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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6 1.10 Not by Calories Alone 1.14 The Role of Health Structures . the challenges of food introduction Danielle Nierenberg.2 1.13 The Importance of Information 1.12 Bringing Healthy Food Everywhere 1.5 1.8 1.11 The Role of Vegetables 1.7 1. Small and Large food for all 1.1 1. The Political Challenge of Food executive summary XV 3 XI 1. Worldwatch Institute: It’s Possible to Work at All Scales.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 1.3 1.4 1. BCFN: the Answers to Three Paradoxes preface Mario Monti.eating planet 2012 Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition nutrition today: a challenge for mankind and for the planet introduction Guido Barilla.

15 Relaunching Agricultural Systems 1.18 Incentivize Employment of the Young the three objectives of food 1.16 New Computer and Communications Technologies 1.8 Subjective Approach Versus Objective Approach: Different Outlooks in Terms of Measuring Well-being 2. In Access the Key Factor Is Diversity Ellen Gustafson.7 Gross Domestic Product Versus Indicators of Well-being 2.2 The “Food Paradox”: Underlying Causes 2.VI eating planet food for culture 34 36 36 38 38 39 42 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 2.10 Principal Results of the 2011 BCFN Index 2.11 The Different Dimensions of Sustainability interviews Paul Roberts.19 Increasing Awareness about the Importance of Agriculture 2. How to Respond to Market Excesses facts & figures access to food: present and future challenges 2.4 The BCFN Evaluation Model 2.1 The Global Scope of Food Security and Access Problems 2.5 Variables of the Model 2.17 Popularization “In the Field” 1. Agricultural Policies Must Take into Consideration the Health and Well‑being of Human Beings action plan . food for all introduction Raj Patel.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.

Virtual Water Between Underconsumption and Poor Management action plan .11 National Water Footprints and the Trade in Virtual Water 3.5 The Food Pyramid as an Educational Tool Some Studies of the Mediterranean Diet The Environmental Pyramid The Double Pyramid for Growing Children The Double Pyramid over the Long Term 106 112 114 116 118 121 124 129 131 136 138 150 151 155 156 160 164 167 167 170 173 toward sustainable agriculture 3.2 3.10 Choices and Behaviors for Sustainable Water Consumption 3.3 3. The Challenging Transition Toward Sustainable Agriculture Tony Allan.12 Water Privatization and its Implications interviews Hans R.9 The Right of Access to Water: Reality and Prospects 3. food for sustainable growth introduction Carlo Petrini.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. Paying What’s Fair facts & figures the double pyramid: healthy food for people.8 The Availability of Water: from Abundance to Scarcity 3.1 3.6 Current Leading Agricultural Paradigms 3. Herren.table of contents VII 3. and sustainable food for the environment 3.

9 Demographics.VIII eating planet 4. Lifestyles Influence the Way We Age action plan 176 180 182 184 187 191 193 193 194 196 206 207 209 213 218 222 225 227 227 231 234 238 . and the Economic and Social Impacts of the Principal Diseases 4.2 Guidelines for a Healthy Way of Eating and Lifestyle 4.8 Recommendations longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition 4.11 Inflammatory States and Caloric Restriction: Possible Interventions to Slow the Aging Processes 4. Nutrition and Health facts & figures food for a healthy life 4.1 A Few Key Figures: Global Trends in Chronic Diseases and their Social and Economic Impacts 4.4 Recommendations food and children: educate today for a better life tomorrow 4. Companies Must Behave Responsibly Aviva Must.5 The Spread of Obesity and Overweight in Children and Adolescents and the International Economic and Social Impact 4. Food. The Responsibility for Children Must Be Shared Alex Kalache. food for health introduction Ricardo Uauy.6 Nutrients in the Different Phases of Growth 4. Agriculture. Longevity.12 Recommendations interviews Marion Nestle.3 The Most Common Guidelines and Dietary Models 4.10 Diet and Lifestyle and Their Effects on Longevity and Diseases of Aging 4.7 Guidelines for Healthy Diets and Sound Lifestyles in Children and Adolescents 4.

14 Mediterraneity Today: the Decline of a Model 5. Gender.2 5. Food for Peace—a Call for the Mobilization of Goodwill 242 facts & figures the cultural dimension of food 5.6 5.8 The Great Culinary Traditions 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.15 How to Recover the Significance of Mediterraneity interviews the great culinary traditions and the reality of food today Joaquín Navarro-Valls.10 Toward a New Vision of Nutrition 5. We Must Construct a Culture of Responsibility Vandana Shiva.11 Guidelines for Redefining Man’s Relationship with Food the mediterranean culture: the value of a lifestyle and a culinary tradition 5. The Consumer Culture War and the Food System: What Does This Mean for the Mediterranean Model? action plan notes .1 5.4 5.13 The Mediterranean Diet and Commensality 5.3 5.5 5.9 Food Today: Challenges and Perspectives 5. food for culture introduction Shimon Peres. Whoever Controls Food Controls Democracy Michael Heasman. 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 5.12 The Salient Characteristics of the Mediterranean Diet 5.table of contents IX 5.


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

such as the Mediterranean culinary culture.executive summary 7 sixty-five). which may involve research into such particularly innovative fields as the link between inflammatory states and the onset of chronic illnesses. recovering age-old flavors capable of being renewed into a contemporary taste. It is a matter of making the most of these aspects of conviviality. 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. through a critical operation that makes it possible to preserve the best of the culinary tradition. remains capable of implementing cooperative games aimed at the promotion of a new culinary paradigm. but rather to live healthier and longer. though not so much to achieve a longer lifespan. as well as the benefits that can be obtained through regimens of caloric restriction with optimal nutrition. for a significantly longer time. 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. an alliance among the various entities that. the environment. and an intact social structure. 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. transferring the expertise and know-how linked to the preparation of foods. action must be taken. food for culture recovering and spreading the elements of culture. The scale of the challenge is so great that it demands capacities to intervene that vastly outweigh the power of individual players. Therefore. in order to reorient the lifestyles and ways of eating toward modes of consumption that are more sustainable in terms of health. in fact. . while it preserves the distinctive character of competition in the relationships among the operators in a single sector. 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. taste. suffers from at least one chronic illness and roughly 50 percent are afflicted with two or more chronic pathologies. What is needed is a concerted effort. protecting local territorial varieties by preserving the wealth of identities.

13 1.3 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 1.4 1.1 1.15 1.table of contents introduction Worldwatch Institute: It’s Possible to Work at All Scales.16 1.7 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. Small and Large by Danielle Nierenberg food for all 1.11 1.2 1.8 1.17 1.12 1.19 Increasing Awareness about the Importance of Agriculture .6 1.10 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 1.18 Relaunching Agricultural Systems New Computer and Communications Technologies Popularization “In the Field” Incentivize Employment of the Young the three objectives of food 1.

1. 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. we identify existing challenges in the food system and highlight ways to alleviate hunger and poverty while also protecting the environment. . In this chapter.

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

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

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

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

and protect the environment. More than 265 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are considered malnourished—approximately one out of every four Africans and one out of every three sub-Saharan Africans. that price spike has pushed an estimated 44 million people into poverty.10 Preventing the millions and millions of tons of food waste that occurs annually. more than 1 billion people are undernourished—a number that. many households can afford only staple crops such as rice or cassava. violence. Some 11 million people are at risk of starvation in Ethiopia. meat. 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. South Sudan.6 Nearly 4 million Somalis.2). 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.7 The problem of hunger is not confined to Africa. Since 2007. reminding the world that hunger and malnourishment continue to be a cruel reality for many of the world’s poor. World Bank data show that food prices increased 15 percent for many developing countries between October 2010 and January 2011 alone. the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. as well as of pervasive conflict. the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO’s) Food Price Index has recorded a 70-percent jump in international food prices. decrease malnutrition. development agencies. more than half the population. Kenya.14 eating planet food for all Famine reemerged in the Horn of Africa in 2011. Worldwide. According to the Bank. for example. after falling steadily throughout the 1980s and 1990s. however. could be a way to help fill bellies and pocket books in both devel- . “Traditional ways of looking at hunger are unhelpful because they focus on aggregates and increasing production. Djibouti. which fill people up but provide very few nutrients. the number is 53 million. In Latin America and the Caribbean. NGOs.9 According to Olivier De Schutter. where hunger receded dramatically throughout the 1990s. is now creeping back up. making any increase in food prices especially painful.8 Food prices also continue to increase (figure 1. eggs. 41 million in Bangladesh. 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. 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. and Uganda. 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.” Governments. Instead of being able to buy nutritious beans. are in need of immediate emergency aid. and corruption. or vegetables. Somalia.

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

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

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

Twenty-five percent of what they grow is given to the needy and the rest is sold for profit. By the end of 2006. and 16 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. roughly 30 percent of all school children in the country. half of which has been funneled into scholarships for students. food aid in sub-Saharan Africa is now coming from farmers in the region rather than from thousands of miles away. but the WFP estimates that approximately 90 percent of participants purchase vegetables and meat from local producers. eggplants. Thailand’s school food program does not mandate where individual schools get their food. eggplant. Much of the maize. an NGO in N’Ganon village.” And when children eat.8 percent where they weren’t available.” says Ouattara. The students and teachers know how to keep the operation going. “we can do the program.23 In Thailand.”28 1. Mariam Ouattara. onions.27 The project started with 300 students working with about the same number of women in the community to grow rice. Not only did yields and incomes decrease.24 School feeding programs can be especially important in areas where there’s conflict. . says Ouattara.25 In Cote d’Ivoire.18 eating planet 1. The program is estimated to have assisted more than 1 million children in 2010. whether it’s gang violence in Los Angeles or political violence in Cote d’Ivoire. Much of this food is eaten by the children in the school canteen. compared to 2. As a result. radishes.3 percent.000 kindergartners. school lunches reach 1. “it’s easier for them to become better students.4 school lunches and nutrition Ghana began its own Home Grown School Feeding Program in 2005.26 The children who did attend school received meals that were often of poor nutritional quality because of inadequate funding. the president of Chigata Fettes et Development (Women and Development). where a national school lunch program is funded through the government. The students grow kale. Food from the Hood is a group of student gardeners that began in Los Angeles after the 1992 riots. cabbages. but many children stopped going to school because of the violence. and other crops. haricot blanc (white beans). the program was reaching 69.5 buying local In the same way. while the surplus is sold to help maintain the garden and the canteen. the conflict that erupted after a coup d’etat in 2002 had a huge impact on agriculture and education in the northern part of the country. so that “even if we’re not there. organized a women’s group to start growing organic food and cook meals for the children. School retention rates increased by around 10 percent for schools with the programs.8 million primary school children and 700.” Their hope is that by educating children they can also change how parents cook and eat vegetables through “trickle-up education.000 pupils in 200 schools across every district in the country. tomatoes. Enrollment in schools where meals were served increased by 20.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dennis Garrity. And while forests and grasslands are still rapidly declining. prevent soil erosion. Tephrosia. According to Garrity. calls this “evergreen agriculture”.” says Garrity. Both perennials and annual crops can be used. sorghum. not dreamed up by researchers or scientists but has been a practice of farmers in places like sub-Saharan Africa for generations.26 eating planet But agro-ecology does not mean a return to old-fashioned or outdated practices. whether it’s in the Brazilian Amazon or the rainforest of Congo. Agroforestry. And the trees that make this system possible are trees that are readily available to millions more farmers in the future. such approaches are highly complex. Kenya. in fact. and Faidherbia trees. Sesbania.38 Integrating trees with crops can double or even triple yields compared to crops that are grown without a canopy. is actually increasing. wheat. these farmers are providing additional protein for their families as well as increasing incomes. integrating trees with annual and perennial crops maintains green cover on the land throughout the year. especially of cereal crops. Gliricidia. agro-ecological systems integrate farming with the environment. In some regions of the world. for example. the number of trees on farms. Malawi. By using ducks and fish instead of pesticides for pest control in rice paddies.39 1. the former director general of the World Agroforestry Centre. millet. while protecting the environment at the same time. and vegetables are being grown along Acacia. crops such as maize. Zambia. preserving biodiversity. “It’s indigenous to Africa. and protecting crops from harsh sunlight.”37 This “reinvention” was. These fertilizer trees provide shade. more than 30 percent of agricultural lands enjoy tree cover. stimulating higher crop yields. Because the trees “fix” nitrogen from the air and deposit their biomass and leaves on the soil surface. including Central America. and add the natural fertilizer nitrogen to soils. rather than separating crops and livestock from nature. is a good illustration of how farming and ecosystems can work together. according to the World Agroforestry Centre. Clearing land for agriculture. Tanzania. plants. Agro-ecology mimics nature. destroys habitat for birds. including sequestering carbon. On the contrary. improve water availability. and other species. The trees also provide a variety of ecosystem services. In Indonesia. relying on the extensive knowledge of farmers and an understanding of local ecosystems. “We look at evergreen agriculture as a way of in fact assisting in reinventing agriculture for a more climate-smart farming in the future.9 integrated animal husbandry for better sustainability Farmers in Japan and other parts of Asia are also finding ways to add nutrients to crops without depending on expensive artificial fertilizers or toxic pesticides. and many other countries. The ducks . the soils become increasingly fertile. Dr.

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

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

banks and training centers that help bring an end to injustice and foster the social. organic gooseberry plants in vadodara. fruits and vegetables. economic and political empowerment of women. gujarat. self‑help groups.Organically grown gooseberries in the village of Gujarat’s 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. india .

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

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

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

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


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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-

wildlife.82 Financial speculation on the price of food has played a major role in this problem. 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. Recognizing agriculture’s multiple benefits.40 eating planet ers to restore investment in agriculture. Asia. 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. access to markets. The World Bank estimates that high food prices in 2010 plunged an additional 44 million people into poverty and hunger over the last year. 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.79 2. educators. More than 2 billion people live on less than US$2 per day and global unemployment is at record highs. and farmer incomes—if they were fully funded. But initiatives like Feed the Future (the U. and stewards of the land. The Food. which has declined precipitously over the last three decades. both initiatives have received very little of the billions of dollars pledged by donor countries. Other projects will begin paying farmers for sequestering carbon in their soils. food prices have fluctuated wildly (2011 prices were nearly 20 . Women farmers. is working with more than 200 million farmers in Latin America. including a proposal to create an African Agricultural Carbon Facility that could incubate projects and help connect them with buyers. and Africa to ensure that the sustainably grown cocoa. These farmers produce the ingredients for countless products while helping to protect bird. education. coffee. Poor households in the developing world spend 70 percent of their income on food. Finding ways to compensate farmers for these multiple roles will become increasingly important as agricultural challenges increase. and NGOs. make up as much as 80 percent of the agricultural labor force in some countries. Unfortunately. for example. The Rainforest Alliance. which provides an entertaining vehicle to discuss these challenges in an open atmosphere.80 Another innovation is compensating farmers for the ecosystem services their lands provide. primarily by planting trees among crops.81 3. Roughly 75 such projects in 22 African countries are in the works.S. stewarding nearby forests. bananas. and plant species in some of the planet’s most fragile ecosystems. Farmers are businesswomen and -men. and access to banks. Cultivating better livelihoods. but they are often denied basic benefits such as land tenure. for example. and keeping their soils planted with crops for more of the year. and other products get a premium price from consumers in wealthy nations. Recently. private businesses. The real culprit is poverty.

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. poses a serious threat to this valuable resource: the U.Fish for sale at Port de Peche Fish Market in Nouakchott. Mauritania. As a result. Food and Agriculture Organizations estimates that 53 percent of fisheries are considered fully exploited.N. the fish market of port de pêche in nouakchott. often by Chinese fishing fleets. mauritania . But over‑fishing.

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

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

7 2.6 The BCFN Evaluation Model Variables of the Model Strategies for Controlling Volatility new tools to measure and promote well-being 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 2.2 2.5 2.8 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 2.1 2.9 2.table of contents introduction How to Respond to Market Excesses by Raj Patel facts & figures access to food: present and future challenges 2.

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

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

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

But tobacco taxes are similar. These taxes are regressive. That a tax falls disproportionately on the poor is reason to worry. Ultimately. The underlying system. In response to fires and low grain supplies. And. and with international grain markets tightly integrated. such as carbonated beverages. Unfortunately. 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. continue to be with us today.5 billion people overweight.7 China and India have joined other foreign governments in an aggressive search for overseas sources of food for their populations. though. a soda tax blames the poor for being victims of circumstance. governments are doing little directly to address the underlying problems. Advocates of such a tax have to answer the charge that they’re mongers of class war. 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.”10 If this is true. if the move to tax soft drinks were an end in itself. 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. credit and extension services. There’s far too long a history of culture war around food. and many of the shocks. This is a conversation long overdue. That said. In the meantime. certainly. since taxing food will always affect the poor disproportionately because they spend a greater proportion of household budgets on food than the rich. of course. Russia announced a wheat export moratorium. As one researcher argues. with everything from white bread to Coca-Cola conscripted into a great battle over class and identity. and push many millions more into hunger in 2008.9 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. particularly in Africa. which worked well for farmers there. A controversial experiment involves a “sugar tax”. the goal is not to end soda.8 These are ad hoc measures that leave the central tenets of the global food system largely unaddressed. but poverty. “obesity is the toxic consequence of economic insecurity and a failing economic environment. Many of the more interesting policy responses to the failures of the food system are to be found at local. it shows promise.48 eating planet tural research. we continue to see experiments and ideas for change happening not at national or international levels. but at local and regional lev- . municipal and subnational levels. it was inevitable that a few shocks in the world’s key grainbaskets should ripple across the planet. which raises prices on items high in “empty calories”. then I’d want nothing to do with it.6 but caused a panic in global wheat markets in 2010 that led to food rebellions around the world.

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

800 calories Average daily calorie supply produced The world food system is currently capable of producing just under 2.550 calories Average real daily calorie requirement 2. 53% of infant mortality is caused by malnutrition and undernutrition people die every year due to malnutrition and undernutrition 36 million WORLD POPULATION: 7 BILLION PEOPLE 1 1billion . WoRlD 53% In developing countries. while the average per capita daily calorie requirement for an individual adult is 2. PEOPLE ARE UNDERNOURISHED men and women suffer from undernourishment 950 million  .  food for all WoRlD FooD SYSTEm  2.550 calories.800 calories per person per day.50 eating planet 2.

3 billion PEOPLE ARE OBESE OR OVERWEIGHT It is estimated that 1. or consumption . or wasted in the processes of preserving. transformation.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%. distribution. destroyed. this increase helped to generate new conditions of poverty for 44 million people.3 billion people in the  world are obese or significantly overweight  1/3 WASTED FooD  One third of the world’s food production is lost. 29 million DEAD EVERY YEAR Approximately 29 million people die every year   of diseases linked to excessive consumption of food  1. Over the same period.

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

reaching and outstripping the levels recorded in 2008.4 percent of the world’s population of about 6. In 2010. in the months between late 2010 and early 2011.050 1.6 percent). 12 Moreover.000 950 900 850 800 750 1.2 Undernourished people on earth (millions of people) Source: FAO. with a drop of 98 million (9. in developing areas. This points to the real possibility of a new rise in the .2). 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. The slight decline of those numbers during 2010 is a positive development and marks a change of direction from previous years. 2.1 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. where food and water issues exacerbate unresolved ethnic religious and economic tensions. data trends show that inadequate nutrition affects 13. the total number of undernourished people on Earth was roughly 925 million (figure 2. Indeed. Still. 2011 (the data shown for 2009 and 2010 are estimated values).access to food: present and future challenges | food for all 53 1.11.9 billion people. the overall situation shows a serious worsening over the last 15 years at the global level. prices for several leading food commodities began rising again.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.

inadequate nutrition affected a limited number of people (12. in contrast. equal to −13. therefore.3 and 2. inadequate nutrition in Asia affected 554. 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. more than twice the number for sub-Saharan Africa (201. The same thing happened in Latin America (a decline of long term. respectively of 36. India. that is.14 there were 835 million people living in conditions of inadequate nutrition in the developing countries. the figures were 47 million. the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ethiopia. In Asia. radically different trends have been observed in different areasover the past 15 years. we foresee a general worsening of the overall picture. In developed countries.4 million. The drop from the 1996 level—the year that world leaders expressed a commitment to reduce and finally eliminate entirely world hunger—is considerable. It is also worth noting that two-thirds of the world’s undernourished people are concentrated in seven countries: Bangladesh. while in the regions of the Middle East and North Africa the number was roughly 32. it is estimated that the number of undernourished people dropped by 5.4. more than one out of every six people. For the most part.2 million of people.13 Over the mid. in contrast. Unless this situation is addressed and resolved very rapidly. In fact. moreover. these were initiatives and measures aimed at social and economic . The opposite happened. Indonesia. in sub-Saharan Africa and in the regions of North Africa and the Middle East. it could well lead to a jump of 64 million in the total number of undernourished people. in 2007 98 percent of the world’s undernourished people lived in those countries. The greatest number of undernourished people lives in the developing nations. China.2 million people). showed improvement for the years from 1990 to 2007.5 million people15 in the period from 2005 to 2007.3 percent). on the other hand. thanks to a series of focused interventions undertaken by individual governments. where increases were recorded. with a further deterioration in the wake of the economic downturn and the food crisis of 2008-2009. concentration in asia.7 percent (approximately 33 million people) in the period from 1990 to 2007. 16 percent of that population was suffering from hunger.3 million (+22 percent) and 12. As the reader can see in figures 2. and Pakistan. the trend is toward a slight decline: in fact.3 percent) in the total number of undernourished people.8 million (+65. A closer look at developing countries shows that Asia is the region with the highest number of undernourished people.54 eating planet overall number of people suffering from hunger in the developing countries. 16 The trend.3 million) in the period from 2005 to 2007. In Latin America. More than 40 percent of those people live in China and India. According to data for 2005-2007. In 2010.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

market prices for agricultural raw materials began increasing very rapidly in the second half of 2010. but not only. the FAO Food Price Index increased 38 percent. 2. and sometimes extraordinary. a measurement of volatility. produc- . demographic factors. as mentioned) and on the economic and political stability of countries (particularly those in development). 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. Combined with the difficult world economic crisis. this will become crucial also in the developing countries. cardiovascular. Choosing sustainable food consumption models for the future will allow us to reduce the emphasis placed on productivity gains. In the last five years. in the developing countries). and tumor-related diseases caused by harmful eating habits.3 compared to 13. studying. the price of cereals alone increased 71 percent. This is taking firm shape in the developed countries. Moreover. mainly because of the impact it will have on global production equilibrium in agriculture. in order to assess their effects on the food security of families (mainly low-income families.5). the standard deviation. Between July 2010 and February 2011. Above all it highlights the factors that can be traced to the demand side (inventory levels of product. surpassing the previous peak during the food crisis of 2008. This causes uncertainty and instability on the markets. In fact. with sharp. the BCFN carried out research aimed at identifying. Over time. and clarifying the causes of the high.4 the bcfn evaluation model Faced with this situation. rapid oscillations taking place even within the same trading day. In just 12 months. increase in the prices of food commodities. which face a health crisis from the spread of metabolic. The BCFN evaluation model attempts to display the many elements that combine to define trends in food commodity prices. 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.a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices | food for all 67 nomic politics. economic growth of emerging countries. scarcity of natural resources.19 has more than doubled compared to the prior 15 years (29. we see a worrisome increase in the volatility of prices. which in turn create pressure on natural resources and environmental sustainability. June 2010 through May 2011.

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

The risk of insufficient global supply arises from the increasing scarcity of natural resources. These include.7). scientists are studying alternative ways to favor the consumption of vegetables with high protein content and to stimulate replacements for the consumption of meat. This is due mainly to urbanization. insufficient supply globally and high levels of waste and losses. Water is also becoming an everscarcer resource as per capita consumption increases worldwide. and on the other hand. degradation of the land. on one hand. As a result of the increase in population and per capita income in the developing countries. To try to limit this phenomenon.6 Interpretative model of food price volatility Source: BCFN.8). which seriously threatens the growth of agricultural productivity. which directly affects the consumption of agricultural products and has a heavy impact on the consumption of resources to support animal husbandry.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. Water tables . 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.62 percent less than that from 1961 to 1990 (figure 2. demographic and economic growth. structural factors. and changes in the intended use of crops (particularly for the production of biofuels). the consumption of agricultural goods is constantly growing (figure 2. The annual rate of growth in productivity from 1991 to 2010 was 0. 2011.

and increased rains in Indonesia.065 3. One of the most critical problems involves the level of waste and losses along the chain (upstream losses in developing countries. which have had a role in driving up the price of food over the middle to long term (figure 2.450 1997‑1999 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. causing colder winters in the Northern Hemisphere.850 2015 Industrialized nations figure 2.500 .980 2.054 1974‑1976 2.206 3. such as La Niña. short-term factors. It takes eight to ten times as much water to produce meat as to grow grains.70 eating planet 3. and Australia. macroeconomic factors.440 1964‑1966 2.947 2030 3. which 2. trade policies. and inventories.152 1984‑1986 Developing nations 2. Malaysia. 2010. and meager harvests caused by such events. downstream in developed countries). raged in early 2011. short-term factors that could either exacerbate or mitigate the effects of the structural factors by acting on the volatility and instability of prices. These include climate change-related phenomena.7 Daily per capita consumption of calories (1964—estimates to 2030) Source: BCFN on FAO data. Decisions about international economic policy (trade policy) by individual States have always played a fundamental role in determining price levels on a global scale. oil prices. During the crisis in 2008. financial speculation. at least 30 countries implemented restrictive export policies in an effort to safeguard internal food security.681 2. Climate change is implicated in the rising incidence of adverse weather events. There are additional. drought in the southern United States. are threatened by growing urbanization and intensive use for livestock. Recurring phenomena.380 3.9).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.

Compound Annual Growth Rate. 2010 Dec. Source: BCFN on World Bank data. 2010 Nov.400 CAGR 1961‑1990: + 1. 2011 figure 2. suffers from light rainfall Poor harvests in the Chinese farming regions.8 The global yield of cereals 21 (1961‑2010) Note: CAGR.84% 2. 2011 Apr. 2010 Jul. 2010 Jan.22% 1. 2011 May 2011 Jun. 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. 2010 Aug. 2010 Oct. 100 = oct.S.900 kilograms per hectare 2.900 1.400 CAGR 1991‑2010: + 1. 2011.9 Trend of cereal prices and principal climatic events (June 2010—April 2011) Source: BCFN on USDA and FAO data.a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices | food for all 71 3.400 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. in India cold damages the cereal grain crops Heavy rains and flooding destroys the corn crop in the American corn belt 100 Jun. 2011 Mar. 250 fao cereals price index. 2011 Feb. July 2011. . 2010 Sep.

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

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 and social instability In parts of Asia in 2011 there were sharp rises in food prices. . In India “unseasonal” monsoon rains hit southern Asia.

and swaps. Figure 2. options. 2011. This translates into a significant increase in demand for imports. to which supply reacts in the medium term.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. Looking at the crisis of 2008.12 shows the relationship between the cereals price index. such as futures. and major events in American trade policy. the flow of significant amounts of foreign money for real economic purposes . one wonders about the role of derivatives on the agricultural markets. These assets allow cash to flow in the markets and send powerful signals about prices. What of financial speculation as a short-term factor? Today. upsetting the balance between supply and demand internationally. Because the United States is the principal exporter of agricultural commodities in the world and many prices are denominated in dollars. exchange rates. The increase in food prices caused by the depreciation of the dollar is a unanimously recognized phenomenon. and how they could influence the volatility of prices and threaten access to food. Macroeconomic factors such as the inflation rate. According to many observers. and interest rates are also very important in determining agricultural policy.11 Correlation between oil prices and food prices (January 2004—April 2011) Source: BCFN on FAO and IMF data. a depreciation of the American currency causes an increase in the buying power of importing countries. the Euro/ dollar exchange rate. the financial derivatives markets for agricultural products offer various instruments to limit risk.

as they are recorded as annual aggregates on individual markets and therefore can only be guessed. a reduction of less than 2 percent in the output of grain caused the price to double. How can we act on such a complex system.5 figure 2.65 0. American grain exports dropped by 29% As a result of the recent depreciation of the dollar.12 Exchange rate $/€ and the Cereals/Food Price Index (March 2006—June 2011) Source: BCFN on USDA. figure 2.55 0.7 0. when international inventories were low.85 0. 2. between 1972 and 1973. OECD. (hedging operational risk) on the agricultural markets helped to aggravate the overall instability. 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 . American grain exports rose by 46% Between July 2008 and July 2009.8 0.a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices | food for all 75 250 200 150 100 50 0 Between March 2006 and November 2007. For example.13 shows that inventory levels of rice. and corn decreased worldwide between 2000 and 2011. 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. However. and FAO data. the response to a supply shock is a direct increase in price levels. taking into consideration the many elements contributing to the current unbalanced situation. grain. It must be interpreted systematically. 2011. when inventory levels are low in the absence of a “cushioning” mechanism.6 strategies for controlling volatility The picture that emerges from this analysis is extremely complex. partly because of an imbalance between production and consumption. American exports rose by 56% 0. Finally.75 0.6 0. World inventory levels are difficult to estimate.

” as well as—for a more general treatment— to the chapter Food for Sustainable Growth. and corn (World. it will be fundamental to sort the factors examined according to the concrete possibility of being able to affect them.36% 2. In terms of possible leverage. 2000‑2011) Note: CAGR. there are seven principal areas for action: agricultural production. and stock levels of rice. Compound Annual Growth Rate. supported by significant amounts of public investment. 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.5% CAGR production CAGR consumption CAGR Stock figure 2. It is essential to consider the timeline for taking this action.4% − 3. consumption. and less environmental impact. Scientific and technical research on these subjects. grain.75% 0. will be decisive.44% 0. 2011.76 eating planet 2.03% Wheat − 0.7% Corn − 3. we refer the reader both to the section “Facilitate economic development and increase agricultural productivity. Source: BCFN on Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) data. where there is a detailed analysis of the requirements for sustainability of the agro-industrial system.13 Rate of average annual variation of production.95% 1. by defin‑ ing optimal production models and agricultural patterns for various geographic con‑ texts. . The challenge will be to promote innovation. higher quality. 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. guiding the sector to update production models and agricultural patterns for greater productivity. Stimulate the overall growth of agriculture.93% Rice 0. In our opinion.

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

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

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

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

the flow of information and the transparency of over-the-counter operations could be improved. But it is becoming ever more important to define the conditions under which economic growth can be considered sustainable. such as excessive exploitation of environmental resources. removing the causes of the system’s current tools to measure and promote well-being | food for all 81 trends and to prevent possible excessive speculative behavior. 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. 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. underscored at the G-20 Summit of Agriculture Ministers in Paris in June 2011. 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. leaving the real market free to operate. On the other hand. This happens partly because there are costs associated with growth that are difficult to quantify but which nevertheless have a significant impact on people’s lives. or most. it will be impossible to obtain significant results without acting on the system. of the various critical points. Perhaps even more important. The recent dramatic economic crisis has led many countries to focus their energies on the problem of trying to re-launch interrupted growth. In other words. As the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. such as industrial water pollution or mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. it also appears desirable to introduce rules22 to define the perimeter of action for financial intermediaries on the agricultural commodities market. We need balanced action that touches all. In particular. mechanisms could be introduced to distinguish between sector operators and non-commercial operators. Olivier De Schutter. For the fact is that there is often a strong disconnect between growth and well-being. 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. the disconnect arises because con- . 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. so that limits could be placed on speculative operators to prevent excessive betting on the movement of prices. or the wide range of negative effects of economic activity. For example.

82 eating planet ventional economic indicators that measure growth by their nature obscure fundamentally important social and environmental aspects of well-being. or the joy of their play. neither our wisdom nor our learning. This was stated publicly as far back as 1968.7 gross domestic product versus indicators of well-being GDP is a quantitative measure of macroeconomic activity. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans. It grows with the production of napalm and missiles and nuclear warheads and research on spreading bubonic plague [sic] and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts [. 24 testified before the Congress of the United States that well-being and the GDP are two . neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything. It measures neither our wit nor our courage. the quality of their education. We cannot measure national spirit by the Dow Jones Average. which will only grow when the slums are rebuilt over their ashes [sic]. It does not count the justice in our courts or the equity of our relationships [sic]. The gross domestic product (GDP) is the principal focus of this debate. It needs to be supplemented by other measurements of a wide range of phenomena that influence living conditions. nor national achievement by the Gross National Product... For the Gross National Product includes air pollution and advertising for cigarettes. Yet the Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children. and ambulances to clear our highway carnage. such as social inclusion. said: “We will find neither national purpose nor personal satisfaction in a mere continuation of economic progress. 2. when Robert Kennedy. inequality.] and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. in an endless amassing of worldly goods. 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. economist Simon Kuznets. over time the indicator has become a key index of overall social and economic development.” Back in 1934. in a famous speech at the University of Kansas. in short. the inventor of the GDP.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). except that which makes life worthwhile. assuming a role for which it was not designed. 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. the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages. and the state of the environment. However.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Denmark led with 7.10 principal results of the 2011 bcfn index The BCFN Index of Current Well-being is a multidimensional measurement of individual well-being from a static point of view. and property) “material” well-being 20% (education and culture) “educational” well-being 10% (perception of individuals in relation to their own lives) subjective well-being 10% “environmental” well-being (quality of the environment) 15% (welfare. that is. 2011. family.14 The BCFN Index of actual well‑being and its components Source: BCFN. 2.15. followed . and institutions) “social” well-being 10% “political” well-being (democracy and individual freedom) 10% figure 2. society. 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. Of the 10 countries compared with the BCFN Index of Current Well-being on seven dimensions of well-being. the Index represents a snapshot of the well-being of a population at a specific 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. and the social and interpersonal sub-index—are compiled from 27 performance indicators that measure the seven identified dimensions of well-being. investments.5 points. and environmental sub-index. shown in figure 2.

The next three countries received similar scores.5 points).10 points. Spain (4.3 points. significantly behind the others.7 points). the wealth and environmental sub-index.66 points. shown in figure 2.8) brought up the rear. It is also an aggregate index. we obtain the BCFN Index of Well-being Sustainability. France (5. although the difference between third and fourth place was only one point. grouped into the dimensions to which they belong.7 5. namely (in order).7 points). respectively.30 The BCFN Index of Well-being Sustainability represents a multi-dimensional measurement of the future sustainability of the well-being of individuals. By this index.7 7.09 points.5 5. Last was Greece with 3.0 points.29 points.8 4. The United Kingdom came in third with 6.0 7. from a dynamic point of view. Italy was in next-to-last place with 5.5 4.1 shows the detailed list of the 27 performance indicators used. followed closely by Denmark with 7. Sweden led with 7. and the social and interpersonal sub-index.9) were in sixth and seventh place. and Germany (5.5 3.0) and the United States (4.5) and Greece (3.57 points.9 greece spain italy usa germany france japan great britain sweden denmark figure 2.16.90 eating planet point scale from 1 to 10 6.15 Ranking of the BCFN Index of actual well‑being Source: BCFN. Italy (5.3 5. Using a simple weighted average to aggregate the scores of the 10 countries into the three sub-indices. . consisting of 25 performance indicators to measure the seven dimensions of well-being in three sub-indices: the lifestyle sub-index. Japan (5. closely by Sweden with 7.0 5. Table 2. Then came France and Germany with similar scores a little over 6. 2011.

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


point scale from 1 to 10



5.8 5.1 5.5 5.5 5.6









great britain





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

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


eating planet

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

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


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

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


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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.


eating planet

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

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

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

it is much harder. like soft drinks. and whole grains that we should be eating. Today. Specifically. and economic development. vegetables. Over-pro- . 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. environmental health. we import around 60 percent of our fruits and vegetables and we are the largest producer and exporter of corn (most of which is used to feed animals and to make processed foods. and fried fast foods almost anywhere (even in the poorest communities) due to an unbelievable logistics network. packaged sugary carbohydrates. The implications to the world’s consumers of a food system that is not rooted in health and nutrition are obvious. environmental health (especially water and soil) and the economy. lunch and dinner. 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. 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. 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. but we should also be considering the implications of our current food systemon economic development. price fluctuations in commodity markets hurting urban consumers and small farmers. almost anywhere in the world. you can get western foods. and water issues in both the West and developing world. and wheat dumped as food aid.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. even in the wealthy west. to find the fruits. drinks. But. nutrition. undocumented. what choices of agricultural policy do you think western countries should make. and fuel). health. In the US. soy. as farm and food factory jobs are done by migrant. 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). Cheap food has driven farmers from land and become an aggravator of our immigration and unemployment issues. and mostly underpaid workers. 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.

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

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

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

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

table of contents introduction Paying What’s Fair by Carlo Petrini facts & figures the double pyramid: healthy food for people.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 3.5 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. and sustainable food for the environment 3.3 3.10 3.11 3.9 3.1 3.6 3. Herren Virtual Water Between Underconsumption and Poor Management by Tony Allan action plan .8 3.2 3.4 3.12 The Availability of Water: from Abundance to Scarcity The Right of Access to Water: Reality and Prospects Choices and Behaviors for Sustainable Water Consumption National Water Footprints and the Trade in Virtual Water Water Privatization and its Implications interviews The Challenging Transition Toward Sustainable Agriculture by Hans R.

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. The objective is to improve both human survival and the survival of the planet. 3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

112 eating planet 3.45% OF GREEn “LUnGS” Roughly 43% of all tropical and subtropical forests and 45% of all temperate forests have been converted into farmland .  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 . compared to 7 billion today + bILLIOn THIRSTY PEOPLE ON EARTH In 2025. the population of Earth will be 9 billion.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.

500 LITERS RESOURCES In DAnGER OF EXHAUSTIOn 32% of the fishing areas have been over fished. and fish uses somewhere between 1. fruit.400 LITERS 2. between 2. while a third of all farmland is cultivated for the production of animal feed. while a diet composed of cereals.facts & figures | food for sustainable growth 113 LIVESTOCK bREEDInG FOR 1/3 FARMLANDANIMAL FEED 26% USE OF LAND THE PRODUCTION OF FOR PASTURAGE Livestock are the main users of agricultural land: roughly 26% of land is used for pasture or grazing. 5. impoverished.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.600 liters -THE EMISSIONS 30% OF 1% 2012 3.8% of all farmland will be used for biofuels .400 liters. By 2030.5% and 3.500 and 2.600 LITERS 1. or exhausted entirely 32% FISHInG COnSUMPTIOn OF VIRTUAL WATER The consumption of virtual water with a diet rich in meat is close to 5. vegetables.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However a healthy diet is depicted.3 the environmental pyramid The food pyramid based on the Mediterranean diet is clearly among the healthiest dietary approaches available. beyond any reasonable doubt. 2009. 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. a different visual translation of the contents of the Food Pyramid (figure 3. assembly. 3. it is clear that a large share of the most respected scientific research on the relationship between diet and chronic diseases shows.3 Scheme of medical guidelines Source: BCFN. distribution. reuse. and tumors. recycling. It was constructed from research tracing the environmental effects of various food types using the life-cycle assessment (LCA) method.2). . Figure 3. But what about its impacts on the health of the environment? The BCFN Environmental Pyramid is an effort to illustrate those impacts. and follows them through processing. fabrication. transport. diabetes. LCA begins with the initial cultivation or extraction of raw materials.the double pyramid | food for sustainable growth 121 Department of Agriculture is doing in America with the USDA food plate.3 shows the guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. 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. LCA analysis follows a product or service throughout its entire life in order to evaluate the energy and environmental loads imposed by its production. The LCA approach offers the most objective and complete evaluation possible of the system (figure 3. and final disposal. use.4).

000 1.300 1.900 1.100 900 670 665 600 0 2. 2011.000 4.000 / 25.200 2.5 Carbon footprint of foods (gCO2 eq per kg or liter of food) Source: BCFN.000 figure 3. Packing 4.122 eating planet 1. Cultivation 2.300 2.850 3.000 4.000 2.000 3. 20.000 2. Transportation figure 3.000 8.4 The LCA method of analysis is regulated by the international standards ISO 14040 and 14044 Source: BCFN.900 3. Transformation 5.000 Bread Fruit Vegetables Potatoes 3.600 1.640 4.200 legend average value + cooking cooking max min 8.600 8.600 9. .000 4.250 3. 2011. Cooking 3.000 6.400 1.000 / 45.500 26.000 Beef Cheese Butter Eggs Pork Fish Rice Poultry Oil Dried Fruit Pasta Breakfast Cereal Sweets Cookies Legumes Margarine Milk Yogurt 1.

140 1. the utilization of water resources.000 legend average value 1.560 5.800 3.000 Breakfast Cereal figure 3.000 930 920 900 240 0 2. It is measured in volume (liters) of water (figure 3.775 1.500 8.000 min max 1. the most significant impacts. measured in equivalent CO2 mass (figure 3.7).the double pyramid | food for sustainable growth 123 environmental indicators.000 Beef Dried Fruit Oil Cheese 15.000 8.” 10. BCFN used the carbon footprint.000 6.300 3. To measure greenhouse gases. It is measured in global square meters or hectares (figure 3.6).000 5. and the capacity to regenerate the territorial resources that are utilized in producing food.000 Butter Pork Poultry Rice Eggs Legumes Sweets Pasta Cookies Bread Milk Yogurt Fruit Potatoes Vegetables 2.000 4. In the interests of brevity and clarity.000 1.555 5. A food’s water footprint (or virtual water content) accounts for the consumption and means of use of water resources.5). 2011. .000 / 15. BCFN chose to construc the environmental pyramid using only the ecological footprint.900 3. 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.160 3. It important to note that the impacts considered in the BCFN environmental pyramid are not the only ones generated by the food production sector. Finally. They are.300 1. however.6 Water footprint of foods (liters of water per liter or kg of food) Source: BCFN.360 5.400 3.000 4.000 4. We include the descriptions of the carbon and water footprints to make it clear that a truly complete accounting of the environmental impacts of food would require using multiple “lenses. A 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).

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. fats. it is possible to “save” as much as a total of 20 square meters a day. 3. both for caloric content and nutrients (proteins. with varying frequencies of a vegetarian menu as opposed to a meat menu. In the first menu. so we also explored the concept of the Double Pyramid for growing children and adolescents.4 the double pyramid for growing children The generic Double Pyramid is aimed primarily at adults. and imagine three different dietary regimens. 2011.124 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 meat menu has a three‑fold greater environmental impact than the vegetarian menu. and carbohydrates). the influence of food choices. as recommended by nutritionists. . the proteins are from plants (“vegetarian menu”).7 The ecological footprint of foods (global square meter per kg or liter of food) Source: BCFN. Figure 3. 7 4 12 4 min.8 gives an idea of the degree to which individual food choices can affect the ecological footprint by comparing two different daily menus. Both menus are balanced in nutritional terms. 3 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 / 160 0 10 figure 3. If we limit the consumption of animal proteins to just twice a week. however. while in the second menu the proteins are for the most part of animal origin (“meat menu”).

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.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. .8 How the ecological footprint varies as a function of food choices Source: BCFN. mixed green salad 1.720 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 4.210 g CO2 eq 140 g CO2 eq figure 3.140 6.030 2. 2011.the double pyramid | food for sustainable growth 125 2.

In combination these three factors can rapidly produce obesity.10 illustrate the daily allocation of calories and the makeup of an optimal weekly diet. . the crucial importance of diet in the prevention of many diseases in children and young people is less widely understood. • neglecting prevention or ignoring risk factors. or gaining excessive weight. such as spending one’s free time watching TV. While the public is fairly well aware of this correlation in the case of adults. such as by failing to monitoring the adolescent’s weight or scheduling checkups with a pediatrician. Figures 3. or in front of the computer instead of engaging in physical activity. and arterial hypertension. such as an acceleration of the processes that lead to diabetes and to cardiovascular diseases in adulthood. playing videogames. and increased risk of contracting chronic diseases. dyslipidaemia. They can also generate longterm effects. it has been clearly shown that there is a strong link between poor nutrition. insulin resistance. 2011.9 and 3. There are three critical factors that should be avoided during adolescence to lower the risk of chronic disease during adulthood: • developing bad eating habits. • adopting a sedentary lifestyle.9 The recommended breakdown of daily caloric intake for children and adolescents Source: BCFN. excessive body weight. consuming alcohol and tobacco. poor nutrition and chronic diseases.126 eating planet Breakfast 20% Dinner 30% Mid‑morning snack 5% Afternoon snack 10% Lunch 35% figure 3. based on nutritionists’ and pediatricians’ understanding of the nutrients needed for proper development in various phases of growth. But even considering diet alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The critique of the intensive monoculture approach. the trend was identified by using a moving five‑year average. 1961‑2009) Note: Yield per hectare has been calculated as the relationship between the level of production and the area harvested. Source: Elaboration of data from United States Department of Agriculture Database.0% CAGR 75‑86 2.13). a clear way forward has not yet materialized.5% CAGR 98‑09 1. and social sustainability. The first task is to identify the underlying prerequisites of the potential agricultural models in light of the demand for sustainability. at least not one that is capable of delivering high-volume production. high-quality product. 2009 1993 2003 1983 1999 2007 1963 1981 1987 1989 1991 1997 1969 2001 1961 1965 1973 1979 1967 1975 1977 1985 1971 .0% CAGR 86‑98 1. and environmental. 2011. has led to experimentation with approaches that are more considerate of overall sustainability. But despite some promising results from the emerging new models. 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. meanwhile.13 The trend of corn yield per hectare–USA (metric tons per hectare. for every single year considered. ment that marked the first 30 years since the introduction of the intensive monoculture paradigm has progressively lost momentum (figure 3.6% 1995 2005 Annual yield per hectare (metric tons per hectare) Trend (simple moving five‑year average) CAGR = Compound Annual Growth Rate figure 3. economic.toward sustainable agriculture | food for sustainable growth 135 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 CAGR 64‑75 3.

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

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

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

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

4 0.” Filiera Grano Duro News. 2011.16 Effect of farming sistems on carbon footprint a . on gross revenue b .5 0.3 0.1 0.2 0. ** Standard crop rotations normally adopted in each area.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. 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 3.7 0. .140 eating planet carbon footprint (t co2 /t kernel) { Δ cereal crop /rotations * = −0.6 0. on efficiency of nitrogen use c Source: “Sostenibilità dei sistemi colturali con frumento duro.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.

with equal macro reference models (HEI. Science has brought to agriculture a great expanse of new knowledge concerning the characteristics of the natural environment and the physiology of plant species. Current scientific and practical knowledge has coalesced around several major principles which. they allow farmers. as of this writing. the integrated management of parasites and diseases through appropriate practices11 (based on biodiversity. the efficient management of water resources. to obtain better performance in terms of sustainability. The results. agricultural “knowledge” appears to be restricted. and crops. the selection and the use of low-environmental-impact pesticides) and. LEI. • Improve and maintain a protective organic cover over the soil surface. in order to protect the surface of the farmland and conserve water and nutritive substances. Practiced this way. are the underlying foundation of a truly sustainable agriculture. are very promising. the optimized use of organic and inorganic fertilizers. The crucial steps are: 10 • Adopt crop rotation as a systematic practice. in order to preserve intact the soil’s structure and organic materials. • Encourage the biological activity of the farmland and practice the integrated management of parasites and weeds. • Minimize mechanized operations on the land. adapted to diverse situations as appropriate. In section 3. These techniques involve the use of high-yield plant varieties that are resistant to biotic and abiotic stress factors and with good nutritional qualities. or IEI). shrubs. • 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. This merges with practical experience accumulated over centuries of . sustainable agriculture is based on wider and more intensive adoption of already well-known principles. thereby improving the resilience of the system.toward sustainable agriculture | food for sustainable growth 141 the six strategic points of agriculture 1. 2.7 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. pasturage. when necessary. especially by making short-term use between crops of ground cover or organic residue from the harvest. underbrush.

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

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

roughly 3 percent of world production. The industrial use of vegetable oils grew by 15 percent annually from 2004 to 2008.17 The per capita quantity of food lost or wasted in different regions of the planet (kg/year) Source: FAO. volumes of corn used in food and food products increased at an annual rate of 1.6 million metric tons of vegetable oils.144 eating planet 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 5 Europe North America & Oceania Industrialized Asia Sub‑Saharan Africa North Africa. “Global food losses and food waste. .2 percent).” 2011. The same dynamic seems to be at play in the production of biodiesel: in Europe. a total of 8.4 percent of its total corn production to make ethanol. an estimated 38. West & Central Asia South & Southeast Asia Latin America Consumer Production to retailing figure 3. while the share of the total corn crop used in the production of ethanol increased by 36 percent. a much greater rate than the growth rate for production of vegetable oils as foodstuffs (4. Between 2004 and 2007. was used in the production of biodiesel fuel.5 percent.

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. in different regions of the planet (% of initial production) Source: FAO. West & Central Asia South & Southeast Asia Latin America Consumption Distribution Processing Postharvest Agriculture figure 3. While growing shares of several agricultural crops are being sucked into the biofuels sector. . With waste and biofuels alike.18 Share of cereal production lost or wasted along the production‑consumption supply chain. 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.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.” 2011. the problem of alternative energy production cannot merely be limited to the quantity of a crop that is used in the production of fuel. “Global food losses and food waste.

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

such as the HEI models. 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 2050.15 As we have already said. and last of all. beginning with three different scenarios that assumed abundant availability of energy: a Business-as-Usual (BAU) case. which is the real problem. We also ran a simulation of the effects of an oil price shock between 2025 and 2030 (the Very High Energy Price case). The only crops for which they are affordable are those with high added value. followed by the BAU scenario. This suggests that there is no real problem in terms of total availability of calories. As a result. Moreover. 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. The idea of constant availability of energy over time. 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. The model does not take into account inequalities between the various geographic areas. Fossil fuel sources are constantly dwindling and renewable energy is not yet a viable alternative. In a hypersimplified world—in which energy is the most important factor of production. however. they account for only 50 percent of the global cultivated area. In this case oil prices rise rapidly. prices of inorganic fertilizers rise substantially and their use declines. It is worth noting that the Stopped HEI Growth scenario also seems capable of supplying more calories than needed. The costs of the change in production would take the form of a lower available output and the amount of time . Assuming the constant availability of energy over our 80-year period. in which practices using high levels of external input account for 60 percent of global cultivated area in 2050. We ran a variety of simulations. a Strong-HEI-Growth case.toward sustainable agriculture | food for sustainable growth 147 tion for Economic Cooperation and Development. very much to the test. and wastage of the food produced. In this case as well. a significant proportion of the problems that now challenge the agro-alimentary system hinge on issues of distribution. the Stopped HEI Growth scenario. there would be serious problems with the transition to models that would be more efficient in terms of energy use. in which practices using high external inputs spread at an accelerating pace and cover 90 percent of global cultivated area in 2050. we can assume there will be no energy shocks. the effects have been estimated on the number of annual per-capita calories for each of the three basic scenarioes (BAU. is unrealistic. decisions about ultimate use. HEI. the highest-yield production scenario—in terms of a sustainable approach—is Strong HEI Growth. These models would become economically unsustainable and not very profitable. reaching a price in 2030 of US$200 per barrel and then US$280 dollars per barrel in 2050. LEI).

in the case of reductions of available energy from 2025 on. the world agricultural system is clearly fragile.000 2000 2005 2030 2040 2020 2050 1990 1980 1995 1970 2010 2015 2035 2045 1975 1985 2025 min.250 3. We 3.000 2.19 Agricultural production for human nutrition (daily cal per capita) and the simulation of energy shocks Source:BCFN su data FAO. 2011.e. a drop in productivity over the short term with a return to higher yield levels over the mid to long term. leaving unchanged the rankings of the scenarios in terms of yields and calories produced. . the results of a strong HEI growth energy shock and a BAU energy shock should be less negative.500 2.148 eating planet required to acquire the necessary know-how for the transition. the results are sharply influenced by the share of cereal grains destined for animal feed and biofuels. a modification of these hypotheses would not change the outcome in qualitative terms. In any case. an approach with low external inputs would lead to a Worse-Before-Better (WBB) result.750 2.500 kcal/person/day 3. If there is no reduction in the quantity of energy available.250 2. As these results suggest. In case of an energy crisis. The results of the simulation show that. i. If that period proves to be short.. the results will be strongly dependent on how long agricultural systems will take to shift from an HEI approach to an LEI one.19 shows the estimated effects of an energy shock in the year 2050 on global output. 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. Figure 3.

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

the water economy and the emergency it confronts The water economy is the science that studies the way in which water resources. and cereal grains. What is therefore necessary is a concerted effort to adopt a more rational use of water. water scarcity might have appeared to be restricted to less fortunate countries. but matters might quickly change because “quality water”—fresh. And we are constantly using increasing quantities of it. The result presented here. which are limited by nature. Conflicts over water might well be far more serious. one of the best ways to reduce one’s virtual water footprint is to change to a diet rich in fruit. adaptation to atmospheric phenomena. by calculating the quantities used for personal care. must be managed in order satisfy the growing needs of man without creating social inequalities and unsustainable environmental impacts. That water is precious is something we realize only when it begins to run short. reality is far more complex than the intentionally simplistic representation of our simulation model. After all. There are a great number of factors at play aside from energy inputs: soil quality. is by no means insignificant. We know full well the nature of the interests and the dire litigious tensions that revolve around the control of petroleum deposits. That consumption should be considered not only in real terms (that is. unpolluted water—constitutes only a minimal percentage of our water reserves. and for cleaning house). etc. Of course. while limiting the quantity of animal proteins. especially in agriculture (which represents the most “water-thirsty” sector . it illustrates one of the most important topics of future development. 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. In fact. vegetables. in the end one can survive without oil. availability of water. Until now. 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. As we noted earlier. however. for cooking.150 eating planet should take a positive approach to this fragility through the encouragement of a balanced mix of agricultural models designed to face the challenge of shortages. 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.

Freshwater resources are also distributed very unequally among the regions of the globe: 64.20).001 percent of the total) is actually available for use by human beings. absent serious action. and families. the scarsity of water. while 22 percent goes to industry and the remaining 8 percent to domestic uses. with water-saving diets). 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. in turn. on the other hand. find themselves gravely short of water. that less than 45. our planet possesses some 1.4 percent of all world water resources are found in just 13 countries. will only grow in the future and . urbanization and expansion of economic activities. taking into account the global factors that will affect water consumption (demographic increase. industry. 3. while in developed countries the share given to industry is by far predominant (59 percent). in agriculture.8 the availability of water: from abundance to scarcity To understand the current scenario in terms of water resources. because it is of adequate quality and is accessible at an acceptable cost.000 cubic kilometers of water (0. and the production of biofuels) and the reduction of the available water reserves (climate change and pollution in particular) (figure 3. how we use water: farming. 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. it must be closely controlled to avoid unfair price increases and limited accessibility for the more vulnerable members of the population at large.000 to 14.003 percent of the total) are theoretically usable and only 9. present and future. It is estimated.water economy | food for sustainable growth 151 par excellence) and on a personal level (for instance. however. now and in the future. rising prosperity of the population with a resulting modification of lifestyles and eating habits. A growing number of countries.4 billion cubic kilometers of water. Where the domestic use of water is concerned. we must consider the availability of water and its various uses. and in our homes. The agriculture sector accounts for 70 percent of global freshwater consumption. industry. The share allocated to agriculture is even greater in countries with a low to medium incomes (in some developing countries it reaches 95 percent). with annual per capita availability of less than 1. While privatization may entail certain advantages in terms of greater efficiency in the management of water sources.000 cubic meters. Demand for water is already quite high and. That means. how much water do we have? Overall.

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. and for domestic use. especially in certain areas of the planet.152 eating planet lead to a progressive scarcity. 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 industry. 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. continental Europe. expanding to the entire territory of the United States. The scenario foreseen for 2025 in terms of the scarcity of water appears starkly worse than the current scenario. Areas using a large share of available resources (greater than 20 percent) will increase substantially. why demand for water is increasing. From an environmental point of view. . Among the factors that will influence the growth of world demand for water. and southern Asia. 2011. In such cases the exploitation is coming close to (or may have even exceeded) the limit of sustainability.20 The current and future scenario of water resources Source: BCFN.

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

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

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

depending on such factors as climate. etc. and derivatives) present a greater water footprint than cultivated 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.23 shows the food pyramid adjoining the environmental pyramid of water. Our consumption habits and our behavior. Moreover. the foods with the greatest environmental impact are at the top and the foods with the lowest impact are at the bottom. In particular. have a powerful effect on our consumption of water resources. the yield of crops. whether they are public agencies or private organizations.1.400 liters in the case of meat-rich diet. a good. depending on their environmental impact in terms of the water footprint.500 to 2. As we described in section 3. both when you compare different products with one another. livestock and dairy products (meat. Figure 3. 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 1.600 liters (in the case of vegetarian diet) to about 4.000 to 5.10 choices and behaviors for sustainable water consumption As we discussed earlier. The term “virtual” refers to the fact that most of this water is not contained physically in the product. the agricultural techniques employed. but has to do with the direct and indirect consumption necessary for its production. The water footprint of some of them may appear surprising. milk. the water footprint of a single product can vary considerably from one place to another. and when you take into consideration the place of production. Figure 3. the water footprint of a commodity. eggs. because livestock consumes a significant quantity of cultivated products as food. in which the different food categories are arranged in hierarchical order. in some cases for many years before being transformed into food products. 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.22 shows the quantities of virtual water linked to certain kinds of easily identified mass market products and finished industrial products. 3. especially our food-related behavior. both on a local scale and internationally. In the environmental pyramid on the right. 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.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. . To achieve the goals set by the United Nations will demand the coordinated involvement of all actors.

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

000 figure 3.158 eating planet An A4 sheet of paper (80 g/m2) A tomato (70 g) A potato (100 g) 10 13 25 A slice of bread (30 g) An orange (100 g) An apple (100 g) 40 50 70 An egg (40 g) A bag of potato chips (200 g) A slice of pie (80 g) 135 185 250 Cheese (100 g) Chocolate (50 g) A T‑shirt (250 g) 500 860 2.22 Average global water footprint of certain commonly used product typologies Source: BCFN.000 A hamburger (150 g) A pair of leather shoes 2. 2011.400 8. .

645 Cereals 1.900 Poultry 3. Fish.055 Legumes 3. By analyzing the water footprint of the most widespread and commonly consumed beverages.900 Olive oil 4. and then we have calculated their impacts in terms of water consumption (figure 3.24).140 Sweets 1.23 Water footprint of the food pyramid (liters of water per kg or liter of food) Source: BCFN. Potatoes. it is clear that including dairy and livestock products such as milk and meat. There can be no doubt that most of the foods recommended for relatively higher consumption are also those that present a smaller water footprint.300 Bread 1. It is clear that individual eating habits.5 k 0 Olive oil Bread. it is possible to build another pyramid.800 Pork 4. both balanced in nutritional terms. The first daily menu calls for a diet that is rich in plant-based proteins and with few animal fats. therefore. Pasta Rice.000 Milk 1. Legumes Fruits Vegetables high re c om me n de Milk. If we compare the water footprints of the two menus. White meat 15.500 Meat 9.800 Cookies 1. To illustrate the differences we have drawn up two daily menus. which shows the water consumption required in order to produce each of those beverages (figure 3.water economy | food for sustainable growth 159 low Sweets Red meat 10 k 5k 4k 2k 1.25). results in approximately three times the consumption of water resources. Yogurt dc on su p Cheese. Eating habits. high meat-consumption . however minimal.300 Eggs 3.000 Cheese 4. can have a very substantial impact on the availability of water resources.5 k 1k 0.000 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. If everyone on the planet were to adopt the average. 2011. the second is based on the consumption (actually rather limited consumption).693 Pasta 1. of red meat.400 Rice 3.795 Sunflower seed oil 5. especially multiplied across whole societies. This is simply because of the considerable quantities of agricultural products fed to the livestock in order to bring them to market as food. Eggs ti o Cookies. entail substantial environmental fallout as well as nutritional effects. And vice versa: most of the foods recommended for low consumption are those that also impose a larger water footprint.065 Walnuts and hazelnuts 6. A menu heavy on animal-based food products is decidedly less sustainable as a result.500 Sugar legend 1.

followed by the Italians (2. this would clearly be unsustainable. economic sectors). 2011. followed by China (883) and the United States (696). of beverage) dietary regimen of the Western nations.223) (figure 3. Given the strain water supplies are already under. a family. and the Thais (2.7 (bottle) Water 0. the country that consumes the largest volume of water is India (987 billion cubic meters per year).483 cubic meters per person per year.26). or cup .452 trillion cubic meters of fresh water a year. The global water footprint.3/0. 3.243 cubic meters per person per year—twice the annual outflow of the Mississippi River. They can also be calculated for each well-defined group of consumers (an individual.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. the citizens of the United States top the list with an average water footprint of 2. 125 ml. . the inhabitants of a city. In absolute terms.160 eating planet 150 140 125 Milk 120 Wine 106 Orange juice 43 38 Beer 34 Espresso 15 Tea 0. amounts to 7. the amount of water used in food production would soar by an estimated 75 percent.232). for instance. 30 ml. or 1. an entire nation) or producers (private companies. In terms of per capita consumption.24 Water footprint of beverages (liters of water per glass Source: BCFN.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. public organizations. .

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. 2011.25 Virtual water consumption and eating habits: two menus compared Source: BCFN.030 1.water economy | food for sustainable growth 161 2.300 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 2.325 LITERS 125 LITERS figure 3.530 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 2.140 4. .

as well as the utilization of industrial goods). the climate (which especially affects the level of precipitation.500 3.162 eating planet The differences between countries depend on several factors. That trade pays no attention whatsoever to the water component included in the exchange. three are blessed with an overabundance of United States Italy Thailand Nigeria Russia Mexico Brazil Indonesia Pakistan Japan India China 0 500 1. including volume of consumption (generally correlated to the wealth of the country).000 Average world water footprint Home consumption of water Agricultural products figure 3.000 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. for example. three are seriously short of water. and the quantity of water necessary for farming). plant transpiration. 2011. the model of consumption (especially where eating habits are concerned. Of the top 10 wheat exporters.000 2. while of the top 10 wheat importers.500 Industrial products 2.26 Contribution of the leading consumers to the global water footprint (m3 per capita/year) Source: BCFN. . Today agricultural products are traded all over the world. and the agricultural practices adopted (especially how efficiently water is used).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our ignorance is immense. producing. our over-consumption and mismanagement of water has had a very serious impact on our water environments and the essential services they provide. To make a cup of coffee. with a global population pushing seven billion. packaging and shipping the beans you use to make your morning coffee. water scarcity is not just a possibility. A lunchtime hamburger take 2. 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.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. Already. This is especially true on the farms of the world. 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. It is already a reality for many. it takes 140 litres. with a global population of one billion. this ignorance simply did not matter. and we don’t know it. We humans beings don’t understand the true value of 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. That’s the true amount of water used in growing. Unfortunately society has evolved not to value water. In fact. And now. We are addicted to over-consuming water. How can we promote greater awareness of the impact of the use of water on the environment and encourage the diffu‑ sion and the adoption of sustainable behaviour among citi‑ zens and enterprises? Only with great difficulty.000 litres. . he was awarded the Stockholm Water Prize in 2008. But it is not. Most of us don’t have the slightest idea about the sheer volumes of water involved in our daily lives. At the start of the twentieth century.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. 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. 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.

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

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.

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

Longevity.10 4.table of contents introduction Agriculture.6 4.8 The Spread of Obesity and Overweight in Children and Adolescents and the International Economic and Social Impact Nutrients in the Different Phases of Growth Guidelines for Healthy Diets and Sound Lifestyles in Children and Adolescents Recommendations longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition 4.1 4. Nutrition and Health by Ricardo Uauy facts & figures 4. Food.3 4.2 4.4 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. 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 .11 4.7 4.5 4.12 Demographics.9 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. 4. .

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

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

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

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

In 2007. equivalent to approximately 246 million people. According to future estimates. there were 7. the worldwide rate of diabetes was roughly 6% among people aged 20 to 79. Of these deaths.6 million are due to heart disease and 5.  food for health RISE IN DEATHS CAUSED BY CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE 17.5 mILLION 2007 2005 2015 Equivalent to 30% of all deaths worldwide.180 eating planet 4. this figure will rise to 9 million in 2015 and to 11.7 million to strokes 20 mILLION 2030 This figure confirms heart disease as the leading cause of death worldwide GROWTH OF DEATHS DUE TO CANCERS 7.4 million in 2030. 7. with roughly a 27% increase over 2003 (194 million diabetics) 194 mILLION + INCREASE estimate 2003 27% 246 mILLION estimate 2007 . 2015 + mILLION 7 YEAR DIABETICS/PER Every year there are more than 7 million new cases of diabetes worldwide: one every 5 seconds.9 million deaths worldwide that can be attributed to cancers.9 mILLION 9 mILLION 11.4 mILLION In 2007.

The molecular. Despite this. and by a defective nutritional model and lifestyle. metabolic. in developing nations. 12. for the most part. the percentage of people over 65 suffering from two or more chronic diseases is very high.5 mILLION OBESE CHILDREN 25% 17% CALORIC INTAKE & AGING There is a significant link between food and problems in the aging process.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 . life expectancy at birth in western nations has almost doubled. rising from 45 years at the end of the nineteenth century to roughly 80 years in 2010. and they live. play a central role in the aging process In the United States. 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. and hormonal alterations caused by an excessive and chronic caloric intake.

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

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

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

to cite once again a shocking American statistic. more than 65 percent of all Americans are obese or for a healthy life | food for health 185 the consumption of tobacco. The World Health Organization has noted that in 2005 there were roughly 17.000 die of those diseases. without adequate prevention. and more than 860. some truly astonishing numbers emerge. On the other hand. for example. the number of deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases worldwide will grow to 20 million every year. According to a recent study by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Throughout Europe.000 in the member nations of the European Union). Over the last decade. their impact on global health could increase by 17 percent in the next 10 years.” Currently.7 million were caused by strokes. 7. This makes cardiovascular disease the number one killer on Earth. that is.9 million deaths in all Europe and over 741. In the United States. In the United States it is estimated that 80 million people are affected by one or more cardiovascular disease in any given year. nearly a third of all American children and adolescents have been found to be either overweight or obese.3 billion in 2009. 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. unhealthy diets. they also have significant economic effects.3 Coronary diseases are responsible for the greatest number of fatalities (1. and we are seeing this phenomenon spread to the younger sectors of the population. The most recent estimates of the total cost of cardiovascular diseases in the United States indicate an impact of US$473. in nearly all the countries on earth. the increase in cardiovascular diseases is strongly linked to poor diet. there has been an exponential increase in obesity. Of those deaths. Similarly.3 million deaths every year (2 million within the European Union). and the excessive consumption of alcohol.6 million were due to heart disease and 5.5 million deaths due to cardiovascular diseases worldwide. If we assign a cash value to these data. on the other hand. It’s been estimated that. Aside from their importance to health. some US$70 billion. The gravity of overweight and obesity among young people is documented. the impact of cardiovascular diseases. cardiovascular diseases are responsible for 4. by the tripling of cases of overweight young people from 1970 to the present day. 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. by 2015. This value includes both direct health costs (hospital treatment and care. physical inactivity. pharmaceuti- .1 Overweight and obesity are now fully recognized as diseases.

). those costs reached a global level in 2007 of about US$232 billion. among people aged 20 to 79 the worldwide incidence of the disease was around 6. and diabetes in China will be equivalent to US$558 billion. the total costs of cardiovascular diseases have been estimated at roughly €21. According to recent WHO estimates. According to the estimates of the International Diabetes Federation. home assistance. the impact of diabetes.6 percent of the population) by 2025. The spread of cardiovascular diseases entails serious economic and social repercussions. where the current number of cases of 40. Estimates for 2025 indicate a substantial increase in the rate. which will rise to 7. the costs incurred in the treatment and care of diabetes are very high. That’s an increase of roughly 27 percent over 2003 (when it was estimated that 194 million people suffered from this disease). As in the case of cardiovascular diseases. worldwide. which corresponds to a total average per capita cost of €391. With reference to diabetes (another disease strongly influenced by diet).186 eating planet cals.5 percent over 2007. 4 Of these costs. it is estimated that there were approximately 39. In Europe. equal to 4. Every year.2 percent of the population) is expected to rise to 69. In China.3 percent of the population. 63 percent (€13. or about 246 million people.8 million people with diabetes in 2007.1 percent of world population (380 million people).5 for a total of roughly €8 billion annually.8 million (7. 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.6 the cumulative cost over 10 years of cardiac diseases. The prevalence of diabetes will grow both in industrialized countries and in developing countries. for example.6 percent of the population). with a projected rise to US$300 billion in 2025.8 billion per year.0 percent in 2007. strokes. which include the costs of hospital treatment and care and the cost of pharmaceuticals. Another 37 percent of the total economic impact of cardiovascular diseases is due to the indirect costs related to the loss of productivity of the working-age patients due to sickness and death and the other informal costs for the care of patients. not only in the developed countries.8 million (6. there are more than 7 million new cases of diabetes—a new case every 5 seconds. in 2025 this number is expected to to rise to a little under 60 million (5. In Italy. A study by the American Diabetes Association7 estimated the cost of diabetes . an increase of 54. An even more worrisome growth trend is expected in India. etc. but also in developing nations such as China.8 billion) have to do with the direct costs charged to the health system. a 50-percent increase.

Most of those costs (55 percent) was due to hospitalization for acute and chronic complications. but in many cases conscientious prevention can put off or reduce the risk of onset. in 2002 cancer caused a loss of human life equivalent to nearly 10 million medium-income countries. cancers.7 percent of the total years of health lost by all European citizens to disease.2 guidelines for a healthy way of eating and lifestyle The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical. the economic impact of cancers rose to more than US$228 billionin 2008. of which US$6.650 is attributable directly to diabetes. A clear majority of these deaths will occur place in low. Diet.4 million in 2030. The scope of the socioeconomic impact that can be traced to cardiovascular diseases. about 75 percent occurred in low. therefore. clinical treatment. Another study done of European diabetics8 estimates that. just for the direct health costs of the disease (hospitalization. by the European Society for Medical Oncology. is a fundamental component in creating a healthy lifestyle. 4.). according to the estimates of the U.834 per patient was incurred. In a similar context. Estimates point to a worldwide rise in deaths caused by tumors. According to WHO data.” 10 Not all diseases can be prevented (for instance. In the United States. As for Europe (EU25). 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. pharmaceuticals. including both health costs and productivity losses. direct medical costs alone for cancer in Europe have been estimated. mental. an annual average cost of €2. at €56. of them. roughly 16. But what kind of diet and lifestyle? Analyzing the guidelines for preventing chronic diseases from the World Health Organization and the world’s most .6 billion. etc.S. National Institutes of Health.”9 while a healthy lifestyle is “a way of life directed toward the reduction of the risk of diseases and premature death. 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 medium-income countries. in 2007 there were 7. Cancers are also tied to poor diet and nutrition. and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. American diabetic patients on average bear costs of over US$11.9 million deaths worldwide that could be blamed on tumors. for a healthy life | food for health 187 in the United States in 2007 to be US$174 billion. heart attacks and cancer). to a level of 9 million in 2015 and 11.400 annually.

6. 7.188 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. Obesity (diet and lifestyle). Eat two to three portions of fish a week. swimming. Alcohol (lifestyle). or bicycling) or high intensity (for instance. Avoid overweight and obesity. 4. Smoke produced by indoor fires. characterized by careful control of the total caloric intake and by a proper composition of the various macro. 10. over both the short and long term (and make sure not to regain any excess weight you might have lost). bread. Non-potable water and hygienic shortcomings. 8. 2. most days of the week. Avoid the excessive consumption of alcohol (no more than one glass for women and two glasses for men a day).. Smoking tobacco (lifestyle). Low weight and malnutrition (diet). 7. 6. breadsticks made with whole wheat flour).and micro-nutrients. 8. running. Don’t smoke. i. 3. 5. The study. Arterial hypertension (diet and lifestyle). pasta.1): 1. seven are linked to lifestyle and diet: 1. or team sports). for 30 to 60 minutes a day. Increase the consumption of legumes. Hypercholesterolemia (diet and lifestyle). respected international scientific societies11 leads us to the following key actions (figure 4. either moderate (for instance. 5. conducted worldwide. Iron deficiencies (diet). Choose sources of complex carbohydrates (cereal grains and legumes) and increase the consumption of unrefined cereal grains (for example. 2. focusing especially on those that are rich in food fibers. consume four to five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. 3. shows that among the top 10 health risks on Earth. Adopt a balanced diet. .e. which is easy to do through the elimination of snacking. Engage in regular physical activity. walking. 4. Increase (up to about 400grams/day) the consumption of fruit and vegetables. Unprotected sexual relations. 9. 9.

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

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. .1 The methodology followed for the convergence of guidelines for healthy diet and lifestyle Source: BCFN. 2009.

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

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

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

we should keep our eye on a further 15 percent who appear to be at considerable risk of becoming overweight. According to the National Institutes of Health.18 there are 155 million obese or overweight school-age children. [.21 In Italy this issue has taken on growing importance. or 1 in 10. but all the leading advanced nations over the last 20 years. As the pediatrician Claudio Maffeis pointed out at the Second International Forum on Food and Nutrition. 30-45 million are classified as obese. metabolic and otherwise. the United States certainly exemplifies the trend of spreading obesity and overweight among the younger sections of the population (as well as among adults19). must begin in the earliest phases of life.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. Although some of the factors leading to overweight and obesity are genetic in origin and therefore resistant to therapeutic or preventive intervention. In Europe too the problem of childhood obesity is increasingly widespread: every year in member countries of the European Union approximately 400.] Eating right during the developing years is important because it not only ensures that the child will grow and develop properly.” 4. that we might encounter in later phases. According to data gathered by the International Obesity Task Force. nowadays its prevalence in Europe has been shown to be 10 times greater than it was in the 1970s.20 As for juvenile obesity alone. It therefore appears to be fundamental to focus attention—beginning in early childhood—on the adoption of healthy daily dietary habits and proper lifestyles..000 children are considered overweight and more than 85. Of them. moreover. alongside the 16 percent of children between ages 6 and 19 that are currently overweight. Even though it is not an isolated case. 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. Twenty-five percent of American children are overweight and 11 percent are obese. but it also guarantees a defense against diseases. “The earliest years of life are a very important window in terms of the development of the organism. as a result of the rise of the . others can respond to preventive actions aimed at modifying diets and lifestyle habits. which means 2-3 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 17. The rapid spread of this phenomenon has been affecting not only the United States.000 are considered obese. if they are to be as effective and lasting as possible.194 eating planet is either adequate or inadequate in adulthood as well. which states that nearly a third of all American children and adolescents are either overweight or obese.. as a result of a “memory effect” bound up with the habits acquired. But these interventions.

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. Finally. seems to be inversely proportional to the statistical frequency of the excess weight. the perception of the problem by the parents. Half the children. Four mothers of overweight children out of ten do not believe that their children are overweight for their height. 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. both for government health-care budgets and in terms of effects on the physical and cognitive development of children and adolescents. it is estimated that more than 1. and • 23 percent of parents state that their children do not consume fruit or vegetables on a daily basis. In particular. • 82 percent eat too abundant a mid-morning snack. as of this writing the economic impacts on social and health systems have only been quantified by a small number of studies.” While the health consequences of childhood obesity and overweight appear to be well documented in the literature. In and children: educate today for a better life tomorrow | food for health 195 numbers of adolescents and children who are overweight or obese.6 percent) and more than 12 are obese (12. obesity and overweight bad eating habits in children Often. US$114 more for drug prescriptions. children are obese or overweight because of dietary habits that both fail to support healthy growth and predispose those children to weight gain.2 million children between the ages of 6 and 11 have problems of obesity or overweight: more than a third of all children. 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. Overall. out of every 100 children in third grade. and US$12 more for emergency services. it appears that: • 11 percent of children don’t eat breakfast. . Particularly interesting are the findings of one recent research project22 conducted on young Americans between the ages of 6 and 19. the impact of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence is extremely significant. • 28 percent eat an inadequate breakfast. have television sets in their bedrooms. As the reader can easily imagine. almost 24 are overweight (23. If we extrapolate these data to the entire nation.3 percent). moreover.

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

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

Proteins constitute an essential component of all human cells and for that reason an adequate protein intake has proven to be fundamental.1). 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. in view of the rise of obesity among children and adolescents. fats. 30-40 percent to physical activity. the body makeup. Prolonged periods of inadequate energy intake can lead to full-blown malnutrition and/or a state of reduced protein reserves.916 usa 806‑1. and the average level of physical activity of the individual boy or girl.398 1. excessive inputs of energy encourage the deposit of excess fat. 1996. 5-8 percent to thermogenesis. which can also vary considerably in terms of weight characteristics. and only 2 percent to growth. the WHO recommends limiting the excessive ingestion of fats and sugars from the earliest ages. .088 1. the principal macronutrients necessary for the proper ingestion of energy for pre-school-age and school-age children are proteins. In contrast. The chart shows average values.034 countries / organizations who 906‑1. especially pre-school-age children.1.500‑1. some of them quite serious. in which tissue-deposited proteins are used for the generation of energy. in the child’s growth and ability to perform normal physical activities. problems may arise. the principal macronutrients.377 1.204‑1. As noted earlier. Their bodies are undergoing a phase of growth that demands the presence of the amino acids necessary for the generation of tissues.453‑1.957 Source: Società italiana di nutrizione umana. When the intake of energy is to be lower than the required minimum. FAO.417‑1. And so there is an overall range of values that can be considered reliable. 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. 2006.613 1.198 eating planet lism.667 1.792‑2. especially for school-age and pre-schoolage children. and carbohydrates. Therefore.094 1. derived from the product of the estimated quantity of energy necessary per kilogram of body weight and the average weight of children at different ages (table 4. especially table 4.694‑1.

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

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

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

393‑2.28 Adolescents can come down with anemia as a result of the sharp increase in the tissue demand for iron. In contrast. .942‑2. The system generally works well to ensure the ingestion of sufficient quantities of energy to satisfy metabolic needs. in most cases.048 1. Associazione italiana di dietetica e nutrizione clinica. Peak growth generally occurs between the ages of 11 and 15 for girls and 13 and 16 for boys. Requirements of energy and nutrients are variable from day to day.898‑2. lean body mass is roughly equivalent in the two sexes. 2011. The energy requirement.343 2.864‑2. but when adolescence begins males accumulate more lean body mass for every additional kilogram of body weight acquired during growth.2.515‑3.215 females 1. the regulation of the ingestion of nutrients may prove to be less than optimal. in particular in the muscular and erythrocytic mass. The nutritional requirements of adolescents are influenced first of all by physical growth. Table 4. is more significant in male adolescents than their female counterparts. body makeup. 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. Anemia due to a lack of iron is one of the most widespread and common diseases associated with inadequate diet. The increase in lean body mass.202 eating planet cents. The appetite encourages the ingestion of food that satisfies the need for both energy and various nutrients.297 1.993‑2. and level of physical activity. which means that they have a final value of lean body mass almost twice that of females.29 especially of muscles. The ranges are sharply influenced by such factors as weight. which may result in shortages of given elements. is efficiently satisfied through the finely calibrated and automatic regulation of the appetite by the hypothalamus.794 2. During pre-adolescence. table 4.411 Source: Developed by BCFN on data from the Società italiana di nutrizione umana. even for the same individual.277‑2.2 shows the intervals of energy requirements in adolescents.338 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 1.739‑2. The most common nutrient deficiencies at this age are iron and calcium deficiencies. 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).976 2.

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

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

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

cereal grains.206 eating planet Breakfast 20% Dinner 30% Mid‑morning snack 5% Afternoon snack 10% Lunch 35% figure 4. sumed over the course of the day. cheese. good nutrition is not enough. up to and including adulthood. As we have noted. with a specific focus on adolescence. governments and international organizations that are involved in health issues have formulated guidelines to establish a balanced diet in the various stages of life. etc.). vegetables.7 guidelines for healthy diets and sound lifestyles in children and adolescents Given the importance of diet during adolescence. Caloric intake should be broken down as shown in figure 4.34 In general. legumes. especially for the prevention of the chief chronic diseases. Dietary behaviors focused on a single diet and the repeated and frequent consumption of lunches and dinners away from home significantly increase the risk of overweight and obesity in adolescents.) and foods produced by and from animals (meat. It also can help reduce risks linked to common chronic diseases in later ages. Variety is also a good idea. as well as alternating foods over the course of the week. 2011.2 Breakdown of caloric intake during the day Source: BCFN on Società italiana di nutrizione umana data. dairy products. etc.2. nutritional science indicates that children should eat five times a day. . 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. prosciutto. seeds.33 4. it means a mixed diet that includes plant-based foods (fruit.

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

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

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. . principally as a result of the general increase in average life expectancy.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. 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. physicians are also key actors in establishing dietary and lifestyle virtuous cycles. longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition In 2025. Finally. In particular. the world will have more than 8 billion inhabitants. 2010.3 The various actors in food education Source: BCFN. In the last hundred years. according to United Nations estimates. 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.

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

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

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

is beginning to witness a decline in life expectancy at birth in some states. longevity. Estimates tell us that that rate will rise until it reaches 48 percent in 2050. Figure 4. In the United States.5 percent to 25. but it is expected that between 2005 and 2015 deaths from such diseases will grow by 17 percent.9 demographics. too. numbers that are much lower than in the countries shown above. Life expectancies are rising even in countries that still lag in terms of economic and social development. The United States. 17.5 trillion) was invested in healthcare in 2009 compared with 5 percent in 1960. a general improvement in living conditions. The chart shows the increase in the share of GDP spent on healthcare on average in the OECD nations and certain representative countries. average worldwide life expectancy37 has increased steadily since the turn of the century. men’s life expectancy in 2020 will rise to 71 years. Chronic diseases are already the leading cause of death in the world. Kentucky. and the economic and social impacts of the principal diseases As a result of global economic growth.6 shows the effects on healthcare costs of living longer lives but not in good health.14 years for women and 65. Arkansas. with a shift from approximately 6 percent of GDP per year in the 1960s to the current level of . Worldwide.4). Tennessee. albeit more modestly. Oklahoma. and scientific progress. the state with the highest rate of obesity. especially among women. 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. Alabama. In Bangladesh. Europe has the highest rate of dependency on Earth.4 percent in 2050. the UN predicts that the rate of elderly dependency will grow from the current 11. there has been growth in healthcare spending. which is only three years less than men’s life expectancy in Europe. In Mississippi in particular. alone among all developed countries. life expectancy is just 67 years for men and 74 years for women. and major challenges in terms of obtaining basic pharmaceuticals. This means an increase in economic inactivity and dependency on the younger members of the population. the global elderly population (over 65) is growing continuously and will reach an estimated 1. Figure 4. even though Bangladesh is a country with only partial suffrage. for example. in 2010 it was 70. In Italy. who are showing the highest rates of obesity and smoking. and Louisiana.5 shows the 10 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with the highest life expectancies.longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition | food for health 213 4. life expectancies are progressively falling.71 years for men (figure 4. A recent study38 has shown that in states such as Mississippi. As was mentioned earlier in this chapter. inadequate healthcare structures.4 percent of GDP (approximately US$2.9 billion in 2050.

59 62. A great deal of this spending.4 World life expectancies. population (1950‑2030) . major increases in healthcare spending are also predicted.08 64.01 48.59 72.64 58.47 68.214 eating planet 10 percent (approximately €180 billion). 2010.70 59.75 73.05 60. goes for the treatment and care of those suffering from the chronic diseases we have discussed in this book.65 70.20 69.27 65.09 68.79 80 61.33 65. diseases that result from.14 71.17 70.35 57.52 53.42 56.10 49. 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. In general. unhealthy diets and lifestyles.66 46.85 64. In China and India.63 67. comparison between the male and the female Source: BCFN on UN (World Population Prospect) data.83 55.67 51.21 63.71 67. or are worsened by.09 50 60 70 figure 4.79 74.48 62.76 66. of course. perhaps 80 percent of all cases of chronic disease could be prevented.

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. The estimated worldwide cost of dementia in 2010 was US$604 billion. Dementia affects between 1 and 5 percent of the population over 65. dementia results in people living 11. tobetween 2 percent and 10 percent. cardiac diseases. comparison between the male Currently in Italy it is estimated that 2 population (2010) and the female million people suffer from dementia.50 per85 France 78 cent in medium. diabetes. Life expectancy in 10 OECD countries. 70 per86 Italy cent of those costs are incurred in West80 ern Europe and in North America. Older people are also more likely to be stricken by neurodegenerative conditions (dementia) and osteoporosis as they age. . (Recent statistics have shown a rising incidence of dementia in individuals over 65. 2010. Korea 80 In England the social cost of dementia 84 Australia (₤17 billion) is greater than the cost of 78 strokes.7). and smoking) are often predisposed to contract neurodegenerative diseases as well (figure 4.) 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 85 Switzerland in low-income nations.5 because of an absence of structured and accessible healthcare services.1 percent of their total years of life. finally rising to a rate of about 30 percent at the age of 80.24 percent in high-income nations. 72 percent of the costs are 84 Canada incurred in those very same countries. physical inactivity. and high-income nations.longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition | food for health 215 ing such risk factors as smoking tobacco. According to the Global Burden of Diseases Study. 84 Finland 78 While only 38 percent of the people who 84 suffer from dementia live in high-income Austria 77 nations. of Source: BCFN on OECD data. 83 and 1.9 percent of their years on Earth in a condition of chronic disability and to lose 1. medium-income nations. and the excessive consumption of alcohol.35 percent in 79 low. Patients with high levels of cardiovascular risk (hypertension. high levels of cholesterol. unhealthy dietary models and customs (diets). Certain risk factors predispose people to both dementia and cardiovascular diseases.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. with the prevalence doubling every four years. 0.

6 Share of GDP spent on total health care costs (1960‑2009) Source: BCFN on OECD data. 2009.216 eating planet whom roughly 63 percent are older than 80. . both for the healthcare and social welfare systems and for the patients and their families. The costs are high. 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.

In Italy. afflicting 7 percent.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. The incidence of osteoporotic fractures is expected to increase from one every 8.1 minutes in 2001 to one every 3. osteoporosis is one of the most common chronic diseases associated with aging. femur. putting it third after hypertension (16 percent) and arthrosis and arthritis (17.7 minutes in 2021. . Osteoporosis is a pathology characterized by the decline in bone mass and the deterioration of the microarchitecture of the bones. 75 million of them in Europe. and an additional 34 million have such low bone mass that they are at risk of developing osteoporosis.3 percent). Most of them have a 15 percent probability of suffering wrist. 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. Osteoporosis is increasing worldwide and the World Health Organization has identified it as a health priority.7 Prevalence of Alzheimer’s by age group (2009) Source: BCFN on EURODEM study. 2011. Japan. 40 Osteoporosis affects an estimated 150 million people around the world. too. 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. In the United States perhaps 10 million people suffer from osteoporosis. or vertebral fractures—very close to the likelihood of suffering coronary problems.

One of the most important non-dietary factors is smoking tobacco. it is likely that humankind will soon experience. obesity. with costs rising from €31. for the first time in modern history. heart attacks. Because overweight and obesity are both linked to the development of insulin resistance and the onset of diabetes.41 Among women. neurodegenerative diseases. 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. 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. a practice that increases roughly thirty-fold an individual’s risk of contracting pulmonary tumors. A 5-7 percent reduction of body weight. Tumors and tumoral diseases are caused by many factors but harmful lifestyles and diets certainly increase their likelihood. a prolonged old age marked by the risk of fragility. 42 Numerous studies have shown that abdominal fat is perhaps even more strongly correlated with Type 2 diabetes than a high body mass index. The number of osteoporotic fractures is expected to rise with the aging of the European population. a central feature of diabetes. programs designed to alter lifestyles in the direction of weight reduction and higher physical activity appear to be help reduce the likelihood of contracting Type 2 diabetes. The economic burden of osteoporosis is comparable to that of the leading chronic diseases. however: in Italy the disease afflicts 3.218 eating planet by gender. Below is a summary of what’s currently known about the relationship between longevity and certain diseases (diabetes. .10 diet and lifestyle and their effects on longevity and diseases of aging As we have said.9 million women and 840.000 men.7 billion in 2000 to approximately €76. 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. 4. and breast cancer. disability and suboptimal health. with life expectancies and the rate of principal chronic diseases both rising. cancers. including diabetes.7 billion in 2050. may reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by as much as 60 percent. diabetes. which is linked to Type 2 diabetes. diet is important in preventing the accumulation of excess abdominal fat. compared with more than 30 percent in the 60-69 age range and 45 percent of the 70-79 age range. and osteoporosis) and the role played by diet and lifestyle. tumors. 15 percent between 50 and 59 are affected. In particular.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. .230 eating planet in school.

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

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

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. 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. The marketing of low nutrient dense foods to children is an industry practice that runs counter to health and should be restricted. the addition of key nutrients to otherwise unhealthy foods is a trend that may fail to deliver expected benefits as consumers no longer can distinguish between healthy and unhealthy foods in the context of an everincreasing number of choices and variations. the soft drink industry might reduce the amount of sweetener in all sugar-sweetened beverages. Policies around limits for screen time and for physical activity for the very young would also be welcome. The consumer would quickly adjust to less sweetness. in your opinion. the Dietary Guidelines are developed for individuals over the age of 2— guidelines for children younger than two. would represent a beneficial first step. Unfortunately. What actions can be iden‑ tified and coordinated. Foods could be reformulated to be less energy dense. there are economic disincentives to many of the best ideas. In the US. In terms of food processing. especially restriction of sugar-sweetened beverages. just as they adjusted to greater sweetness. 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. For example. more nutrient-dense and of more appropriate portion size. . 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

9 5.12 5. and Power Roles The Symbolic Value of Foods in the Major Religious Faiths Food Prohibitions: Food and Purity Food and Culture: an Indissoluble Bond the great culinary traditions and the reality of food today 5.13 5.6 5.4 5.2 5. Gender.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 .table of contents introduction Food for Peace—a Call for the Mobilization of Goodwill by Shimon Peres facts & figures the cultural dimension of food 5.5 5.8 5.1 5.3 5.14 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.10 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

succumbs to the human drive for cultural elaboration. 5. . Language probably also evolved in part due to the need to alleviate tensions bound up with the division of foods. laughing—and eventually talking. This was undoubtedly one of the ways in which language developed.” So the ability to communicate must have played a considerable role. in order to explain exactly where it was located and how many members of the group it could feed.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. and water (plus a receptacle) in the other case. 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. and been in turn rewarded. smiling. The extent of the territory occupied by the group also expanded. Moreover. “if we add to this the idea of placing food in the middle of a group of individuals. there is a clear recipe for conflict and violence. as noted by Lévi-Strauss. 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. 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. not only because of the fear of fire. probably discovered by accident. and showing teeth are typically hostile gestures. but also because in the animal kingdom direct eye contact. The use of cooking utensils. 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. necessary for boiling. These practices are not found among other species. 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. As the human brain grew. is certainly evidence of cultural evolution. so did social groups begin to expand. 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.2 how food contributes to communication and conviviality Food took on a very important role in the development of the earliest forms of human communication. So even the simple act of cooking. 5. opening the mouth. In a larger territory the discovery of a food source had to be communicated in greater detail. with different parents and children.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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. around the world some 1.400 species of insects are eaten by humans.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. for example. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. .

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

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

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

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

Overweight and obesity in Italy and Spain seem to correlate with the abandonment of the Mediterranean diet.44. as well as with a reduction in physical activity. thoughtlessly or indifferently. not just their makeup. to the total quality. 5. the index of Mediterranean adequacy has dropped to 1. and to the sacral importance of food. of also of poor quality.6 in 1965. not just the maintenance of the body. so to speak. trivialized. we have witnessed all over the Mediterranean region. not just its quotidian aspects. diabetes. Every day in Italy about 105 million meals are consumed. and correlated pathologies are most common not in the areas where food and eating are considered important daily social occasions. have changed from a number of points of view. The results of the studies by Flaminio Fidanza (one of the pioneers in food and nutrition research.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. The great German sociologist Max Weber wrote about the disenchantment (Entzauberung) of the world associated with advent of modernity: where food has become disenchanted. to the social occasions in which the foods are consumed. and personal choices. cheap. 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.2 in 1960 but dropped to 2. In Montegiorgio. it fell to 3.14 mediterraneity today: the decline of a model From the 1950s to the present day. always available for consumption. responsibility. of which 76 percent are eaten at home and 24 percent are eaten . stripped of all meaning.9 in 1991. that is.the mediterranean culture | food for culture 273 origin. since Keys’s first study. Italy included. a gradual abandonment of the Mediterranean approach to food in favor of less-healthy ways of eating. 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. where the index had been 5. at any time—in short.2 in 1991. In recent years European society. And vice versa: obesity. of its sacrality. and deprived. we ought to turn to the quality and the world of “Mediterraneity” in order that it might help us to re-enchant it. not just the nutritious value and health. and specifically Italian society. as well. but rather in those areas where food is pervasive. The abandonment of the Mediterranean diet appears to be unmistakable in the larger Italian cities. where food is commodified.

1 Breakdown of the 105 million meals consumed daily in Italy by mode of consumption Note: Data expressed in %. . away from home. and 16 percent are eaten alone. Source: BCFN on Nielsen-Barilla data.” Lunches eaten in less than 10 minutes account for 9 percent of the total number of lunches eaten away from home. 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. 16 percent with friends and colleagues. 105 million meals daily. 2009.000 meals analyzed. 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. Sixtyseven percent of the 25.274 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 5.5 million meals consumed daily away from home are lunches. among the meals consumed away from home.1).25 On an aggregate level lunches (53 percent) outnumber dinners (47 percent) while 71 percent of the meals are consumed with one’s family. that 11 percent are “lunch on the run” and 5 percent are the “catch-up lunch.

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

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

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

According to the survey. What is lacking is a means of cultural mediation that makes it possible to translate in a natural way what is already known and acknowledged by scien- . rice.3 What does it mean to follow a healthy diet? Source: The European House-Ambrosetti on Eurobarometro data. A third significant reason expressed is the idea that healthy food isn’t particularly tasty (23 percent). full life. pasta and other carbohydrates Eat less bread. 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. 2006. and the inability to supervise the foods consumed because they were purchased or prepared by someone else (27 percent). two principal factors hinder that possibility: the excessive amount of time required for the selection and preparation of a meal (31 percent of respondents). In conclusion. 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. in a healthy and nutritious manner. rice. the Eurobarometer survey seems to indicate an increasingly widespread awareness of the importance of diet and nutrition in terms of a healthy.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. But it also confirms the difficulty of translating that awareness into concrete forms of behavior.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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29 april. or typical displacement. White House. Mark.. Broken markets: How financial market regulation can help prevent another global food crisis. “Climate Trends and Global Crop Production Since 1980”. update of 22 March 2011.” at http:// www. London: World Development Movement 2011. 2010. based on FAO estimates using the Food Security Model of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Justin Masters. The World Food Prize. Rose Garden. International Data Base. David B. Rising Global Interest in Farmland: Can it Yield Sustainable and Equitable Ben‑ efits?. Drewnowski. “The State of Food Insecurity in the World”.bbc. 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. Census Bureau. Bush. at http://www. Food Rebellions! Crisis and the hunger for justice. “Russia Wheat Ban Worked”.” Indian Express. or average quadratic displacement is an index of dispersion in experimental measurements. 2. “The 2011 World Food Prize Laureates. FAO. Holt-Gimé for all | notes 299 “NAC Draft Food Bill: PDS Gets Legal Backing & Eminent Panel. Lex.C. 67 Suppl 1:S36-9. Washington DC. Statistics Division. This agency estimated that the world population as of 22 March 2011 was 6.373. Statistics Division. FAO. Boston. Testimony of Michael W. Michael M.. Washington DC. diets.S. Murray.cfm?nodeID=33367&audienceID=1. World Development Report 2008 “Agriculture Center Development”. Science. 5 august 2009.” 19 The standard deviation. For an explanation of volatility. It measures the amount of variability of one group of data or one causal variable. “Obesity. Standard deviation measures the dispersal of data around an expected . 7 June 2011. Raj Patel. to achieve consistency with FAO estimates for 2010 on the number of undernourished people in the world. viewed 4 November 2011. 13 14 15 16 17 18 12 11 10 FAO.920. please see the section entitled “A New Emergency: the Dramatic Instability in Food Prices.: World Bank 2010. Eric.worldfoodprize. 31 may 2011. 2009. food for all 1 2 3 86 www. October 2007. Masters. George W. FAO. and social inequalities”.907. Wolfram Schlenker. 4 5 6 7 Worthy. World Bank. Press Conference by The President. That datum was calculated by using the world population figure as of 31 December 2010. 2009. Enfield: Publishers Group UK [distributor] 2009.: Beacon. March 2011. 8 World Bank. March 2011. Statistics Division. Lobell.. Mass. The data shown in the figure above related to the last two years. Nutrition reviews. Financial Times. March 2011. 9 Winne.indianexpress. A.. Washington D. Closing the food gap: resetting the table in the land of plenty. U. Oxford: Fahamu.

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

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

S. Van Buchem F. and Blackburn H. is some 30 percent lower than a high external input (HEI) regimen of agriculture. American Diabetes Association.. Blackburn H. 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”. “Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.. and the Società italiana di diabetologia. Kimura N.L. British Heart Foundation. Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases”. 2011.. 15 Trichopoulou A. 1980 Harvard University Press.” 1999.. 16 15 Tony Allan. Profiling Food Consumption in America. 26. “Healthy Living. the European Society of Cardiology. n. 12 13 14 Agriculture Fact Book.. 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. Taylor H. in a low external input (LEI) regimen of agriculture. 5 4 3 2 For the most part.. 2003. World Health Organization. Number 3. 1-381.. Health Economics Research Centre. and the Federation of European Cancer Societies. Djordjevic B. the yield per hectare in an LEI model is lower. Puddu V. these are the hours of assistance received by patients suffering from coronary or cerebrovascular diseases by unpaid persons.. for diabetes. see the FAO/OECD study: “Food Availability and natural resource use in a green economy context”.: Seven Countries: A Multivariate Analysis of Death and Coronary Heart Disease.. Therefore. Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet and Survival in a Greek Population. Tauris. Buzina R. Health Promotion Research Group. “Healthy Living. 2001. the American Cancer Association. and the Società italiana di cardiologia. “Health & the EU Lisbon Agenda—High Returns on Health Investment. Karvonen M. Toshima H. .... February 2007. Tokyo.. Cambridge.J. Volume 348. the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. World Health Organization. for tumors. MA and London. 2003. “Diet.. National Nutrition Survey.: Lessons for Science from the Seven Countries Study. Mohacek I. Fidanza F. let us introduce the hypothesis that the density of nitrogen in the soil.P. Dontas A. I. Health Promotion Research Group.. Bamia C. 2009. Volume 31. the American Diabetes Association. 4. the International Agency for Research on Cancer. World Health Organization. Department of Public Health.S. University of Oxford. WHO Technical Report Series 916.S. 6 7 8 9 10 11 We considered: for cardiovascular diseases. Department of Public Health. Geneva.B. 1995 Springer Verlag. The Japan Dietetic Association.” 1999. Koga Y.. Virtual Water. World Health Organization.. University of Oxford.302 eating planet of this study. New England Journal of Medicine. British Heart Foundation. March 2008. “Cardiovascular Diseases”. University of Oxford.S.” May 2006. For more information. Department of Public Health. Keys A... in 2007”. Fact sheet n. July 2009. Health Economics Research Centre. 317. Trichopoulos D. Nedeljkovic S. Menotti A.. Aravanis C. Punsar S. Department of Public Health. Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation. Costacou T. University of Oxford. the American Heart Association. 2009.. Diabetes Care. “European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics 2008”. 2002. “European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics 2008”.

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

Yang G. 1997. Schroll M... 37 38 39 40 41 42 The average number of years that a human being can hope to live. “Dietary fat intake and the risk of incident dementia”.. A Simple Lifestyle Score Predicts Survival in Healthy Elderly Men. 1997.... Hofman A. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion..2 of this document. 2000.. 35:257-282. “The North Karelia Project—Pioneering Work to Improve National Public Health. World Health Organization. Archives of Neurology. 2010. Breteler N. Xiang Y..A. Dubois F.B. C. 42:776-782. Assessment.H. Food and Nutrition Board. Nashville. Zheng W. Penin F.. Società italiana di nutrizione umana. 26:155-9. Nabet-Belleville F. Spencer C.. “Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Cognitive Decline in Women.J.E... 2008... 2007.. National Vital Statistics Reports.C. United States Department of Agriculture. Bennett K.. Dietary Patterns.” For an in-depth study of the topic. Elsevier 2005.P. 1997. De Rijk M. 54:762-765.” The Rotterdam Study... 2007. ISTAT... Population Health Metrics. consider—among others—the following studies: Osler M. 32 33 Sarah E. Breteler M. “Expert Committee Recommendations Regarding the Prevention. 2006.H. Jeandel C. and Survival Among Elderly Participants from the United Kingdom.. “Dietary Antioxidants and Parkinson’s Disease..M. “The Growing Years and Prevention of Osteoporosis in Later Life. Annuario statistico italiano 2010.L. 45 44 De Rich M. 1990. Prevention and Management of Osteoporosis. Cai H. Launer L. For an in-depth study of the topic. M. et al. Mishra G... et al. Shu X. World Alzheimer Report..B.. 1997. Grobbee D. “Life-Years Gained from Population Risk Factor Changes and Modern Cardiology Treatments in Ireland. Zubair K. 2003.D.... 2010. 48 Kalmijn S. Jae Kang. Assessed from a Weighed Food Record. 1989. Xu W. we refer the reader to section 4. Mattson M. we refer the reader to section 5.A. Barlow. et al.C.” Int J Epidemiol. Witteman J. University College London. 49 50 51 . 34 35 36 OMS. den Breeijen J.. Nicolas M. Dietary Patterns and Their Correlates Among Middle‑Aged and Elderly Chinese men: A Report from the Shanghai Men’s Health Study.. and treatment of Child and Adolescent Overweight and Obesity: Summary Report.” Arch Neu‑ rol. 2003. National Public Health Institute.. 2004.” Medical Hypotheses. Ann Neurol. “Lipid Peroxidation and Free Radical Scavengers in Alzheimer’s Disease. Rotterdam Study.J. Hamer M.” 2002. “Will Caloric Restriction and Folate Protect against AD and PD?”. “North Karelia Project”. July 17-22.” Gerontology. Vanderbilt University. McNaughton S.. concerning the topic “Caloric Restriction and Longevity. Li H.. 31:211-225.. Neurology. Bates C. “Dietary Antioxidants and Parkinson’s Disease: The Rotterdam Study. Hofman A.” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.G.” European Journal of Public Health..” 43 World Health Organization.O.M.J. 59:303-306.304 eating planet 31 Weaver. Volume 56 (10). concerning the subject of “Caloric Restriction and Longevity”. 46 47 Glick J. The 9th International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders in Philadelphia. Cuny G.2 of this position paper. “Diet and Mortality in a Cohort of Elderly People in a North European Community. Ott A. “Dementias: the Role of Magnesium Deficiency and an Hypothesis Concerning the Pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease. Launer L. 2011. For an in-depth study of the topic.” Pediatrics. 2006.. van der Meche F.

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

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

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