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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11 The Role of Vegetables 1. Small and Large food for all 1.13 The Importance of Information 1. The Political Challenge of Food executive summary XV 3 XI 1.5 1.1 1. the challenges of food introduction Danielle Nierenberg.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 1.10 Not by Calories Alone 1.8 1. BCFN: the Answers to Three Paradoxes preface Mario Monti. Worldwatch Institute: It’s Possible to Work at All Scales.3 1.eating planet 2012 Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition nutrition today: a challenge for mankind and for the planet introduction Guido Barilla.14 The Role of Health Structures .12 Bringing Healthy Food Everywhere 1.2 1.4 1.7 1.

18 Incentivize Employment of the Young the three objectives of food 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. How to Respond to Market Excesses facts & figures access to food: present and future challenges 2.7 Gross Domestic Product Versus Indicators of Well-being 2.VI eating planet food for culture 34 36 36 38 38 39 42 1.4 The BCFN Evaluation Model 2.17 Popularization “In the Field” 1. Agricultural Policies Must Take into Consideration the Health and Well‑being of Human Beings action plan .3 Possible Areas for Action a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices 2.9 The BCFN Indices of Well-being and Sustainability of Well-being 2.5 Variables of the Model 2.15 Relaunching Agricultural Systems 1.10 Principal Results of the 2011 BCFN Index 2.2 The “Food Paradox”: Underlying Causes 2. In Access the Key Factor Is Diversity Ellen Gustafson.19 Increasing Awareness about the Importance of Agriculture 2.16 New Computer and Communications Technologies 1. food for all introduction Raj Patel.1 The Global Scope of Food Security and Access Problems 2.11 The Different Dimensions of Sustainability interviews Paul Roberts.8 Subjective Approach Versus Objective Approach: Different Outlooks in Terms of Measuring Well-being 2.

The Challenging Transition Toward Sustainable Agriculture Tony Allan.8 The Availability of Water: from Abundance to Scarcity 3.9 The Right of Access to Water: Reality and Prospects 3.2 3. Herren. and sustainable food for the environment 3.11 National Water Footprints and the Trade in Virtual Water 3.10 Choices and Behaviors for Sustainable Water Consumption 3.table of contents VII 3.1 3.6 Current Leading Agricultural Paradigms 3. food for sustainable growth introduction Carlo Petrini.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. Paying What’s Fair facts & figures the double pyramid: healthy food for people.3 3.12 Water Privatization and its Implications interviews Hans R.4 3.7 The Sustainability of the Systems Used to Grow Durum Wheat: the Barilla Case the water economy and the emergency it confronts 3. Virtual Water Between Underconsumption and Poor Management action plan .

9 Demographics. The Responsibility for Children Must Be Shared Alex Kalache.8 Recommendations longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition 4.5 The Spread of Obesity and Overweight in Children and Adolescents and the International Economic and Social Impact 4. Companies Must Behave Responsibly Aviva Must.6 Nutrients in the Different Phases of Growth 4. food for health introduction Ricardo Uauy.4 Recommendations food and children: educate today for a better life tomorrow 4. and the Economic and Social Impacts of the Principal Diseases 4.12 Recommendations interviews Marion Nestle. Agriculture. Nutrition and Health facts & figures food for a healthy life 4.3 The Most Common Guidelines and Dietary Models 4.2 Guidelines for a Healthy Way of Eating and Lifestyle 4.VIII eating planet 4.1 A Few Key Figures: Global Trends in Chronic Diseases and their Social and Economic Impacts 4.10 Diet and Lifestyle and Their Effects on Longevity and Diseases of Aging 4. Food. 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 .11 Inflammatory States and Caloric Restriction: Possible Interventions to Slow the Aging Processes 4. Longevity.7 Guidelines for Healthy Diets and Sound Lifestyles in Children and Adolescents 4.

13 The Mediterranean Diet and Commensality 5.9 Food Today: Challenges and Perspectives 5.12 The Salient Characteristics of the Mediterranean Diet 5.table of contents IX 5.8 The Great Culinary Traditions 5.14 Mediterraneity Today: the Decline of a Model 5. Whoever Controls Food Controls Democracy Michael Heasman.4 5.3 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.5 5.15 How to Recover the Significance of Mediterraneity interviews the great culinary traditions and the reality of food today Joaquín Navarro-Valls. Gender. We Must Construct a Culture of Responsibility Vandana Shiva. 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 5.1 5. The Consumer Culture War and the Food System: What Does This Mean for the Mediterranean Model? action plan notes .10 Toward a New Vision of Nutrition 5. Food for Peace—a Call for the Mobilization of Goodwill 242 facts & figures the cultural dimension of food 5.2 5.6 5.11 Guidelines for Redefining Man’s Relationship with Food the mediterranean culture: the value of a lifestyle and a culinary tradition 5. food for culture introduction Shimon Peres.


Once again. 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. have long attracted our attention and reinforced our belief that we are giving birth to a research center with innovative and entirely original characteristics. involve. communicate. the global food system is capable of ensuring an adequate nutritional intake for all human beings now alive on the planet earth. 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. In fact it is estimated that it is responsible for at least 50% of all agricultural emissions of greenhouse gases. consequences that take the form of grave metabolic diseases such as.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. we choose to put fuel in our cars instead of giving food to human beings in need. This however should not discourage us. in particular. as of this writing. already. 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 . but if anything. 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. scientifically accurate way. independent. they should serve as a way of encouraging us to identify and propose new and effective solutions. diabetes. And yet. in the face of an equivalent number of people who are suffering the consequences of excess of nutrition. By so doing. for instance. The second paradox has to do with the presence on the planet of approximately three billion head of livestock. A growing share of farmland is being set aside for the production of fuel. these are models we should rethink. The underlying causes for these situations are not easy to identify and solve. The first paradox has to do with the coexistence on this planet of more than a billion people who are suffering from hunger. the activity of raising livestock contributes substantially to the phenomena of climate change. Three. Moreover. From this need to inform. we decided to found in 2009 the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN).

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

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


and by considerable concerted efforts toward a general coordination. An awareness of an emergency surrounds the topic of access to food. or almost immediate. Thus. There are 27 nations. and laws.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. This means that. This is what happened with the financial crisis. once a prob- . even though the solution of the financial imbalance may be daunting to achieve. could solve the problems of the financial system. In that connection. As a result. as well as structures to implement those laws. and no region of the world. action. Therefore we must guard against the risk of reversibility as soon as a solution to the problem is glimpsed. we tend to go back to our old ways of doing things. the risk of reversibility. First of all. on a short term basis. which was followed by immediate. I’m optimistic about the European Union. We live in a context in which. we are willing to give up part of our national sovereignty because we believe that cooperation is the only way to solve the problem. it is obvious that no country alone. The minute that the problem seems to be somewhat less urgent and sensitive. decisions are being made in an emergency situation. alone. more or less everywhere. At least in the case of financial issues and other macroeconomic problems. we tend to become frightened. After all. as well. I should make two observations concerning specific aspects of the topic of food and the contribution that the EU. can supply. solving these problems is an infinitely longer term matter. in particular. because it sinks its roots deep into the structures of society. as well as food security in its financial repercussions. 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. demanding a prolonged effort. with much farther reaching and longer lasting consequences. we have decision-making bodies. Agriculture and food. institutions.

Therefore. Governance does not mean repression. beginning of course with the idea of once again assigning a central role to food in the international political and economic program. thanks to the excellent work done by the European Parliament. * Mario Monti (Prime Minister of Italy and also the Minister of Economy and Finance of the Italian Republic. but also due to considerations of individual and family health. the eating habits of consumers—is fundamental. and businessmen. that is. it is clear that a potential reinforcement of global governance is fundamental. together with the European Council and the European Commission. what is needed. But even the conclusive point on the production chain—which ends where the food reaches the end users. is where the food sector most closely resembles the financial sector. Member of the . are the protagonists of the market. 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. and now those rules will remain in place even once the emergency is over. we have put together—pretty quickly by European standards—a new system of rules guaranteed by specific authorities. More specifically. on a European level. all the considerations concerning equality. is less grave in the European Union. Let us take as an example the financial crisis: after all. as far as food security is concerned. But now. if you like. This. “how” to undertake the distribution desired) come back full-force into the domestic and global political arena. 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). 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. in a country. and distribution (that is to say. inequality. we have seen to their implementation and supervision. is not an excessively ambitious model of planning to be implemented worldwide. governance does not mean blocking entrepreneurial initiatives: governance means governing the markets in general terms. For various reasons that have to do with issues of sustainability. like users and consumers. understood as the possibility of achieving access to food. There are a few proposals on the subject that I consider to be effective. in my opinion. or in a group of countries. And of course it is fundamental to encourage economic development and promote the increase of agricultural productivity.XVI eating planet lem emerges from the state of acute emergency. Quite to the contrary. President of the Bocconi University. 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.

** 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 .


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

This approach will also become crucial for the developing nations. and tumoral diseases and illnesses that derive from improper ways of eating. 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. Instead we should include the vast array of real facts that contribute to define the overall social. Moreover. In particular. then. a rise in the stock-to-use ratio tends to drive down prices. generally speaking. in contrast. 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. in a more transparent form. This aspect is taking on concrete outlines in developed nations. economic. 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. given the impact that it will have on the global balances of production in the realm of agriculture. the actual role that this phenomenon plays in influencing the increase in price levels of agricultural goods is still being widely debated. but rather a case of increasing in real terms the quality of the public decision-making processes. it has been observed that a reduction in the stockto-use ratio of cereal grains corresponds. cardiocirculatory. politic.4 eating planet • preventing the cultivation of crops for the production of biofuels from inter• regulating excessive financial speculation on food commodities. to an increase in the price levels while. restricted to its distinctive economic traits. in the final analysis. There is a close tie between variations in stock and price fluctuations of food commodities. over a sufficiently broad time horizon. • creating a multilateral system of food reserves and improving transparency in terms of volume flows and stocks. Even though fering with the cultivation of crops for food. This is not. 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. . not merely a matter of defining better indicators. in an attempt to face up to a health-care emergency that is linked to the rapid spread of metabolic. and environmental conditions in which people live.

and management tools. built in order to meet the challenge of phenomena of relative scarcity. it is therefore necessary to undertake a process of collective responsibility that.). focuses on parents and on the school system for the nutritional education of the young. adaptation to atmospheric phenomena. 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. promoting the necessary investments and removing restraints of a technical and political nature. availability of water.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. The factors at play are numerous (quality of the soil. The problems that arise in connection with water resources must be solved with integrated policies. models. but certainly one of the most significant themes with a view to the future will be the issue of the availability of energy. entail smaller environmental impacts in terms of the consumption of natural resources (land. and technologies to increase water productivity (more crop per drop) and reduce wastage. It is particularly important to spread practices. in fact. without leaving the children themselves out entirely. water. 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 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. . With special reference to future generations. The various approaches to the Double Pyramid that are proposed.) and reduced emissions. etc. something that has positive effects on one’s health and also helps to safeguard the environment. know-how. etc.

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

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. but rather to live healthier and longer. remains capable of implementing cooperative games aimed at the promotion of a new culinary paradigm. such as the Mediterranean culinary culture. It is a matter of making the most of these aspects of conviviality. and an intact social structure. recovering age-old flavors capable of being renewed into a contemporary taste. What is needed is a concerted effort. protecting local territorial varieties by preserving the wealth of identities. in fact. 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. action must be taken. taste. food for culture recovering and spreading the elements of culture. while it preserves the distinctive character of competition in the relationships among the operators in a single sector. the environment. which may involve research into such particularly innovative fields as the link between inflammatory states and the onset of chronic illnesses. . The scale of the challenge is so great that it demands capacities to intervene that vastly outweigh the power of individual players. Therefore.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. suffers from at least one chronic illness and roughly 50 percent are afflicted with two or more chronic pathologies. as well as the benefits that can be obtained through regimens of caloric restriction with optimal nutrition. through a critical operation that makes it possible to preserve the best of the culinary tradition. 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. though not so much to achieve a longer lifespan. in order to reorient the lifestyles and ways of eating toward modes of consumption that are more sustainable in terms of health. for a significantly longer time.

table of contents introduction Worldwatch Institute: It’s Possible to Work at All Scales.7 1.6 1.1 1.16 1.17 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 1.11 1.18 Relaunching Agricultural Systems New Computer and Communications Technologies Popularization “In the Field” Incentivize Employment of the Young the three objectives of food 1.3 1.13 1.12 1.19 Increasing Awareness about the Importance of Agriculture .8 1.4 1. Small and Large by Danielle Nierenberg food for all 1.2 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 1.10 1.9 Rethinking the Green Revolution Yields and Environmental Sustainability Food Sustainability and Climate Change Integrated Animal Husbandry for Better Sustainability food for health 1.15 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.

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

By working with local residents. The organization also improves local food security by training members of women’s groups to grow and market organic vegetables. and locally processed palm oil. . including agroforestry and intercropping. medicinal plants. 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.boy and the bucket.

wheat. and GHG emissions—are increasing.1 Hunger in the world (1969‑2011) Source: Worldwatch Institute elaboration of data from FAO.200 1. as well as in other parts of the developing world. agriculture contributes to one-third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. soil degradation.fao.050 900 750 600 450 300 150 0 878 853 845 857 873 915 1.3 we’re at a turning point. water scarcity. and vibrant rural and urban economies. they are one step toward enabling agriculture not only to feed the world but also to nourish livelihoods. There’s no doubt that the current food system is broken: vast amounts of food are wasted in both rich and poor countries. environmental sustainability. foodrelated diseases are on the rise. the Western food system has been built to promote over-consumption of a few consolidated commodities—including rice.350 1. high food prices. “Hunger Statistics. . and the environmental impacts of agriculture— including deforestation. and maize—and has neglected indigenous foods that provide not only calo- 1. and malnutrition.12 eating planet what they could learn from their counterparts in an area of the world facing the same challenges—erratic weather events.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. 4 Over the last three decades. And while SEWA’s training farms and agricultural credit services won’t change the global food system on their own. These are problems in India and Africa alike.” www.

and socially just and sustainable. cardiovascular disease. on rooftop gardens in Vietnam. and in communities all over the world—but they are not getting the attention and the investment they need. 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. One result is that 1.1). vision. however.5 billion people in the world are obese or overweight and thus at higher risk of diabetes. we can build a better strategy. .introduction | the challenges of food 13 ries but also essential vitamins and micronutrients and tend to be resistant to heat. Agriculture is at a turning point.5 But the challenges we face will not be easy to overcome. environmentally. This needs to change. If we begin now. The solutions are out there—in market garden projects in rural Niger. at research institutes in Taiwan. at dinner tables in Italy. yet nearly 1 billion people in the world go to bed hungry each night and several billion suffer micronutrient deficiencies (figure 1. drought. and other maladies. in edible school yards in the United States. and disease. It’s been roughly half a century after the Green Revolution.

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

fao. It is insidious.1 how rich nations squander food Even countries such as the United States. and plant breeds designed to extend shelf life—still squander vast amounts of 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. the first World Food Conference (in Rome) called for a . Most farmers don’t have access to proper grain stores. crop storage remains woefully inadequate. drying equipment. especially those in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. wasting crops in the places that need them most.12 1. chemicals that inhibit fungi and molds. and other wealthy nations—which have mastered the art of preventing food losses with climate-controlled storage units and refrigeration. the United Kingdom. fruit crates. and purchase too much food for home refrigeration. happening all along the food chain—a few percent is lost on the farm. France. Food Price Index. and another few percent at markets and at home. We throw away cosmetically imperfect produce. dispose of edible fish at sea. Italy. Much of it ends up in landfills instead of our stomachs. a few percent in storage. a few percent during transport. As long ago as 1974. www. Source: FAO.11 In poorer countries. Food waste can total an astonishing 30 percent of the harvest. over-order stock at grocery and “big box” stores. or other post-harvest storage and processing technologies. drying equipment.2 Volatility of food prices (1990‑2011) Note: The 2011 data are the product of averaging the individual months.

and help ensure safer transport of crops from farm to market. The bags also keep out insects and suffocate any larvae already present. Mali. Senegal. safely outcompetes and virtually eliminates the toxic strain. Ghana. trademarked as Aflasafe. and preventing waste remains a vastly underfunded dimension of the agricultural development process. Very few donors.17 1.2 new techniques for the transformation of food Finding better ways to process foods can also help prevent food waste. That goal remains unachieved. The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is working with farmers to apply a non-toxic.000 villages in Benin. it looks the same as the day I stored it. food contamination by aflatoxin. dairy production is important for both nutrition and incomes.” says Balarabe Kausani. stunting. and effective while improving health and nutrition. The strain developed by IITA. are investing in helping farmers and food processors find better ways to store and manage crops post-harvest. Niger. locally occurring strain of the fungus prior to harvest. hermetically sealed bags— Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS)—to prevent pests and mold from attacking harvests. for example. inexpensive. a smallholder farmer in northern Nigeria. the PICS bags also save farmers money on expensive—and toxic—pesticides.13 But reducing this waste can be simple. Chad.16 eating planet 50-percent reduction in post-harvest losses over the following decade. Cameroon. “Because of the quality of the cowpeas. Burkina Faso.15 In Western Africa. and wealthy consumers remain uninformed about how their (over)buying habits impact the environment. cowpeas (black-eyed peas) are an important staple crop. the PICS project expected to reach 28. a toxic fungus that can lead to liver cancer. which prevents exposure to oxygen and moisture and inhibits the growth of dangerous fungi. especially for women farmers. With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Unfortunately. during the rainy season herders typically dispose of around 500 liters of milk per day because they have too much milk to . Purdue University researchers have helped farmers use inexpensive. Consider. Aflatoxin contamination is caused almost exclusively by consuming food that has become moldy because of poor food storage.14 Another simple technology with great potential to reduce crop loss and waste is hermetic sealing: storing crops in re-sealable bags.” In addition to preserving an important seasonal crop year-round. 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. In Mauritania. and Togo by the end of 2011. Nigeria.16 “When we open up the bag. unfortunately. you can add 20 percent to the price. 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. and other health problems.

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

4 school lunches and nutrition Ghana began its own Home Grown School Feeding Program in 2005. food aid in sub-Saharan Africa is now coming from farmers in the region rather than from thousands of miles away. and other crops. “we can do the program.25 In Cote d’Ivoire. the president of Chigata Fettes et Development (Women and Development). and 16 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. school lunches reach 1. Not only did yields and incomes decrease. cabbages. Much of this food is eaten by the children in the school canteen. Much of the maize. while the surplus is sold to help maintain the garden and the canteen.5 buying local In the same way.000 pupils in 200 schools across every district in the country.”28 1. but many children stopped going to school because of the violence. the program was reaching 69.” says Ouattara. School retention rates increased by around 10 percent for schools with the programs.8 percent where they weren’t available. whether it’s gang violence in Los Angeles or political violence in Cote d’Ivoire. The students grow kale. tomatoes. onions.” Their hope is that by educating children they can also change how parents cook and eat vegetables through “trickle-up education. half of which has been funneled into scholarships for students. 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. compared to 2. The program is estimated to have assisted more than 1 million children in 2010.18 eating planet 1.26 The children who did attend school received meals that were often of poor nutritional quality because of inadequate funding. but the WFP estimates that approximately 90 percent of participants purchase vegetables and meat from local producers. eggplants.27 The project started with 300 students working with about the same number of women in the community to grow rice. Twenty-five percent of what they grow is given to the needy and the rest is sold for profit. organized a women’s group to start growing organic food and cook meals for the children. The students and teachers know how to keep the operation going. Food from the Hood is a group of student gardeners that began in Los Angeles after the 1992 riots. roughly 30 percent of all school children in the country. eggplant. an NGO in N’Ganon village. Thailand’s school food program does not mandate where individual schools get their food.3 percent. where a national school lunch program is funded through the government. Mariam Ouattara. “it’s easier for them to become better students.” And when children eat.24 School feeding programs can be especially important in areas where there’s conflict. haricot blanc (white beans).8 million primary school children and 700. radishes.23 In Thailand. By the end of 2006.000 kindergartners. . Enrollment in schools where meals were served increased by 20. so that “even if we’re not there. As a result. says Ouattara.

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

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

desertification. and in research institutes worldwide. there were roads. “Emphasis on increasing yields and productivity has in some cases had negative consequences on environmental sustainability. Where it worked. And that’s why I think we need to reinvent [the Green Revolution]. The overuse and misuse of artificial fertilizers and pesticides have produced toxic runoffs which create coastal dead zones and reduce biodiversity. causing salinization of water supplies in developed and developing countries alike. This monumental report took more than four years to complete and brought together 400 of the world’s leading scientists.” Nearly 2 billion hectares and 2.6 rethinking the green revolution In 2008.” its benefits are unevenly spread. development agencies.. we want an agriculture which is self-sustaining. et cetera. What we want.. “The ‘Green Revolution’ ran out of steam long ago [. is an agriculture that is not based on those inputs. researchers.] We need to reinvent agriculture [. one that shows how food production can help address climate change. unemployment. there were many factors involved. Their major conclusion: that “business as usual” approaches to feeding the world were not working. 70 percent of freshwater withdrawals are for agricultural irrigation. According to Dr.32 Although the Green Revolution is considered a “success. for sustainable growth | the challenges of food 21 This shift is happening in farmers’ fields. Many of the poorest of the poor “have . and other environmental challenges. In other words. The most striking results in decreasing poverty and increasing crop yields were seen in South Asia. in parliaments and board rooms.. water pollution. Today. 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. which helped.] Although the Green Revolution has promoted the production of more food. pesticides. 1. inputs.6 billion people have been affected by significant land degradation resulting from large-scale agricultural practices associated with the Green Revolution. the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) was released.”31 1. actually. Several major research reports throughout the 2000s have painted an evolving picture of agriculture. World Food Prize Laureate and co-chair of IAASTD. Hans Herren.7 yields and environmental sustainability According to IAASTD. while people in sub-Saharan Africa have remained poor and undernourished. there was an environment.. and NGOs to outline the current state of agricultural knowledge. it was not only just breeding of high-yielding crops. there was access to fertilizer.

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

. nigeria. They’re also helping farmers find ways to add value to cassava through processing the crop into gari and foo‑foo. 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. In many parts of Africa.woman peeling cassava in ibadan. cassava provides a daily source of energy. The introduction of these improved varieties has already provided food for some 50 million people in Nigeria.

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

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

millet. Tephrosia. and other species. sorghum. And the trees that make this system possible are trees that are readily available to millions more farmers in the future. Gliricidia. Clearing land for agriculture. including Central America. these farmers are providing additional protein for their families as well as increasing incomes. In some regions of the world. wheat. Malawi. Agroforestry. prevent soil erosion. Because the trees “fix” nitrogen from the air and deposit their biomass and leaves on the soil surface. Zambia. The ducks . stimulating higher crop yields.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. The trees also provide a variety of ecosystem services. including sequestering carbon. and add the natural fertilizer nitrogen to soils. the number of trees on farms. plants.39 1. not dreamed up by researchers or scientists but has been a practice of farmers in places like sub-Saharan Africa for generations. Dennis Garrity. is a good illustration of how farming and ecosystems can work together. integrating trees with annual and perennial crops maintains green cover on the land throughout the year. in fact. and vegetables are being grown along Acacia. “It’s indigenous to Africa. and protecting crops from harsh sunlight. calls this “evergreen agriculture”. By using ducks and fish instead of pesticides for pest control in rice paddies. the soils become increasingly fertile. more than 30 percent of agricultural lands enjoy tree cover.38 Integrating trees with crops can double or even triple yields compared to crops that are grown without a canopy. Both perennials and annual crops can be used. and many other countries. Tanzania. and Faidherbia trees. agro-ecological systems integrate farming with the environment. for example. Dr. improve water availability. such approaches are highly complex. rather than separating crops and livestock from nature. crops such as maize. is actually increasing. whether it’s in the Brazilian Amazon or the rainforest of Congo. In Indonesia.” says Garrity. Sesbania. the former director general of the World Agroforestry Centre. Agro-ecology mimics nature. And while forests and grasslands are still rapidly declining. relying on the extensive knowledge of farmers and an understanding of local ecosystems. preserving biodiversity. On the contrary.26 eating planet But agro-ecology does not mean a return to old-fashioned or outdated practices.”37 This “reinvention” was. “We look at evergreen agriculture as a way of in fact assisting in reinventing agriculture for a more climate-smart farming in the future. according to the World Agroforestry Centre. especially of cereal crops. destroys habitat for birds. These fertilizer trees provide shade. According to Garrity. Kenya. while protecting the environment at the same time.

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

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

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

however. and degrade performance in work and in school. Often referred to as “hidden hunger. researchers and policymakers have paid less attention to the prevalence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). And while Africans in particular get most of their calories from starchy crops. Tanzania. unfortunately. lower rates of vegetable consumption are linked to higher rates of mortality in children under five years. though. Sixty-three percent of global deaths are caused by noncommunicable diseases. Not surprisingly. blindness.3). and vegetables. the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research invested US$118 million in research on cereals. there’s been very little funding for research on how to make those starchy staples palatable and nutritious. are a luxury for many of the world’s poor. has about 100 grams of vegetables available per person per day. 49 1. a research institute that works in Asia and Africa. but just US$15. While poor nations receive a great deal of attention for high malnutrition rates.30 eating planet millet. Increase consumption of vegetables. such as cardio-vascular and respiratory diseases as well as type 2 diabetes. Dyno Keatinge. 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.and middle-income countries often also face a double burden of under-nutrition and over-nutrition. that result from unhealthy and inadequate diets. the Philippines. and anemia. They lead to poor mental and physical development. and mortality declines and the average weight of children increases (figure 1. and this rate is expected to rise. that leads to illness and disease. sorghum. Niger. especially among children.7 million in fruit and vegetable research. starkly describes the importance of vegetables in the diets of children: in Mali. and more than 2 billion people worldwide suffer from one or the other. and other countries. and iodine—afflict some 1 billion people worldwide. further crippling communities already facing poverty and other health problems. “Our food systems create sick people and failure to act decisively on this issue kills almost 3 million adults each year. But ignoring vegetables and fruits can have disastrous consequences. which is at the low end of a scale that reaches 800. the director general of AVRDC–The World Vegetable Center.48 Vegetables. In 2002.11 the role of vegetables Dr. Low. Niger.51 According to Olivier De Schutter. Many farmers who once grew vegetables have had to focus their attention on staple crops.” . iron.” micronutrient deficiencies—including lack of Vitamin A.50 It’s not just the lack of vegetables and other nutritious foods in our diets. for example. Niger has one of the highest child malnutrition and mortality rates in the world.

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.”54 . IFPRI Director General Shenggen Fan said.53 At the conference. Source: FAOSTAT 2010.” brought scientists. and other food-related health problems. and policymakers from around the world to discuss the issue. “Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutrition and Health. and WHO 2011. obesity. nutrition. Dr. said. and productive life.” 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. IFPRI’s February 2011 conference in New Delhi. It is obvious that the health sector alone cannot prevent all these premature deaths and chronic illnesses.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. NCDs will cost $30 trillion globally between now and 2030. for health | the challenges of food 31 a 300 children < 5 mortality rate (1/1. Rachel Nugent. We are more likely to succeed in addressing the challenges if we understand these links and put them to work for people’s benefits. researchers. well-nourished. NGOs. “The costs of dealing with NCDs are soaring in both rich and poor countries. deputy director of global health at the Council. or health—are inextricably linked. “We are standing face to face with some serious challenges: hunger. and the poor of the world are the most vulnerable. according to research by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. and poor health are denying billions of people the opportunity for a healthy. All of our efforts—whether in agriculture.

the White House launched the nationwide initiative Let’s Move.13 the importance of information Many consumers are simply unaware about what foods are nutritious.S. The Trust runs community-based nutrition and food systems programs that have helped reduce the number of obese children there by half.57 Moreover. helping to support community initiatives that are in touch with local needs. It enables consumers. American children on average receive only 3. and not just in laboratories or at conferences. nutrient-rich food choices. Food Corps service members partner with local organizations in sites across the country. and national media. and daily diets. farmers. It is also occurring at the grassroots level in kitchens and back yards all over the world. and is the only profiling system that estimates overall nutritional quality based on 27 nutrients.55 Although the program is relatively young—it was established in 2009 and began operating in 2010—it has already achieved much. which may help it reach its ambitious goal of reducing childhood obesity rates to below 5 percent by 2030.S. the World Veg- . including vitamins and minerals. To solve that problem.-based Organic Center are helping consumers make more informed food decisions.56 In 2010. program is Food Corps. data-driven measure of the benefits of individual foods. a new tool that helps consumers identify smart. One successful model is The Food Trust in north Philadelphia in the United States. moreover. and farm-to-school programs.32 eating planet 1. school gardens.4 hours of nutrition education each year.12 bringing healthy food everywhere Creation of those linkages to make agriculture healthier is happening. The Center recently released its Nutritional Quality Index. foundations. Educating farmers and consumers about growing and buying more nutritious crops is important. meals. Food Corps has received support from food policy activists. but we also need to learn how to prepare vegetables in ways that help maintain their nutritional quality. while also bringing in new energy and ideas. under the leadership of First Lady Michelle Obama. but students in schools working with Food Corps will receive at least 10 hours. and researchers to know which foods deliver the biggest bang for the buck nutritionally. Food Corps is working to address the country’s childhood obesity epidemic by focusing on nutrition education. A more broadly based U. Vegetables are often cooked so long that they lose most of their nutrients. one of the newest parts of the AmeriCorps program. 1. But researchers like Chuck Benbrook of the U. for some time now the USDA has created and manages a database that provides a classification of all food products and gives their ingredients. The NQI provides a comprehensive.

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


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.


eating planet

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

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

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

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

6 The BCFN Evaluation Model Variables of the Model Strategies for Controlling Volatility new tools to measure and promote well-being 2.table of contents introduction How to Respond to Market Excesses by Raj Patel facts & figures access to food: present and future challenges 2.1 2.9 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 2.2 2.7 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 .10 2.4 2.8 2.5 2.

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. We need to better understand how to ensure better governance of the agroalimentary system on a global scale. and the environment? . health. 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.

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

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. and costs. increasing financial speculation has tied the price of food to other commodities. With poor grain storage systems. increasing poverty. (See graph below.) On the other hand.3 Third.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. traders themselves have testified that they’re playing commodities markets at the expense of consumers. These short term phenomena sit on top of a food system that has made shocks to the food system spread quickly. with its emphasis on meat and empty calories means that a great deal of land is diverted toward producing feed for animals. in food markets. 2011.1 Price oscillations on the food markets Source: Worthy. 4 higher levels of liquidity are not to blame for the increased price swings. It must be said this is controversial—economists are embroiled in heated debate about whether speculators are to blame for the problems. reduced social safety nets. 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. pricing the poorest out of the grain market.5 and this wouldn’t be the first time that reality has failed to live up to the models of economists. Fourth. . Fifth. the spread of the western diet. higher oil prices have driven up production and transport costs for food.

As one researcher argues. That a tax falls disproportionately on the poor is reason to worry. In the meantime. 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. we continue to see experiments and ideas for change happening not at national or international levels.6 but caused a panic in global wheat markets in 2010 that led to food rebellions around the world. These taxes are regressive. the goal is not to end soda. but at local and regional lev- . if the move to tax soft drinks were an end in itself. certainly. Many of the more interesting policy responses to the failures of the food system are to be found at local. such as carbonated beverages. but poverty.7 China and India have joined other foreign governments in an aggressive search for overseas sources of food for their populations. of course. governments are doing little directly to address the underlying problems. 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.8 These are ad hoc measures that leave the central tenets of the global food system largely unaddressed. Ultimately. There’s far too long a history of culture war around food. This is a conversation long overdue. And. credit and extension services. with everything from white bread to Coca-Cola conscripted into a great battle over class and identity. it shows promise. which worked well for farmers there. particularly in Africa. continue to be with us today.5 billion people overweight. Russia announced a wheat export moratorium. “obesity is the toxic consequence of economic insecurity and a failing economic environment. it was inevitable that a few shocks in the world’s key grainbaskets should ripple across the planet. though. since taxing food will always affect the poor disproportionately because they spend a greater proportion of household budgets on food than the rich. a soda tax blames the poor for being victims of circumstance. Advocates of such a tax have to answer the charge that they’re mongers of class war.48 eating planet tural research. Unfortunately. and with international grain markets tightly integrated. That said. A controversial experiment involves a “sugar tax”. which raises prices on items high in “empty calories”. and push many millions more into hunger in 2008. But tobacco taxes are similar.”10 If this is true. then I’d want nothing to do with it. The underlying system. and many of the shocks. 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. municipal and subnational levels. In response to fires and low grain supplies.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.

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

while the average per capita daily calorie requirement for an individual adult is 2.800 calories Average daily calorie supply produced The world food system is currently capable of producing just under 2. WoRlD 53% In developing countries.550 calories Average real daily calorie requirement 2.  food for all WoRlD FooD SYSTEm  2.800 calories per person per day. PEOPLE ARE UNDERNOURISHED men and women suffer from undernourishment 950 million  . 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 .550 calories.50 eating planet 2.

or consumption . destroyed. 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%. Over the same period. this increase helped to generate new conditions of poverty for 44 million people. distribution. or wasted in the processes of preserving.3 billion PEOPLE ARE OBESE OR OVERWEIGHT It is estimated that 1.3 billion people in the  world are obese or significantly overweight  1/3 WASTED FooD  One third of the world’s food production is lost. transformation.

There is also a range of secondary impacts on human health and welfare.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. However. This relationship is reinforced by a broader system of allied conditions that are typically associated with situations of inadequate nutrition. lack of basic knowledge about nutrition prevents mothers from taking adequate care of their children. This would occur mainly . and they too can be devastating. poor economic and social conditions tend to exacerbate the link between malnutrition and disease. social conflicts—especially fights over control of natural and agricultural resources—tend to undermine the potential of nations to develop socially and economically. and the rights to a healthy life and peaceful coexistence are undermined. such as poor hygiene. throughout the world. Where food is lacking. and lack of access to plentiful drinking water and basic pharmaceuticals. Undernourishment and malnutrition have serious harmful effects on the human immune system. This tragedy takes an array of different forms. 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. They augment susceptibility to diseases and increase the gravity and duration of the ensuing illnesses. already aggravated by climate change. 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. it becomes impossible to live with dignity. inadequate health care. The world is now experiencing a silent tragedy caused by humanity’s inability to produce and distribute sufficient quantities of food. starvation being the first and most tragic. making potential workers unsuited to employment and further marginalizing the unwell in social and economic terms. 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). Moreover. They stem from the chronic or acute conditions of undernourishment and malnutrition that plague many poor and developing countries. In many cases.

2). prices for several leading food commodities began rising again. with a drop of 98 million (9.1 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. 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. where food and water issues exacerbate unresolved ethnic religious and economic tensions. In 2010. The slight decline of those numbers during 2010 is a positive development and marks a change of direction from previous years.4 percent of the world’s population of about 6.6 percent). This points to the real possibility of a new rise in the .access to food: present and future challenges | food for all 53 1.11. the overall situation shows a serious worsening over the last 15 years at the global level. the total number of undernourished people on Earth was roughly 925 million (figure 2. data trends show that inadequate nutrition affects 13. in the months between late 2010 and early 2011. 2. Still. 2011 (the data shown for 2009 and 2010 are estimated values).050 1. in developing areas.000 950 900 850 800 750 1.2 Undernourished people on earth (millions of people) Source: FAO. 12 Moreover.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. Indeed.9 billion people. reaching and outstripping the levels recorded in 2008.

more than twice the number for sub-Saharan Africa (201. therefore. in contrast. The greatest number of undernourished people lives in the developing nations.13 Over the mid.3 and 2.8 million (+65. 16 percent of that population was suffering from hunger. these were initiatives and measures aimed at social and economic . Indonesia. it is estimated that the number of undernourished people dropped by 5. In Asia. Ethiopia. that is. In Latin America. in sub-Saharan Africa and in the regions of North Africa and the Middle East. with a further deterioration in the wake of the economic downturn and the food crisis of 2008-2009. thanks to a series of focused interventions undertaken by individual governments. 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. and Pakistan. For the most long term. the trend is toward a slight decline: in fact. In fact.14 there were 835 million people living in conditions of inadequate nutrition in the developing countries. on the other hand.7 percent (approximately 33 million people) in the period from 1990 to 2007. A closer look at developing countries shows that Asia is the region with the highest number of undernourished people. The same thing happened in Latin America (a decline of 7. As the reader can see in figures 2. equal to −13.2 million of people. According to data for 2005-2007.3 million) in the period from 2005 to 2007. more than one out of every six people. China. respectively of 36. In developed countries.4. we foresee a general worsening of the overall picture. In 2010. 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. Unless this situation is addressed and resolved very rapidly. radically different trends have been observed in different areasover the past 15 years.3 percent) in the total number of undernourished people. concentration in asia.4 million. while in the regions of the Middle East and North Africa the number was roughly 32. the Democratic Republic of the Congo. where increases were recorded.2 million people). It is also worth noting that two-thirds of the world’s undernourished people are concentrated in seven countries: Bangladesh.54 eating planet overall number of people suffering from hunger in the developing countries.5 million people15 in the period from 2005 to 2007. inadequate nutrition affected a limited number of people (12. inadequate nutrition in Asia affected 554. India. moreover. the figures were 47 million. More than 40 percent of those people live in China and India. The opposite happened. it could well lead to a jump of 64 million in the total number of undernourished people. in contrast.3 million (+22 percent) and 12. showed improvement for the years from 1990 to 2007.3 percent). in 2007 98 percent of the world’s undernourished people lived in those countries.

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.

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

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

5 Governance of the supply chain Source: BCFN. the scope. • the direction of “food style. and nutritional quality. it seems fundamental to ensure the quantity and quality of produced and distributed food. This means that the entire food chain must be structured and governed more openly with goals of accessibility. and the complexity of the subject? For the five areas indicated. 2011. The following steps are essential: • return food to a central and primary role on the international political and economic agenda. which requires quick and precise action at various levels. 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. Indeed. Food cannot be treated simplistically as a commodity.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. There is an obvious lack of governance in the overall food system. reinforce worldwide governance mechanisms. What are the solutions to these problems. sustainability. but also in cultural terms. considering the assumptions. . It also means coordinating global policies and reducing unilateral protectionist policies over time. we suggest the following.” through a communications strategy aimed at increasing general awareness not only from a nutritional point of view.

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

price volatility In July 2011. .58% from the previous month. Large quantities of fresh produce was left to rot in markets. in the autonomous region of Ningxia Hui. As a result. average wholesale prices for food dropped by 7. China. the local government was forced to adopt price stabilization measures.

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

the price of cereals alone increased 71 percent. demographic factors. June 2010 through May 2011. the standard deviation. economic growth of emerging countries. 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. Choosing sustainable food consumption models for the future will allow us to reduce the emphasis placed on productivity gains. market prices for agricultural raw materials began increasing very rapidly in the second half of 2010. This is taking firm shape in the developed countries. Combined with the difficult world economic crisis. In fact. with sharp. which face a health crisis from the spread of metabolic.3 compared to 13. and sometimes extraordinary. increase in the prices of food commodities.4 the bcfn evaluation model Faced with this situation. but not only. and clarifying the causes of the high. Above all it highlights the factors that can be traced to the demand side (inventory levels of product. The BCFN evaluation model attempts to display the many elements that combine to define trends in food commodity prices. This causes uncertainty and instability on the markets. and tumor-related diseases caused by harmful eating habits. cardiovascular. studying. mainly because of the impact it will have on global production equilibrium in agriculture. which in turn create pressure on natural resources and environmental sustainability. this will become crucial also in the developing countries. scarcity of natural resources. In the last five years. the FAO Food Price Index increased 38 percent.a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices | food for all 67 nomic politics. in the developing countries).5). In just 12 months. a measurement of volatility. as mentioned) and on the economic and political stability of countries (particularly those in development). Moreover. surpassing the previous peak during the food crisis of 2008. Between July 2010 and February 2011.19 has more than doubled compared to the prior 15 years (29. we see a worrisome increase in the volatility of prices. 2. Over time. food choices) and to the supply side (agricultural production. 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. produc- . in order to assess their effects on the food security of families (mainly low-income families. the BCFN carried out research aimed at identifying. rapid oscillations taking place even within the same trading day.

This distinction is crucial. likewise. international trade policies. These are called endogenous factors. 2. many of these factors interact in a complex way in the demand-supply relationship.5 variables of the model To understand in depth the reasons for price increases and their extreme volatility. Some indirect. there are many interconnections among the factors themselves. in urbanization. conflagration. the global result will be a sudden increase in prices and greater uncertainty. this is ground on which international finance gladly treads. or flood in key world agriculture areas). the increase in price volatility can be short-term or long-term. prices do not have a tendency to increase and volatility peaks are less likely. all in a context of low product inventories. because the consequences and impacts of the two phenomena (absolute price level and volatility) are very different. impact of climate change). In reality. The outcome can only be a powerful shaking up of the markets. or among the indirect factors. shown by the dotted lines in the figure 2.6. More or less. 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. however. The need to prepare an easily understood graphic representation required placing different factors on the demand side. By way of example: consider a situation containing factors such as present and forecast global demographic growth. For example. and in the progressive worsening of the scarcity of natural resources. and significant investments in the production of biofuels. Add a major weather disaster (drought. That is. The evaluation model takes into account financial and exchange markets. the demographic and economic growth of emerging countries is creating a significant increase in the demand for food. we must analyze the different variables at work. this is what has happened in this recent turbulent phase. in the rise in temperatures caused by climate change. In a context of extremely difficult capital markets. the price of oil and energy. . their movement. exogenous factors that affect price levels directly or indirectly can be added to these.68 eating planet tion of biofuels. absolute price levels can increase over the middle to long term. In equilibrium. and geopolitical dynamics. 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. heated economic development in emerging countries. on the supply side. The imbalance between supply and demand is at the origin of the changes in price levels. and their points of interaction. Moreover. If the policy responses are protectionist.

This is due mainly to urbanization. The risk of insufficient global supply arises from the increasing scarcity of natural resources. To try to limit this phenomenon. and on the other hand. Water is also becoming an everscarcer resource as per capita consumption increases worldwide. demographic and economic growth. and changes in the intended use of crops (particularly for the production of biofuels). 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. The annual rate of growth in productivity from 1991 to 2010 was 0. structural factors. 2011.8). degradation of the land.62 percent less than that from 1961 to 1990 (figure 2. These include. Water tables .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. the consumption of agricultural goods is constantly growing (figure 2. insufficient supply globally and high levels of waste and losses. scientists are studying alternative ways to favor the consumption of vegetables with high protein content and to stimulate replacements for the consumption of meat.7). on one hand.6 Interpretative model of food price volatility Source: BCFN. which seriously threatens the growth of agricultural productivity. As a result of the increase in population and per capita income in the developing countries. which directly affects the consumption of agricultural products and has a heavy impact on the consumption of resources to support animal husbandry.

980 2. (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. such as La Niña. Decisions about international economic policy (trade policy) by individual States have always played a fundamental role in determining price levels on a global scale. financial speculation. which have had a role in driving up the price of food over the middle to long term (figure 2. It takes eight to ten times as much water to produce meat as to grow grains. drought in the southern United States. and inventories. short-term factors that could either exacerbate or mitigate the effects of the structural factors by acting on the volatility and instability of prices.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. which 2. 2010. During the crisis in 2008.380 3.152 1984‑1986 Developing nations 2. at least 30 countries implemented restrictive export policies in an effort to safeguard internal food security.500 . Recurring phenomena. downstream in developed countries).947 2030 3.440 1964‑1966 2.206 3. Climate change is implicated in the rising incidence of adverse weather events. raged in early 2011. oil prices.9).065 3. These include climate change-related phenomena.7 Daily per capita consumption of calories (1964—estimates to 2030) Source: BCFN on FAO data. trade policies. and meager harvests caused by such events. There are additional. causing colder winters in the Northern Hemisphere.70 eating planet 3.054 1974‑1976 2. short-term factors. are threatened by growing urbanization and intensive use for livestock. One of the most critical problems involves the level of waste and losses along the chain (upstream losses in developing countries. macroeconomic factors. and increased rains in Indonesia. and Australia.681 2. Malaysia.450 1997‑1999 2.850 2015 Industrialized nations figure 2.

suffers from light rainfall Poor harvests in the Chinese farming regions.a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices | food for all 71 3. 2011 Mar. 2010 Oct. 2010 Jul.900 1. July 2011.400 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. 2010 Sep.84% 2.400 CAGR 1991‑2010: + 1.9 Trend of cereal prices and principal climatic events (June 2010—April 2011) Source: BCFN on USDA and FAO data. 2010 Nov. 2011 Apr. in India cold damages the cereal grain crops Heavy rains and flooding destroys the corn crop in the American corn belt 100 Jun.8 The global yield of cereals 21 (1961‑2010) Note: CAGR. 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.S. 2010 Aug. 2010 Jan. . Compound Annual Growth Rate. 2011. 100 = oct.400 CAGR 1961‑1990: + 1. 250 fao cereals price index. 2011 Feb. 2010 Dec.900 kilograms per hectare 2. 2011 figure 2. 2011 May 2011 Jun. Source: BCFN on World Bank data.22% 1.

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

In India “unseasonal” monsoon rains hit southern Asia. .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. leading to higher prices for staple foods.

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

How can we act on such a complex system. a reduction of less than 2 percent in the output of grain caused the price to double.6 strategies for controlling volatility The picture that emerges from this analysis is extremely complex. 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 . For example.65 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.7 0. when inventory levels are low in the absence of a “cushioning” mechanism. American grain exports dropped by 29% As a result of the recent depreciation of the dollar.a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices | food for all 75 250 200 150 100 50 0 Between March 2006 and November 2007. American grain exports rose by 46% Between July 2008 and July 2009. the response to a supply shock is a direct increase in price levels. 2011. figure 2. partly because of an imbalance between production and consumption.8 0. It must be interpreted systematically.55 0.75 0. (hedging operational risk) on the agricultural markets helped to aggravate the overall instability.85 0. and corn decreased worldwide between 2000 and 2011. between 1972 and 1973.13 shows that inventory levels of rice. and FAO data. Finally. However. American exports rose by 56% 0.12 Exchange rate $/€ and the Cereals/Food Price Index (March 2006—June 2011) Source: BCFN on USDA. OECD.5 figure 2. when international inventories were low. World inventory levels are difficult to estimate.6 0. grain. 2. as they are recorded as annual aggregates on individual markets and therefore can only be guessed. taking into consideration the many elements contributing to the current unbalanced situation.

2011.” as well as—for a more general treatment— to the chapter Food for Sustainable Growth. supported by significant amounts of public investment.36% 2. and stock levels of rice. 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.44% 0. Compound Annual Growth Rate. will be decisive.13 Rate of average annual variation of production. grain. . higher quality.4% − 3. It is essential to consider the timeline for taking this action.7% Corn − 3. there are seven principal areas for action: agricultural production.76 eating planet 2. guiding the sector to update production models and agricultural patterns for greater productivity. it will be fundamental to sort the factors examined according to the concrete possibility of being able to affect them.93% Rice 0.95% 1. 2000‑2011) Note: CAGR. In our opinion.03% Wheat − 0. Stimulate the overall growth of agriculture. Source: BCFN on Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) data. The challenge will be to promote innovation. and less environmental impact. by defin‑ ing optimal production models and agricultural patterns for various geographic con‑ texts. 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.75% 0. consumption. where there is a detailed analysis of the requirements for sustainability of the agro-industrial system.5% CAGR production CAGR consumption CAGR Stock figure 2. and corn (World. we refer the reader both to the section “Facilitate economic development and increase agricultural productivity. In terms of possible leverage. Scientific and technical research on these subjects.

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

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

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

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

underscored at the G-20 Summit of Agriculture Ministers in Paris in June 2011. 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. so that limits could be placed on speculative operators to prevent excessive betting on the movement of prices. in order to progressively harmonize trades on these markets. economic growth does not seem to be capable by itself of ensuring higher levels of overall well-being. Perhaps even more important. In particular. leaving the real market free to operate. For the fact is that there is often a strong disconnect between growth and well-being. For example. Olivier De Schutter. On the other hand. it will be impossible to obtain significant results without acting on the system. In other words. the disconnect arises because con- . such as excessive exploitation of environmental resources. But it is becoming ever more important to define the conditions under which economic growth can be considered sustainable. We need balanced action that touches all. the flow of information and the transparency of over-the-counter operations could be improved. The recent dramatic economic crisis has led many countries to focus their energies on the problem of trying to re-launch interrupted growth. 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. of the various critical points. 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 today. removing the causes of the system’s current fragility. 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. or most. As the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to tools to measure and promote well-being | food for all 81 trends and to prevent possible excessive speculative behavior. it also appears desirable to introduce rules22 to define the perimeter of action for financial intermediaries on the agricultural commodities market. such as industrial water pollution or mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. 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. mechanisms could be introduced to distinguish between sector operators and non-commercial operators. or the wide range of negative effects of economic activity.

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

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

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

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

Consider first the effect that food choices have on the health of children and adults. We should take into account. the two indices.). when we discuss the various options. the techniques of statistical measurement—however broad the array of indicators utilized may be—are linked. and positively (protection against certain diseases). etc. in fact. there are aspects of food that closely involve the social sphere and interpersonal relationships (conviviality. However. both negatively (direct causes or risk factors for serious disease). an “inventory of well-being”). We have avoided definitions that emphasized one element or one particular aspect at the expense of others. 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. every decision brings with it an elevated and necessary level of approximation. 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. from a methodological point of view. 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. 2. because they are responsible for consuming and degrading natural resources (from greenhouse gas emissions to soil depletion and water pollution). these are based on a trade off. the choice of a limited number of variables pays the price of an elevated level of approximation in terms of the description of reality. 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. and the BCFN . It is obvious that food and nutrition directly or indirectly affect well-being. the impact that food and nutrition have on the environment around us is also significant. 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. in order to take into account the greatest number of factors that have an impact on well-being. time spent preparing food. to measure the present well-being of individuals (what people feel and live today. meals. On the other hand. to broad simplifications and a necessary set of conventions. in the current state of the art in the field. In the second place. A limited number of variables observed and estimated. Also.86 eating planet place. socializing.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.

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

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

that is. family.15. the Index represents a snapshot of the well-being of a population at a specific instant.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. 2011. Of the 10 countries compared with the BCFN Index of Current Well-being on seven dimensions of well-being. followed . 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.14 The BCFN Index of actual well‑being and its components Source: BCFN. 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. investments.5 points. Denmark led with 7. and the social and interpersonal sub-index—are compiled from 27 performance indicators that measure the seven identified dimensions of well-being. and environmental sub-index. 2. shown in figure 2. and institutions) “social” well-being 10% “political” well-being (democracy and individual freedom) 10% figure 2. 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.

7 points). Japan (5.29 points.90 eating planet point scale from 1 to 10 6. we obtain the BCFN Index of Well-being Sustainability.0) and the United States (4. from a dynamic point of view. although the difference between third and fourth place was only one point.15 Ranking of the BCFN Index of actual well‑being Source: BCFN.8) brought up the rear. Then came France and Germany with similar scores a little over 6. Table 2. France (5.0 5. 2011.10 points.57 points. The United Kingdom came in third with 6.3 5.9) were in sixth and seventh place. followed closely by Denmark with 7. Last was Greece with 3.0 points.5 points). grouped into the dimensions to which they belong.30 The BCFN Index of Well-being Sustainability represents a multi-dimensional measurement of the future sustainability of the well-being of individuals.09 points.7 7.8 4. the wealth and environmental sub-index.5) and Greece (3. By this index. .7 5. and the social and interpersonal sub-index. Sweden led with 7.66 points. respectively. closely by Sweden with 7. and Germany (5.9 greece spain italy usa germany france japan great britain sweden denmark figure 2.3 points. significantly behind the others. It is also an aggregate index. Italy was in next-to-last place with 5. consisting of 25 performance indicators to measure the seven dimensions of well-being in three sub-indices: the lifestyle sub-index. Spain (4. shown in figure 2.16.7 points).5 5.0 7. The next three countries received similar scores.5 4.5 3. Using a simple weighted average to aggregate the scores of the 10 countries into the three sub-indices. Italy (5.1 shows the detailed list of the 27 performance indicators used. namely (in order).

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


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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.


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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.


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

Unfortunately. Products like soft drinks. you can often still access soft drinks or packaged processed foods. food is abundant. highly subsidized commodities. She is the founder and executive director of The 30 Project and a cofounder of FEED Projects.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. where she is fighting for a sustainable worldwide nutritional system. seismic shifts began around 1980 concurrent with consolidation in food and agribusiness. You have often raised this point. much of it is led by agribusiness with the goal of opening new markets to its fertilizers. almost everywhere in the world to access nutritious foods. What does it mean to deal with the “para‑ dox” in this perspective? What functional implications does it involve? . In the developed world. Since 1980 these strong consolidated forces have over-produced corn. very well known in her native country (the United States). but not the diversity of healthy foods that are needed for good nutrition. LLC. package snacks. Until those foods are focus of agricultural systems all around the world. Looking back at changes in the global food system. As farms in the developed world consolidated and focused on a few. pesticides and commodity seeds. In particular. but the most abundant is usually the least nutritious and most calorie dense. soy and wheat. whole grains and healthy proteins for good nutrition. then. 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). food companies pushed for new ways to make “food” cheaply from those crops. you invite us to view the “paradox” as a problem relative to the management of a single global system. 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 developing world. ballooned with a population that came to assume that cheap. What. and fast food. ever-present food was a new right and represented progress. Now that we are re-engaging with agricultural development. both sides of the malnutrition coin— hunger and obesity—are likely to persist. a company that creates “good” products with the ambition feeding the world. The fundamental problem continuing to cause both hunger and obesity is that it is difficult. where agriculture and markets are failing.

price fluctuations in commodity markets hurting urban consumers and small farmers. and whole grains that we should be eating. and mostly underpaid workers. Cheap food has driven farmers from land and become an aggravator of our immigration and unemployment issues. to find the fruits. But. and economic development. packaged sugary carbohydrates. what choices of agricultural policy do you think western countries should make. In the US. environmental health. as farm and food factory jobs are done by migrant. environmental health (especially water and soil) and the economy. 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. almost anywhere in the world. drinks. and fuel). but we should also be considering the implications of our current food systemon economic development. Over-pro- . soy. We have to take very seriously the effects of agriculture’s negative externalities on human health. and agricultural development focused on market commodities in lieu of nutrition). it is much harder. and fried fast foods almost anywhere (even in the poorest communities) due to an unbelievable logistics network. Today. undocumented. 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. lunch and dinner. and wheat dumped as food aid. Specifically.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. vegetables. you can get western foods. 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 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. 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. even in the wealthy west. like soft drinks. and water issues in both the West and developing world. nutrition. The implications to the world’s consumers of a food system that is not rooted in health and nutrition are obvious. 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. health.

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

better-raised foods. . Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Poll). Entrepreneurs are cropping up to fulfill the demands of healthier. so established food businesses should work to improve their practices and meet consumer demands or be eaten.S.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.

“responsible” trading system based on multilateral rules that can assure greater access to food worldwide. • avoiding competition between biofuels and food in growing crops. 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. political. • creating a multilateral system for food reserves and improving the transparency of flows and inventories. while prices tend to decline with increases in the stock-to-use ratio. This requires at least four actions: • building a transparent. social. 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.102 eating planet action plan facilitate the economic development of the poorest countries Hunger is a direct consequence of poverty. 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. one would hope for a reduction in the use of import barriers. and environmental factors that influence people’s lives. In general. To alleviate poverty. • regulating financial speculation on food commodities. In particular. we can state with relative certainty that such speculation could have amplified short-term volatility. Despite the ongoing debate about the role speculation may play in the increase in agricultural prices. There is a strong connection between changes in inventories and the price trends for food commodities. Policy . 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. export subsidies. Agriculture is the sector that makes the greatest contribution to income growth among the weakest populations in developing countries. 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. and other trade restrictions.

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

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.4 3.table of contents introduction Paying What’s Fair by Carlo Petrini facts & figures the double pyramid: healthy food for people. and sustainable food for the environment 3.10 3. Herren Virtual Water Between Underconsumption and Poor Management by Tony Allan action plan .6 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 toward sustainable agriculture 3.8 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 3.2 3.3 3.9 3.11 3.1 3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the population of Earth will be 9 billion.  food for sustainable growth 9 bILLIOn + 2012 In 2050. . 3 billion people will lack adequate drinking water 3 30% 2050 IMPACT OF AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITY 33% OF 80% PRODUCTION WATER CONSUMPTION .45% OF GREEn “LUnGS” Roughly 43% of all tropical and subtropical forests and 45% of all temperate forests have been converted into farmland .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.112 eating planet 3. compared to 7 billion today + bILLIOn THIRSTY PEOPLE ON EARTH In 2025.

5. while a third of all farmland is cultivated for the production of animal feed.600 liters -THE EMISSIONS 30% OF 1% 2012 3.8% of all farmland will be used for biofuels . while a diet composed of cereals. and fish uses somewhere between 1. vegetables.600 LITERS 1. impoverished. fruit. or exhausted entirely 32% FISHInG COnSUMPTIOn OF VIRTUAL WATER The consumption of virtual water with a diet rich in meat is close to 5.500 LITERS RESOURCES In DAnGER OF EXHAUSTIOn 32% of the fishing areas have been over fished. By 2030.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. between 2.400 liters.5% and 3.8% 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.500 and 2.400 LITERS 2.

. Quite the opposite. the level of each food category suggests the proper frequency of consumption.1. for instance. asking people to be more responsible in no way diminishes their well-being. who have such a powerful effect on the entire market with the daily choices and decisions they make. but also the health of the planet we inhabit. the foods closest to the top of the pyramid should be eaten least frequently. In 2010 the BCFN created and published the Double Food and Environmental Pyramid. the producers. 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 2011. and millions of other cars—and the traffic jams and congestion they create—can make owning a car almost pointless. the collective advantage is frequently at odds with individual advantages. but also—and perhaps even more so—on the behaviors of individuals and families. which is the traditional approach to food adopted in such Mediterranean basin countries as Italy. 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). But in the food sector. and the distributors. But there is a key difference between the food sector and other sectors. the Double Pyramid was updated and redesigned in the version shown in Figure 3. 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. Further. it actually benefits one’s own health as well. In other words. In fact. a communications tool for linking the nutritional aspects and the environmental impacts of food. the sustainability of the agro-alimentary chain of production depends not only on the commitment of the farmers. The food/nutritional section of the Double Pyramid was built with an eye to the model of the Mediterranean diet. While it is crucial to ensure the greatest possible variety in one’s diet. not only do you respect your own health. 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. In the food pyramid on the left. In transportation. on the basis of further analysis. 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. and the foods at the base of the pyramid should be part of every meal.114 eating planet the double pyramid: healthy food for people. your having a car interferes a little bit with my enjoyment of my own car.

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

and how much. however. since then the Mediterranean diet. The carbohydrates found in fruit and vegetables consist for the most part of simple sugars. and fiber. Plant-based foods are also the chief source of fiber. rice. and it is a powerful educational tool for changing patterns of consumption. The first level contains fruits and vegetables. As we move upward. The secret of longevity lies in the balanced consumption of all natural foods. in terms of frequency and quantity. thanks to its simple and intuitive graphic nature. which has two strengths: it is an excellent synthesis of the principal knowledge developed by medicine and by food studies. vegetable. it is important to reduce the consumption of foods rich in saturated fats. and grain products. potatoes. in Italy and elsewhere. which can be easily utilized by the body. has been challenged by competition from global food models (first and foremost. and legumes. 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. bread. Let’s take a more detailed look at the food pyramid. Unfortunately. water) and protective compounds (fibers and plantbased bioactive compounds). vitamins. which are foods with limited caloric content that provide the body with water. which contributes to lower consumption of high-energy foods. 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). carbohydrates. Continuing upward. which ought to be consumed in smaller quantities. The American physiologist Ancel Keys. These people. Protein and fat content is very low. In particular. and small amounts of starch. was one of the first to explain to a worldwide audience why people were longer-lived in certain regions. 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. who published the best-seller Eat Well and Stay Well in 1958. At the same time. American fast food). where the diet tended to be rich in saturated fat. we find pasta. 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. on fruit. with an emphasis. that are rich in nutrients (vitamins.1 the food pyramid as an educational tool In recent years. we find foods with progressively greater energy density (very much present in the American diet). meats. Pasta . The general pattern is obvious: at the base we find plant-based foods.116 eating planet 3. typical of the dietary habits of the Mediterranean region. which helps regulate intestinal function and makes us feel full. the base of the pyramid. and sweets. they eat. mineral salts. minerals.

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

legumes. which are crucial to children’s growth and to the formation of muscles. which is the same model employed by the BCFN for the construction of the food pyramid. but also Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases—is the adoption of a way of eating based on the Mediterranean nutritional model. cancer. About half of the proteins in meat consist of amino acids that are essential to the human organism. white meat. selenium. moderate consumption of fish and dairy products (especially cheese and yogurt) and wine. It can range from virtually zero to almost 30 percent. 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. with a small proportion of polyunsaturated fats. and limited consumption of red meat. and zinc. and animal fats. a series of studies has also shown a strong correlation between diet . is important because it helps to provide high quality proteins. That diet is characterized by high consumption of vegetables.118 eating planet The consumption of meat. copper. depending on the kind of meat. 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. cardiovascular diseases. The nutritional value of the Mediterranean diet was scientifically proven by the well-known “Seven Countries Study” conducted by Ancel Keys.2 some studies of the mediterranean diet From an analysis of the many reference studies. extensive research has analyzed the links between ways of eating and the rise of chronic diseases. fresh and dried fruit. 3. 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. olive oil. along with sweets (which are rich in fats and simple sugars) and should be consumed in moderation. In that study. From Keys’s study to the present day. the diets adopted by various populations were compared to determine their benefits and critical points. and cereal grains (which in the past were largely unrefined). Beginning in the mid1990s. we can see that one protective factor against many of the most common chronic diseases—especially cardiovascular diseases and tumors. The fats are mainly saturated and monounsaturated. We also find B vitamins (in particular. and diabetes). 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. especially lean meat. Fat content is variable. B12).

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

it is worth noting that research shows that the Mediterranean diet has a positive impact at all ages. One example is what the United States . A recent broad-based European study by EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition). from the prenatal period into advanced old age. 2011. 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. cardiovascular diseases. Alzheimer’s disease). A major international effort is under way to make the arguments of the food pyramid and the Mediterranean diet increasingly accessible to ordinary people. for instance.2 The graphic representation of food advice issued by the USDA Source: USDA. neurological or psychiatric diseases (for instance. over a three-month time span. found some 70 scientific publications focusing on the Mediterranean diet. showed that strict adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a significant reduction (-33 percent) of the risk of developing a gastric carcinoma. Last of all.044 adult subjects over a period of about nine years. erectile dysfunction). sexual disturbances (both female and male. as well as a number of oncological (cancer-related) pathologies. For instance. respiratory diseases or allergies. from the pyramid to the dinner plate. which evaluated 485.120 eating planet figure 3. that a study appearing in the PubMed scientific database. including metabolic conditions. and longevity.

and final disposal. diabetes. reuse. transport. Figure 3. 3. fabrication. LCA analysis follows a product or service throughout its entire life in order to evaluate the energy and environmental loads imposed by its production. and tumors.3 the environmental pyramid The food pyramid based on the Mediterranean diet is clearly among the healthiest dietary approaches available. it is clear that a large share of the most respected scientific research on the relationship between diet and chronic diseases shows. However a healthy diet is depicted. It was constructed from research tracing the environmental effects of various food types using the life-cycle assessment (LCA) method. assembly. and follows them through processing.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. distribution. use.4).3 shows the guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. . 2009.2). The LCA approach offers the most objective and complete evaluation possible of the system (figure 3. 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. LCA begins with the initial cultivation or extraction of raw materials. 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.3 Scheme of medical guidelines Source: BCFN. beyond any reasonable doubt. a different visual translation of the contents of the Food Pyramid (figure 3. recycling.

850 3.600 9.4 The LCA method of analysis is regulated by the international standards ISO 14040 and 14044 Source: BCFN.122 eating planet 1. Transportation figure 3.900 3.000 4. 2011. Packing 4.000 4.5 Carbon footprint of foods (gCO2 eq per kg or liter of food) Source: BCFN.000 2.600 1.000 8.000 figure 3.640 4.000 3.000 / 45.200 legend average value + cooking cooking max min 8.200 2.300 1. 2011. .000 1.000 / 25.000 4.400 1.000 Beef Cheese Butter Eggs Pork Fish Rice Poultry Oil Dried Fruit Pasta Breakfast Cereal Sweets Cookies Legumes Margarine Milk Yogurt 1. Transformation 5.000 6.250 3.100 900 670 665 600 0 2. 20.000 Bread Fruit Vegetables Potatoes 3.300 2.000 2.500 26. Cultivation 2.600 8.900 1. Cooking 3.

2011.300 1.560 5.775 1. 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).000 5. 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. Finally.000 Butter Pork Poultry Rice Eggs Legumes Sweets Pasta Cookies Bread Milk Yogurt Fruit Potatoes Vegetables 2.000 legend average value 1.000 1. It important to note that the impacts considered in the BCFN environmental pyramid are not the only ones generated by the food production sector.360 5.the double pyramid | food for sustainable growth 123 environmental indicators.6).6 Water footprint of foods (liters of water per liter or kg of food) Source: BCFN. the most significant impacts. 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. BCFN chose to construc the environmental pyramid using only the ecological footprint.160 3. They are. A food’s water footprint (or virtual water content) accounts for the consumption and means of use of water resources.000 930 920 900 240 0 2.000 8.555 5.400 3.000 4.5). measured in equivalent CO2 mass (figure 3.” 10.000 min max 1. It is measured in global square meters or hectares (figure 3. To measure greenhouse gases.000 Beef Dried Fruit Oil Cheese 15.000 / 15.000 4.140 1.300 3. however. BCFN used the carbon footprint. and the capacity to regenerate the territorial resources that are utilized in producing food.000 Breakfast Cereal figure 3.000 4.000 6.800 3. In the interests of brevity and clarity. It is measured in volume (liters) of water (figure 3. .7).900 3. the utilization of water resources.500 8.

it is possible to “save” as much as a total of 20 square meters a day. 3. so we also explored the concept of the Double Pyramid for growing children and adolescents. the proteins are from plants (“vegetarian menu”). with varying frequencies of a vegetarian menu as opposed to a meat menu. 7 4 12 4 min.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. the influence of food choices. fats. and carbohydrates).7 The ecological footprint of foods (global square meter per kg or liter of food) Source: BCFN. however.8 gives an idea of the degree to which individual food choices can affect the ecological footprint by comparing two different daily menus. both for caloric content and nutrients (proteins. while in the second menu the proteins are for the most part of animal origin (“meat menu”). The meat menu has a three‑fold greater environmental impact than the vegetarian menu. and imagine three different dietary regimens. as recommended by nutritionists. In the first menu. . 3 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 / 160 0 10 figure 3. 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. Figure 3. 2011. Both menus are balanced in nutritional terms. If we limit the consumption of animal proteins to just twice a week.

8 How the ecological footprint varies as a function of food choices Source: BCFN.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. .140 6.the double pyramid | food for sustainable growth 125 2. 2011.720 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. mixed green salad 1.030 2.455 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.210 g CO2 eq 140 g CO2 eq figure 3.

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

increasing the variety of food. while at the same time.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. . Agroforestry methods improve soil and water availability. which works in Kenya to spread land management models designed to ensure better living conditions for the poorest farmers.

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. and rice). A proper diet will contain a lot of day-to-day variety: a mixture of foods that includes plant-based foodstuffs (fruit. 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. Only 1 percent of all children consume portions and varieties of food that are nutritionally optimal. cereal grains.). 2011. cheese. Despite these recommendations. vegetables.128 eating planet Consumption of cereal grains (bread. seeds.10 The optimal weekly breakdown of food intake for children and adolescents Source: BCFN. etc. dairy products. The same studies also show that the daily caloric intake observed for most school-aged children is not only greater than their needs. pasta. etc. legumes. ham.) and animal-based foods (meat. but is also prin- .

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

11 The double pyramid for growing children and adolescents Source: BCFN. The adoption of a proper dietary model thus has both direct and indirect effects on the future of our children. via the spread of overweight and obesity) and a corresponding reduction of their life expectancy. increasingly widespread ways of eating are leading to a gradual decline in the health of younger people (in particular. beginning with children. In this context. Pasta. That development runs counter to a well-established trend of growing life expectancies. and secondarily on the children themselves. 2011. parents and school systems must commit to collaborating more intensely to the nutritional education of future generations. Rice high low food pyramid figure 3. leads to certain implications that ought to be further explored and popularized among families and educators.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). the excessive use of certain foods (generally speaking. On the one hand. Such a campaign should focus on parents and the educational system. That makes it indispensable to create a collective sense of responsibility. On the other hand. 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. 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 . Bread. 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.

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

herbicides. four new innovations appeared: high-yield plant varieties (HYVs). and synthetic fertilizers developed through the use of nitrogen. and growing concern about the potential scarcity of key resources. 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. 2011. especially petroleum. corn. In certain areas. especially of wheat. and the adoption of agrochemistry (the massive use of pesticides. These led to a striking rise in the volumes of production per working farmer.12 The model developed by the IAASTD for representing the complex system of agriculture Source: IAASTD. and rice. phosphorus. the practice of monoculture. the spread of mechanized farming. fungicides. 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 potassium). . beginning in the 1960s and 1970s.132 eating planet for two reasons: the spreading awareness of the damage conventional agriculture inflicts on the environment.

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

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

the trend was identified by using a moving five‑year average.5% CAGR 98‑09 1. 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.toward sustainable agriculture | food for sustainable growth 135 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 CAGR 64‑75 3. Source: Elaboration of data from United States Department of Agriculture Database.0% CAGR 75‑86 2. a clear way forward has not yet materialized. high-quality product. at least not one that is capable of delivering high-volume production. 1961‑2009) Note: Yield per hectare has been calculated as the relationship between the level of production and the area harvested. has led to experimentation with approaches that are more considerate of overall sustainability. meanwhile.13). 2009 1993 2003 1983 1999 2007 1963 1981 1987 1989 1991 1997 1969 2001 1961 1965 1973 1979 1967 1975 1977 1985 1971 . and social sustainability. economic. ment that marked the first 30 years since the introduction of the intensive monoculture paradigm has progressively lost momentum (figure 3.0% CAGR 86‑98 1.13 The trend of corn yield per hectare–USA (metric tons per hectare. 2011. The critique of the intensive monoculture approach. for every single year considered. and environmental.6% 1995 2005 Annual yield per hectare (metric tons per hectare) Trend (simple moving five‑year average) CAGR = Compound Annual Growth Rate figure 3. The first task is to identify the underlying prerequisites of the potential agricultural models in light of the demand for sustainability. But despite some promising results from the emerging new models.

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

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

and Sicily). 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. in this case. LEI. This section summarizes the most significant results of this work. it can help us to formulate a number of broad observations in response to these critical questions: How do the various models (HEI. Figure 3. this is an extremely simplified depiction of reality.6 The study made it clear that.15).7 the gross revenue generated. C) shows a number of findings of the study concerning the carbon footprint.7 the sustainability of the systems used to grow durum wheat: the barilla case In keeping with the ideas discussed here. Barilla therefore underwrote a study to analyze and compare different agricultural models for the cultivation of durum wheat. not only do all the parameters of its sustainability alter substantially.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.8 and the efficiency in terms of the utilization of nitrogen. Italian farmers can reduce the emission of CO2 (by as much as 40 to 50 percent. For all of these macro-areas. 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. 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. Basilicata. B. it is more sustainable in both environmental and economic terms. and southern Italy (Puglia. are intimately tied to the agricultural setting where it is cultivated. and Umbria). durum wheat. the Emilia-Romagna region. i. and thus both increase the quality and the quantity of cereal grain produced. 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. Our methodology focused on four regions: the Lombard and Venetian plains. Still. The study also made clear that the characteristics of a plant species. When that setting varies.16 (A. central Italy (Tuscany. Marches..e. in many cases. The ultimate objective was to identify sustainable agricultural systems that could subsequently be tested in the various national territories of production. . while improving both quality and profitability.138 eating planet Clearly. Barilla decided to carry out a number of experiments to test the possibilities for improving its own agricultural supply chain. but so do the final quality and quantity of the material produced. standard rotation practices were identified that were representative of the rotations of durum wheat in Italy (figure 3.

” Filiera Grano Duro News. .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. 2011.15 Crop rotations studied in the four macro‑areas of Italy Source: “Sostenibilità dei sistemi colturali con frumento duro.

on gross revenue b .4 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. 2011. 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 3.6 0. ** Standard crop rotations normally adopted in each area.1 0.7 0. on efficiency of nitrogen use c Source: “Sostenibilità dei sistemi colturali con frumento duro.16 Effect of farming sistems on carbon footprint a .5 0.” Filiera Grano Duro News.3 0. .2 0.140 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.

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

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

which competes directly with the use of raw materials in the food and feed sectors. and oilseeds. address the exogenous factors of sustainability in agriculture: food waste and biofuels. which exists in truly unsettling proportions and represents one of the chief challenges for future agricultural sustainability (figures 3.toward sustainable agriculture | food for sustainable growth 143 4. when alternatives (maximum quality vs. sugar. for instance). Sound management of biodiversity and the use of different models. In addition to food waste and loss. etc. all equally optimized for sustainability.18). the use of advanced irrigation systems. enhances the capability to respond to adverse events and to attain specific system objectives. 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. they are frequently talking only about productivity and yield. 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. biodiversity can and should be used as a tool for effective risk management. corn. As noted in the previous point.S. high volume. 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. But what is even more important is the capacity to adapt.12 The extensive use of corn for the production of ethanol in the United States has had significant worldwide repercussions. in fact. In 2010 the U. used . 6. The belief is that these can only be increased by improving individual strains and varieties. The most important issue of this kind is food waste. Nowadays. It represents a third of world production and two-thirds of total exported volumes. technology too takes on a different connotation from the one that these days seems to be all too prevalent. invest in technology to make agriculture more adaptable to change. 5. a scientific approach to fertilization. From 2008 to 2010. bioethanol was produced mainly from raw cereal grains (55 percent) and cane sugar (35 percent). when people talk about technology in agriculture. while biodiesel production relied mainly (90 percent) on vegetable oils. 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. According to the approach that we are suggesting.17 and 3.

4 percent of its total corn production to make ethanol. a total of 8.2 percent). Between 2004 and 2007. 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. The same dynamic seems to be at play in the production of biodiesel: in Europe. . roughly 3 percent of world production.17 The per capita quantity of food lost or wasted in different regions of the planet (kg/year) Source: FAO. West & Central Asia South & Southeast Asia Latin America Consumer Production to retailing figure 3.144 eating planet 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 5 Europe North America & Oceania Industrialized Asia Sub‑Saharan Africa North Africa. while the share of the total corn crop used in the production of ethanol increased by 36 percent.” 2011.5 percent. “Global food losses and food waste. was used in the production of biodiesel fuel.6 million metric tons of vegetable oils. volumes of corn used in food and food products increased at an annual rate of 1. an estimated 38.

While growing shares of several agricultural crops are being sucked into the biofuels sector. “Global food losses and food waste. the problem of alternative energy production cannot merely be limited to the quantity of a crop that is used in the production of fuel. West & Central Asia South & Southeast Asia Latin America Consumption Distribution Processing Postharvest Agriculture figure 3. in different regions of the planet (% of initial production) Source: FAO.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. 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.” 2011. .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. With waste and biofuels alike.

combining various indicators of an environmental. nitrogenbased fertilization. i. and the protection of plants.e. The findings of this model underlie many of the observations described above. it becomes possible to form hypotheses about what the appropriate choices of production policy should be. expressed in terms of the agricultural models adopted. In an effort to assess the performance of current agricultural models and to come up with alternatives for the future.. simulating agricultural models and their effects on food production. the way the land is tilled.13 and an HEI (high external input) model. agricultural. we want to stress a key point. And it will continue to be sufficient. and economic nature. Greece. We ran simulations involving two principal models: an LEI (low external input) model characterized by low energy use and high labor input. 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. can impact the world agricultural system. sowing. 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. Before going any farther. the quantity of food produced every year is enough to feed the world’s population. Turkey. 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. 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.146 eating planet In order to consolidate these results. summarized here by a very significant increase in the price of oil. 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. Considering a time span of 80 years (1970-2050) and evaluating the impact on the per-capita quantity of food calories (calories) produced annually. Our objective was to understand how substantial external shocks. According to the simulations we conducted.14 These two models differ primarily in terms of their varying characteristics of sustainability over time. while taking into account a diverse array of scenarios of the development of the shock. which assumes higher consumption of energy and use of inorganic fertilizers. Sweden and Canada). 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- . Germany.

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

Figure 3. In any case. leaving unchanged the rankings of the scenarios in terms of yields and calories produced.. The results of the simulation show that. We 3. i.19 Agricultural production for human nutrition (daily cal per capita) and the simulation of energy shocks Source:BCFN su data FAO. the results are sharply influenced by the share of cereal grains destined for animal feed and biofuels. a drop in productivity over the short term with a return to higher yield levels over the mid to long term.19 shows the estimated effects of an energy shock in the year 2050 on global output. If that period proves to be short.000 2000 2005 2030 2040 2020 2050 1990 1980 1995 1970 2010 2015 2035 2045 1975 1985 2025 min.e.500 2. If there is no reduction in the quantity of energy available. the world agricultural system is clearly fragile. an approach with low external inputs would lead to a Worse-Before-Better (WBB) result.750 2. 2011.250 2. the results of a strong HEI growth energy shock and a BAU energy shock should be less negative. the results will be strongly dependent on how long agricultural systems will take to shift from an HEI approach to an LEI one.000 2. In case of an energy crisis.148 eating planet required to acquire the necessary know-how for the transition. As these results suggest. 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 3.500 kcal/person/day 3. .250 3. a modification of these hypotheses would not change the outcome in qualitative terms. in the case of reductions of available energy from 2025 on.

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

And we are constantly using increasing quantities of it. reality is far more complex than the intentionally simplistic representation of our simulation model. and cereal grains. We know full well the nature of the interests and the dire litigious tensions that revolve around the control of petroleum deposits. is by no means insignificant. the water economy and the emergency it confronts The water economy is the science that studies the way in which water resources. it illustrates one of the most important topics of future development. Of course. must be managed in order satisfy the growing needs of man without creating social inequalities and unsustainable environmental impacts. availability of water. In fact. but matters might quickly change because “quality water”—fresh. Conflicts over water might well be far more serious. for cooking. There are a great number of factors at play aside from energy inputs: soil quality. That water is precious is something we realize only when it begins to run short. vegetables. That consumption should be considered not only in real terms (that is. water scarcity might have appeared to be restricted to less fortunate countries. one of the best ways to reduce one’s virtual water footprint is to change to a diet rich in fruit. unpolluted water—constitutes only a minimal percentage of our water reserves. which are limited by nature. The result presented here. etc.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. 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. adaptation to atmospheric phenomena. Until now. and for cleaning house). What is therefore necessary is a concerted effort to adopt a more rational use of water. 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. After all. however. while limiting the quantity of animal proteins. As we noted earlier. 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. 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. by calculating the quantities used for personal care. especially in agriculture (which represents the most “water-thirsty” sector . in the end one can survive without oil.

001 percent of the total) is actually available for use by human beings. While privatization may entail certain advantages in terms of greater efficiency in the management of water sources. The share allocated to agriculture is even greater in countries with a low to medium incomes (in some developing countries it reaches 95 percent). A growing number of countries. Where the domestic use of water is concerned. Demand for water is already quite high and. our planet possesses some 1. that less than 45. Freshwater resources are also distributed very unequally among the regions of the globe: 64. find themselves gravely short of water. industry. while in developed countries the share given to industry is by far predominant (59 percent). rising prosperity of the population with a resulting modification of lifestyles and eating habits. it must be closely controlled to avoid unfair price increases and limited accessibility for the more vulnerable members of the population at large. taking into account the global factors that will affect water consumption (demographic increase. absent serious action. we must consider the availability of water and its various uses. the scarsity of water. The agriculture sector accounts for 70 percent of global freshwater consumption. however. and families. and the production of biofuels) and the reduction of the available water reserves (climate change and pollution in particular) (figure 3. present and future. how we use water: farming. in agriculture. with annual per capita availability of less than 1. industry.8 the availability of water: from abundance to scarcity To understand the current scenario in terms of water resources.water economy | food for sustainable growth 151 par excellence) and on a personal level (for instance. with water-saving diets).20). We also need to formulate a new set of regulations that really will ensure the right to water while defining the boundaries of privatization.000 cubic kilometers of water (approximately 0.4 percent of all world water resources are found in just 13 countries.000 to 14. in turn.003 percent of the total) are theoretically usable and only 9. and in our homes. urbanization and expansion of economic activities. because it is of adequate quality and is accessible at an acceptable cost.000 cubic meters. on the other hand. 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. how much water do we have? Overall. now and in the future. It is estimated.000 cubic kilometers of water (0. will only grow in the future and . 3. while 22 percent goes to industry and the remaining 8 percent to domestic uses. That means.4 billion cubic kilometers of water.

an especially significant role will be played by population dynamics and the growing rate of urbanization. and worsening significantly in terms of percentage values in ample areas of Africa and the Indian peninsula.152 eating planet lead to a progressive scarcity. 2011. especially in certain areas of the planet. Areas using a large share of available resources (greater than 20 percent) will increase substantially. From an environmental point of view. 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. Among the factors that will influence the growth of world demand for water. continental Europe. expanding to the entire territory of the United States.20 The current and future scenario of water resources Source: BCFN. . and southern Asia. 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. in industry. why demand for water is increasing. The scenario foreseen for 2025 in terms of the scarcity of water appears starkly worse than the current scenario. and for domestic use.

21 Amount of water used compared with available resources.21). lakes. With the growth of population. WBCSD Water Scenarios 2025. The current population already uses 54 percent of freshwater resources in rivers. 1995 2025 above 40 percent from 40 percent to 20 percent from 20 percent to 10 percent below 10 percent figure 3. . 2006. and accessible water tables. Two scenarios compared: 1995 and 2025 Source: WBCSD. 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. Business in the World of Water.water economy | food for sustainable growth 153 in 2030 and reach 9 billion in 2050.

exert growing pressures on available water resources and on natural ecosystems. has more than doubled. especially in terms of waste management. with clear and direct consequences in terms of infrastructure for access to water. This leads to a rise in water resources utilized because the production of meat. Above all. Among the chief causes of reduced water availability is pollution. for example. 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. In the past 20 years meat consumption in China. The investments needed to ensure distribution of water to the growing number of city dwellers are rising. principally because of the volatility of oil prices and the support of national and international environmental policies. 70 percent of industrial waste is dumped into rivers and streams without any purifying treatment whatever. why water availability is declining. the production of biofuels has increased exponentially in recent years (ethanol production has tripled between 2000 and the present day). and other crops. In particular. sugar cane. economic development and access to market economies by large numbers of people who had long been excluded from mass consumption are generating serious problems. as well as the general expansion of economic activities (ranging from industrial production to the service industry and tourism). which results in the pollution of a substantial part of available freshwater resources. Another major factor that will affect the future availability of water resources is climate change. milk. 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. as are those for the corresponding treatment and purification of waste water from domestic and industrial use.154 eating planet Meanwhile. 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. for the first time in history. by 2030 it will double again. In particular. In 2007. Economic development is also a key driver of the future rise in demand for water. Improvements in economic and living conditions in developing countries. and vegetable oils typically requires the use of a greater quantity of water than does the production of cereal grains. The food sector accounts for 40 percent of organic pollutants in water supplies in developed countries and 54 percent 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 . which threatens water quality. In developing countries. the world’s urban population outstripped its rural population. sugar. the process of urbanization is accelerating sharply. the rising global demand for energy puts massive pressure on water resources.

In that same year. The future that looms before us therefore appears especially challenging. 3. Moreover. In fact. a gradual shift toward the poles of non-tropical storms (with resulting significant effects on winds. to enjoy physical and economic access to an adequate and secure supply of water.7 billion people will not have access to basic sanitation facilities. in 2015 the percentage of the population with access to water in their own homes will surpass the stated goal of 90 percent. reducing to 672 million the number of people who still do not have running water where they live. which aimed to “halve. They must be framed within the context of an overall cross-sector development strategy that takes into account infrastructure. 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. roughly 884 million people lacked access to sufficient water resources of adequate quality. and temperatures).” Yet in 2008. because the result is projected to be 13 percentage points below the stated goal. 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). 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. precipitation. the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. such as intense precipitation or strong heat waves. and only recently.6 billion lacked access to adequate basic sanitation. to attain effective and sustainable operation of structures over time demands periodic maintenance activities. education. as well as a significant increase in the frequency of “extreme” weather phenomena. as well as the training and creation of an adequate professional staff. It demands immediate choices that must be both wise and courageous. But it will not be possible to attain the goal of halving the number of people without access to basic sanitation.water economy | food for sustainable growth 155 surface and oceans that is covered with ice. the distribution of information about how to collect and store water resources . it is estimated that in 2015 some 2. In fact. without discrimination. 2. The actions designed to improve water supply and basic sanitation in a community cannot be adopted in isolation. and capable of altering current trends. by 2015. a substantial increase in average sea level.9 the right of access to water: reality and prospects The “right to water”—recognized for the first time in history. 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. 84 percent of them in rural areas. and governance. If we extrapolate from current trends.

In the environmental pyramid on the right. As we described in section 3. and derivatives) present a greater water footprint than cultivated products. especially our food-related behavior.1. both when you compare different products with one another. 3. .10 choices and behaviors for sustainable water consumption As we discussed earlier. the water footprint of a commodity. Figure 3.156 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. the agricultural techniques employed. 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.600 liters (in the case of vegetarian diet) to about 4. the foods with the greatest environmental impact are at the top and the foods with the lowest impact are at the bottom. In particular. eggs. the yield of crops. and when you take into consideration the place of production. but has to do with the direct and indirect consumption necessary for its production. etc. a good. 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. To achieve the goals set by the United Nations will demand the coordinated involvement of all actors. both on a local scale and internationally. whether they are public agencies or private organizations. depending on their environmental impact in terms of the water footprint.400 liters in the case of meat-rich diet. Our consumption habits and our behavior.23 shows the food pyramid adjoining the environmental pyramid of water. depending on such factors as climate.22 shows the quantities of virtual water linked to certain kinds of easily identified mass market products and finished industrial products. have a powerful effect on our consumption of water resources. Figure 3.000 to 5. the water footprint of a single product can vary considerably from one place to another. in which the different food categories are arranged in hierarchical order. The term “virtual” refers to the fact that most of this water is not contained physically in the product. because livestock consumes a significant quantity of cultivated products as food.500 to 2. milk. livestock and dairy products (meat. Moreover. The water footprint of some of them may appear surprising. in some cases for many years before being transformed into food products. 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. 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.

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. in Liguria. And.landscapes at risk: italy In the fall of 2011. phenomena of this kind are usually accompanied by desertification. . heavy rains plummeted crops. in the Mediterranean basin.

22 Average global water footprint of certain commonly used product typologies Source: BCFN. 2011.000 A hamburger (150 g) A pair of leather shoes 2.158 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 2.000 figure 3. .400 8.

A menu heavy on animal-based food products is decidedly less sustainable as a result. This is simply because of the considerable quantities of agricultural products fed to the livestock in order to bring them to market as food.300 Eggs 3.800 Pork 4. Fish. therefore. Yogurt dc on su p Cheese.693 Pasta 1. If we compare the water footprints of the two 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 3.795 Sunflower seed oil 5. There can be no doubt that most of the foods recommended for relatively higher consumption are also those that present a smaller water footprint. both balanced in nutritional terms.300 Bread 1. it is clear that including dairy and livestock products such as milk and meat.055 Legumes 3. By analyzing the water footprint of the most widespread and commonly consumed beverages. Eggs ti o Cookies. results in approximately three times the consumption of water resources. the second is based on the consumption (actually rather limited consumption). White meat 15. and then we have calculated their impacts in terms of water consumption (figure 3.000 Milk 1.500 Meat 9.25).000 Cheese 4. however minimal.645 Cereals 1. Potatoes. high meat-consumption .water economy | food for sustainable growth 159 low Sweets Red meat 10 k 5k 4k 2k 1. can have a very substantial impact on the availability of water resources. To illustrate the differences we have drawn up two daily menus. And vice versa: most of the foods recommended for low consumption are those that also impose a larger water footprint.23 Water footprint of the food pyramid (liters of water per kg or liter of food) Source: BCFN.900 Olive oil 4. If everyone on the planet were to adopt the average.065 Walnuts and hazelnuts 6. of red meat.400 Rice 3. The first daily menu calls for a diet that is rich in plant-based proteins and with few animal fats. 2011.900 Poultry 3.500 Sugar legend 1. especially multiplied across whole societies. it is possible to build another pyramid. It is clear that individual eating habits. Legumes Fruits Vegetables high re c om me n de Milk.24). entail substantial environmental fallout as well as nutritional effects.800 Cookies 1.5 k 1k 0.5 k 0 Olive oil Bread. which shows the water consumption required in order to produce each of those beverages (figure 3. Eating habits. Pasta Rice.140 Sweets 1.

followed by the Italians (2.3/0. In absolute terms. 3. of beverage) dietary regimen of the Western nations.223) (figure 3.160 eating planet 150 140 125 Milk 120 Wine 106 Orange juice 43 38 Beer 34 Espresso 15 Tea 0. They can also be calculated for each well-defined group of consumers (an individual. . or cup . a family.243 cubic meters per person per year—twice the annual outflow of the Mississippi River. 30 ml. this would clearly be unsustainable. The global water footprint. an entire nation) or producers (private companies. or 1. public organizations. and the Thais (2. In terms of per capita consumption.483 cubic meters per person per year.11 national water footprints and the trade in virtual water We’ve seen how water footprints can be calculated for each product or activity. however.24 Water footprint of beverages (liters of water per glass Source: BCFN. amounts to 7. the amount of water used in food production would soar by an estimated 75 percent.232). Given the strain water supplies are already under.452 trillion cubic meters of fresh water a year. the inhabitants of a city. . the citizens of the United States top the list with an average water footprint of 2.3 (tap) American‑style coffee 100 50 Carbonate beverage 25 legend average value min max 0 0 20 40 60 80 100 140 figure 3. economic sectors). followed by China (883) and the United States (696). 2011.26). for instance. 125 ml. the country that consumes the largest volume of water is India (987 billion cubic meters per year).7 (bottle) Water 0.

325 LITERS 125 LITERS figure 3. 2011.530 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 2.030 1.300 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.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. .

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. as noted above. including volume of consumption (generally correlated to the wealth of the country).26 Contribution of the leading consumers to the global water footprint (m3 per capita/year) Source: BCFN. and the agricultural practices adopted (especially how efficiently water is used). the climate (which especially affects the level of precipitation. plant transpiration. as well as the utilization of industrial goods). three are seriously short of water. while of the top 10 wheat importers.000 1. Of the top 10 wheat exporters. That trade pays no attention whatsoever to the water component included in the exchange. the model of consumption (especially where eating habits are concerned. Today agricultural products are traded all over the world.500 Industrial products 2.000 Average world water footprint Home consumption of water Agricultural products figure 3.162 eating planet The differences between countries depend on several factors. and the quantity of water necessary for farming). three are blessed with an overabundance of United States Italy Thailand Nigeria Russia Mexico Brazil Indonesia Pakistan Japan India China 0 500 1. for example. . 2011.500 3.000 2.

lie in the possibility of excessive dependence on other nations’ water. to suffer the problems of overconsumption. to a country with low water productivity.27 Virtual water flows between countries linked to trade in agricultural products (net virtual water importers—Gm3 /year) Source: Hoekstra and Chapagain. on the other hand. Figure 3. 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. allowing local water resources to be preserved when high water footprint products are imported instead of directly produced. given the ongoing deregulation of international trade. because of the option of trade. . and in the possibility of “water colonialism. however. Water Neutral: Reducing and Offsetting the Impacts of Water Footprints. The level of interdependence among countries in the virtual exchange of water resources is.” In this process. Water colonialism can be seen as a form of domination of poor countries by rich ones— even if no physical occupation takes place. it. net importers are shaded in red and next exporters in green. The greatest risks.27 gives some sense of the patterns and volumes of the global trade in virtual water embodied in agricultural products. which made the products using their own water resources. critical and is also destined to grow in the future. Moreover. importing nations benefit from the products made using lots of water while leaving the exporting nations. The globalization of the use of water seems to entail both opportunities and risks. One of the chief opportunities lies in the fact that virtual water can be considered as an alternative water source.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.

when the traditional means of public finance are no longer sufficient to do so in a timely and satisfactory manner. especially where poorer neighborhoods are concerned. Given these risks.12 water privatization and its implications The expression “water privatization” can refer to three different contexts. as in Italy and Germany. which can be substantial at times. 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. controlling costs. 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. this model in effect transfers ownership of the entire infrastructure and control of the water to the private operators. The user. The second context is the involvement of the private sector in the management of water services.164 eating planet Water as a strategic objective is increasingly at the root of conflicts within and between countries. where water is firmly in the hands of the collective. Among the risks are price hikes. industrial. 3. therefore. whether public or privatized. with the acquisition from the market of the resources necessary in order to provide the service. as applied in the United Kingdom. The first is the context of the rights of private property for water resources. privatized and regulated. but rather acquires the right to use it. allowing the free purchase and sale of water. Any of three different business models may apply: • lifelong territorial monopoly. Entrusting these contracts to private operations also makes it possible to share the costs of infrastructure maintenance in exchange for profits. and the failure of private operators to meet their obligations to contribute to the development of the water system. or agricultural) within a single country. The third context is the involvement of the private sector in financing infrastructure and services. and reducing user costs and pricing. . does not buy the water. triggered by competition among the various uses of water (domestic. • public ownership and operation. 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. • public ownership with temporary awarding to private operators through bid competitions. Among the chief potential benefits is the presumed greater efficiency of the private sector in optimizing the management of water distribution. 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. or else by the use of a body of water that extends over borders. The privatization of water brings with it risks and benefits. which is what happens in France.

know-how. 3. A key measure here is to reframe economic . The existing correlation. 6. the practices. 2. The water footprint is an invaluable tool for assessing the environmental impacts of individuals. 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. the policies. with a focus on the most critical aspects of water use. there are eight priority areas for intervention: 1. nowadays very strong. and to remove technical and political obstacles. 4. Disadvantaged populations rely heavily on existing institutions to ensure access to drinking water and sanitary infrastructures. to promote the necessary investments. support for institutions’ commitment to their responsibilities for ensuring access to water. 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. models. the economic exploitation of water resources and the internalization of the cost of water in the price. and technology for increasing the productivity of water (more crop per drop) and reducing waste. ways of eating and consumption requiring a lower water content. 7. companies (of production and distribution. between economic development. the efficient localization of crops and virtual water trading. simple and easy to communicate. demographic growth. and corresponding increases in the levels of water consumption. 5. and countries. the water footprint as an objective indicator.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. Among the objectives of the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition is to increase that attention and awareness. In our view. within each sector). We have also provided a series of recommendations on how best to deal with the various emerging challenges of the water economy. must be broken.

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

and Technology for Development (IAASTD). and since May 2005 he has been the president of the Millennium Institute. diverse and quality food. with different levels of compliance to the sustainability and multifunctional goals. 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. Herren is a worldrenowned scientist. He was the director general of the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi (ICIPE). more work is needed to meet social. 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. president of Biovision. feed and fiber at affordable prices while being remunerative for the producers and compatible with sustainable agricultural practices.interviews | food for sustainable growth 167 interview the challenging transition toward sustainable agriculture Hans R. producing sufficient. low or zero tillage to conservation agriculture. the increase of fossil energy prices and in the medium and long term also its scarcity. as requested in the IAASTD report Agriculture at a Crossroads. there is a need to develop and build into these and new systems more resilience and regenerative potential. environmental and economic sustainability. 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. often non renewable inputs. . Science. In principle. ranging from organic. although even in these cases. The transition from these unsatisfactory systems requires a new approach to Hans R. Today he is a board member of many organizations. as well as one of the directors of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Benin. He has won many prizes for his research. These go by different names. he was codirector of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge. and organic /bio dynamic agriculture. the increasing competition from the bio fuel sector. bio dynamic. agroecological. The closest models to the set goals are agroecology. given that the present system still uses too much water and external.

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

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

That’s the true amount of water used in growing. producing. At the start of the twentieth century. Already. our over-consumption and mismanagement of water has had a very serious impact on our water environments and the essential services they provide. And now. We are addicted to over-consuming water. 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. with a global population pushing seven billion. . We humans beings don’t understand the true value of water.000 litres. Our ignorance is immense. he was awarded the Stockholm Water Prize in 2008. To make a cup of coffee. It is already a reality for many. Most of us don’t have the slightest idea about the sheer volumes of water involved in our daily lives. water scarcity is not just a possibility. 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. This is especially true on the farms of the world. packaging and shipping the beans you use to make your morning coffee.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. A lunchtime hamburger take 2. But it is not. 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. it takes 140 litres. Unfortunately society has evolved not to value water.400 litres and that favourite pair of jeans a whopping 11. 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. The ratio of water to people was so massive that it was as if our water supply was infinite. For his revolutionary virtual water concept. with a global population of one billion. this ignorance simply did not matter. 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. and we don’t know it. In fact. 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.

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. water and capital see little or no improvement in their water productivity. E&Y. Of course. municipal and industrial uses. 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. Just as with the “right to food”. Sadly. 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. We have indeed uncovered a golden rule: the development and diversification of economies is always associated with massive increases in the productivity of water. Of the eight nations states I examined in my latest book. International trade is much cheaper and low risk compared to armed conflict. They manage the big water. As well as the big four global auditors—PwC. increase eco‑ nomic interests in it. KPMG and Deloitte and countless other accountants and lawyers in the transnational agribusinesses and traders and other private sector firms. They trade food. 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. employed for the production of food. and these increases are delivered by farmers using big water. Although probably not as cheap as in the past when wheat . it is possible to reflect the costs and impacts in the use of water for domestic. the invisible 80-90 per cent of all water used in the global economy. That is. In the near future. the converse is also true. Developing economies. the increase in the demand for water and the reduction in water supplies will make water more valuable and. Food prices have been falling for 200 years and prices will be low again once the current price spikes are over. The big volumes of water are in our food. consequently. 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.interviews | food for sustainable growth 171 aged: farmers are the “de facto” water managers of the world. that falter or face nearly insurmountable problems in combining their land.16 seven have seen significant improvements in their returns to water in farming. the big volumes of water integral to food production. But these uses only account for 10% of the water needed by society.

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. .

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. the only possible solution is that of a differentiated approach. water availability.). we should also take into account other significant variables such as the local availability of energy and human expertise. in part due to the current and future effects of climate change. adaptation to atmospheric phenomena. In this context. it is necessary to encourage investments that make it possible to remove technical and political obstacles. ensure water access. aside from the classic factors at play (soil quality. in part with a view to the reduction of waste. water. ought to focus on parents and the school system in order to encourage more responsible approaches to consumption. while it should not exclude the children themselves. encourage sustainable agriculture that takes into account local needs and considerations The global agricultural system reveals a number of aspects of fragility. . 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).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. The model of the “double pyramid” (food and environment) in fact shows that with sustainable diets the two objectives can be easily attained. More in general. 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.) and reduced emissions. With particular reference to future generations. 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. In that context. 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. We should consider that healthier foods also imply lesser environmental impacts in terms of the consumption of natural resources (soil. one that takes into account the actual availability of resources and different socioeconomic and geographic settings. etc.

3 4.10 4.5 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 .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. Longevity.2 4. Nutrition and Health by Ricardo Uauy facts & figures 4.table of contents introduction Agriculture. Food.7 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 4.6 4.9 4.12 Demographics.11 4.1 4.

4. 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. . food for health Food for Health explores the relationship between food and better health.

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

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

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

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

4 million in 2030. 7.180 eating planet 4. 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 2007. Of these deaths. According to future estimates.5 mILLION 2007 2005 2015 Equivalent to 30% of all deaths worldwide.6 million are due to heart disease and 5. this figure will rise to 9 million in 2015 and to 11. with roughly a 27% increase over 2003 (194 million diabetics) 194 mILLION + INCREASE estimate 2003 27% 246 mILLION estimate 2007 . equivalent to approximately 246 million people.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. In 2007.  food for health RISE IN DEATHS CAUSED BY CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE 17. the worldwide rate of diabetes was roughly 6% among people aged 20 to 79.9 mILLION 9 mILLION 11. there were 7.9 million deaths worldwide that can be attributed to cancers.

play a central role in the aging process In the United States. the percentage of people over 65 suffering from two or more chronic diseases is very high.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. they account for 25% of the entire world population of undernourished people . for the most part. and hormonal alterations caused by an excessive and chronic caloric intake. metabolic. and they live. life expectancy at birth in western nations has almost doubled. 12.5 mILLION OBESE CHILDREN 25% 17% CALORIC INTAKE & AGING There is a significant link between food and problems in the aging process. Despite this. and by a defective nutritional model and lifestyle. The molecular. 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. in developing nations. rising from 45 years at the end of the nineteenth century to roughly 80 years in 2010.

First. Then we reviewed the principal findings in the international scientific literature on the relationship between diet and cardiovascular diseases. and cancers.and micronutrients and the likelihood of the onset of these diseases. These conditions have risen continuously and to a significant degree in recent decades within populations all over the world. BCFN has developed a set of practical recommendations intended to encourage the spread of beneficial ways of eating. We analyzed the trends. noting where they agreed and overlapped. diabetic diseases. We looked closely at the linkages between the ingestion of a broad array of macro. We did this by reviewing the guidelines offered by the most respected international scientific societies on good nutrition. (Beyond their medical benefits. It is this second factor . 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. Food. including chronic diseases. 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. an increasingly real critical factor in the overall picture of world health. we have also tried to quantify the benefits of adopting sound diets in economic and financial terms. The next step was to analyze the role played by different dietary and behavioral choices in preventing the most significant chronic diseases. in fact.) Building on this analysis. plays an essential part in the prevention of a number of pathologies. in part because prevention works to the benefit ofit of a broader share of the population than does medical treatment. Finally. tumors).182 eating planet food for a healthy life Diet plays an increasingly crucial role in any attempt to enjoy a balanced lifestyle. We also say greater efficiency because prevention costs less. We say greater efficacy because prevention makes it possible to attain better results overall. in the chief chronic non-transmissible diseases (cardiovascular diseases. diabetes/metabolic syndrome. 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. diet and lifestyles for the prevention of chronic diseases. 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. While doing this work BCFN has made a few general observations. worldwide and in Italy alone. At this point it was necessary to translate the complex and deeply technical scientific findings into more user-friendly dietary and behavioral guidelines.

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

This collaboration is not just important. individuals cannot by themselves change trends that have been influenced. both current and predicted. represent the chief risk factor for human health. through the analysis. but fundamental. This phase of life is absolutely crucial to all subsequent development.and medium-income nations. diabetes. and private companies and corporations. in mounting a successful prevention effort. or not adequately disincentivized by many other forces shaping public health. All the data are revealing a rapid decline in average health conditions. to modify the lifestyles and dietary habits of the current generations. the observations. from pre-school age all the way up to adolescence. starting with young people. the mass media. including government.1 a few key figures: global trends in chronic diseases and their social and economic impacts Today the principal chronic diseases (cardiovascular diseases. any effort to improve the current scenario must fully and synergistically engage all the key actors in the agroalimentary world. To succeed. 4. 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. and tumors). even in areas (such as Italy) normally considered the homelands of sound diets and healthy lifestyles. as well as an enormous socioeconomic burden on society as a whole. Unless the dietary and lifestyle trends that have emerged with such striking speed over the last few decades on a worldwide level are reversed. the discussions with the leading international experts on the issues of diet and health—that there is no more time to waste. doctors. and immediately. future generations will be inexorably condemned to live less well than the generations that preceded them. 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. 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. encouraged. However. 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 . In fact. Unless we begin. And we must act quickly. the rapidity and depth of the trends make time a crucial element in all and every corrective intervention.184 eating planet habits and ways of life among children. These diseases cause some 35 million deaths every year—60 percent of all worldwide deaths and 80 percent of deaths in low.

The gravity of overweight and obesity among young people is documented. pharmaceuti- . to cite once again a shocking American statistic. equal to 30 percent of all deaths. 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. On the other hand. Similarly. In the United States. more than 65 percent of all Americans are obese or overweight. they also have significant economic effects.000 in the member nations of the European Union). According to a recent study by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Throughout Europe. cardiovascular diseases are responsible for 4. some US$70 billion. 7. Aside from their importance to health. Over the last decade. nearly a third of all American children and adolescents have been found to be either overweight or obese. This makes cardiovascular disease the number one killer on Earth. the impact of cardiovascular diseases. physical inactivity.7 million were caused by strokes. the number of deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases worldwide will grow to 20 million every year. and the excessive consumption of alcohol.000 die of those diseases. on the other hand.” Currently. and more than 860. It’s been estimated that. by 2015. The World Health Organization has noted that in 2005 there were roughly 17.3 million deaths every year (2 million within the European Union). If we assign a cash value to these data. This value includes both direct health costs (hospital treatment and care.9 million deaths in all Europe and over 741. 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. in nearly all the countries on earth.6 million were due to heart disease and 5. for example. some truly astonishing numbers emerge. there has been an exponential increase in obesity. unhealthy diets. their impact on global health could increase by 17 percent in the next 10 years. and we are seeing this phenomenon spread to the younger sectors of the population.3 Coronary diseases are responsible for the greatest number of fatalities (1. that is.5 million deaths due to cardiovascular diseases worldwide. In the United States it is estimated that 80 million people are affected by one or more cardiovascular disease in any given year. by the tripling of cases of overweight young people from 1970 to the present day. The most recent estimates of the total cost of cardiovascular diseases in the United States indicate an impact of US$473.3 billion in 2009. Of those deaths.1 Overweight and obesity are now fully recognized as diseases. without adequate prevention. the increase in cardiovascular diseases is strongly linked to poor for a healthy life | food for health 185 the consumption of tobacco.

or about 246 million people. among people aged 20 to 79 the worldwide incidence of the disease was around 6.6 percent of the population) by 2025. Estimates for 2025 indicate a substantial increase in the rate. etc. in 2025 this number is expected to to rise to a little under 60 million (5. The prevalence of diabetes will grow both in industrialized countries and in developing countries. That’s an increase of roughly 27 percent over 2003 (when it was estimated that 194 million people suffered from this disease).5 percent over 2007. equal to 4. but also in developing nations such as China. An even more worrisome growth trend is expected in India.8 million people with diabetes in 2007. not only in the developed countries. In Italy. With reference to diabetes (another disease strongly influenced by diet). the total costs of cardiovascular diseases have been estimated at roughly €21.6 the cumulative cost over 10 years of cardiac diseases. Every year. 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.1 percent of world population (380 million people).5 for a total of roughly €8 billion annually. 4 Of these costs. and the indirect costs calculated as a loss of working productivity caused by the sickness or premature death of the patients. the total economic impact of cardiovascular diseases for 2006 was estimated at roughly €192 billion. According to recent WHO estimates. which will rise to 7. home assistance. with a projected rise to US$300 billion in 2025. According to the estimates of the International Diabetes Federation. and diabetes in China will be equivalent to US$558 billion. the costs incurred in the treatment and care of diabetes are very high. A study by the American Diabetes Association7 estimated the cost of diabetes . which include the costs of hospital treatment and care and the cost of pharmaceuticals.6 percent of the population). those costs reached a global level in 2007 of about US$232 billion. the impact of diabetes. As in the case of cardiovascular diseases.3 percent of the population.8 billion) have to do with the direct costs charged to the health system. where the current number of cases of 40. The spread of cardiovascular diseases entails serious economic and social repercussions. worldwide. which corresponds to a total average per capita cost of €391. strokes. In China.186 eating planet cals. it is estimated that there were approximately 39. In Europe.2 percent of the population) is expected to rise to 69. 63 percent (€13.8 billion per year. a 50-percent increase.8 million (6. for example. there are more than 7 million new cases of diabetes—a new case every 5 seconds.0 percent in 2007. an increase of 54.).8 million (7.

food for a healthy life | food for health 187 in the United States in 2007 to be US$174 billion. in 2007 there were 7. roughly 16.”9 while a healthy lifestyle is “a way of life directed toward the reduction of the risk of diseases and premature death. In the United States. at €56.6 billion. in 2002 cancer caused a loss of human life equivalent to nearly 10 million years. to a level of 9 million in 2015 and 11. of which US$6. Estimates point to a worldwide rise in deaths caused by tumors. by the European Society for Medical Oncology.400 annually. 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. therefore. Another study done of European diabetics8 estimates that.834 per patient was incurred.S. National Institutes of Health. A clear majority of these deaths will occur place in low.2 guidelines for a healthy way of eating and lifestyle The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical. according to the estimates of the U.650 is attributable directly to diabetes. pharmaceuticals. the economic impact of cancers rose to more than US$228 billionin 2008. As for Europe (EU25). Most of those costs (55 percent) was due to hospitalization for acute and chronic medium-income countries. of them. an annual average cost of €2. clinical treatment.7 percent of the total years of health lost by all European citizens to disease. direct medical costs alone for cancer in Europe have been estimated. American diabetic patients on average bear costs of over US$11.4 million in 2030.” 10 Not all diseases can be prevented (for instance. mental. According to WHO data. but in many cases conscientious prevention can put off or reduce the risk of onset. But what kind of diet and lifestyle? Analyzing the guidelines for preventing chronic diseases from the World Health Organization and the world’s most . In a similar context. cancers. including both health costs and productivity losses. is a fundamental component in creating a healthy lifestyle. Diet.9 million deaths worldwide that could be blamed on tumors. 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. and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Cancers are also tied to poor diet and nutrition. 4. just for the direct health costs of the disease (hospitalization. heart attacks and cancer). etc. medium-income countries. The scope of the socioeconomic impact that can be traced to cardiovascular diseases. about 75 percent occurred in low.).

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

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.teaching children to cook In addition to proposing healthier and more balanced menus in school cafeterias.

.1 The methodology followed for the convergence of guidelines for healthy diet and lifestyle Source: BCFN. 2009.190 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.

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

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

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

that we might encounter in later phases. or 1 in 10. which means 2-3 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 17. As the pediatrician Claudio Maffeis pointed out at the Second International Forum on Food and Nutrition. 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. must begin in the earliest phases of life. which states that nearly a third of all American children and adolescents are either overweight or obese. Of them. According to data gathered by the International Obesity Task Force. metabolic and otherwise. But these interventions. we should keep our eye on a further 15 percent who appear to be at considerable risk of becoming overweight.. as a result of a “memory effect” bound up with the habits acquired. as a result of the rise of the .” 4.21 In Italy this issue has taken on growing importance.194 eating planet is either adequate or inadequate in adulthood as well. if they are to be as effective and lasting as possible. 30-45 million are classified as obese. “The earliest years of life are a very important window in terms of the development of the organism.] Eating right during the developing years is important because it not only ensures that the child will grow and develop properly. [. moreover.18 there are 155 million obese or overweight school-age children.. The rapid spread of this phenomenon has been affecting not only the United States. others can respond to preventive actions aimed at modifying diets and lifestyle habits. alongside the 16 percent of children between ages 6 and 19 that are currently overweight. It therefore appears to be fundamental to focus attention—beginning in early childhood—on the adoption of healthy daily dietary habits and proper lifestyles.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. Even though it is not an isolated case. but it also guarantees a defense against diseases.000 are considered obese. nowadays its prevalence in Europe has been shown to be 10 times greater than it was in the 1970s. In Europe too the problem of childhood obesity is increasingly widespread: every year in member countries of the European Union approximately 400. but all the leading advanced nations over the last 20 years. Twenty-five percent of American children are overweight and 11 percent are obese. Although some of the factors leading to overweight and obesity are genetic in origin and therefore resistant to therapeutic or preventive intervention. According to the National Institutes of Health.000 children are considered overweight and more than 85.20 As for juvenile obesity alone.

• 82 percent eat too abundant a mid-morning snack. Finally. it is estimated that more than 1. Particularly interesting are the findings of one recent research project22 conducted on young Americans between the ages of 6 and 19. . Overall. Four mothers of overweight children out of ten do not believe that their children are overweight for their height. 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. and US$12 more for emergency services. it appears that: • 11 percent of children don’t eat and children: educate today for a better life tomorrow | food for health 195 numbers of adolescents and children who are overweight or obese. obesity and overweight bad eating habits in children Often.3 percent). have television sets in their bedrooms. both for government health-care budgets and in terms of effects on the physical and cognitive development of children and adolescents.6 percent) and more than 12 are obese (12.2 million children between the ages of 6 and 11 have problems of obesity or overweight: more than a third of all children. children are obese or overweight because of dietary habits that both fail to support healthy growth and predispose those children to weight gain. seems to be inversely proportional to the statistical frequency of the excess weight. as of this writing the economic impacts on social and health systems have only been quantified by a small number of studies. and • 23 percent of parents state that their children do not consume fruit or vegetables on a daily basis. US$114 more for drug prescriptions. • 28 percent eat an inadequate breakfast. In Italy. the perception of the problem by the parents. out of every 100 children in third grade. In particular. moreover.” While the health consequences of childhood obesity and overweight appear to be well documented in the literature. 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. If we extrapolate these data to the entire nation. As the reader can easily imagine. almost 24 are overweight (23. Half the children. the impact of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence is extremely significant. 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.

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

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

088 1.198 eating planet lism. and only 2 percent to growth. Prolonged periods of inadequate energy intake can lead to full-blown malnutrition and/or a state of reduced protein reserves. 30-40 percent to physical activity.204‑1. 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. fats. 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. FAO. 5-8 percent to thermogenesis.1.916 usa 806‑1. As noted earlier. 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. 1996. the principal macronutrients. some of them quite serious.613 1. problems may arise. in view of the rise of obesity among children and adolescents. especially pre-school-age children. which can also vary considerably in terms of weight characteristics. Therefore. the body makeup.453‑1.034 countries / organizations who 906‑1. and carbohydrates. in which tissue-deposited proteins are used for the generation of energy.094 1. In contrast. When the intake of energy is to be lower than the required minimum. . Proteins constitute an essential component of all human cells and for that reason an adequate protein intake has proven to be fundamental.694‑1. and the average level of physical activity of the individual boy or girl. Their bodies are undergoing a phase of growth that demands the presence of the amino acids necessary for the generation of tissues. the WHO recommends limiting the excessive ingestion of fats and sugars from the earliest ages.667 1.377 1. excessive inputs of energy encourage the deposit of excess fat.1).792‑2. the principal macronutrients necessary for the proper ingestion of energy for pre-school-age and school-age children are proteins.417‑1. And so there is an overall range of values that can be considered reliable. The chart shows average values.398 1. especially table 4. especially for school-age and pre-schoolage children. 2006. in the child’s growth and ability to perform normal physical activities.957 Source: Società italiana di nutrizione umana.

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

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

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

515‑3. Anemia due to a lack of iron is one of the most widespread and common diseases associated with inadequate diet.411 Source: Developed by BCFN on data from the Società italiana di nutrizione umana.898‑2.048 1.28 Adolescents can come down with anemia as a result of the sharp increase in the tissue demand for iron. . 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). The increase in lean body mass.2. in particular in the muscular and erythrocytic mass. and level of physical activity.993‑2. The ranges are sharply influenced by such factors as weight.794 2. but when adolescence begins males accumulate more lean body mass for every additional kilogram of body weight acquired during growth.739‑2.393‑2. is more significant in male adolescents than their female counterparts. 2011.338 1. lean body mass is roughly equivalent in the two sexes.202 eating planet cents. In contrast. The nutritional requirements of adolescents are influenced first of all by physical growth. The appetite encourages the ingestion of food that satisfies the need for both energy and various nutrients.864‑2. 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. 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. The system generally works well to ensure the ingestion of sufficient quantities of energy to satisfy metabolic needs. in most cases. the regulation of the ingestion of nutrients may prove to be less than optimal. Table 4. table 4.297 1. 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 1.277‑2. is efficiently satisfied through the finely calibrated and automatic regulation of the appetite by the hypothalamus. which may result in shortages of given elements.942‑2.343 2.215 females 1.976 2. During pre-adolescence. The energy requirement. which means that they have a final value of lean body mass almost twice that of females. body makeup. The most common nutrient deficiencies at this age are iron and calcium deficiencies. even for the same individual. Requirements of energy and nutrients are variable from day to day.29 especially of muscles.2 shows the intervals of energy requirements in adolescents.

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

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

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. cheese. nutritional science indicates that children should eat five times a day.2. especially for the prevention of the chief chronic diseases. up to and including adulthood. seeds. legumes. sumed over the course of the day. . 2011. 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.7 guidelines for healthy diets and sound lifestyles in children and adolescents Given the importance of diet during adolescence. etc.206 eating planet Breakfast 20% Dinner 30% Mid‑morning snack 5% Afternoon snack 10% Lunch 35% figure 4. It also can help reduce risks linked to common chronic diseases in later ages. prosciutto. Caloric intake should be broken down as shown in figure 4. Variety is also a good idea. 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. vegetables. as well as alternating foods over the course of the week. cereal grains. good nutrition is not enough. etc.33 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.2 Breakdown of caloric intake during the day Source: BCFN on Società italiana di nutrizione umana data.) and foods produced by and from animals (meat. it means a mixed diet that includes plant-based foods (fruit.). As we have noted. with a specific focus on adolescence.34 In general.

ensuring that children and adolescents eat properly seems to require a concerted and children: educate today for a better life tomorrow | food for health 207 4. etc. On the other hand. It is in the family that a child learns to eat and internalizes dietary behaviors. First.) who provide care to children at different times of the day. . 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. 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. Nevertheless. problems of methodology. family. a sound diet might mean eating various foods at these intervals: • cereal grains (bread and pasta): every day. Prevention is also emerging as one of main lines of future action to ensure the financial sustainability of healthcare systems. Second. and organization have made it difficult to study children and adolescents in sufficient detail.8 recommendations Two key findings emerge from these observations and analyses. economics. the findings undeniably reveal the extreme importance of a sound approach to diet from the youngest age. • fish: at least three times 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. doctors. • eggs: once or twice a week. pediatricians. Above all else. • fruits and vegetables: every day. • cheese: twice a week. the result of the coordination of a variety of actors (school. and although the general picture we present here is based to some degree on fragmentary evidence. • milk and dairy products: every day. However. the school—by virtue of its growing importance in shaping diets and the potential the weekly menu for children During a given week. • meat: two or three times a week. most of the studies done to date have focused on adults. • legumes: at least twice a week.

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

according to United Nations estimates.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. in the various phases of their lives from children through old ages. . by inviting families to understand the most appropriate dietary choices and to become allies in a joint and concerted program of intervention.3 The various actors in food education Source: BCFN. Finally. 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 particular. principally as a result of the general increase in average life expectancy. the world will have more than 8 billion inhabitants. 2010. longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition In 2025. In the last hundred years. physicians are also key actors in establishing dietary and lifestyle virtuous cycles. 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.

Unless corrective interventions are carried out in the lives of millions. and the deterioration of lifestyles (sedentary lifestyle. In the period from 1950 to 2010. 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. and chronic pulmonary diseases). the world’s elderly population grew at an average annual rate of 13 percent. a trend that shows no sign of slowing: it is estimated that in 2050 the over-65 population will amount to 1. diabetes mellitus. strong. In light of these demographic changes. for example rising in Italy from 4 percent in 1900 to 20. cigarette smoking). It is more necessary than ever before to identify and adopt lifestyles that promote healthy and successful aging.9 billion people. We might find ourselves facing an old age characterized by a sharply reduced quality of life for a significantly longer time. in Italy. Overweight and obesity (in particular abdominal obesity) are associated with an increase in the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and tumoral conditions. both industrialized and developing. and that ensure that individuals can remain physically and mentally healthy. even among the younger members of the population. These demographic changes are very worrisome and could cause a general crisis in the healthcare systems of many countries.6 percent in 2010.210 eating planet doubled. tumors. the fact that those lives are growing longer might no longer imply that they are also improving in quality. arterial hypertension. The same trend can be seen all over the world. 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. active. .35 Those numbers are destined to rise because of the epidemic of obesity and diabetes that is currently under way. ideally for their entire lives. hypercaloric diets. independent. Those diseases are responsible for about 70 percent of all deaths in many industrialized and developing countries. the epidemic of obesity. stretching out from 45 years at the end of the nineteenth century to approximately 80 years in 2010. The percentage of elderly people (over age 65) has also increased to an astonishing extent. and socially useful for the longest possible time. a reduction of the gap between the duration of one’s life (lifespan) and the duration of one’s health (healthspan). that is. happy. people over 65 are expected represent 34 percent of the population: one out of every three people will be elderly. 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. We must confront squarely the problem of aging and the diseases associated with aging by implementing a preventive and integrated approach. In 2050.

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

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

Figure 4. Estimates tell us that that rate will rise until it reaches 48 percent in 2050. In Italy. who are showing the highest rates of obesity and smoking. which is only three years less than men’s life expectancy in Europe. Tennessee. Oklahoma. and scientific progress. albeit more modestly. Arkansas. men’s life expectancy in 2020 will rise to 71 years. Europe has the highest rate of dependency on Earth.14 years for women and 65. 17. The United States.5 percent to 25. 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. Chronic diseases are already the leading cause of death in the world. average worldwide life expectancy37 has increased steadily since the turn of the century. too. there has been growth in healthcare spending. but it is expected that between 2005 and 2015 deaths from such diseases will grow by 17 percent. and major challenges in terms of obtaining basic pharmaceuticals. the UN predicts that the rate of elderly dependency will grow from the current 11. In the United States. As was mentioned earlier in this chapter. life expectancy is just 67 years for men and 74 years for women. In Bangladesh. inadequate healthcare structures.4). especially among women. Figure 4. and the economic and social impacts of the principal diseases As a result of global economic growth. even though Bangladesh is a country with only partial suffrage. the state with the highest rate of obesity.4 percent of GDP (approximately US$2. in 2010 it was 70. Worldwide. and Louisiana.9 billion in 2050. for example. with a shift from approximately 6 percent of GDP per year in the 1960s to the current level of .5 trillion) was invested in healthcare in 2009 compared with 5 percent in 1960.71 years for men (figure 4. This means an increase in economic inactivity and dependency on the younger members of the population. The chart shows the increase in the share of GDP spent on healthcare on average in the OECD nations and certain representative countries. a general improvement in living conditions.4 percent in 2050. Alabama. A recent study38 has shown that in states such as Mississippi. Kentucky.5 shows the 10 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with the highest life expectancies. In Mississippi in particular. numbers that are much lower than in the countries shown above.9 demographics. life expectancies are progressively falling. longevity.6 shows the effects on healthcare costs of living longer lives but not in good health.longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition | food for health 213 4. the global elderly population (over 65) is growing continuously and will reach an estimated 1. alone among all developed countries. is beginning to witness a decline in life expectancy at birth in some states. Life expectancies are rising even in countries that still lag in terms of economic and social development.

47 68.75 73.42 56. major increases in healthcare spending are also predicted.66 46. In general.79 74.83 55.79 80 61.70 59.67 51.52 53.10 49. perhaps 80 percent of all cases of chronic disease could be prevented.05 60.71 67.21 63. 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.20 69. or are worsened by.4 World life expectancies. of course. A great deal of this spending.59 72.63 67.14 71.48 62.85 64.01 48. 2010. population (1950‑2030) .35 57.59 62. In China and India.33 65.27 65.09 50 60 70 figure 4.09 68. diseases that result from.65 70.08 64.17 70.214 eating planet 10 percent (approximately €180 billion). comparison between the male and the female Source: BCFN on UN (World Population Prospect) data. unhealthy diets and lifestyles.76 66.64 58.

72 percent of the costs are 84 Canada incurred in those very same countries. Certain risk factors predispose people to both dementia and cardiovascular diseases. Life expectancy in 10 OECD countries. and cancer.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. and smoking) are often predisposed to contract neurodegenerative diseases as well (figure 4.7).9 percent of their years on Earth in a condition of chronic disability and to lose 1. Korea 80 In England the social cost of dementia 84 Australia (₤17 billion) is greater than the cost of 78 strokes. unhealthy dietary models and customs (diets).24 percent 85 Switzerland in low-income nations.50 per85 France 78 cent in medium. 70 per86 Italy cent of those costs are incurred in West80 ern Europe and in North America.35 percent in 79 low. 0.) 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.24 percent in high-income nations. 84 Finland 78 While only 38 percent of the people who 84 suffer from dementia live in high-income Austria 77 nations. physical inactivity. According to the Global Burden of Diseases medium-income nations. 2010. . diabetes. and the excessive consumption of alcohol. high levels of cholesterol. finally rising to a rate of about 30 percent at the age of 80.longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition | food for health 215 ing such risk factors as smoking high-income nations. 83 and 1. (Recent statistics have shown a rising incidence of dementia in individuals over 65. tobetween 2 percent and 10 percent. Patients with high levels of cardiovascular risk (hypertension. The estimated worldwide cost of dementia in 2010 was US$604 billion.5 because of an absence of structured and accessible healthcare services. cardiac diseases. 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. 0. with the prevalence doubling every four years.1 percent of their total years of life. of Source: BCFN on OECD data. comparison between the male Currently in Italy it is estimated that 2 population (2010) and the female million people suffer from dementia. Older people are also more likely to be stricken by neurodegenerative conditions (dementia) and osteoporosis as they age. Dementia affects between 1 and 5 percent of the population over 65. dementia results in people living 11.

6 Share of GDP spent on total health care costs (1960‑2009) Source: BCFN on OECD data.216 eating planet whom roughly 63 percent are older than 80. 2009. 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. . both for the healthcare and social welfare systems and for the patients and their families. The costs are high.

osteoporosis is one of the most common chronic diseases associated with aging. Japan. 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. too.1 minutes in 2001 to one every 3.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). and the United States. . afflicting 7 percent. 40 Osteoporosis affects an estimated 150 million people around the world. 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. Osteoporosis is a pathology characterized by the decline in bone mass and the deterioration of the microarchitecture of the bones.7 minutes in 2021.3 percent). or vertebral fractures—very close to the likelihood of suffering coronary problems. Osteoporosis is increasing worldwide and the World Health Organization has identified it as a health priority. In the United States perhaps 10 million people suffer from osteoporosis. 2011. and an additional 34 million have such low bone mass that they are at risk of developing osteoporosis. The incidence of osteoporotic fractures is expected to increase from one every 8. Most of them have a 15 percent probability of suffering wrist. In Italy.7 Prevalence of Alzheimer’s by age group (2009) Source: BCFN on EURODEM study. 75 million of them in Europe. femur. putting it third after hypertension (16 percent) and arthrosis and arthritis (17.

Below is a summary of what’s currently known about the relationship between longevity and certain diseases (diabetes. heart attacks.7 billion in 2050. The economic burden of osteoporosis is comparable to that of the leading chronic diseases. since it is also strongly correlated to insulin resistance. 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. however: in Italy the disease afflicts 3. it is likely that humankind will soon experience.10 diet and lifestyle and their effects on longevity and diseases of aging As we have said. diabetes. obesity. which is linked to Type 2 diabetes. . 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. Tumors and tumoral diseases are caused by many factors but harmful lifestyles and diets certainly increase their likelihood. and osteoporosis) and the role played by diet and lifestyle. may reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by as much as 60 percent. for the first time in modern history. One of the most important non-dietary factors is smoking tobacco. neurodegenerative diseases. cancers.41 Among women. 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.9 million women and 840. a prolonged old age marked by the risk of fragility. disability and suboptimal health. a central feature of diabetes. In particular. The nutritional approach is univerally recognized as a fundamental tool in preventing and treating Type 2 diabetes and its complications. but in women older than 45 osteoporosis is the cause of a greater number of hospital admittances than other diseases. tumors. compared with more than 30 percent in the 60-69 age range and 45 percent of the 70-79 age range. with costs rising from €31. diet is important in preventing the accumulation of excess abdominal fat. and breast cancer. with life expectancies and the rate of principal chronic diseases both rising.000 men. The number of osteoporotic fractures is expected to rise with the aging of the European population. 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. 4.7 billion in 2000 to approximately €76. Because overweight and obesity are both linked to the development of insulin resistance and the onset of diabetes. A 5-7 percent reduction of body weight. a practice that increases roughly thirty-fold an individual’s risk of contracting pulmonary tumors.218 eating planet by gender. including diabetes.

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

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

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

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

in a more direct link. Moreover. reducing longevity and quality of life. that injuries or microbial attacks were the cause of inflammatory responses on the part of the organism. inflammation caused by diet) is one of the interpretative bases for the origin of a diverse array of chronic diseases. 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. the telomeres (the terminal region of the chromosomes). that is to say. Recent scientific research has studied the link between chronic disease and the state of low-level. 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. The cumulative effect of this damage is a decline of many physiological functions and the vital structures of the organism itself. In summary. In this context. depending on a number of factors. 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. When the cell runs out of telomere sequences. therefore. These cells can exhaust their capacity to replicate—and therefore their reparative potential—earlier or later in the course of life. While it is known. This too can translate into a shortening of life expectancy. are no longer able to reproduce correctly. produce an inflammatory state in the blood and tissues that can intensify the repair processes and lead to their early exhaustion. Other diseases and health conditions. and they therefore age and die. 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. and has been known for many years. it dies. it loses a sequence of telomeres. increasing attention to telomeres on the part of the mass reader- . 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. Cells. 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. Longterm silent inflammation accelerates consumption of the body’s repair capacity and thus the onset of chronic diseases. such as diabetes and obesity. 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.longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition | food for health 223 age. Those studies make clear that the dietary model adopted can either benefit or impair the body’s inflammatory responses. the process takes place in the following manner: every time that a cell is duplicated. In other words.

then.224 eating planet ship can be detected in recent years. These studies have found that caloric restriction can help prolong life in conditions of optimal health. 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. that is. and those actions involve telomeres in a primary role. Many studies are currently under way in an attempt to understand the metabolic and molecular mechanisms that underlie this phenomenon. “Silent” cellular inflammation. . that is. which are in turn linked to lifestyle and diet. 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. aging is not inevitably associated with the onset of chronic diseases. As we stated above. since researchers first began associating them with the aging process.54 diabetes.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. and that it is possible to live a long life without getting sick. becomes one of the interpretative bases for the origin of a diverse array of chronic diseases. while only 6 percent of the rodents who ate as much as they wanted died without any pathology. the greater the frequency and intensity with which the telomeres are summoned to make repairs. caloric restriction drastically reduces (up to a maximum of 60 percent) the risk of developing cancers. below the threshold of pain. In a more direct linkage. These data suggest that. require “repair actions” by the organism.57 Moreover. (1993). triggered by the kind of dietary model adopted. caloric restriction and longevity. caloric restriction (without malnutrition) has proven to be a powerful intervention for slowing the aging process and increasing life span in many species. In fact.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. 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. as shown by studies done by Shimokawa et al.56 For instance. The level of inflammation deriving from the adoption of improper diet would appear to be “low” level. In general terms. and the greater the speed with which they are shortened to the point of running out entirely. inasmuch as these levels of inflammation. and therefore not perceptible. in mammals. and the presence of cardiovascular diseases. it seems to emerge from some studies that dietary models too can have positive or negative influences on the organism’s inflammatory responses.

reduction of body temperature and sensitivity to cold. Nature. libido reduction.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. paradoxically from the day of our birth. These particular chimpanzees were also completely protected against obesity and diabetes. and certain hormones and growth factors. in a sense. the processes of cell regeneration are constantly active. This research. high arterial blood pressure. 4. insulinemia. once we emerge from the age of growth. 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. In general terms. sarcopenia. such as osteoporosis. immune deficiency.) For the time being. There are important differences between studies done on cells and on animals. during caloric reduction the organism slows the aging processes and focuses on the systems assigned to repair damage. remains at the current threshold of scientific medicine. Does it work in humans? A recent study of our genetic near-relatives. (However. research on the inflammation. . carotid artery intima and media thickness. inflammation. and amenorrhoea. and it is premature to extend the results of the former to the latter. The first piece of important information to emerge from the project is the fact that aging processes affect each of us. for now. glycemia. 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 risk. places itself on a “stand-by” and “protection” footing if it perceives the absence of nutrition. Inside our bodies. The objective is not just to live linkage and on caloric restriction is not conclusive. 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. infertility. chimpanzees. anemia. it is necessary to emphasize that excessive caloric restriction could also involve risks of serious health damage. and studies done on human beings.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. longer. but rather to live better. And the researchers saw a significant slowing in the atrophy of certain areas of the study chimpanzees’ brains. It is not yet known whether such a diet can slow aging in humans as well.

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

It did not depend on personal behavior. But I’m guessing that you are more interested in policies that change personal behavior. The message is simple: stop. And the ultimate goal of anti-smoking advocates is to put cigarette companies out of business. and airplanes have made it so expensive or inconvenient to smoke that many people have stopped. topics linked to prevention tend to remain on the theoretical plane more than on the practical one. prototypical public health measure—turning off the Broad Street pump to prevent the spread of cholera—was an environmental change. put warning labels on cigarette packages. Foods are not cigarettes. offices. and stop marketing junk food as healthy or targeting children. She is the Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition. And many countries have food safety laws. But people have to eat.” And nobody wants to put the food industry out of business. She is also a visiting professor at the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. These aim to prevent illness or harm in one of two ways: changing the environment or changing personal behavior. and Public Health (the department she chaired from 1988-2003) and Professor of Sociology at New York University. 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. She is the author of Food Politics (2002). it’s just one product. Safe Food (2003). The message has to be “eat less” or “eat this instead of that. make healthier products. This is a new area of regulation and in the United States Marion Nestle is one of the most respected nutritionists in the world. But in all of these cases. We just want companies to behave better. That brings us to food and obesity. and forbid smoking in schools. The classic. and policies to change the food environment or personal eating behavior are necessarily more complicated. Therefore. it took aggressive action on the part of government to implement such policies. To these must be added anti-smoking policies that raise taxes. and fluoridation to prevent tooth decay are other such measures. buses. Food Politics received many awards. Food Studies. The big one is how to influence what people eat and how much they eat. some more effective than others. she specializes in the issues of food policy and dietary choices. regulating the food environment or personal choice presents different kinds of challenges. Despite this.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. . and don’t seem to be able to reach us in our daily life. She is a writer and a university professor. and What to Eat (2003). Water chlorination. Laws that require automobile drivers and riders to wear seat belts and cyclists to wear helmets are obvious examples. With cigarette smoking.

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

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

230 eating planet in school. 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. 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.

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

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

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. 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. Foods could be reformulated to be less energy dense. . Unfortunately. The marketing of low nutrient dense foods to children is an industry practice that runs counter to health and should be restricted. just as they adjusted to greater sweetness. 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. especially restriction of sugar-sweetened beverages. the Dietary Guidelines are developed for individuals over the age of 2— guidelines for children younger than two. would represent a beneficial first step. in your opinion. Policies around limits for screen time and for physical activity for the very young would also be welcome. the soft drink industry might reduce the amount of sweetener in all sugar-sweetened beverages.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. What actions can be iden‑ tified and coordinated. there are economic disincentives to many of the best ideas. more nutrient-dense and of more appropriate portion size. 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. The consumer would quickly adjust to less sweetness. In terms of food processing. In the US. For example.

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

it seems that American are not only living shorter lifes but also worse lifes. environmental. Although studies using animal models suggest substantial life extension through reduction in the amount of calories ingested. Jamaica. 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. Diseases associated with obesity—such as diabetes. in the absence of major intervention to invert recent trends. taking away billions of dollars from the public sector which could be otherwise used in interventions and policies (such as education. Over the last few decades study after study confirm the importance of our behaviour in relation to ageassociated diseases. unhealthy diets and excessive consumption of alcohol. recreational) that would be translated into better quality of life for the population as a whole. In addition. Gradual cell inflammation seems to be at the core of the pathogenic mechanism. India and the Phillippines. they substantially add to health care costs. Numerous studies currently underway demonstrate that an approach which reduces caloric intake constitutes a powerful weapon in reducing inflammation. they are still to be confirmed in humans. 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. Mexico. Most recently available data for Brazil for example. shows that virtually half of the adult population is now overweight. Take for instance what is already happenning in developing countries as varied as Brazil. The problem is how to implement sustainable policies. cardiovascular disorders and some forms of cancer—not only lead to premature death but also to many years of suffering through morbidity and disability. Equivalent figures in the 1970s . However.interviews | food for health 235 While living longer does not necessarily mean living better. tobacco smoking. thus slowing aging in individuals. 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. 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. Obesity is both taking years from their lives but also negatively impacting their quality of life. Control of four modifiable risk factors for non-communicable disease would lead to a huge decrease in their morbidity and mortality: sedentary life-styles. Similar results might extend human life span to 150 years or more. osteomuscular problems. some 15% of them obese. 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.

fruits and vegetables. 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). Health is the central pillar (to which “lifelong learning should be added) through which to guarantee participation. From the nutritional point of view—and coherent with the active ageing approach—healthy diets should be encouraged as early as possible. For instance. In addition. 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. Today. for instance. high in fat (fried food). 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. What are your suggestions. the higher the health capital for life. often. low consuption of meat and. prohibiting trans-saturated fats or the provision of sugary drinks at school meals). a “white diet” based on refined carbohydrates. and made sustainable throughout the life course. Finally. Compare that with the Mediterranean diet (high intakes of olive oil. alcohol. showing how fast negative trends are achieved. 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. salt and. participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as individuals age. unrefined cereals. moderate to high intake of fish. high calory/low nutrient food as well as overly-aggressive marketing strategies conspire to cause children to acquire unhealthy diets early in life. in some cultures cooking styles are not healthy to begin with—for instance.236 eating planet and 1980s were at a fraction of these. moderate intake of dairy products. for healthy aging? The World Health Organization defines “Active Ageing” as the process of optimizing the opportunities for health. 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 implies a life course approach: the earlier one starts to invest on one’s own health. the emergence of fast and sugary food. the second of the pillars of the Active Ageing concept. This is easier said than done. from a nutritional point of view. moderate intake . the easy availability of cheap. refined sugar. Changes in life-style that are more acceptable to the population at large should be pursued with more vigour.

In this respect. 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”. low fat. have shown that the importance of “health eating for healthy brains”—not only through high intakes of fruits and vegetables. 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. studies recently conduct by Professor Ng Tze Pin. fibers. high consumption of green and yellow vegetables. some cultures predispose one to good dietary decisions while others induce one to a bad start. small to moderate consumption of fish.interviews | food for health 237 of wine) or the Okinawan diet (low calories and fat. tumeric and cumin) possess strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflamatory properties) . little meat. Inevitably. virtually no eggs or diary products). from Singapore. high consumption of soya beans and other legumes.

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

as well as the benefits that can be obtained through regimes of caloric restriction with optimal nutrition. In the face of a steady increase of life expectancy and the dramatic rise in the spread of the leading chronic diseases. 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. . This may mean studying fields that are particularly innovative. for the first time in modern history. it is probable that humanity will soon experience. for a significantly longer period of time.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. longer. Therefore.

13 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.9 5.6 5.5 5.12 5.1 5.4 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 . 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. Gender.3 5.10 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 5.8 5.11 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.

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

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

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

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

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

fish. they also devised a growing number of tools and weapons— first in stone. rotten.1 the relationship between food and culture: the origins Physically ill-equipped in comparison with other animals.000 years ago. and even putrefying. and also between nature and society.2 embody the dietary wisdom of populations and their respective cultures. Our capacity to manipulate nature passed a crucial milestone with the discovery of fire.” Before we learned about cooking. have interacted with nature on the basis of one dominant imperative: survival. but not be eaten. food becomes a point of departure for the extraordinary social and cultural developments that followed. early humans sought survival through two principal practices: hunting and the collection of any and all possible edible objects. As early as the Paleolithic era humans had discovered and begun to use fire. light. The use of fire was a decisive turning point. defend themselves. We are all familiar with that process. was eaten raw. Used for heat. especially in the realm of diet and nutrition. protection. as the psychologist Paul Rozin puts it. . later in metal—to hunt. In the same period. long before the adoption of agriculture some 15. What was perhaps the most problematic aspect of life (the hunt for food) was transformed from a critical challenge into an opportunity. Cooking then symbolically marks a transition between nature and culture. Roaming the landscape in search of food. especially meat. that imperative required protection from harsh climatic environments and the ability to turn to one’s own advantage the perpetual contest to eat. From this transition onward. For eons. 5.1 cooking food with fire is “the invention that made humans human. and drying (food and clothing). National cuisines. given the fact that. the cooked implies a transition that is at once cultural and social. signaling. Continually exposed to the danger of becoming food themselves. our ancestors developed increasingly sophisticated abilities to manipulate nature. fire gave rise to progressive cultural developments of enormous importance. while the raw is natural in origin. 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. like every other species on the planet. the human relationship with the environment that surrounds us has always been transformative. food.246 eating planet the cultural dimension of food Ever since the earliest times humans. Whether we’re talking about picking a piece of fruit or killing prey for food. In the words of Claude LéviStrauss. and create shelters. hunter-gatherer humans were endowed with considerable brainpower and an exploratory curiosity to match.

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

in order to explain exactly where it was located and how many members of the group it could feed. Moreover. 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.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. smiling. and showing teeth are typically hostile gestures. laughing—and eventually talking. is certainly evidence of cultural evolution. so did social groups begin to expand. 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. there is a clear recipe for conflict and violence. . as noted by Lévi-Strauss. with different parents and children. Language probably also evolved in part due to the need to alleviate tensions bound up with the division of foods. necessary for boiling. 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. probably discovered by accident. 5.2 how food contributes to communication and conviviality Food took on a very important role in the development of the earliest forms of human communication. and been in turn rewarded. 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. The use of cooking utensils. not only because of the fear of fire. The extent of the territory occupied by the group also expanded. succumbs to the human drive for cultural elaboration.” So the ability to communicate must have played a considerable role. opening the mouth.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. So even the simple act of cooking. In a larger territory the discovery of a food source had to be communicated in greater detail. 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. but also because in the animal kingdom direct eye contact. 5. “if we add to this the idea of placing food in the middle of a group of individuals. 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. As the human brain grew. and water (plus a receptacle) in the other case. This was undoubtedly one of the ways in which language developed. These practices are not found among other species.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is evident when this relationship is balanced. with repercussions in social and individual terms of extreme significance. The interaction of these variables has given rise over time. was the destination of countless migrations. The very act of feeding oneself. tradition. Rather than working back to the origins or exploring the history of these three different approaches to nutrition. Asian cuisine. or Mediterranean Sea. is a cultural thing. food must be cooked by the family or by someone else who belongs to the same level of caste. in some cases. It becomes even more so when it loses all semblance of equilibrium. 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. there are three great culinary traditions that we will attempt to describe in very abbreviated form in the following pages: Mediterranean cuisine. to the extent that it entails rationality. 5. Beginning in the Neolithic Age. What we have chosen to discuss in this brief introduction to the topic is the close. 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. in an act of symbolic demarcation. the Mare Nostrum. we will focus on trying to chart their trajectories. It is so innate to human beings to establish a relationship with foods that it is the point of departure for remarkable developments. to unique and specific dietary approaches and gastronomical traditions. memory. symbols. and values. many books have been). The new arrivals settled in existing communities in search of better living conditions: . 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 great culinary traditions | food for culture 255 the higher castes. intimate nature of the link between food and culture.8 the great culinary traditions mediterranean cuisine.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 view of current opportunities and challenges. and Anglo-Saxon cuisine. 5.

E. identified bread. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries C. orange water. initially treated as no more than an exotic curiosity and an ornamental fruit.. spinach. from which they drew most of their nutritional resources. 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. as Rome had so forcefully constructed it. the eggplant. its own specific nutritional culture. the use of rose water. of Italian cuisine. through hunting. in particular. during which a significant number of new food products were traded and introduced into the respective gastronomical cultures. This discovery also resulted in a “to-and-fro” of food products: the potato. Thereafter. on the model of Greek culture. then. played a role in the change and the transformation of the cultural unity of the Mediterranean. contacts between Muslim and Christian communities based on the Iberian peninsula grew into intense commercial exchanges. While the central role of vegetables is one of the most distinctive characteristics of the Mediterranean tradition. the ancient Roman tradition—which. lemon water. as well as a number of varieties of beans. and harvesting. 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 . It was precisely the Muslims who gave rise to a significant process of agricultural renewal in which irrigated fields played a fundamental role. Among the products introduced into Mediterranean cuisine that originally came from the Islamic world. rice. citrus fruit. as well as the chosen symbols of the new faith—encountered the culture of the Germanic peoples. the tomato.256 eating planet more fertile soil for those who came from Asian or African deserts. a milder climate for those coming from Scandinavia or Germany. Another chapter of great historic impact was the discovery and the conquest of America by the Europeans. At first. during the high Middle Ages. wine. herding. and the chili pepper. and spices. along the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. and pomegranate water was introduced as well. almond water. Moreover. we should mention sugar cane. which had developed. Islamic culture. providing a decisive contribution to the new gastronomic model that was taking shape. the pepper. The tomato. 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. Those peoples lived in close symbiosis with the forest. corn. and oil as the products symbolizing the tradition of a farming and agricultural civilization. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

a quality that in many ways lies at the foundation of the very possibility of a gratifying experience. an increasing demand for authenticity is arising. there are three imperatives today: restore direct contact with the cultural dimension of food. linked to the rediscovery of sustainability in all its embodiments (environment. We are now seeing the possibility of rethinking our relationship with food in terms of a new overall vision. From this point of view. more satisfying relationship with food. This is a turning point. in which the rapport with the food fully embraces the dimensions of aesthetics. The recovery of food rituals can confer a dimension of reassuring meaning that will help to render more immediate the experience of eating. of equal importance is the recovery of conviviality. . and to make up for the loss of food culture). This introduces other significant dimensions: from the need to simplify the procedures for the preparation of food (in order to save time. richer. The aspect of speed. and spread its flavor. to the notion of universal portability.262 eating planet No doubt in reaction to this trend. To put it in a slogan. health. taste. which is in such short supply today. which has become a characteristic element of our time. 5. 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. and pleasure. 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). asking it to take on new responsibilities. Likewise. The domain of ritual is a powerful aspect of the relationship with food. But the great challenge of our time is probably that of reclaiming for ourselves a deeper. redefine its pleasure. as we have noted above.10 toward a new vision of nutrition There are a number of different factors. understood as the ease of application of the desired way of eating within an increasingly frenetic society in constant movement. 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. 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. 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. social relations) and which points a finger at the food industry.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.400 species of insects are eaten by humans. 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. 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.

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

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

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

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

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. a gradual abandonment of the Mediterranean approach to food in favor of less-healthy ways of eating. but rather in those areas where food is pervasive. the index of Mediterranean adequacy has dropped to 1. to the total quality. where food is commodified. responsibility. of its sacrality. cheap. of also of poor quality. and correlated pathologies are most common not in the areas where food and eating are considered important daily social occasions. Overweight and obesity in Italy and Spain seem to correlate with the abandonment of the Mediterranean diet.9 in 1991. at any time—in short. we ought to turn to the quality and the world of “Mediterraneity” in order that it might help us to re-enchant it.2 in 1960 but dropped to 2.14 mediterraneity today: the decline of a model From the 1950s to the present day. And vice versa: obesity.44. and deprived. 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. always available for consumption. Italy included. not just the maintenance of the body.the mediterranean culture | food for culture 273 origin. of which 76 percent are eaten at home and 24 percent are eaten . we have witnessed all over the Mediterranean region. stripped of all meaning. and personal choices. 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 results of the studies by Flaminio Fidanza (one of the pioneers in food and nutrition research.6 in 1965.2 in 1991. as well as with a reduction in physical activity. not just its quotidian aspects. and to the sacral importance of food. since Keys’s first study. and specifically Italian society. Every day in Italy about 105 million meals are consumed. to the social occasions in which the foods are consumed. 5. In recent years European society. not just their makeup. have changed from a number of points of view. trivialized. diabetes. as well. that is. so to speak. In Montegiorgio. The great German sociologist Max Weber wrote about the disenchantment (Entzauberung) of the world associated with advent of modernity: where food has become disenchanted. where the index had been 5. The abandonment of the Mediterranean diet appears to be unmistakable in the larger Italian cities. not just the nutritious value and health. thoughtlessly or indifferently. it fell to 3.

Sixtyseven percent of the 25.25 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.” Lunches eaten in less than 10 minutes account for 9 percent of the total number of lunches eaten away from home. 2009.5 million meals consumed daily away from home are lunches. and 16 percent are eaten alone. 16 percent with friends and colleagues.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 5.1).1 Breakdown of the 105 million meals consumed daily in Italy by mode of consumption Note: Data expressed in %. Source: BCFN on Nielsen-Barilla data. 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. that 11 percent are “lunch on the run” and 5 percent are the “catch-up lunch.000 meals analyzed. 105 million meals daily. and only in 30 percent of all cases are those lunches eaten between one and two o’clock in the afternoon (figure 5. Base: 99. . among the meals consumed away from home.

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

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. they are predominantly “primi piatti. Base: 80 million meals at home daily. represent a cultural patrimony that still endures in Italian society despite the pressure to which individual lifestyles are subject. but not at a table. Source: BCFN on Nielsen-Barilla data. 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. The composition of the meals eaten at home. on the other hand. while 15 percent of those meals were eaten sitting down. as can be seen in figure 5. with one million “primi piatti” consumed away from home every day (for the most part in bars and cafeterias). 2009. especially the tendency to assign meaning and significance to eating that rise above the merely nutritional or functional aspects. But it is . As for the meals eaten away from home.2. shows a greater degree of variety. 14 percent of the meals eaten away from home were eaten standing up. The distinctive features and traits of Mediterraneity.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.” or pasta or soup dishes (41 percent) and main entrees (42 percent).2 Distribution of preparation time for meals at home and away from home Note: Data expressed in %. Moreover.

Sweden (77 percent). 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. although it only partly shares the larger cultural tradition mentioned here. Italy is below the European average.the mediterranean culture | food for culture 277 increasingly difficult to reconcile Mediterraneity with a reality that makes its practice more and more challenging. Specifically. The statistics shown have to do with Italy. In fact.3). Slovakia (52 percent). it tends to affirm itself over time. and Poland (49 percent). 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. 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. is the emergence of a meaningful fracture between ideal dietary choices and actual everyday practice. the challenges of adopting a balanced diet. 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. 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. While awareness of the importance of good nutrition to overall well-being is rising. despite the fact that most European citizens say they follow a healthy diet. and Malta (77 percent). The lifestyle of European citizens seems to be the chief obstacle to their eating . among other things. if we broaden our view to include sociopolitical context of the entire European Union—which. the same productivist paradigm that is now sweeping other areas of Earth (this is demonstrated. However. and this is the most worrisome datum. on the other hand it is clear that certain values typical of Mediterraneity have by now permeated the entire continent. the number of people who have difficulty eating in a healthy manner is pretty high in countries such as Hungary (54 percent). on the one hand. however. 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. by the growing number of people afflicted with diseases directly linked to overweight and all obesity26). While. On the other hand. people report it seems fairly easy to adopt a healthy diet in countries such as the Netherlands (79 percent). but they correspond to the figures for Europe as well. actually practicing those values is becoming increasingly difficult. What appears most significant. Well aware of the importance of the makeup of diet.

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. two principal factors hinder that possibility: the excessive amount of time required for the selection and preparation of a meal (31 percent of respondents). 2006.3 What does it mean to follow a healthy diet? Source: The European House-Ambrosetti on Eurobarometro data. rice. In conclusion. 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. 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- . and the inability to supervise the foods consumed because they were purchased or prepared by someone else (27 percent). pasta and other carbohydrates Eat less bread. rice. A third significant reason expressed is the idea that healthy food isn’t particularly tasty (23 percent). in a healthy and nutritious manner. According to the survey. 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. full life. the Eurobarometer survey seems to indicate an increasingly widespread awareness of the importance of diet and nutrition in terms of a healthy.

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

(Just consider. We are not suggesting that food become an obsession or a tedious task but. . and more attractive— attractive because it will become the vehicle of a conviviality. and superficiality. while at the same time emphasizing the aspects that are humanly universal. of an aesthetic taste that we sometimes have a hard time expressing in a daily life that is punctuated by frenetic rhythms. 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. should be to make the time we spend eating less predictable and banal. they are extraordinary deposits of cultural wealth. distinctive qualities. within the context of time devoted to caring for oneself as a person. • transfer the knowledge and know-how linked to the preparation of foods. 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. are decisive. This original theme has always constituted the heart of the Mediterranean approach to diet and nutrition. even before it is fought in the realm of the choice of foods.) What emerges from these observations is a clear indication of the challenge facing us. then. 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. what seems to be progressively vanishing in many countries is a balanced relationship with food. quite to the contrary. more beautiful. in this era of ours that is so impoverished in terms of relationships. 5. and therefore more immediate and intense. the Food Pyramid—universally known for the past 30 years. and territorial localization. anxiety. but never so seldom applied in the world as it is today. The objective. in our opinion. a measured use of time. It will be decided on the good practices that will make it possible to attribute a value and a meaning to food. • protect local territorial variety by preserving the wealth of identities (while still encouraging cross-fertilizations).15 how to recover the significance of mediterraneity Aside from the loss of nutritional value. We shall therefore limit ourselves to suggesting two ideas that. The battle for good nutrition depends upon and can only be won on the field of behavior. thus reinforcing the emotional capital invested in roots. a path toward the rediscovery of oneself and others.280 eating planet tific nutrition about sound dietary practices into proper behavior. in this connection.

• restore the value of food as a medium for a fertile relationship between the generations.the mediterranean culture | food for culture 281 food materials that go into a cuisine. 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. 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. 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. to this end. It is necessary. establishing a direct and respectful link with the context in which the raw materials develop. in the simplicity and clarity of its benefits. • 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. • return to a healthy relationship with the territory and the context of the raw . which while it preserves the typical character of competition in the relationships between the various players in a single sector. the environment. aiming at the excellence of the ingredients. • last of all. The second significant element is bound up with the method of activating the process of change. A concerted effort will be required. an alliance. spread the culture of taste and the enjoyment of life through authentic food. An exquisitely Mediterranean nutritional paradigm. to forge a great pact among all the actors of the world of nutrition and food. 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. and an intact social structure. to promote the construction (and reconstruction) of a social fabric that is steadily weakening under the pressure of modernity.

the development of the poorer nations. any decision that can affect the habits of human beings must be based not on national or supranational considerations. What are the priorities for undertaking a sustainable develop‑ ment that will include all countries. This strikes me as the first aspect: it is necessary to state the problem in truly global terms. the international institutions. 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. Every time I go there with the mentality of sustainable development. the NGOs. the universities. but a globalization that instead begins to include us. we will never solve this kind of problem. Naturally. Since 1996 he has been a visiting professor at the school of Social Institutional Communication at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. but it can be created and fostered with aid that is political.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. for example. Which are the chief actors who can undertake development in this direction: the local governments. but on something called a sense of responsibility. geopolitical. in terms of responsibility as well. the research centers? Who should be the first to move? From my point of view. and global in nature. 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. in more general terms. Rome. 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). 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. Not a globalization that excludes us. . but it is wrong to think that it has to begin in those countries: it is we who need to change our habits. and not only the more advanced countries? To find the solution to a problem. the partial deforestation of certain zones of the Amazon. From 1984 to 2006 he was Director of the Holy See Press Office (or Vatican Press Office). The problem of sustainability is one that we created ourselves—the developed nations—not the developing nations. A badly formulated problem will never find a solution. I say this because it is very easy for us in the west to criticize. a sense of responsibility is always individual.

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

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

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

Within the mainstream a struggle is also underway to shape consumer culture towards particular interests. He has writfood consumerism itself. tures”.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. appears to be the only option available. So food processors work to sell their branded product dreams. So an important task is for societies to reclaim their narratives relevant to their food . The Mediterranean model is competing with all these consumer and societal influences. This “food system” continues to shape and influence Visiting Research Fellow food consumption patterns and hence consumer food “culat the Centre for Food Policy. so that this model World of Food (1996). the global food industry and food culture war framed as a conflict within the future of food policies. mechanisms to activate this. 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. production model and its accompanying. In this respect the industrial The Functional Foods Revolution: Healthy People. 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. City University. 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. The on-going industrial food system dynamic is driven including: Food Wars: The by consumerism—that is. He specializes be situated within this broader context which sees today’s in food and health. Minds and Markets (2004. chase goods and services in even greater amounts and the with Professor Tim Lang). ten more than 90 publications or presentations. hugely sophisHealthy Profits? (2001) ticated. Increasingly all of these players attempt to convince consumers of their sustainability and environmental credentials. While food consumer culture is important it is rarely mentioned in nutrition and food policy documents. 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.28 The impact of the Mediterranean model has to London. are designed to and Consumption in the Age of Affluence: The push this consumption agenda forward.29 But the consumer culture food war is not simply between the mainstream and alternatives. consumer marketing industries.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.

at the same time. diet. Consumers in European Mediterranean countries have also moved away from traditional Mediterranean diets and foodstuffs in recent decades. And the Mediterranean diet itself has not been immune from this process. But in other ways the modern global consumer culture offers possibilities for the Mediterranean model. Food traditions and heritage need careful nurturing to remain authentic in the brutally competitive consumer culture war around food. as is well known. It is a diet. For example.32 Some of these societal and cultural trends can be identified through following the olive oil food system in recent years. 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. Italy and Spain. 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”. 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. gastronomy. But Scheidel and Krausmann also document some of the consequences of . As importantly the Mediterranean consumer culture itself has started to succumb to globalizing and industrializing dietary tendencies. Until relatively recently olive oil markets were predominantly for local consumption. In some instances the Mediterranean diet has itself become “medicalised”— stripped of its cultural heritage.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. 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. saw increased demand in non-traditional markets—such as northern European countries—with a more than 10 food increase. as posing a threat to the industrial food system.interviews | food for culture 287 cultures. While global olive oil production is still concentrated in the Mediterranean region just three countries are dominant: Greece. the Mediterranean “model” might be regarded as both under threat and. cuisines have opened up or created new consumer markets and introduced new eating possibilities for people that were unheard of for earlier generations. But promotional campaigns for the “healthy Mediterranean diet” especially from the 1980s onwards and devised and promoted by production interests. In a globalizing world. our bodies and health.

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”.288 eating planet these production-consumption changes. First.” The growth in olive oil consumption has therefore had profound ecological impacts leading to a structural transformation of Mediterranean landscapes. As noted from the olive oil case study. Many of these were abandoned and modern. intensive. is the impact on local and traditional Mediterranean olive groves. in addition to public health and nutrition. for local food systems and global consumers. 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. agro-chemicals and mechanization. industrial olive groves expanded primarily into agricultural land with high quality soils. food economies. in food. 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. This intensification has been especially pronounced in Andalusia. Spain. consumption patterns. 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 has enabled much higher productivity and modernization of industrial processes. .34 Increasingly. 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. mono-cultural production plantations were set up which rely upon irrigation systems. and even choice is limited to macro-issues such as price and convenience. This then raises the question of how to internationalize the Mediterranean model in a culturally appropriate way. whereas consumer choice itself embraces a much more complex set of demands and aspirations. As Scheidel and Krausmann write: “While traditionally rain fed olive trees were grown mainly on marginal soils. 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. but has also meant major structural changes in land use.

What’s involved is the revitalization of the aspects of conviviality. such as the Mediterranean gastronomic culture. an alliance among diverse subjects.action plan | food for culture 289 action plan culture. through a critical operation that allows us to preserve the best of the gastronomic tradition. teach a new ecology of food We must establish a grand overriding pact among all the actors of the world of food. The scale of the challenge is such that it demands a capacity for intervention that rises above the power of the individual operators. the transfer of knowledge and know-how tied up in the preparation of foods. it becomes capable of implementing cooperative games aimed at the promotion of a new nutritional and dietary paradigms. What is needed is a concerted effort. 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. while still preserving the distinctive characteristic of competition in the relationship among players in a single sector. such that. 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 the recovery of traditional flavors capable of being renewed in the context of contemporary tastes. taste. the protection of local territorial variety by preserving the wealth of identities. the environment. . 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. and an intact social structure.

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

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

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

B.. July 2009. WHO Technical Report Series 916. let us introduce the hypothesis that the density of nitrogen in the soil. Fact sheet n.. “Healthy Living. Tauris.. 2003. Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet and Survival in a Greek Population. The Japan Dietetic Association. the yield per hectare in an LEI model is lower. and the Società italiana di diabetologia. MA and London. 26. Fidanza F. World Health Organization. 12 13 14 Agriculture Fact Book. n.” May 2006. 2001. and Blackburn H.. February 2007. For more information. Health Economics Research Centre. “Health & the EU Lisbon Agenda—High Returns on Health Investment. Department of Public Health.. Cambridge.. Djordjevic B. “European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics 2008”.. in a low external input (LEI) regimen of agriculture.J. these are the hours of assistance received by patients suffering from coronary or cerebrovascular diseases by unpaid persons. “European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics 2008”.S. Therefore.: Seven Countries: A Multivariate Analysis of Death and Coronary Heart Disease. National Nutrition Survey. the American Heart Association. Health Promotion Research Group. Dontas A. University of Oxford. University of Oxford.. Health Economics Research Centre. is some 30 percent lower than a high external input (HEI) regimen of agriculture.. Puddu V.. 2009. World Health Organization.. and the Federation of European Cancer Societies. University of Oxford. Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation. March 2008. 2011.. Buzina R. Number 3. Karvonen M. 317. Department of Public Health.. Bamia C. 2003. Punsar S. Tokyo. 1995 Springer Verlag. 15 Trichopoulou A. British Heart Foundation. Van Buchem F. the International Agency for Research on Cancer. University of Oxford. “Cardiovascular Diseases”. Profiling Food Consumption in America.. Diabetes Care. and the Società italiana di cardiologia. . 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”. Department of Public Health. Virtual Water. Toshima H. Koga Y.. the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. “Diet.” 1999.. Trichopoulos D. the American Cancer Association. Keys A.S. 2002. World Health Organization. Aravanis C. Geneva. the European Society of Cardiology. World Health Organization. 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.L. Kimura N. Costacou T.S. British Heart Foundation. 6 7 8 9 10 11 We considered: for cardiovascular diseases.P.. New England Journal of Medicine. see the FAO/OECD study: “Food Availability and natural resource use in a green economy context”.S. the American Diabetes Association.: Lessons for Science from the Seven Countries Study. I. for tumors. Health Promotion Research Group. 1-381. American Diabetes Association. 5 4 3 2 For the most part. Department of Public Health. “Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U. Menotti A.. 2009. Volume 31. Mohacek I. Blackburn H. 16 15 Tony Allan. for diabetes. 4.” 1999.302 eating planet of this study. Nedeljkovic S. in 2007”... Taylor H.. 1980 Harvard University Press. Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases”. Volume 348. “Healthy Living.

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

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

Sears B. “Patient Level Pooled Analysis of 68. food for culture Claude Lévi-Strauss (Brussels.337:986-94. Mondadori. anthropologist. Everyone Eats: Understanding Food and Culture. et al. 1979. 2005 Michael Pollan is a writer. and Fluoride.. Vitamin D.... “Caloric Intake and Aging. Ricordi for culture | notes 305 52 Abrahamsen B. New York University Press. 11 Piroddi L.. Yu B. Anderson E. 2010. journalist. Lévi-Strauss. 2006. Ingredienti...126:913-22. 5. 1993. 19 November 1925) is a Polish sociologist and philosopher of Polish-Jewish origin. Cancer Research.. Albanes D. activist. “Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition as a Pharmacological Approach to Treat Obesity. see also: Fontana L. “Overview of Caloric Restriction and Aging. “Obesità viscerale. 48: B27-32. DC.. and professor of journalism at the University of California. Hubbard G. or Transcendental Gastronomy. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium.A.. J Gerontol Biol Sci. 2005. Magnesium.B. Washington.S. In this connection. Sohal R.” Journal of Obesity. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.” Science. Weindruch R. 2010..” Department of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology. Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte. McMahan C.. Brillat-Savarin A. restrizione calorica ed aging. 10 Zygmunt Bauman (Poznań. The Physiology of Taste. 1999. 2 3 1 Psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. “Extending Healthy Lifespan—From Yeast to Humans. Milan.. principi dietetici e ricette al sapore di sole. and philosopher. Food and Nutrition Board. Cucina Mediterranea.. 28 November 1908—Paris. psychologist.. The book was originally published in French in 1826.P. 7 5 4 Douglas D.500 Patients from Seven Major Vitamin D Fracture Trials in the US and Europe. 53 54 55 56 57 58 Shimokawa I. 15 November 1917) was a French sociologist. Isherwood B. Among his contributions to scientific psychology was the application of the method of structuralist investigation to anthropological studies. . New York. 1993. 15 April 1858—Paris. Masoro E.. Higami Y.” Mech Ageing Dev.” N Engl J Med. Fontana L. 30 October 2009 was a French anthropologist. The World of Goods: Towards an Anthropology of Consumption. Numerous authors refer to the entire Anglo-Saxon world when they speak about the Western diet. Institute of Medicine.: “Diet and the Suitability of the Male Fischer 344 Rat as a Model for Aging Research”.” G Gerontol. 54:131-133.J. 1987. 2011. Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. 1997..M. National Academy Press.J. Masoro E. 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.. 6 Émile Durkheim (Épinal. Phosphorus. and historian of religion.

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Paul Roberts. the cultural value of food. Ricardo Uauy. Alex Kalache. Raj Patel. Aviva Must. Hans Herren. Michael Heasman. and convivial eating? The paradoxes of the global food system. Marion Nestle. Vandana Shiva. Shimon Peres. fair. . and the effects of food production and consumption on health and the environment are some of the major themes of Eating Planet 2012. in collaboration with the Worldwatch Institute. the first global report on food and nutrition by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition. Analysis of these issues and discussions about potential solutions are enriched by the contributions of prestigious experts: Tony Allan. Mario Monti. Carlo Petrini. Ellen Gustafson.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. is it possible to rediscover the ingredients for healthy. Joaquín Navarro-Valls. production and consumption trends.

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