relationship with food.


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in the blood largely explain the differences in mortality rates of the populations analyzed, as well as predicting the future their rates of coronary disease.15 Mortality due to heart attack is still lower among the Mediterranean populations than in countries, like Finland, where diets are rich in saturated fats (butter, lard, milk and milk products, and red meats). The final results of the Seven Countries Study indicated that the best dietary regimen was that followed by the inhabitants of Nicotera, in Calabria, and that they had adopted a Mediterranean way of eating. The population of Nicotera, Montegiorgio (Marche), and the inhabitants of the Campania region presented very low levels of blood cholesterol and a minimal percentage of coronary disease. These rates were due to a dietary regimen based on olive oil, bread and pasta, garlic, red onions, aromatic herbs, vegetables, and not much meat.16 more recent studies. From the first Seven Countries Study to today, a great many other research projects have analyzed the characteristics and the associations between ways of eating and onset of chronic diseases.17 Since the middle of the 1990s, moreover, a line of studies has been investigating the association between diet and longevity.18 What this work reveals is that the adoption of a Mediterranean diet, or one similar to it, helps protect against the most widespread chronic diseases, allowing people to live better and longer. As we indicated above, the Mediterranean dietary model calls for a high consumption of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, olive oil, and cereal grains (which in the past were mainly unrefined); moderate consumption of fish and dairy products (especially cheese and yogurt) and wine; and low consumption of red meat, white meat, and saturated fatty acids.19 The model is largely based upon an apparent paradox: The peoples that adopt the Mediterranean diet consume relatively high quantities of fats (levels similar to those consumed by people in the United States), but they have lower rates of cardiovascular disease than do other populations in North America. The explanation is that the large quantity of olive oil used in Mediterranean cuisine substitutes for animal fats, at least in part. In fact, olive oil seems to help to maintain lower levels of cholesterols. Aside from olive oil, cereal grains occupy a special place in the Mediterranean diet. Unlike what is commonly thought, cereal grains are not limited to bread and pasta; they also include barley, spelt, oats, rice, and corn. Unrefined cereal grains take on special prominence in the Mediterranean diet. These are different from refined cereal grains, which undergo the removal of the outside part of the kernel. This impoverishes the food in terms of its use as an alimentary fiber and other important components, such as minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants. The food customs that have spread over recent years have gradually excluded

This is mainly due to the presence of high quantities of fiber and water. rabbit) to red meat. Generally speaking. it is believed that the moderate consumption of red wine during meals (equivalent to two glasses a day for men and one glass for women. what to consume. on the other hand. . the Mediterranean diet tends to recommend more extensive consumption of fish than of meat. Legumes contain slow-absorption carbohydrates (low glycemic index) and substantial amounts of proteins mineral salts. The Mediterranean diet requires not only consuming fresh fruit on a daily basis (though in limited quantity) but also dried fruit. and mineral salts. essential fatty acids. there is a substantial intake of vitamin E. apparently reduces the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease in people who are already showing signs of cognitive difficulties. These foods contain essential vitamins (such as vitamin C) and contribute to a sense of fullness without adding many calories. Given the last characteristic.the mediterranean culture | food for culture 271 legumes from diets. On a cultural basis. they also show protective effects on the brain. Dried fruit contains very little water. fish could not help but be a major presence on Mediterranean dining tables. limited sugar. Last of all. Studies of the Mediterranean diet not only point to its effects in reducing chronic diseases. the standard recommendation is to consume at least five portions of fruits and vegetables every day. only moderate consumption is advisable. mineral salts and essential fatty acids such as omega-6. and food fiber. the Mediterranean diet lowers the rate of mortality from coronary disease by 50 percent. the lipidic components (fats) depend strongly on the animal the meat comes from. in order to live better. which increase the volume of the food but not its caloric content. however. to say nothing of the nutritional aspect. Rich in proteins. With reference to meat. turkey. The Mediterranean diet’s stress on fruits and vegetables is now well accepted in the international scientific community. precisely because the marine environment that did so much to shape and determine the history of Mediterranean countries lay right on their doorstep. people who adhere to it are less likely to suffer premature cognitive decline. according to a study done by the American Heart Association. their presence is fundamental. certain vitamins.20 In that connection. With dried fruit. as well as the part of the animal consumed. because of the antioxidants contained in alcoholic beverages. The Mediterranean diet. Fish has excellent quantities of protein. for instance. and some mineral salts. rather low levels of proteins. on the other hand. In the Mediterranean diet. vitamins. the Mediterranean diet tends to prefer white meat (chicken. moreover. in healthy individuals of normal weight) is another protective factor. and a substantial portion of fats.

the Sabbath meal of the Jews and the commemoration of the Last Supper performed by Christians in the Eucharist. this word means to eat at the same table (from the medieval Latin. Until very recent times. medical nutrition did not adequately take into account the social and cultural dimension of food and eating. in the United States. thinking of food and eating in terms of nutritious substances and choices of personal responsibility does not seem to be sufficiently helpful. And in the monotheistic religions that grew in the Mediterranean world. calories. or messmates. with an essentially social (public) dimension. eating has become an increasingly individualized and medicalized act. A great many of the efforts to improve the general level of nutrition are based on the implicit presumption that simply giving information about nutritious substances. However. and to a certain extent in Great Britain. commensalis. A key feature of that lifestyle—in fact. the formal meal and its rules acquired a high degree of ritualization and symbolic significance (for instance. or table). But in several of the cultures that developed around the Mediterranean basin it acquired a greater degree of institutionalization and political significance. of human evolution—is commensality. in contrast. in the wake of the sacrificial banquet. Commensality is not specifically Mediterranean. It is considered a form of private consumption.13 the mediterranean diet and commensality When we think about the Mediterranean diet. toward individual and medical consumption. but also and especially to the lifestyle associated with it. to their . on another. In Italy or in France. In the broader sense it conveys the idea of habitually sharing food.21 In the literal sense.272 eating planet 5. commensality ought to be considered a fundamental concept and become the subject of research in the field of diet and nutrition. the act of eating rotates to a greater degree around the appointed hours of the meals and commensality. The Mediterranean cultures that eat best are those that seem to devote the greatest attention to the foods as opposed to the nutritious substances. in some cases implying the dependence of one or more of the commensals. we are not referring only to its composition. Recent comparative research projects have shown that inside the Western world there are surprising differences between countries with relatively similar levels of development as far as the models concerning the act of eating and the relationship with food in general. some of the nations that preserve traditions of commensality seem to have better diet and nutrition in terms of obesity and correlated health problems. public meals in fact became an essential factor in the development of Athenian democracy. For instance. and physical exercise to individuals should be enough to optimize their behavior. On the other hand. or communion). In fact. from con‑dividere + mensa. which in turn contributed to crucial further developments. Historians have shown that.

that is. The great German sociologist Max Weber wrote about the disenchantment (Entzauberung) of the world associated with advent of modernity: where food has become disenchanted. since Keys’s first study. and personal choices. and correlated pathologies are most common not in the areas where food and eating are considered important daily social occasions. not just the nutritious value and health.9 in 1991. a gradual abandonment of the Mediterranean approach to food in favor of less-healthy ways of eating. and to the sacral importance of food.44. so to speak. Overweight and obesity in Italy and Spain seem to correlate with the abandonment of the Mediterranean diet. who thoroughly investigated the state of affairs in Italy beginning in the Sixties)22 have shown that the index of Mediterranean adequacy in two Italian cities that have been symbolic in this context has dropped drastically: in Nicotera that index was 7. it fell to 3. always available for consumption. of which 76 percent are eaten at home and 24 percent are eaten . Italy included. but rather in those areas where food is pervasive. In Montegiorgio. thoughtlessly or indifferently.23 A study presented in July 2009 by the Italian Association for Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition (Associazione italiana di dietetica e nutrizione clinica) and by the Nutritional Observatory of Grana Padano (Osservatorio nutrizionale Grana Padano) confirms the trend: in Italy in general. In recent years European society. 5. have changed from a number of points of view. trivialized. we ought to turn to the quality and the world of “Mediterraneity” in order that it might help us to re-enchant it. And vice versa: obesity. cheap. The results of the studies by Flaminio Fidanza (one of the pioneers in food and nutrition research. at any time—in short. Every day in Italy about 105 million meals are consumed.the mediterranean culture | food for culture 273 origin. as well. not just the maintenance of the body. we have witnessed all over the Mediterranean region. not just their makeup. responsibility. and deprived. diabetes. and specifically Italian society.2 in 1960 but dropped to 2.14 mediterraneity today: the decline of a model From the 1950s to the present day. of its sacrality. where food is commodified.6 in 1965. to the total quality. A recent study done on Spanish and Italian diets24 noted that the younger generations have seemed to be gradually but steadily abandoning the Mediterranean diet in favor of new eating trends characterized by foods with high fat content. The abandonment of the Mediterranean diet appears to be unmistakable in the larger Italian cities. to the social occasions in which the foods are consumed. the index of Mediterranean adequacy has dropped to 1. stripped of all meaning.2 in 1991. where the index had been 5. of also of poor quality. not just its quotidian aspects. as well as with a reduction in physical activity.

Base: 99. that 11 percent are “lunch on the run” and 5 percent are the “catch-up lunch.5 million meals consumed daily away from home are lunches. . Observing the breakdown by method of the meals eaten every day in Italy (aside from the prevalence of the “normal” lunches and dinners) we see.274 eating planet Late morning meal Lunch on the run Normal lunch Make‑up lunch 1% 1% 3% 3% 1% Total At home Away from home 11 % 46 % 46 % 48 % 2% 1% 1% 0% 2% 1% 1% 2% 5% Aperitif Dinner on the run Normal dinner 44 % 27 % 1% 1% 3% 1% 1% 1% 49 % Late dinner Dinner late at night figure 5. 16 percent with friends and colleagues. Source: BCFN on Nielsen-Barilla data. Sixtyseven percent of the 25. and only in 30 percent of all cases are those lunches eaten between one and two o’clock in the afternoon (figure 5.” Lunches eaten in less than 10 minutes account for 9 percent of the total number of lunches eaten away from home. 2009.25 On an aggregate level lunches (53 percent) outnumber dinners (47 percent) while 71 percent of the meals are consumed with one’s family. away from home.000 meals analyzed. and 16 percent are eaten alone. 105 million meals daily.1). among the meals consumed away from home.1 Breakdown of the 105 million meals consumed daily in Italy by mode of consumption Note: Data expressed in %.

.eating on the street Street food has become the object of new appreciation for its flavor. But eating street food is also one of the most universal ways of experiencing a place. diversity. and link with local cultures.

especially the tendency to assign meaning and significance to eating that rise above the merely nutritional or functional aspects.2 Distribution of preparation time for meals at home and away from home Note: Data expressed in %. 14 percent of the meals eaten away from home were eaten standing up.2. The result is that the time and the quality of the space devoted to nutrition over the course of the day is more and more squeezed in among the other daily commitments of individuals who increasingly find themselves obliged to sacrifice the quality of their own nutrition. The picture drawn by these data seems to be fairly clear: the pace of Italian life is accelerating and the way of eating is progressively following this trend. but not at a table. Moreover.” or pasta or soup dishes (41 percent) and main entrees (42 percent). with one million “primi piatti” consumed away from home every day (for the most part in bars and cafeterias). 2009. shows a greater degree of variety. while 15 percent of those meals were eaten sitting down. on the other hand. But it is . they are predominantly “primi piatti. Base: 80 million meals at home daily.276 eating planet Less than 10 minutes From 10 to 20 minutes From 20 to 30 minutes From 30 minutes to 1 hour From 1 to 2 hours More than 2 hours 5% 4% Total 9% 29 % 30 % 39 % 28 % 22 % 22 % 22 % At home Away from home 26 % 42 % 4% 2% 1% 0% 10 % 4% figure 5. As for the meals eaten away from home. represent a cultural patrimony that still endures in Italian society despite the pressure to which individual lifestyles are subject. as can be seen in figure 5. Source: BCFN on Nielsen-Barilla data. The distinctive features and traits of Mediterraneity. The composition of the meals eaten at home.

the mediterranean culture | food for culture 277 increasingly difficult to reconcile Mediterraneity with a reality that makes its practice more and more challenging. on the one hand. The statistics shown have to do with Italy. among other things. and Poland (49 percent). is the emergence of a meaningful fracture between ideal dietary choices and actual everyday practice. Italy is below the European average. In fact. the number of people who have difficulty eating in a healthy manner is pretty high in countries such as Hungary (54 percent). 59 percent of European citizens believe that a diet composed of a wide variety of foods and including significant consumption of fruit and vegetables meets the needs of healthy nutrition.3). The lifestyle of European citizens seems to be the chief obstacle to their eating . but they correspond to the figures for Europe as well. people report it seems fairly easy to adopt a healthy diet in countries such as the Netherlands (79 percent). if we broaden our view to include sociopolitical context of the entire European Union—which. and this is the most worrisome datum. and Malta (77 percent). Slovakia (52 percent). What appears most significant. although it only partly shares the larger cultural tradition mentioned here. However. is undergoing social changes parallel to those seen in Italy—we observe the same tendency toward a fluidity and a social movement that are structurally modifying the customs established over time. Well aware of the importance of the makeup of diet. Specifically. the challenges of adopting a balanced diet. the same productivist paradigm that is now sweeping other areas of Earth (this is demonstrated. A survey undertaken by Eurobarometer for the European Commission in 2006 of the nutritional habits of the citizens residing in the twenty-five European countries27 revealed that the majority of European citizens believe that eating in a healthy way means adopting a balanced diet made up of a variety of foods. While. Some European citizens (about one out of four) are also aware that excessive consumption of fats and sugars is not healthy and should therefore be avoided (figure 5. however. it tends to affirm itself over time. on the other hand it is clear that certain values typical of Mediterraneity have by now permeated the entire continent. While awareness of the importance of good nutrition to overall well-being is rising. On the other hand. despite the fact that most European citizens say they follow a healthy diet. the vast majority of European citizens (83 percent of the total) say they are conscious of the crucial significance of what they eat for their own physical well-being. with 57 percent of respondents who believe that it is easy to eat in a healthy manner as against the 66 percent of the EU25 average. actually practicing those values is becoming increasingly difficult. Sweden (77 percent). by the growing number of people afflicted with diseases directly linked to overweight and all obesity26).

two principal factors hinder that possibility: the excessive amount of time required for the selection and preparation of a meal (31 percent of respondents).3 What does it mean to follow a healthy diet? Source: The European House-Ambrosetti on Eurobarometro data.278 eating planet Eat a variety of different foods/balanced diet Eat more fruit and vegetables Avoid/do not eat too much fatty food Avoid/do not eat too much sugary food Eat more fish Do not eat too many calories Avoid/do not eat too much salt Eat less meat Avoid/do not eat food containing additives Eat organic food Eat more bread. What is lacking is a means of cultural mediation that makes it possible to translate in a natural way what is already known and acknowledged by scien- . rice. According to the survey. 2006. A third significant reason expressed is the idea that healthy food isn’t particularly tasty (23 percent). Twelve percent also report a lack of information concerning what constitutes a healthy diet and 15 percent complain about the confusing and contradictory information accompanying foodstuffs. But it also confirms the difficulty of translating that awareness into concrete forms of behavior. pasta and other carbohydrates Eat more meat Eat less fruit and vegetables Eat less fish Other DK 8% 8% 7% 3% 2% 1% 11 % 2% 28 % 25 % 22 % 19 % 16 % 13 % 45 % 59 % 58 % figure 5. the Eurobarometer survey seems to indicate an increasingly widespread awareness of the importance of diet and nutrition in terms of a healthy. in a healthy and nutritious manner. pasta and other carbohydrates Eat less bread. and the inability to supervise the foods consumed because they were purchased or prepared by someone else (27 percent). full life. rice. In conclusion.

street food and extreme climates Bangkok. a food stand continues selling to customers. More than two months of incessant rain did not stop clients or vendors. . November 2011: with water knee‑high. Thailand.

We are not suggesting that food become an obsession or a tedious task but. • protect local territorial variety by preserving the wealth of identities (while still encouraging cross-fertilizations). . What should the most significant dimensions of this movement be? The topic is complex and deserves to be explored at much great length than we have here. more beautiful. This original theme has always constituted the heart of the Mediterranean approach to diet and nutrition. distinctive qualities. should be to make the time we spend eating less predictable and banal.) What emerges from these observations is a clear indication of the challenge facing us. a path toward the rediscovery of oneself and others. It will be decided on the good practices that will make it possible to attribute a value and a meaning to food. • transfer the knowledge and know-how linked to the preparation of foods. within the context of time devoted to caring for oneself as a person. what seems to be progressively vanishing in many countries is a balanced relationship with food. and territorial localization. and more attractive— attractive because it will become the vehicle of a conviviality. We shall therefore limit ourselves to suggesting two ideas that.280 eating planet tific nutrition about sound dietary practices into proper behavior. of an aesthetic taste that we sometimes have a hard time expressing in a daily life that is punctuated by frenetic rhythms. and superficiality. The first has to do with the capacity of the agro-alimentary industry to put itself at the service of some fundamental dynamics of Mediterraneity (explored in greater depth in the insert “Redirecting the Future of Food”): • make the best possible use of the rich and diverse resource of conviviality. in this era of ours that is so impoverished in terms of relationships. The battle for good nutrition depends upon and can only be won on the field of behavior. in our opinion. in this connection. (Just consider. and therefore more immediate and intense. If this belief is well-founded—that culture is the primary tool in the attempt to win back a portion of daily reality from merely economic and productive concerns—then the problem arises of how to redirect concrete terms—the future of nutrition. anxiety. a measured use of time. they are extraordinary deposits of cultural wealth. 5. then.15 how to recover the significance of mediterraneity Aside from the loss of nutritional value. thus reinforcing the emotional capital invested in roots. even before it is fought in the realm of the choice of foods. while at the same time emphasizing the aspects that are humanly universal. are decisive. the Food Pyramid—universally known for the past 30 years. but never so seldom applied in the world as it is today. quite to the contrary. The objective.

to forge a great pact among all the actors of the world of nutrition and food. • recover the flavors of bygone times to preserve the best of gastronomic traditions and seek to renew and reinterpret them creatively in the context of contemporary tastes. The second significant element is bound up with the method of activating the process of change. It is necessary. • restore the value of food as a medium for a fertile relationship between the generations. • return to a healthy relationship with the territory and the context of the raw . to this end. an alliance. • last of all. which while it preserves the typical character of competition in the relationships between the various players in a single sector. to promote the construction (and reconstruction) of a social fabric that is steadily weakening under the pressure of modernity. The scale of the challenge—to educate the populace to a new dietary ecology—is so great that it demands an ability to intervene that is well beyond the power of the individual actors. the environment.the mediterranean culture | food for culture 281 food materials that go into a cuisine. Revitalizing the magic and astonishment of food in its rituals and its carefree pleasure—as the fuel of life and culture—allows a renewed centrality to the role played by people and their feelings. including the public institutions— nowadays increasingly concerned about the devastating consequences of the improper dietary choices being carried out by their citizens—in order to reorient lifestyles and ways of eating toward modes of consumption that are more sustainable in terms of health. An exquisitely Mediterranean nutritional paradigm. makes it possible to undertake cooperative games intended to promote a new dietary paradigm—in the hope that one day in the not too distant future it may become dominant. spread the culture of taste and the enjoyment of life through authentic food. and an intact social structure. in the simplicity and clarity of its benefits. establishing a direct and respectful link with the context in which the raw materials develop. aiming at the excellence of the ingredients. A concerted effort will be required.

and global in nature. What are the priorities for undertaking a sustainable develop‑ ment that will include all countries. Which are the chief actors who can undertake development in this direction: the local governments. the partial deforestation of certain zones of the Amazon. but it is wrong to think that it has to begin in those countries: it is we who need to change our habits. Naturally. This strikes me as the first aspect: it is necessary to state the problem in truly global terms. and not only the more advanced countries? To find the solution to a problem. in more general terms. Joaquín Navarro-Valls h as been president of the Telecom Italia Foundation since January 2009 and has been president of the Advisory Board Biomedical University of Rome since January 2007. in terms of responsibility as well. the universities. geopolitical. but a globalization that instead begins to include us. Since 1996 he has been a visiting professor at the school of Social Institutional Communication at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. a sense of responsibility is always individual. Until we realize that the problems of mankind in general must be solved with the sense of responsibility of people themselves and we stop handing it off to others. Rome. any decision that can affect the habits of human beings must be based not on national or supranational considerations. Every time I go there with the mentality of sustainable development. From 1984 to 2006 he was Director of the Holy See Press Office (or Vatican Press Office). we will never solve this kind of problem. the first thing is to state the problem itself correctly. I’ve been in Africa many times and I’ve visited nearly every African country (North-Saharan and SubSaharan). We can decide to solve a problem that we do not want to take on ourselves by dumping upon developing nations the responsibility for that problem and the corresponding measures. but on something called a sense of responsibility. but it can be created and fostered with aid that is political. the NGOs. I say this because it is very easy for us in the west to criticize. Not a globalization that excludes us.282 eating planet interview we must construct a culture of responsibility Joaquín Navarro‑Valls There are problems on a worldwide level that never seem to find resolution: we are referring to world hunger and. A badly formulated problem will never find a solution. the international institutions. for example. the research centers? Who should be the first to move? From my point of view. . The problem of sustainability is one that we created ourselves—the developed nations—not the developing nations. the development of the poorer nations.

the only thing is that they are not changing as the result of any free decisions. collective responsibility.) then it will be difficult to “produce” a better future.interviews | food for culture 283 The solution to global problems always demands a multidisciplinary approach. who knows that situation and who can explain it in a process of educational development. I can say what I hope. then selfishness breeds chaos. Now. cultural. Only responsibility can lead us out of chaos. therefore an approach that takes into account economic. humanity in general: it’s always the same thing. and also environmental problems. Perhaps we have not done enough because we are not placed face to face with the responsibility that I was talking about earlier. To educate a person. social responsibility. Can politicians and institutions manage to adopt this type of approach? From my point of view. imagining it is impossible. and therefore collective responsibility. if the prevailing interest is selfish in nature. As an opinion leader. . social. from that point of view. This however is a form of education that must begin with us. to reiterate the question. This is the crux of the matter. and on the basis of your experience and your own observa‑ tions. the only way forward is through education. more than formulating any prophecy for tomorrow. I see no other solution. Many habits in the developed western world must change. continues to grow. it strikes me that we haven’t done enough. I hope that the process of taking on individual responsibility. If we forget this. If we lose our sense of personal responsibility (individual responsibility. and in fact in many places they already are changing. etc. in this problem and in others like it. it strikes me that the only way forward is education. I’m talking about the developed western world in relation to the developing nations. but rather as an anguished necessity because things can’t keep going on as they are. a geographic area. However. what do you expect from the coming years? Building the future is never a simple thing. there must be someone who is doing the teaching. In order to acquaint a person with a situation.

because small farms produce more. She has also served as an adviser to the Indian government and for foreign governments. destroying the Earth. Latin America. If we start imitating the large scale industrial corporate farming of the West. And non-food becomes junk food and junk food creates all kinds of diseases. to prevent the problem getting worse? Well. destroying our farmers. the climate damaged—soil losing fertility—are all interconnected. biodiversity disappearing. The second thing we need to do because developing countries happen to lie in the part of the world that has higher bio-diversity. Vandana Shiva is the founder of Navdanya. And the large majority of people in our countries. So of the one billion people who are hungry. We need to have respect for the land. And we need to treat our small farmers as our social capital. They can push species to extinction. a movement for the conservation of biodiversity and to protect the rights of farmers. 500 million are producers of food. Not financial loans from banks that are going to take away your land down the line. Africa for sure. That’s also the same system that is able to exploit water because it doesn’t have to bear the cost. what approach should developing countries take towards agriculture. and the planet sick—water disappearing. They can put 40% of the greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that gives us climate change. even China and India. we will not only destroy our farmers. So profits lead to destroying food. Not technologies that are already failing us like genetic engineering. it forgets the nutrition of people and puts at the center profits from extraction. Technology and Natural Resource Policy. Women’s Environment and Development Organization. for sure. as well as for such NGOs as the International Forum on Globalization. That means small farmers can’t feed themselves because they are now part of the new dispossessed. Or if they are farming they’re indebted and they are selling what they grow.284 eating planet interview whoever controls food controls democracy Vandana Shiva The one billion people starving and the two billion people sick. And they are interconnected in a model of farming that forgets the nutrition of the soil. for our farmers. She is the founder and director of the Research Foundation for Science. we will destroy our food security. and Third World Network. Given this. are small farmers. I think the most important point is that so-called developing countries are called developing because we weren’t industrialized in the first industrial revolution. And a system that forgets that food is about nourishment then produces non-food. destroying our health. . we need to recognize that nature’s capital of bio-diversity is real capital. whose mission is to solve the most serious social and economic problems in collaboration with local communities and social movements. Obsession with profits.

Man as a violent conqueror of the Earth and people. That neither the Green Revolution. First. when we talk about the long history of agriculture which did not starve people. it means being much more aware of what you’re eating and how it is grown. The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge. the diversity. Science and Technology for Development. Ecological farming very often linked and growing out of indigenous knowledge systems is the place to increase your production while conserving your resources. the multifunctionality that women bring to agriculture. That model has become too heavy for the food system. taking away the democracy of people worldwide to choose the food they grow and to know what’s in the food. You once said that whoever controls our food system will control our democracy as well. taking away the democracy of the third world farmer to have their own seed. He said when you control weapons. When you control the food you control people. therefore the defense of the small farm and therefore stopping the perverse subsidies of 400 billion dollars that give industrial farming an unfair benefit to prosper. which did not create obesity. you control governments and armies. The second thing is that the agriculture that is creating all these problems for a billion hungry people. Do you think that in this process women have a specific role? Women have a specific role for two reasons. food is being controlled through control of seeds. so that we learn once again how to give respect to food. that long history was an agriculture and food in which women had the knowledge and control. Agri-chemicals came out of war. Having the ability to grow your own food. It came out of war. Food democracy in our times means having seed sovereignty and seed freedom. which did not give us diabetes epidemics. Monsanto has emerged as the single biggest player on the seed front. 2 billion obese. In today’s context.interviews | food for culture 285 and for the knowledge that has been older and more time-tested in agriculture. Therefore no patents on seed. nor genetic engineering are food security solutions. That means democracy begins with food. . And third. What do you mean. And it has its roots in what I call the patriarchal mindset of man as dominator. at one level it is what Kissinger said when he talked about food as a weapon. And sadly the US government which has made itself extremely impoverished by outsourcing all its production. That is what the IAASTD report has pointed out. can you explain better? Well. We need the non-violence. is now only collecting royalties from patented seed. So we need to turn to women to say how do we feed people with nourishment? That’s why in Navdanya we run a Grandmothers’ university. is an agriculture that has its roots in war.

The on-going industrial food system dynamic is driven including: Food Wars: The by consumerism—that is.29 But the consumer culture food war is not simply between the mainstream and alternatives. So food processors work to sell their branded product dreams. tures”.30 Instead much modern food and nutrition policy (and business language) is all about framing consumers through a market-led “consumer choice” lens—in this sense “choice” defines consumer culture. consumer marketing industries. The Mediterranean model is competing with all these consumer and societal influences. A late entry into this food cultural melee are farmers who are attempting to inject their imagery into this consumer cultural mix with an appeal to the “natural”. foodservice operators lure consumers to their food offerings through strategies that owe more to the entertainment industries than food— a trend termed “eatertainment” in the United States—and the supermarkets try to outdo both. the global food industry and food culture war framed as a conflict within the future of food policies. He specializes be situated within this broader context which sees today’s in food and health. hugely sophisHealthy Profits? (2001) ticated.286 eating planet the consumer culture war and the food system: what does this mean for the mediterranean model? Michael Heasman The traditional Mediterranean model to eating could be a potential roadmap towards a different diet and food system. He has writfood consumerism itself.28 The impact of the Mediterranean model has to London. Within the mainstream a struggle is also underway to shape consumer culture towards particular interests. chase goods and services in even greater amounts and the with Professor Tim Lang). This “food system” continues to shape and influence Visiting Research Fellow food consumption patterns and hence consumer food “culat the Centre for Food Policy. not least through creating a model for constructing Michael Heasman is a a “sustainable diet”—that is. creating the desire to purGlobal Battle for Mouths. production model and its accompanying. Increasingly all of these players attempt to convince consumers of their sustainability and environmental credentials. So an important task is for societies to reclaim their narratives relevant to their food . appears to be the only option available. City University. mechanisms to activate this. In this respect the industrial The Functional Foods Revolution: Healthy People. But the current food system is rooted in the and Health at the Metroindustrial food model and its resulting consumer food culpolitan University College di Copenhagen and he is a ture. ten more than 90 publications or presentations. one that enables an ecologiprofessor of food policy in cally integrated food system from production through to the bachelor’s degree program in Global Nutrition consumption. so that this model World of Food (1996). While food consumer culture is important it is rarely mentioned in nutrition and food policy documents. are designed to and Consumption in the Age of Affluence: The push this consumption agenda forward. Minds and Markets (2004.

While global olive oil production is still concentrated in the Mediterranean region just three countries are dominant: Greece. In a globalizing world. But Scheidel and Krausmann also document some of the consequences of . gastronomy. But in other ways the modern global consumer culture offers possibilities for the Mediterranean model. In this manner the modern globalizing food system relies as much on breaking down and reinventing food cultures as it does on breaking down the chemical and nutrient components of foodstuffs and ingredients and reassembling them into branded consumer food products with new marketing stories about their “naturalness” and “healthiness” and “provenance”. Italy and Spain. As a result the diet of Mediterranean countries today relies more on both sugars and saturated fat and childhood obesity rates are now higher in some Mediterranean countries than compared to northern Europe. As importantly the Mediterranean consumer culture itself has started to succumb to globalizing and industrializing dietary tendencies. Food traditions and heritage need careful nurturing to remain authentic in the brutally competitive consumer culture war around food.interviews | food for culture 287 cultures. and ecological framing—and instead been turned into a package of nutrients which in the right combinations will prevent individual heart attacks and other diet-related ill-health. cuisines have opened up or created new consumer markets and introduced new eating possibilities for people that were unheard of for earlier generations.32 Some of these societal and cultural trends can be identified through following the olive oil food system in recent years. diet.31 established on plant-based foods with little meat and dairy—almost the opposite to the modernizing trends in global food markets which are seeing increasing promotion of meat and dairy product consumption. Consumers in European Mediterranean countries have also moved away from traditional Mediterranean diets and foodstuffs in recent decades. as is well known. And the Mediterranean diet itself has not been immune from this process. In some instances the Mediterranean diet has itself become “medicalised”— stripped of its cultural heritage. For example. as posing a threat to the industrial food system. But promotional campaigns for the “healthy Mediterranean diet” especially from the 1980s onwards and devised and promoted by production interests. our bodies and health. It is a diet. at the same time. the Mediterranean “model” might be regarded as both under threat and. In a study of the olive oil systems between 1972-2003 by Armin Scheidel and Fridolin Krausmann33 they demonstrate how olive oil developed from a niche product that could hardly be found in food stores outside of the producing regions towards an integrated component in the diets of industrial countries. saw increased demand in non-traditional markets—such as northern European countries—with a more than 10 food increase. Until relatively recently olive oil markets were predominantly for local consumption.

First. industrial olive groves expanded primarily into agricultural land with high quality soils. whereas consumer choice itself embraces a much more complex set of demands and aspirations. This intensification has been especially pronounced in Andalusia. As Scheidel and Krausmann write: “While traditionally rain fed olive trees were grown mainly on marginal soils. in food. food economies. The case of olive oil also serves as a lesson in how it is often difficult for consumers in a globalized food system to connect to the environmental consequences of their consumption patterns. mono-cultural production plantations were set up which rely upon irrigation systems.” The growth in olive oil consumption has therefore had profound ecological impacts leading to a structural transformation of Mediterranean landscapes. Spain. agro-chemicals and mechanization. and even choice is limited to macro-issues such as price and convenience. . This has enabled much higher productivity and modernization of industrial processes.34 Increasingly. in addition to public health and nutrition. Many of these were abandoned and modern.288 eating planet these production-consumption changes. As noted from the olive oil case study. intensive. In the food policy world there has been a reluctance to confront the true scope of consumer culture—all too often consumer culture is reduced to “choice”. consumption patterns. The Mediterranean diet when set in the context of the industrial food consumer culture war raises many questions about its implementation as a potential new “model” for a healthier and sustainable diet. for local food systems and global consumers. some of the downstream production implications may be unexpected and not necessarily desirable over the longer-term and the consumption impact in relation to public health objectives might be minimal. From such a perspective we have to ask (and provide answers if we are serious) about what would be the impact of its large-scale adaptation on agricultural practices. but has also meant major structural changes in land use. is the impact on local and traditional Mediterranean olive groves. both health and ecological principles together are key consumer concerns and a repositioning of an authentic Mediterranean diet seems well placed to reconnect with these concerns and aspirations. This then raises the question of how to internationalize the Mediterranean model in a culturally appropriate way.

and the recovery of traditional flavors capable of being renewed in the context of contemporary tastes. including the public institutions—now increasingly worried about the devastating consequences of the mistaken nutritional choices being made by their own citizens—to redirect the lifestyles and ways of eating toward forms of consumption that are more sustainable in terms of health. the return to a healthy relationship with the territory and with the context of the raw material by focusing on the excellence of the ingredients. and an intact social structure. The scale of the challenge is such that it demands a capacity for intervention that rises above the power of the individual operators. it becomes capable of implementing cooperative games aimed at the promotion of a new nutritional and dietary paradigms. the transfer of knowledge and know-how tied up in the preparation of foods. such that. . an alliance among diverse subjects. taste. What’s involved is the revitalization of the aspects of conviviality. teach a new ecology of food We must establish a grand overriding pact among all the actors of the world of food. through a critical operation that allows us to preserve the best of the gastronomic tradition. while still preserving the distinctive characteristic of competition in the relationship among players in a single sector. and joy of living bound up with food We need to bring back to life a number of fundamental dynamics typical of the gastronomic cultures that are most keenly aware of the link between food and person. What is needed is a concerted effort. the protection of local territorial variety by preserving the wealth of identities.action plan | food for culture 289 action plan culture. the environment. such as the Mediterranean gastronomic culture.

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9 Winne. U.” 19 The standard deviation. “The State of Food Insecurity in the World”.co.” Indian Express.C. to achieve consistency with FAO estimates for 2010 on the number of undernourished people in the world. It measures the amount of variability of one group of data or one causal variable. FAO. diets. Lobell. International Data Base. For an explanation of volatility. “The 2011 World Food Prize Laureates.920. Michael M. Census Bureau. FAO. George W. Rose Garden. “Russia Wheat Ban Worked”. “Climate Trends and Global Crop Production Since 1980”. This agency estimated that the world population as of 22 March 2011 was 6. Statistics Division. 2009. Wolfram Schlenker. October 2007. Justin Costa-Roberts. Standard deviation measures the dispersal of data around an expected . at http://www. Rising Global Interest in Farmland: Can it Yield Sustainable and Equitable Ben‑ efits?. Enfield: Publishers Group UK [distributor] 2009. Testimony of Michael W. Press Conference by The President. Masters. White House. 4 5 6 7 Worthy. Bush. David B. and social inequalities”. or typical displacement. World Bank. The data shown in the figure above related to the last two years. Science. Lex.cfm?nodeID=33367&audienceID=1. 67 Suppl 1:S36-9. 2008. Financial Times. The World Food Prize.worldfoodprize. or average quadratic displacement is an index of dispersion in experimental measurements. food for all 1 2 3 86 www. “Obesity. Washington DC.: World Bank 2010. March 2011. Washington DC. Washington D.907. 29 april.. March 2011.indianexpress. Holt-Giménez. A. 5 august 2009. Drewnowski. Masters. Boston. Nutrition reviews.373. 2011. based on FAO estimates using the Food Security Model of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).food for all | notes 299 “NAC Draft Food Bill: PDS Gets Legal Backing & Eminent 7 June 2011. World Development Report 2008 “Agriculture Center Development”.S.. Mass. London: World Development Movement 2011. update of 22 March 2011. Raj Patel. That datum was calculated by using the world population figure as of 31 December 2010.. 13 14 15 16 17 18 12 11 10 FAO. viewed 4 November 2011. 31 may 2011. 2009. March 2011. Statistics Division. Murray. Food Rebellions! Crisis and the hunger for justice. Closing the food gap: resetting the table in the land of plenty. 2010. Mark.” at http:// Statistics Division. 8 World Bank. Oxford: Beacon. Broken markets: How financial market regulation can help prevent another global food crisis.. FAO. Eric. It is important to underscore that the estimate is burdened by statistical gaps because of the lack of updated and homogenous data on malnutrition in the world. please see the section entitled “A New Emergency: the Dramatic Instability in Food Prices.

usually one year. the Legambiente Urban Ecosystem report. or other units. the OECD. it is the principal indicator for assessing the performance of a country or region over time. 28 “Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. 20 This weather phenomenon in the Central Pacific Ocean recurs between December and January. The yield of cereals. 26 27 The Italian representative was Enrico Giovannini. and the Club of Rome (www. corn. In Italy the Enrico Mattei Foundation has published its 15th edition of the FEEM index (www. the unit of measurement of which is the square of the unit of the reference values. because they benefit from exceptions (or loopholes) in the MIFID (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive) and the MAD (Market Abuse Directive). American economist. rice. every five years on average. the following may be cited: 24 25 • The Measure of Economic Welfare (MEW) by William Nordhaus and James Tobin • The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) by the Redefining Progress Institute • The Index of Economic Well-being (IEWB) by the Centre for the Study of Living Standards • The Index of Social Health (ISH) by Fordham University • The Index of Living Standards (ILS) by the Fraser Institute • The Human Development Index (HDI) by the United Nations Development Program • The Quality of Life Index (QOL) by Ed Diener of the University of Illinois • The Index of Social Progress (ISP) by Richard Estes of the University of Pennsylvania • The BC Stats Index of Regional Indicators • The Oregon Benchmarks by the Oregon Progress Board The WWF has also launched a “Beyond GDP” track working with the European Parliament. drought. Professor Fitoussi was a member of the Advisory Board of the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition. are the most seriously hit. it allows comparisons across space and time between different countries. Generally. the quality of life index of the newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore. unlike variance. regions. with a variable periodicity of three to seven years. and other disturbances.beyond-gdp. it is the first indicator used to diagnose an economic or social situation and to compare different contexts. the scientific authority for the construction of the BCFN Index of Well-being. At the international level. feemsi. 21 Currently. president of ISTAT. in kilograms per hectare.” 14 September 2009. the quality of life study by the magazine Italia Oggi. Developing countries that depend heavily on agriculture and fishing. based on an aggregation of variables that consider the social and environmental sustainability of development. millet. rye. oats. includes: wheat. some European operators on the physical market and some derivatives on commodities are not subject to oversight or regulation. drawn up in collaboration with Ambiente Italia and Il Sole 24 especially those on the Pacific Rim. and it has the same unit of measurement as the observed values. the European Commission. .org). As a growth rate. sorghum. which differ each time. When converted to a population GDP (GDP per capita). Nobel Prize for economics. and mixed cereals. Professor of Economics and Chair of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris and Chair of the Observatoire Français des Conjonctures Economiques. 23 22 The GDP is the market value of all goods and services produced in a country over a particular period of time. buckwheat. barley. It causes flooding.300 eating planet value.

Factbook 2010. The carbon footprint expresses the total amount of GHG (greenhouse gases) that represent those substances present in the atmosphere. 5 6 7 The ecological footprint measures the biologically productive area of sea and land that is necessary to regenerate the resources consumed by a human population as well as to absorb the corresponding waste products. La misurazione del benessere delle persone: il BCFN Index (2010) e La misurazione del benessere delle persone: il BCFN Index (2011). “Agricultural Outlook 2011-2020”. Previously. The water footprint represents the water consumption tied to the production of goods and services. 5-7 September 2011. Paris. IPM = Integrated Pest Management. which involves an evaluation of all the phases of a productive process. 4 FAO/OECD “Expert Meeting on Greening the Economy with Agriculture”. 1990). by the atmosphere. 10 11 “Save and grow—A policymaker’s guide to the sustainable intensification of smallholder crop production. 12 13 The LEI (low external input) model of agricultural production utilizes roughly 35 percent more work per hectare of land farmed than an HEI (high external input) model. 3. the yield of each type of model of production depends on the economic. For the purposes . 8 9 This represents the quantity of grain corn produced in the harvest per unit of nitrogen distributed in the tillage of durum wheat.” FAO. People reporting various positive and negative experiences. 2005). OECD-FAO. and 5 percent to domestic consumption. and environmental context in which it is applied.” IIASA and FAO (2010). Even though numerous studies indicate that HEI generally has relatively better yields (Badgley et al. from the acquisition of the raw materials until the end of its life (“from cradle to grave”). 10 percent to industrial production. both natural and anthropic in nature. updated to the prices of March 2011) and the cost of production of the crops.. see also “Global Agro-Ecological Zone Assessment input for sustainable growth | notes 301 29 30 OECD. 2 3 1 FAO. food for sustainable growth “Food production that makes the best use of nature’s goods and services while not damaging these assets” (Pretty. the infrared radiation emitted by the earth’s surface. as correlated and dependent. This represents the difference between the GMP (gross marketable production. to a substantial extent. and by the clouds. BCFN. The LCA method is an objective method of evaluation and quantification of the energy and environmental loads and the potential impacts associated with a product/process/activity throughout its entire life cycle. social. 2011. 2007. Stanhill. The importance of this technique is due to its innovative approach. Roughly 85 percent of the human water footprint is linked to agricultural (and animal) production. 14 The difference in yield between HEI and LEI is a topic that is still being extensively discussed. LEI agriculture utilizes roughly 50 percent less energy per hectare than an HEI model. that are transparent to the solar radiation reaching the earth but which are able to contain. 2008.

Virtual Water. the International Agency for Research on Cancer. the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. see the FAO/OECD study: “Food Availability and natural resource use in a green economy context”. 6 7 8 9 10 11 We considered: for cardiovascular diseases.. Taylor H. 2003.. Aravanis C. 2009. for tumors. “Health & the EU Lisbon Agenda—High Returns on Health Investment. the American Cancer Association. Costacou T.. February 2007. Department of Public Health.S.S. Health Economics Research Centre. 1-381. Keys A. let us introduce the hypothesis that the density of nitrogen in the soil.. Puddu V. Menotti A.S.” May 2006. For more information.. Karvonen M. Van Buchem F.. Profiling Food Consumption in America. Buzina R. WHO Technical Report Series 916. 2003. “European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics 2008”. Tauris. Koga Y. Geneva. Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet and Survival in a Greek Population.. World Health Organization. Volume 348. Fact sheet n. Punsar S. Health Promotion Research Group.. and the Società italiana di diabetologia. Fidanza F. 12 13 14 Agriculture Fact Book.. 5 4 3 2 For the most part. Volume 31. March 2008. Bamia C..: Seven Countries: A Multivariate Analysis of Death and Coronary Heart Disease. Dontas A. 15 Trichopoulou A.J.. 2009.. University of Oxford. American Diabetes Association. “Diet. “Healthy Living. 317. Department of Public Health. Toshima H.L. The Japan Dietetic Association. Diabetes Care. the American Diabetes Association. Nedeljkovic S.. Cambridge. New England Journal of Medicine. July 2009. Mohacek I. This difference tends to decline over the long term thanks to a general improvement in the knowledge needed for an efficient application of the LEI model. University of Oxford. University of Oxford. 1980 Harvard University Press. and the Società italiana di cardiologia.. I. 2011. 1995 Springer Verlag. “Healthy Living. “Cardiovascular Diseases”.302 eating planet of this study. 2001. is some 30 percent lower than a high external input (HEI) regimen of agriculture. National Nutrition Survey. British Heart Foundation. 4. University of Oxford. Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases”. Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation. “Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U. the yield per hectare in an LEI model is lower.. 26.. in a low external input (LEI) regimen of agriculture. Department of Public Health.B. Djordjevic B. food for health 1 Trust for America’s Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America”. n. for diabetes.P. the American Heart Association.. MA and London. and Blackburn H. Health Promotion Research Group. Trichopoulos D. Number 3. World Health Organization. World Health Organization.. Tokyo. British Heart Foundation. Blackburn H. Therefore. the European Society of Cardiology. “European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics 2008”.” 1999. World Health Organization. ..: Lessons for Science from the Seven Countries Study. Department of Public Health. 16 15 Tony Allan.. Health Economics Research Centre. in 2007”.. these are the hours of assistance received by patients suffering from coronary or cerebrovascular diseases by unpaid persons.” 1999.S. Kimura N. and the Federation of European Cancer Societies. 2002.

Schatzkin A..S.” 1996 revision. and thus. FAO Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division. 1999. 17 16 Mitrou P.J. “Feeding and Nutrition of Infants and Young Children... European Series. 29 30 27 Lean body mass represents what is left of the organism after stripping of its deposited fat.. Bartholmey. Archives of Internal Medicine. The National Institutes of Health believe.S. “Nutritional requirements reports”.” 2006 The Nemours Foundation Center for Children’s Health Media is an initiative accredited by the U. B... In other words. Arredondo.R. 87. 1989 (Report on Health and Social Subjects. Stationery Office.F. Walter. F. Circulation.N. Velozo. A. . Handbook of Child Nutrition. the part of the processes of synthesis of the more complex organic molecules out of simpler molecules of nutritious substances.S.. T. S. Olivares. 91(5):976-982. 25 26 Department of Health. “Iron Deficiency in Toddlers. 2007. Salen P. for health | notes 303 De Lorgeril M. Thiebaut A. Oxford University Press. “L. Taitz. September 2009.... Martin J. James. complex molecules are produced from the of simpler molecules that are useful to the cell. London. J.. Mediterranean Diet..7 percent of the American adult population falls under the criteria for what is called “extreme obesity” (with a BMI of over 40). 2000 (updated reprint 2003). “The Impact of Obesity on Health Service Utilization and Costs on Childhood.. H. Mamelle N.. Oxford. Hertrampf. Reedy J. Puntis.. P. M. IASO—International Association for the Study of Obesity. L. 1993.” Maternal and Child Health.. more than 61 million people) appear to fall under the criteria identified to define conditions of obesity (an individual is defined as obese if he or she has a body-mass index. Committee on Nutrition. 1991.. Dietary Sugars and Human Disease.” Pediatrics.. Pena. J. the prevalent part is anabolism or biosynthesis..R. OMS Regional Office for Europe and UNICEF. 24 The values that are reported in the charts and tables presented in this subchapter make reference to the following documents: Società Italiana di Nutrizione Umana. “Effectiveness of Iron-Fortified Infant Cereal in the Prevention of Iron Deficiency Anaemia. United Kingdom...: Mediterranean Dietary Pattern and Prediction of All‑ Cause Mortality in a U.R. E. S. 1999. W... 18 19 More than 65 percent of all Americans are either obese or overweight and approximately 31 percent of the adult population (that is to say. IOFT—International Obesity Task Force.. Letizmann M..” Pediatrics. Subar A. Wirfalt E. G. 2008. 20 21 22 23 Trasande L. National Institutes of Health. n. In particular. 2007.A.. Hollenbeck A. National Library of Medicine.L. 28 American Academy of Pediatrics. for the growth of the individual.. 2nd Edition. These processes demand energy. Kipnis V. that is. “Dietary Reference Intakes. Mouw T. L. Traditional Risk Factors..S. that 4. Pizarro. or BMI. Food and Nutrition Board (Institute of Medicine of the National Academies). World Health Organization. Department of Agriculture.N. and the Rate of Cardiovascular Complications after Myocardial Infarction: Final Report of the Lyon Diet Heart Study.. n. L. Flood A.” Obesity. Monjaud I. “Iron Fortification of Infant Formulas. during adolescence. M.” OMS Regional Publications. U. Wardley. Delaye J. 37). and the U. 1997. Population: Results from the NIH‑AARP Diet and Health Study. moreover. L. Letelier... Chatterjee S. of more than 30)..M. Libro Bianco della Commissione Europea sull’Alimentazione. and specifically anabolism is responsible for the formation of the cellular components and the body’s tissues..

” European Journal of Public Health.G. we refer the reader to section 5. United States Department of Agriculture. C. Annuario statistico italiano 2010. 42:776-782. “Lipid Peroxidation and Free Radical Scavengers in Alzheimer’s Disease. Società italiana di nutrizione umana. concerning the topic “Caloric Restriction and Longevity. National Public Health Institute. Bennett K. World Health Organization.” Arch Neu‑ rol..C. “Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Cognitive Decline in Women. 2010.P.A. 2008. The 9th International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders in Philadelphia. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Archives of Neurology. Grobbee D... Prevention and Management of Osteoporosis. Spencer C.J. 2011. et al.... et al..” Int J Epidemiol. Vanderbilt University..” The Rotterdam Study.2 of this document.” Medical Hypotheses... “Life-Years Gained from Population Risk Factor Changes and Modern Cardiology Treatments in Ireland. Neurology. Zheng W.B.. Ann Neurol. 35:257-282. Yang G. Elsevier 2005. Launer L. 2000. Breteler N. Xiang Y. Dietary Patterns. For an in-depth study of the topic.H. “The Growing Years and Prevention of Osteoporosis in Later Life. University College London. Launer L. “North Karelia Project”. Assessed from a Weighed Food Record. 45 44 De Rich M.” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 32 33 Sarah E.” For an in-depth study of the topic..J. we refer the reader to section 4. M.E. Jeandel C. 1997.. 2006. 1997.” Gerontology. “The North Karelia Project—Pioneering Work to Improve National Public Health.D. Assessment. 34 35 36 OMS. Rotterdam Study.. 1997.. Schroll M. Breteler M. 54:762-765. 46 47 Glick J... Hamer M.. Penin F. 2010... “Dementias: the Role of Magnesium Deficiency and an Hypothesis Concerning the Pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease. Dietary Patterns and Their Correlates Among Middle‑Aged and Elderly Chinese men: A Report from the Shanghai Men’s Health Study. Volume 56 (10).. 31:211-225.. and treatment of Child and Adolescent Overweight and Obesity: Summary Report.A. World Alzheimer Report.M.. “Diet and Mortality in a Cohort of Elderly People in a North European Community. Mattson M. den Breeijen J.. Xu W. De Rijk M.. For an in-depth study of the topic.. 2007. Jae Kang.H. “Expert Committee Recommendations Regarding the Prevention. Ott A.” Pediatrics. McNaughton S.. 48 Kalmijn S. A Simple Lifestyle Score Predicts Survival in Healthy Elderly Men. Dubois F. and Survival Among Elderly Participants from the United Kingdom. Hofman A.. Li H. et al. Cai H. 1989. Nabet-Belleville F. Cuny G. July 17-22. 26:155-9. Witteman J. consider—among others—the following studies: Osler M... Barlow. van der Meche F.” 43 World Health Organization. ISTAT.M. 2007. Bates C..2 of this position paper.. Food and Nutrition Board.304 eating planet 31 Weaver.” 2002. 2006. 37 38 39 40 41 42 The average number of years that a human being can hope to live.L. Hofman A. concerning the subject of “Caloric Restriction and Longevity”... 2004. “Dietary Antioxidants and Parkinson’s Disease: The Rotterdam Study..O. National Vital Statistics Reports. “Will Caloric Restriction and Folate Protect against AD and PD?”.B.. Zubair K. Population Health Metrics. 2003. “Dietary fat intake and the risk of incident dementia”. 1990.C. 1997. 2003. Nashville. Nicolas M..J. 49 50 51 . “Dietary Antioxidants and Parkinson’s Disease. Mishra G.. 59:303-306. Shu X.

2006..500 Patients from Seven Major Vitamin D Fracture Trials in the US and Europe. 1993.337:986-94.. and historian of religion.. Higami Y.. 1987.. 28 November 1908—Paris. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism..” G Gerontol. Cucina Mediterranea. McMahan C. 2010..J. 5. 10 Zygmunt Bauman (Poznań... 1999. The World of Goods: Towards an Anthropology of Consumption..J. 48: B27-32. 7 5 4 Douglas D. 2005 Michael Pollan is a writer. and Fluoride. et al. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium. Numerous authors refer to the entire Anglo-Saxon world when they speak about the Western diet. “Obesità viscerale. Brillat-Savarin A. Mondadori. 2005. Lévi-Strauss. see also: Fontana L. Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. The book was originally published in French in 1826. Institute of Medicine. Phosphorus. In this connection. 2010. “Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition as a Pharmacological Approach to Treat Obesity.” Journal of Obesity. principi dietetici e ricette al sapore di sole.” Mech Ageing Dev. “Patient Level Pooled Analysis of 68. 11 Piroddi L.: “Diet and the Suitability of the Male Fischer 344 Rat as a Model for Aging Research”. . or Transcendental Gastronomy. and professor of journalism at the University of California.” Department of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology. 2011.B. 30 October 2009 was a French anthropologist. and philosopher.. Masoro E. Sears B. “Overview of Caloric Restriction and Aging. 19 November 1925) is a Polish sociologist and philosopher of Polish-Jewish origin. Everyone Eats: Understanding Food and Culture. journalist. J Gerontol Biol Sci. Anderson E.” N Engl J Med.. The Physiology of Taste. Cancer Research. National Academy Press. New York University Press. Magnesium... Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte. Weindruch R.. psychologist. 15 November 1917) was a French sociologist.S. 15 April 1858—Paris. food for culture Claude Lévi-Strauss (Brussels. Food and Nutrition Board.. anthropologist. Hubbard G. 8 9 The influence that North American culture has exercised over the United Kingdom in the twentieth century makes it possible now to group the two countries together in this context. 2 3 1 Psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania.. restrizione calorica ed aging. 6 Émile Durkheim (Épinal. DC. 53 54 55 56 57 58 Shimokawa I.” Science.A. Sohal R.126:913-22. Vitamin D. activist. for culture | notes 305 52 Abrahamsen B. 54:131-133. Washington. Ricordi C. Yu B. Milan.M. Albanes D.P. Fontana L. 1993. 1979. New York.. “Extending Healthy Lifespan—From Yeast to Humans. Isherwood B. “Caloric Intake and Aging. 1997. Among his contributions to scientific psychology was the application of the method of structuralist investigation to anthropological studies. Masoro E.

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and convivial eating? The paradoxes of the global food system. Vandana Shiva. Marion Nestle. Paul Roberts. fair. production and consumption trends. Aviva Must. the first global report on food and nutrition by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition. . Shimon Peres. is it possible to rediscover the ingredients for healthy. Joaquín Navarro-Valls. Michael Heasman. Raj Patel.EATING PLANET NUTRITION TODAY: A CHALLENGE FOR MANKIND AND FOR THE PLANET Can we produce food for all the inhabitants of Earth and distribute it fairly? Is it possible to make the food system more sustainable to help protect the environment and save resources? What are ways to provide better nutrition that help people maintain good health over the long term? Within the great culinary traditions. Hans Herren. Carlo Petrini. the cultural value of food. Analysis of these issues and discussions about potential solutions are enriched by the contributions of prestigious experts: Tony Allan. in collaboration with the Worldwatch Institute. Ricardo Uauy. Alex Kalache. Ellen Gustafson. Mario Monti. and the effects of food production and consumption on health and the environment are some of the major themes of Eating Planet 2012.

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