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 1.3 1.2 1. BCFN: the Answers to Three Paradoxes preface Mario Monti. Small and Large food for all 1. Worldwatch Institute: It’s Possible to Work at All Scales.8 1. the challenges of food introduction Danielle Nierenberg.9 How Rich Nations Squander Food New Techniques for the Transformation of Food Eating Better School Lunches and Nutrition Buying Local Rethinking the Green Revolution Yields and Environmental Sustainability Food Sustainability and Climate Change Integrated Animal Husbandry for Better Sustainability 10 14 15 16 17 18 18 20 21 21 22 26 28 28 30 32 32 33 food for sustainable growth food for health 1.1 1.14 The Role of Health Structures .10 Not by Calories Alone 1. The Political Challenge of Food executive summary XV 3 XI 1.eating planet 2012 Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition nutrition today: a challenge for mankind and for the planet introduction Guido Barilla.5 1.13 The Importance of Information 1.11 The Role of Vegetables 1.12 Bringing Healthy Food Everywhere 1.4 1.7 1.

17 Popularization “In the Field” 1.7 Gross Domestic Product Versus Indicators of Well-being 2.1 The Global Scope of Food Security and Access Problems 2.19 Increasing Awareness about the Importance of Agriculture 2.9 The BCFN Indices of Well-being and Sustainability of Well-being 2.VI eating planet food for culture 34 36 36 38 38 39 42 1.5 Variables of the Model 2.4 The BCFN Evaluation Model 2.15 Relaunching Agricultural Systems 1.18 Incentivize Employment of the Young the three objectives of food 1.3 Possible Areas for Action a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices 2. In Access the Key Factor Is Diversity Ellen Gustafson.10 Principal Results of the 2011 BCFN Index 2.16 New Computer and Communications Technologies 1.8 Subjective Approach Versus Objective Approach: Different Outlooks in Terms of Measuring Well-being 2.11 The Different Dimensions of Sustainability interviews Paul Roberts. Agricultural Policies Must Take into Consideration the Health and Well‑being of Human Beings action plan .2 The “Food Paradox”: Underlying Causes 2. food for all introduction Raj Patel.6 Strategies for Controlling Volatility 46 50 52 53 56 62 67 67 68 75 81 82 84 86 89 91 95 95 98 102 new tools to measure and promote well-being 2. How to Respond to Market Excesses facts & figures access to food: present and future challenges 2.

table of contents VII 3.2 3.10 Choices and Behaviors for Sustainable Water Consumption 3.7 The Sustainability of the Systems Used to Grow Durum Wheat: the Barilla Case the water economy and the emergency it confronts 3.6 Current Leading Agricultural Paradigms 3. The Challenging Transition Toward Sustainable Agriculture Tony Allan.9 The Right of Access to Water: Reality and Prospects 3.1 3. Paying What’s Fair facts & figures the double pyramid: healthy food for people.4 3. and sustainable food for the environment 3.12 Water Privatization and its Implications interviews Hans R. food for sustainable growth introduction Carlo Petrini.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 3.8 The Availability of Water: from Abundance to Scarcity 3. Virtual Water Between Underconsumption and Poor Management action plan .3 3. Herren.

and the Economic and Social Impacts of the Principal Diseases 4.10 Diet and Lifestyle and Their Effects on Longevity and Diseases of Aging 4. food for health introduction Ricardo Uauy. Longevity.6 Nutrients in the Different Phases of Growth 4.5 The Spread of Obesity and Overweight in Children and Adolescents and the International Economic and Social Impact 4. Lifestyles Influence the Way We Age action plan 176 180 182 184 187 191 193 193 194 196 206 207 209 213 218 222 225 227 227 231 234 238 .4 Recommendations food and children: educate today for a better life tomorrow 4.8 Recommendations longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition 4.VIII eating planet 4. Companies Must Behave Responsibly Aviva Must.3 The Most Common Guidelines and Dietary Models 4. Food.12 Recommendations interviews Marion Nestle. Agriculture. The Responsibility for Children Must Be Shared Alex Kalache.7 Guidelines for Healthy Diets and Sound Lifestyles in Children and Adolescents 4.9 Demographics.1 A Few Key Figures: Global Trends in Chronic Diseases and their Social and Economic Impacts 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 4.2 Guidelines for a Healthy Way of Eating and Lifestyle 4.

13 The Mediterranean Diet and Commensality 5. Gender.11 Guidelines for Redefining Man’s Relationship with Food the mediterranean culture: the value of a lifestyle and a culinary tradition 5.10 Toward a New Vision of Nutrition 5.4 5.15 How to Recover the Significance of Mediterraneity interviews the great culinary traditions and the reality of food today Joaquín Navarro-Valls.6 5.5 5. food for culture introduction Shimon Peres.1 5.12 The Salient Characteristics of the Mediterranean Diet 5. We Must Construct a Culture of Responsibility Vandana Shiva. The Consumer Culture War and the Food System: What Does This Mean for the Mediterranean Model? action plan notes .table of contents IX 5. and Power Roles The Symbolic Value of Foods in the Major Religious Faiths Food Prohibitions: Food and Purity Food and Culture: an Indissoluble Bond 244 246 246 248 248 250 253 254 255 255 256 261 262 264 267 268 272 273 280 282 282 284 286 289 290 5.14 Mediterraneity Today: the Decline of a Model 5. Food for Peace—a Call for the Mobilization of Goodwill 242 facts & figures the cultural dimension of food 5.3 5.7 The Relationship Between Food and Culture: the Origins How Food Contributes to Communication and Conviviality Delight and Disgust: the Cultural Classification of the Edible Food: Social. Whoever Controls Food Controls Democracy Michael Heasman.9 Food Today: Challenges and Perspectives 5.8 The Great Culinary Traditions 5.2 5.


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

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

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


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

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

** 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 .


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

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

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

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

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

9 Rethinking the Green Revolution Yields and Environmental Sustainability Food Sustainability and Climate Change Integrated Animal Husbandry for Better Sustainability food for health 1.8 1.11 1.1 1.18 Relaunching Agricultural Systems New Computer and Communications Technologies Popularization “In the Field” Incentivize Employment of the Young the three objectives of food 1.6 1.2 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 1.17 1.19 Increasing Awareness about the Importance of Agriculture .4 1.3 1.16 1.7 1.10 1. Small and Large by Danielle Nierenberg food for all 1.12 1.table of contents introduction Worldwatch Institute: It’s Possible to Work at All Scales.13 1.15 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.

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

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

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

water scarcity.050 900 750 600 450 300 150 0 878 853 845 857 873 915 1. soil degradation. and malnutrition. 4 Over the last three decades. “Hunger Statistics. These are problems in India and Africa alike. high food prices.1 Hunger in the world (1969‑2011) Source: Worldwatch Institute elaboration of data from FAO. as well as in other parts of the developing world. and vibrant rural and urban economies.350 1. And while SEWA’s training farms and agricultural credit services won’t change the global food system on their they are one step toward enabling agriculture not only to feed the world but also to nourish livelihoods. and the environmental impacts of agriculture— including deforestation. and maize—and has neglected indigenous foods that provide not only calo- 1. environmental sustainability. agriculture contributes to one-third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. the Western food system has been built to promote over-consumption of a few consolidated commodities—including rice.fao.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. wheat. and GHG emissions—are increasing.3 we’re at a turning point. poverty.” www. foodrelated diseases are on the rise. There’s no doubt that the current food system is broken: vast amounts of food are wasted in both rich and poor countries. .200 1.12 eating planet what they could learn from their counterparts in an area of the world facing the same challenges—erratic weather events.

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

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

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

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

This method removes moisture and promotes maturity. 19 There are many novel and income-generating ways of transforming foods so that they don’t go to waste. another way to deliver maximum value from food produced is by improving for all | the challenges of food 17 sell or drink themselves. a nonprofit organization established in 2000 that works with businesses and individuals to improve knowledge and usage of resources and cost-efficient recycling programs.3 eating better Besides reducing waste. Dried cheese retains higher levels of protein and fat than other dried milk products. In the United Kingdom.20 Consumers are also changing their eating and buying habits to reduce waste.18 In 2010 Counterpart International. throughout the year. the organization Love Food. Hate Waste educates citizens on food waste issues and gives simple suggestions on how to reduce personal waste. 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. helping to increase yields. when villagers are most food-insecure. solarpowered driers and dehydrators are helping to preserve abundant harvests of mangoes. and there are many examples of successful programs to do this from around the world. providing important vitamins and nutrients to people all year long. China. launched a multi-year assistance program that includes teaching women and subsistence farmers in Mauritania to turn milk into dried cheese. which link local agriculture with in-country school programs. including milk. The same herders suffer extreme nutritional deficiencies in the dry season when very little food. The group’s work has resulted in the recycling of more than 1 billion plastic bottles a year and has helped divert 670.22 .000 tons of food from landfills over the last decade. and other countries. In Bolivia. or hunger season. In northeast China. This value-added product can be eaten during the lean dry months. India. such as tomatoes and potatoes. 21 1. papayas. saving consumers over US$970 million annually. making it an important staple when very little other food is available. and other fruits. Love Food. is available. a global development organization that focuses on food security and governance. For instance. 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. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is actively promoting such home-grown initiatives. farmers tear the husks off maize cobs in the ripening stage so that the cobs can dry while maturing on the stalk. Hate Waste is a project of the Waste and Resources Actions Programme. These collaborations provide steady and guaranteed income to smallholder farmers and fresh and nutritious foods to schoolchildren.

whether it’s gang violence in Los Angeles or political violence in Cote d’Ivoire. Much of the maize. cabbages. half of which has been funneled into scholarships for students.4 school lunches and nutrition Ghana began its own Home Grown School Feeding Program in 2005. Mariam Ouattara.18 eating planet 1. roughly 30 percent of all school children in the country. an NGO in N’Ganon village.”28 1. eggplants. Enrollment in schools where meals were served increased by 20. “we can do the program.24 School feeding programs can be especially important in areas where there’s conflict.” And when children eat. radishes. while the surplus is sold to help maintain the garden and the canteen. where a national school lunch program is funded through the government.000 pupils in 200 schools across every district in the country. haricot blanc (white beans).26 The children who did attend school received meals that were often of poor nutritional quality because of inadequate funding. The students and teachers know how to keep the operation going. the president of Chigata Fettes et Development (Women and Development). Not only did yields and incomes decrease. so that “even if we’re not there. As a result. organized a women’s group to start growing organic food and cook meals for the children.3 percent.27 The project started with 300 students working with about the same number of women in the community to grow rice. School retention rates increased by around 10 percent for schools with the programs.8 million primary school children and 700. onions. says Ouattara. The program is estimated to have assisted more than 1 million children in 2010.23 In Thailand. but the WFP estimates that approximately 90 percent of participants purchase vegetables and meat from local producers. . food aid in sub-Saharan Africa is now coming from farmers in the region rather than from thousands of miles away. and other crops. the conflict that erupted after a coup d’etat in 2002 had a huge impact on agriculture and education in the northern part of the country. compared to 2.000 kindergartners.” Their hope is that by educating children they can also change how parents cook and eat vegetables through “trickle-up education.5 buying local In the same way. school lunches reach 1. Much of this food is eaten by the children in the school canteen. The students grow kale.25 In Cote d’Ivoire. but many children stopped going to school because of the violence. the program was reaching 69. Twenty-five percent of what they grow is given to the needy and the rest is sold for profit. By the end of 2006.8 percent where they weren’t available. tomatoes. “it’s easier for them to become better students. Thailand’s school food program does not mandate where individual schools get their food. eggplant. Food from the Hood is a group of student gardeners that began in Los Angeles after the 1992 riots.” says Ouattara. and 16 varieties of heirloom tomatoes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dyno Keatinge. starkly describes the importance of vegetables in the diets of children: in Mali. Low.48 Vegetables. the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research invested US$118 million in research on cereals. and degrade performance in work and in school. which is at the low end of a scale that reaches 800. Often referred to as “hidden hunger. such as cardio-vascular and respiratory diseases as well as type 2 diabetes. “Our food systems create sick people and failure to act decisively on this issue kills almost 3 million adults each year.51 According to Olivier De Schutter.” micronutrient deficiencies—including lack of Vitamin A. Sixty-three percent of global deaths are caused by noncommunicable diseases.and middle-income countries often also face a double burden of under-nutrition and over-nutrition. Niger. that result from unhealthy and inadequate diets. Many farmers who once grew vegetables have had to focus their attention on staple crops. They lead to poor mental and physical development. however. blindness. researchers and policymakers have paid less attention to the prevalence of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). and vegetables. especially among children. and other countries. and mortality declines and the average weight of children increases (figure 1. further crippling communities already facing poverty and other health problems. iron. and this rate is expected to rise. Obesity and malnutrition are the most obvious and painful symptoms of a broken food system. unfortunately. Vegetable production is the most sustainable and affordable way of alleviating micronutrient deficiencies among the poor. While poor nations receive a great deal of attention for high malnutrition rates. for example. Niger. 49 1.50 It’s not just the lack of vegetables and other nutritious foods in our diets. and anemia. Increase consumption of vegetables. and more than 2 billion people worldwide suffer from one or the other. though.7 million in fruit and vegetable research. And while Africans in particular get most of their calories from starchy crops. a research institute that works in Asia and Africa. Not surprisingly. has about 100 grams of vegetables available per person per day. But ignoring vegetables and fruits can have disastrous consequences. but just US$15. there’s been very little funding for research on how to make those starchy staples palatable and nutritious. and iodine—afflict some 1 billion people worldwide. that leads to illness and disease. Niger has one of the highest child malnutrition and mortality rates in the world. the Philippines. In 2002. sorghum. lower rates of vegetable consumption are linked to higher rates of mortality in children under five years.3).30 eating planet millet. Tanzania. are a luxury for many of the world’s poor.” .11 the role of vegetables Dr. the director general of AVRDC–The World Vegetable Center.

Dr. and productive life. Rachel Nugent. and policymakers from around the world to discuss the issue. and the poor of the world are the most vulnerable. “The costs of dealing with NCDs are soaring in both rich and poor countries. It is obvious that the health sector alone cannot prevent all these premature deaths and chronic illnesses. NGOs. nutrition.53 At the conference.” 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. and other food-related health problems.”54 . or health—are inextricably linked. according to research by the Chicago Council on Global for health | the challenges of food 31 a 300 children < 5 mortality rate (1/1.000) 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. deputy director of global health at the Council. Source: FAOSTAT 2010. We are more likely to succeed in addressing the challenges if we understand these links and put them to work for people’s benefits.3 Availability of vegetables and infant mortality Note: National vegetable availability as a factor in the health status of vulnerable groups associated with (a) preschool mortality and (b) childhood (<5 years) undernutrition. NCDs will cost $30 trillion globally between now and 2030. and poor health are denying billions of people the opportunity for a healthy. IFPRI Director General Shenggen Fan said. IFPRI’s February 2011 conference in New Delhi. “We are standing face to face with some serious challenges: hunger. said. obesity. “Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutrition and Health. researchers. well-nourished. and WHO 2011.” brought scientists. All of our efforts—whether in agriculture. malnutrition.

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

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


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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.


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

food for culture | the challenges of food


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


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

the three objectives of food | the challenges of food


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

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

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

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

. credit. affordable. cooperatives act as both business and social groups. Institutions such as agricultural cooperatives can help farmers operate more efficiently and earn more money than they can as individuals. and the UN’s Olivier De Schutter has argued publicly for less speculation and more transparency in agricultural markets. leveraged. and even reducing climate change. 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. and back up that right with appropriate policies. allowing traders to hedge against risk. Clamping down on food price speculation—especially prices for maize. Countries such as Ghana and Brazil have already reduced the number of people suffering from hunger through effective government action. however. and speculated on for profit. India recently approved a draft of the National Food Security Act. with grave impacts on the livelihoods of small-scale farmers.42 eating planet percent higher than in 2010) as a result of investors and traders who view food as something to be indexed. This flood of speculative investment has contributed to volatility in agricultural markets. such as national school feeding programs and increased support for agricultural extension services.84 In addition. insurance. who need stable markets and a fair price for their yields. and healthy food. creating jobs for youth. making rural areas and urban communities more livable.85 1.19 increasing awareness about the importance of agriculture Nations must recognize the inherent right of every human being to safe. farmers need access to markets where they can get a fair price. Price volatility hurts these farmers. which are the three most heavily traded food commodities and also supply the bulk of dietary calories for 2 billion poor people—would be a major step forward for both farmers and the hungry. enhancing communities’ economic power and as well as their social service networks. After investing in futures. but also causing wild fluctuations in the actual prices of the good. and/or sell food. At first. and bargaining power in the value chain. this seems like an ideal scenario—farmers are guaranteed payment for their crops and food prices can be determined ahead of time. and rice. who lack access to the most basic aspects of domestic support. thus creating stability for farmers and consumers alike. wheat. Some progress has been made in this area: the United States has already passed laws to limit speculation. By helping farmers come together to grow. speculators then sell these in the marketplace.83 A future is a financial practice which allows traders around the world to purchase a good for a fixed price. decreasing poverty. including land. which aims to improve food access for the country’s poorest communities. distribute.

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

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 2.9 2.7 2.11 Gross Domestic Product Versus Indicators of Well-being Subjective Approach Versus Objective Approach: Different Outlooks in Terms of Measuring Well-being The BCFN Indices of Well-being and Sustainability of Well-being Principal Results of the 2011 BCFN Index The Different Dimensions of Sustainability interviews In Access the Key Factor Is Diversity by Paul Roberts Agricultural Policies Must Take into Consideration the Health and Well-being of Human Beings by Ellen Gustafson action plan .10 2.4 2.table of contents introduction How to Respond to Market Excesses by Raj Patel facts & figures access to food: present and future challenges 2.1 2.2 2.5 2.8 2.6 The BCFN Evaluation Model Variables of the Model Strategies for Controlling Volatility new tools to measure and promote well-being 2.

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

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

pricing the poorest out of the grain market. Fifth. It must be said this is controversial—economists are embroiled in heated debate about whether speculators are to blame for the problems. Fourth. reduced social safety nets.3 Third. 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. . With poor grain storage systems. increasing financial speculation has tied the price of food to other commodities.5 and this wouldn’t be the first time that reality has failed to live up to the models of economists. and costs. 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. higher oil prices have driven up production and transport costs for food.1 Price oscillations on the food markets Source: Worthy.) On the other hand. 4 higher levels of liquidity are not to blame for the increased price swings. traders themselves have testified that they’re playing commodities markets at the expense of consumers. in food markets. 2011. (See graph below.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. with its emphasis on meat and empty calories means that a great deal of land is diverted toward producing feed for animals. increasing poverty. the spread of the western diet.

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

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

PEOPLE ARE UNDERNOURISHED men and women suffer from undernourishment 950 million  .800 calories Average daily calorie supply produced The world food system is currently capable of producing just under 2. while the average per capita daily calorie requirement for an individual adult is 2.50 eating planet 2. WoRlD 53% In developing countries.800 calories per person per day.  food for all WoRlD FooD SYSTEm  2.550 calories.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 .

transformation. 29 million DEAD EVERY YEAR Approximately 29 million people die every year   of diseases linked to excessive consumption of food  1.3 billion people in the  world are obese or significantly overweight  1/3 WASTED FooD  One third of the world’s food production is lost. destroyed. Over the same period.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%. this increase helped to generate new conditions of poverty for 44 million people.3 billion PEOPLE ARE OBESE OR OVERWEIGHT It is estimated that 1. or wasted in the processes of preserving. or consumption . distribution.

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

11. data trends show that inadequate nutrition affects 13.050 1. with a drop of 98 million (9. the total number of undernourished people on Earth was roughly 925 million (figure 2. 12 Moreover. 2. in the months between late 2010 and early 2011. In 2010. reaching and outstripping the levels recorded in 2008. 2011 (the data shown for 2009 and 2010 are estimated values).000 950 900 850 800 750 1.6 percent).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. the overall situation shows a serious worsening over the last 15 years at the global level. Indeed. 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. in developing areas.9 billion people.1 the global scope of food security and access problems The seriousness of the problem of food security around the world—by which we mean the level of availability and access to food for people and populations—emerges clearly from the analysis of the data available.2). where food and water issues exacerbate unresolved ethnic religious and economic tensions. Still.access to food: present and future challenges | food for all 53 1. The slight decline of those numbers during 2010 is a positive development and marks a change of direction from previous years. This points to the real possibility of a new rise in the .4 percent of the world’s population of about 6. prices for several leading food commodities began rising again.2 Undernourished people on earth (millions of people) Source: FAO.

where increases were recorded. more than one out of every six people. inadequate nutrition in Asia affected 554. radically different trends have been observed in different areasover the past 15 years.3 and 2. thanks to a series of focused interventions undertaken by individual governments. In Asia. in contrast. Ethiopia. in 2007 98 percent of the world’s undernourished people lived in those countries. we foresee a general worsening of the overall picture. 16 percent of that population was suffering from hunger.4 million.8 million (+65. For the most part. it is estimated that the number of undernourished people dropped by 5. therefore.2 million people).13 Over the mid.3 percent) in the total number of undernourished people. the figures were 47 million.4. the Democratic Republic of the Congo. with a further deterioration in the wake of the economic downturn and the food crisis of 2008-2009.3 percent). more than twice the number for sub-Saharan Africa (201. India. respectively of 36.3 million) in the period from 2005 to 2007. In 2010.2 million of people. In developed countries. showed improvement for the years from 1990 to 2007. It is also worth noting that two-thirds of the world’s undernourished people are concentrated in seven countries: Bangladesh. long term. in sub-Saharan Africa and in the regions of North Africa and the Middle East.14 there were 835 million people living in conditions of inadequate nutrition in the developing countries. The greatest number of undernourished people lives in the developing nations. equal to −13. The opposite happened. 16 The trend. China. In Latin America. while in the regions of the Middle East and North Africa the number was roughly 32.5 million people15 in the period from 2005 to 2007. on the other hand. and Pakistan. Indonesia. As the reader can see in figures 2. 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. inadequate nutrition affected a limited number of people (12. these were initiatives and measures aimed at social and economic . The same thing happened in Latin America (a decline of 7.3 million (+22 percent) and 12. According to data for 2005-2007.7 percent (approximately 33 million people) in the period from 1990 to 2007. the trend is toward a slight decline: in fact. Unless this situation is addressed and resolved very rapidly. In fact. concentration in asia. it could well lead to a jump of 64 million in the total number of undernourished people. in contrast. More than 40 percent of those people live in China and India.54 eating planet overall number of people suffering from hunger in the developing countries. A closer look at developing countries shows that Asia is the region with the highest number of undernourished people. that is. The drop from the 1996 level—the year that world leaders expressed a commitment to reduce and finally eliminate entirely world hunger—is considerable.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

which seriously threatens the growth of agricultural productivity.a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices | food for all 69 demographics Population growth Urbanization exchange markets trade policies geopolitical dynamics agricultural production Productivity Technology/Innovation Loss and wastage ways of eating Increase in calories consumed “Westernization” of diet biofuels DEMAND prices SUPPLY limited nature of natural resources Arable soil Water economic growth of developing nations level of inventory stock financial markets (speculation) price of oil and energy climate change Rising temperatures Variations in precipitation Adverse climatic events Contextual factors Structural factors Contingent factors figure 2. The risk of insufficient global supply arises from the increasing scarcity of natural resources. 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. structural factors. These include. This is due mainly to urbanization.6 Interpretative model of food price volatility Source: BCFN. Water tables . To try to limit this phenomenon. the consumption of agricultural goods is constantly growing (figure 2.62 percent less than that from 1961 to 1990 (figure 2. insufficient supply globally and high levels of waste and losses. and on the other hand. scientists are studying alternative ways to favor the consumption of vegetables with high protein content and to stimulate replacements for the consumption of meat. As a result of the increase in population and per capita income in the developing countries. and changes in the intended use of crops (particularly for the production of biofuels).7). Water is also becoming an everscarcer resource as per capita consumption increases worldwide. The annual rate of growth in productivity from 1991 to 2010 was 0. degradation of the land. which directly affects the consumption of agricultural products and has a heavy impact on the consumption of resources to support animal husbandry. 2011.8). demographic and economic growth. on one hand.

2010. and increased rains in Indonesia. During the crisis in 2008.450 1997‑1999 2. These include climate change-related phenomena. macroeconomic factors.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.980 2.152 1984‑1986 Developing nations 2.065 3.681 2. causing colder winters in the Northern Hemisphere. Climate change is implicated in the rising incidence of adverse weather events.380 3. drought in the southern United States. and inventories.70 eating planet 3. One of the most critical problems involves the level of waste and losses along the chain (upstream losses in developing countries. Malaysia. which have had a role in driving up the price of food over the middle to long term (figure 2. which 2.440 1964‑1966 2. trade policies.206 3. (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. It takes eight to ten times as much water to produce meat as to grow grains. Recurring phenomena.9). are threatened by growing urbanization and intensive use for livestock. short-term factors that could either exacerbate or mitigate the effects of the structural factors by acting on the volatility and instability of prices. oil prices.947 2030 3. There are additional. such as La Niña. downstream in developed countries).850 2015 Industrialized nations figure 2. short-term factors.500 . Decisions about international economic policy (trade policy) by individual States have always played a fundamental role in determining price levels on a global scale.7 Daily per capita consumption of calories (1964—estimates to 2030) Source: BCFN on FAO data. raged in early 2011. at least 30 countries implemented restrictive export policies in an effort to safeguard internal food security. financial speculation.054 1974‑1976 2. and Australia. and meager harvests caused by such events.

Compound Annual Growth Rate. 2011 Mar. .9 Trend of cereal prices and principal climatic events (June 2010—April 2011) Source: BCFN on USDA and FAO data. 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 Sep. 2010 Jan.a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices | food for all 71 3.84% 2.S. 2011 Feb.22% 1. 2011 figure 2. 2010 Aug.900 kilograms per hectare 2. 2011. suffers from light rainfall Poor harvests in the Chinese farming regions. 2011 May 2011 Jun. 2010 Dec.900 1. 2010 Nov. July 2011. 100 = oct. Source: BCFN on World Bank data.400 CAGR 1961‑1990: + 1. in India cold damages the cereal grain crops Heavy rains and flooding destroys the corn crop in the American corn belt 100 Jun. 2010 Jul.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 2.400 CAGR 1991‑2010: + 1.8 The global yield of cereals 21 (1961‑2010) Note: CAGR. 2010 Oct. 250 fao cereals price index. 2011 Apr.

On a global level. either internally or externally. harvesting. 2011. 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. Libya. Figure 2. There is a very tight connection between the energy sector and the food sector. which reduces the food supply. the latter accounts for 10-15 percent of the energy in the industrialized countries.72 eating planet The government of Ukraine revokes the tariff on exports 400 350 300 250 200 150 Because of drought. and in the final phases of the value-added chain (processing the harvest. and storage).10 International trade policies and grain prices (January 2010—August 2011) Source: BCFN on CBT data and wire services 2010. or taxes on exports may provide short-term stability for internal prices.11). red on imports). tariffs. 8/2011 4/2011 2/2011 3/2011 5/2011 7/2011 1/2011 . Russia announces a prohibition on exports Ukraine eliminates export price supports Jordan. production activities (irrigation. Indeed. distorted the international market. greater volumes than their customary purchases + − Russia announces that it is suspending its prohibition on exports + − + Turkey reduces its tariff on public‑sector imports from 130% to 0% − + − Europe suspends tariffs on imports of fodder grain − Europe reactivates its tariffs on imports Algeria acquires 800KT above the market price 10/2010 12/2010 11/2010 9/2010 6/2010 8/2010 4/2010 2/2010 3/2010 5/2010 7/2010 1/2010 6/2011 Monthly wheat price (Hard Red Winter) − Restrictive measures imposed on international trade + Suspension of restrictive measures imposed on international trade figure 2. the consumption of fuel for transportation. animal husbandry). Although duties. in the production of inorganic fertilizers.10 shows major international trade policy actions (blue for impacts on exports. export restrictions can aggravate instability and cause prices to increase. crops are increasingly going for the production of biofuels. The two-way bond between food and energy makes the price of oil a determining factor in food production and distribution. Moreover. and Morocco increase imports to replenish their reserves − Iraq and Tunisia acquire 350KT and 100KT of wheat. These restrictions prevent achieving equilibrium between demand and supply and send uncertainty signals to the markets. overall. freezing. which can lead to aggressive buying policies intended to protect against trends and future availability.

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

one wonders about the role of derivatives on the agricultural markets. and interest rates are also very important in determining agricultural policy. Because the United States is the principal exporter of agricultural commodities in the world and many prices are denominated in dollars.12 shows the relationship between the cereals price index. The increase in food prices caused by the depreciation of the dollar is a unanimously recognized phenomenon. 2011. such as futures.11 Correlation between oil prices and food prices (January 2004—April 2011) Source: BCFN on FAO and IMF data. and swaps. options. upsetting the balance between supply and demand internationally. Macroeconomic factors such as the inflation rate. and how they could influence the volatility of prices and threaten access to food. These assets allow cash to flow in the markets and send powerful signals about prices. the flow of significant amounts of foreign money for real economic purposes . Looking at the crisis of 2008.74 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. According to many observers. Figure 2. and major events in American trade policy. What of financial speculation as a short-term factor? Today. a depreciation of the American currency causes an increase in the buying power of importing countries. to which supply reacts in the medium term. exchange rates. the Euro/ dollar exchange rate. This translates into a significant increase in demand for imports. the financial derivatives markets for agricultural products offer various instruments to limit risk.

and FAO data. American exports rose by 56% 0.6 0. when inventory levels are low in the absence of a “cushioning” mechanism. For example. OECD.5 figure 2.12 Exchange rate $/€ and the Cereals/Food Price Index (March 2006—June 2011) Source: BCFN on USDA.85 0. between 1972 and 1973. figure 2. the response to a supply shock is a direct increase in price levels. when international inventories were low. a reduction of less than 2 percent in the output of grain caused the price to double. 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. and corn decreased worldwide between 2000 and 2011. taking into consideration the many elements contributing to the current unbalanced situation.6 strategies for controlling volatility The picture that emerges from this analysis is extremely complex.13 shows that inventory levels of rice.a new emergency: dramatic instability in food prices | food for all 75 250 200 150 100 50 0 Between March 2006 and November 2007. How can we act on such a complex system. partly because of an imbalance between production and consumption. 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 . 2. as they are recorded as annual aggregates on individual markets and therefore can only be guessed. (hedging operational risk) on the agricultural markets helped to aggravate the overall instability.55 0.7 0. Finally.75 0. American grain exports dropped by 29% As a result of the recent depreciation of the dollar. 2011. grain. It must be interpreted systematically. American grain exports rose by 46% Between July 2008 and July 2009.8 0. However.65 0. World inventory levels are difficult to estimate.

13 Rate of average annual variation of production. . by defin‑ ing optimal production models and agricultural patterns for various geographic con‑ texts.” as well as—for a more general treatment— to the chapter Food for Sustainable Growth.7% Corn − 3. grain. and corn (World.44% 0. Scientific and technical research on these subjects.75% 0. The challenge will be to promote innovation. guiding the sector to update production models and agricultural patterns for greater productivity.95% 1. 2011.76 eating planet 2. it will be fundamental to sort the factors examined according to the concrete possibility of being able to affect them. 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. Compound Annual Growth Rate. and stock levels of rice. Stimulate the overall growth of agriculture. 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. will be decisive. there are seven principal areas for action: agricultural production. where there is a detailed analysis of the requirements for sustainability of the agro-industrial system. higher quality.36% 2. It is essential to consider the timeline for taking this action. In our opinion. 2000‑2011) Note: CAGR. supported by significant amounts of public investment.5% CAGR production CAGR consumption CAGR Stock figure 2.93% Rice 0.4% − 3. consumption.03% Wheat − 0. and less environmental impact. In terms of possible leverage. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of the 10 countries compared with the BCFN Index of Current Well-being on seven dimensions of well-being. 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. the Index represents a snapshot of the well-being of a population at a specific instant. family.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. shown in figure 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. 2. Using a simple weighted average to aggregate the scores of the 10 countries yields a classification in accordance with the BCFN Index of Current Wellbeing. and the social and interpersonal sub-index—are compiled from 27 performance indicators that measure the seven identified dimensions of well-being. and institutions) “social” well-being 10% “political” well-being (democracy and individual freedom) 10% figure 2. Denmark led with 7. and environmental sub-index. investments. followed .15. society.14 The BCFN Index of actual well‑being and its components Source: BCFN. 2011.5 points. that is.

0) and the United States (4. France (5. The United Kingdom came in third with 6. consisting of 25 performance indicators to measure the seven dimensions of well-being in three sub-indices: the lifestyle sub-index.10 points. namely (in order).90 eating planet point scale from 1 to 10 6. Using a simple weighted average to aggregate the scores of the 10 countries into the three sub-indices. Sweden led with 7. Italy was in next-to-last place with 5. It is also an aggregate index. although the difference between third and fourth place was only one point.57 points.9 greece spain italy usa germany france japan great britain sweden denmark figure 2.8) brought up the rear.5 points). Italy (5.8 4.3 5. respectively. By this index.0 points.1 shows the detailed list of the 27 performance indicators used. Last was Greece with 3. and the social and interpersonal sub-index.0 5. Table 2.5) and Greece (3.15 Ranking of the BCFN Index of actual well‑being Source: BCFN. and Germany (5. Then came France and Germany with similar scores a little over 6. .7 7. closely by Sweden with 7.29 points. grouped into the dimensions to which they belong.7 points).09 points.7 5. Spain (4.30 The BCFN Index of Well-being Sustainability represents a multi-dimensional measurement of the future sustainability of the well-being of individuals. we obtain the BCFN Index of Well-being Sustainability.9) were in sixth and seventh place.66 points.7 points).16. followed closely by Denmark with 7. 2011. shown in figure 2. the wealth and environmental sub-index.5 3. from a dynamic point of view.5 5. significantly behind the others.0 7. The next three countries received similar scores. Japan (5.3 points.5 4.

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


point scale from 1 to 10



5.8 5.1 5.5 5.5 5.6









great britain





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

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


eating planet

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

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


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

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


eating planet

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

Source: BCFN, 2011.

interviews | food for all


interview in access the key factor is diversity

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

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

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


eating planet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cardiovascular. better indicators are not enough. This initiative will also become crucial in developing countries.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. 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. which are facing a health crisis from the spread of metabolic. This is taking firm shape in some developed countries. mainly because of the impact it will have on global production equilibrium in agriculture. however. The creation of the BCFN dual indices is a small step in that direction. In the end. they are simply one means to improve the quality of public decision making.

2 3.3 3.11 3.8 3.table of contents introduction Paying What’s Fair by Carlo Petrini facts & figures the double pyramid: healthy food for people.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. and sustainable food for the environment 3.1 3.6 3. Herren Virtual Water Between Underconsumption and Poor Management by Tony Allan action plan .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 3.4 3.10 3.9 3.

beginning with personal and collective lifestyle changes that help safeguard the environment and natural resources. 3. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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. with only 5% under 40.agrarian landscapes: tokyo The production of food crops in industrial plants is an increasingly concrete prospect in Japan. .

3 billion people will lack adequate drinking water 3 30% 2050 IMPACT OF AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITY 33% OF 80% PRODUCTION WATER CONSUMPTION . .  food for sustainable growth 9 bILLIOn + 2012 In 2050.8/20% ARAbLE LAnD By the year 2050 the amount of arable land will diminish due to climate change and the geography of agricultural production will be radically modified GREENHOUSE GASES Farming is responsible for 33% of the global production of greenhouse gases and 80% of water is used to produce food.45% OF GREEn “LUnGS” Roughly 43% of all tropical and subtropical forests and 45% of all temperate forests have been converted into farmland . compared to 7 billion today + bILLIOn THIRSTY PEOPLE ON EARTH In 2025. the population of Earth will be 9 billion.112 eating planet 3.

while a diet composed of cereals. fruit. 5. while a third of all farmland is cultivated for the production of animal feed.8% 2030 OF CO2 IN AGRICULTURE The use of climate friendly farming practices can reduce CO2 emissions generated by farming by 30% USE OF bIOFUELS Currently 1% of all farmland is used for biofuels. impoverished.400 LITERS 2. or exhausted entirely 32% FISHInG COnSUMPTIOn OF VIRTUAL WATER The consumption of virtual water with a diet rich in meat is close to 5.facts & figures | food for sustainable growth 113 LIVESTOCK bREEDInG FOR 1/3 FARMLANDANIMAL FEED 26% USE OF LAND THE PRODUCTION OF FOR PASTURAGE Livestock are the main users of agricultural land: roughly 26% of land is used for pasture or grazing.5% and 3. vegetables.8% of all farmland will be used for biofuels .600 liters -THE EMISSIONS 30% OF 1% 2012 3. and fish uses somewhere between 1.500 and 2. By 2030. between 2.600 LITERS 1.500 LITERS RESOURCES In DAnGER OF EXHAUSTIOn 32% of the fishing areas have been over fished.400 liters.

it actually benefits one’s own health as well. In the food pyramid on the left. but also the health of the planet we inhabit. The reason is simple: it is from this “agro-alimentary” sector that many of the problems—and a great many of the solutions—of sustainability first arise. In 2011. Further. on the basis of further analysis. In other words. but also—and perhaps even more so—on the behaviors of individuals and families. While it is crucial to ensure the greatest possible variety in one’s diet. the level of each food category suggests the proper frequency of consumption. But there is a key difference between the food sector and other sectors. In 2010 the BCFN created and published the Double Food and Environmental Pyramid. The food/nutritional section of the Double Pyramid was built with an eye to the model of the Mediterranean diet. the Double Pyramid was updated and redesigned in the version shown in Figure 3. 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. In fact. and the distributors. But in the food sector. 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).114 eating planet the double pyramid: healthy food for people.1. In transportation. 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. Quite the opposite. 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. the sustainability of the agro-alimentary chain of production depends not only on the commitment of the farmers. not only do you respect your own health. . the collective advantage is frequently at odds with individual advantages. a communications tool for linking the nutritional aspects and the environmental impacts of food. 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 foods closest to the top of the pyramid should be eaten least frequently. who have such a powerful effect on the entire market with the daily choices and decisions they make. the producers. and millions of other cars—and the traffic jams and congestion they create—can make owning a car almost pointless. which is the traditional approach to food adopted in such Mediterranean basin countries as Italy. for instance. and the foods at the base of the pyramid should be part of every meal.

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

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

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

White meats are therefore recommended and the consumption of red meat should be reduced. extensive research has analyzed the links between ways of eating and the rise of chronic diseases. From Keys’s study to the present day. the diets adopted by various populations were compared to determine their benefits and critical points. The study demonstrated associations between types of diet and the risk of developing chronic diseases. and animal fats. 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. cardiovascular diseases. Fat content is variable. The nutritional value of the Mediterranean diet was scientifically proven by the well-known “Seven Countries Study” conducted by Ancel Keys. B12). a series of studies has also shown a strong correlation between diet . which is the same model employed by the BCFN for the construction of the food pyramid. we can see that one protective factor against many of the most common chronic diseases—especially cardiovascular diseases and tumors. white meat. copper. and diabetes). 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. olive oil. fresh and dried fruit. along with sweets (which are rich in fats and simple sugars) and should be consumed in moderation. We also find B vitamins (in particular. especially lean meat. About half of the proteins in meat consist of amino acids that are essential to the human organism. cancer. but also Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases—is the adoption of a way of eating based on the Mediterranean nutritional model. is important because it helps to provide high quality proteins. That diet is characterized by high consumption of vegetables. selenium. and zinc. In that study. 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. Beginning in the mid1990s. and limited consumption of red meat. with a small proportion of polyunsaturated fats. It can range from virtually zero to almost 30 percent. and cereal grains (which in the past were largely unrefined). The fats are mainly saturated and monounsaturated. legumes. moderate consumption of fish and dairy products (especially cheese and yogurt) and wine.118 eating planet The consumption of meat. 3.2 some studies of the mediterranean diet From an analysis of the many reference studies. depending on the kind of meat. which are crucial to children’s growth and to the formation of muscles.

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

including metabolic conditions. it is worth noting that research shows that the Mediterranean diet has a positive impact at all ages.044 adult subjects over a period of about nine years. which evaluated 485.2 The graphic representation of food advice issued by the USDA Source: USDA.120 eating planet figure 3. 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. respiratory diseases or allergies. cardiovascular diseases. sexual disturbances (both female and male. A recent broad-based European study by EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition). neurological or psychiatric diseases (for instance. as well as a number of oncological (cancer-related) pathologies. that a study appearing in the PubMed scientific database. Last of all. from the pyramid to the dinner plate. from the prenatal period into advanced old age. One example is what the United States . For instance. 2011. 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). and longevity. for instance. A major international effort is under way to make the arguments of the food pyramid and the Mediterranean diet increasingly accessible to ordinary people. over a three-month time span. found some 70 scientific publications focusing on the Mediterranean diet. Alzheimer’s disease).

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

2011.000 4.300 1.000 Bread Fruit Vegetables Potatoes 3.600 9.400 1.250 3.200 legend average value + cooking cooking max min 8.300 2.000 2. 20.122 eating planet 1.4 The LCA method of analysis is regulated by the international standards ISO 14040 and 14044 Source: BCFN.000 2.850 3. Cultivation 2. Transformation 5.000 Beef Cheese Butter Eggs Pork Fish Rice Poultry Oil Dried Fruit Pasta Breakfast Cereal Sweets Cookies Legumes Margarine Milk Yogurt 1.000 4. 2011.000 4. Cooking 3.200 2. Transportation figure 3.000 8.5 Carbon footprint of foods (gCO2 eq per kg or liter of food) Source: BCFN.600 8.000 figure 3.000 1. Packing 4.900 3. .000 / 45.000 6.900 1.600 1.000 3.000 / 25.100 900 670 665 600 0 2.640 4.500 26.

000 / 15.000 8.000 6. We include the descriptions of the carbon and water footprints to make it clear that a truly complete accounting of the environmental impacts of food would require using multiple “lenses. the most significant impacts. . 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).” 10. 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.300 1. It is measured in global square meters or hectares (figure 3.360 5.800 3.000 930 920 900 240 0 2. 2011.000 Beef Dried Fruit Oil Cheese 15.the double pyramid | food for sustainable growth 123 environmental indicators.000 4.500 8. BCFN used the carbon footprint. To measure greenhouse gases.5).000 Butter Pork Poultry Rice Eggs Legumes Sweets Pasta Cookies Bread Milk Yogurt Fruit Potatoes Vegetables 2.000 min max 1.000 4.000 Breakfast Cereal figure 3.160 3. In the interests of brevity and clarity. It important to note that the impacts considered in the BCFN environmental pyramid are not the only ones generated by the food production sector.400 3. the utilization of water resources.300 3.000 1.775 1.7). however. and the capacity to regenerate the territorial resources that are utilized in producing food.6).000 4. Finally. It is measured in volume (liters) of water (figure 3.900 3.6 Water footprint of foods (liters of water per liter or kg of food) Source: BCFN.560 5.555 5. They are. measured in equivalent CO2 mass (figure 3. A food’s water footprint (or virtual water content) accounts for the consumption and means of use of water resources.000 5.000 legend average value 1. BCFN chose to construc the environmental pyramid using only the ecological footprint.140 1.

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

8 How the ecological footprint varies as a function of food choices Source: BCFN.210 g CO2 eq 140 g CO2 eq figure 3. 2011.140 6.030 2.455 Breakfast meat menu total kcal g CO2 eq Protein 15% 25% Mid‑morning snack 1 Portion of fruit (200 g) 135 g CO2 eq Fats Carbohydrates 60% Lunch 1 Cup of low‑fat milk 4 Cookies 250 g CO2 eq 1 Portion of cheese pizza. mixed green salad 1. .095 Breakfast vegetarian menu total kcal g CO2 eq 14% 30% 56% Mid‑morning snack 1 Portion low‑fat yogurt 1 Fruit Lunch Protein Fats Carbohydrates 1 Portion of fruit (200 g) 4 Zwieback toasts 1 Portion of pasta with fennel 1 Portion of squash and leek quiche 195 g CO2 eq 210 g CO2 eq 555 g CO2 eq Snack 1 Portion of low‑fat yogurt 1 Packet of unsalted crackers 145 g CO2 eq Dinner 1 Portion of vegetables: steamed green beans (200 g) and potatoes (400 g) with grated cheese (40 g) 990 g CO2 eq 2.720 g CO2 eq Snack 1 Portion of low‑fat yogurt Dinner 1 Portion of vegetable soup/pasta with peas 1 Grilled beef steak (150 g) 1 Slice of bread 4.the double pyramid | food for sustainable growth 125 2.

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

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

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

And it is precisely in those terms that the table 3. until we finally come to products with higher fat and sugar content.) that an adolescent needs. morning snack. As with adults. as well as meats and fish. as well as fruits and vegetables. Source: BCFN. to preserve itself intact and vital over the long term.the double pyramid | food for sustainable growth 129 cipally oriented toward the consumption of fats and sugars. preferably utilizing plant oils as a condiment. Engage in physical activity for at least an hour every day. especially as an adult. Table 3.11). or foods with elevated concentrations of fats. including both sports and play. 3. pasta. animal and plant fats (by using less lard and butter and more olive oil). instead of fruits and vegetables. afternoon snack. Based on the information we’ve described in these pages. and in particular the various cereal grains.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. the diet for children and adolescents ought to be based prevalently on plants. This is especially true of children with a tendency toward obesity. potatoes. natural or social. a relatively low frequency of consumption is recommended. and dinner. Reduce to a minimum the extra intake of salt in order to reduce the risk factors for developing hypertension. (The needs of youth are comparable in terms of frequency of consumption to those of adults). Avoid excessive introduction of calories by not eating highly caloric foods. more bread. Reduce as much as possible one’s sedentary life. vitamins. . These are very important because of their fiber content and the presence of nutrients that protect against disease. supplying all the nutrients and micronutri‑ ents (calcium. especially whole and unrefined grains. or rice). The very concept of “sustainability” contains the fundamental value of “durability”—the capacity of any system. For these products. simple and complex sugars (through the consumption of fewer sweets. iron. in particular time spent in front of a video screen (television and computer). 2011. which should have a 1:1 ratio. lunch.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. The need for unsaturated fats should be met with fish and dried fruit. 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. Avoid consuming food outside of the five moments just listed.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. Moving up the pyramid. Distribute the intake of food to five moments throughout the day: breakfast. 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. etc. we find milk and dairy products (preferably in low-fat versions).

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. In this context. beginning with children. Such a campaign should focus on parents and the educational system. parents and school systems must commit to collaborating more intensely to the nutritional education of future generations. Rice high low food pyramid figure 3. The adoption of a proper dietary model thus has both direct and indirect effects on the future of our children. That development runs counter to a well-established trend of growing life expectancies. 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. via the spread of overweight and obesity) and a corresponding reduction of their life expectancy. On the one hand.11 The double pyramid for growing children and adolescents Source: BCFN. leads to certain implications that ought to be further explored and popularized among families and educators. applying the Double Pyramid to future generations. On the other hand. Pasta. That makes it indispensable to create a collective sense of responsibility. increasingly widespread ways of eating are leading to a gradual decline in the health of younger people (in particular. Bread. 2011.130 eating planet environmental pyramid low Fats / Oils Sweets Red meat high Red meat Cheese Fish su g Fruit and vegetables Cereal Grains (50% unrefined). and secondarily on the children themselves. 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 . the excessive use of certain foods (generally speaking.

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

In certain areas. the spread of mechanized farming. phosphorus. and rice. and the adoption of agrochemistry (the massive use of pesticides. and synthetic fertilizers developed through the use of nitrogen. and potassium). four new innovations appeared: high-yield plant varieties (HYVs). especially petroleum. These led to a striking rise in the volumes of production per working farmer.12 The model developed by the IAASTD for representing the complex system of agriculture Source: IAASTD. corn. especially of wheat. land loss & flooding energy sector Land Loss food production Life Sustaining Calories per Capita Biofuels Production Petroleum Use for Fertilizer o o Habitat Conversion s s o s health catastrophes Famines s Calorie Gap s s r Toxic Residue r Fertilizer Demand s o s b Acres in Agriculture o b Calories per Capita o o Human Human Population Human s Deaths Births Population Density Soil Capacity Soil Nutrient Productioin o Soil Nutrient Consumption s Plant Calories Plant Plant Consumption Production Droughts s o Plant Calories for Human Use s s human population o Migration Soil Salinization s s Irrigation Variation in Rainfall Pattern s Plant Calories for Meat Production s s s Exposure to a Higher Standard of Living s s s Water Demand s Global Temperature s s Pursuit of 1 st World Food Mix Meat Calories Meat Consumption migration s fresh water s Methane Production s global warming Meat Production s figure 3. the practice of monoculture. beginning in the 1960s and 1970s. herbicides. and growing concern about the potential scarcity of key resources.132 eating planet for two reasons: the spreading awareness of the damage conventional agriculture inflicts on the environment. . 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. fungicides. 2011.

allowing animals to have access to the outdoors. In addition. 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. These farms have series of smaller enclosures for pigs. factory farming represents the most critical sector of the entire food system. .

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

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

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

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

Basilicata.6 The study made it clear that. and Umbria). . this is an extremely simplified depiction of reality. 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. Still. standard rotation practices were identified that were representative of the rotations of durum wheat in Italy (figure 3. in many cases.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. Our methodology focused on four regions: the Lombard and Venetian plains. not only do all the parameters of its sustainability alter substantially. Marches. i. The study also made clear that the characteristics of a plant species. For all of these macro-areas. the Emilia-Romagna region.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. 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.8 and the efficiency in terms of the utilization of nitrogen. When that setting varies. This section summarizes the most significant results of this work. 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. in this case. central Italy (Tuscany. durum wheat.15). and southern Italy (Puglia. The ultimate objective was to identify sustainable agricultural systems that could subsequently be tested in the various national territories of production. B. Barilla therefore underwrote a study to analyze and compare different agricultural models for the cultivation of durum wheat.138 eating planet Clearly. Figure 3.16 (A. Barilla decided to carry out a number of experiments to test the possibilities for improving its own agricultural supply chain. while improving both quality and profitability. C) shows a number of findings of the study concerning the carbon footprint. are intimately tied to the agricultural setting where it is cultivated. it can help us to formulate a number of broad observations in response to these critical questions: How do the various models (HEI.7 the gross revenue generated. and Sicily). LEI. Italian farmers can reduce the emission of CO2 (by as much as 40 to 50 percent. but so do the final quality and quantity of the material produced. and thus both increase the quality and the quantity of cereal grain produced.e.

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

16 Effect of farming sistems on carbon footprint a .5 0. c Cultivation of Cereal Grains ** Industrial Industrial Vegetable Crops Industrial Cultivation of Corn ** Cultivation of Cereal Grains ** Pasturage Industrial Vegetable Crops Protein 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 figure 3. .1 0. on efficiency of nitrogen use c Source: “Sostenibilità dei sistemi colturali con frumento duro.” Filiera Grano Duro News. ** Standard crop rotations normally adopted in each area.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 0.6 0.140 eating planet carbon footprint (t co2 /t kernel) { Δ cereal crop /rotations * = −0.3 0.2 0.7 0.8 gross revenue (€ / t) { Δ cereal crop /rotations * = + 100 € } Cultivation of Cereal Grains ** Pasturage a Industrial Protein Cultivation of Cereal Grains ** Industrial Industrial Vegetable Crops Industrial Cultivation of Corn ** Cultivation of Cereal Grains ** Pasturage Industrial Protein 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 b 140 160 180 efficiency use of nitrogen (kg kernel of hard red winter wheat/kg nitrogen) { Δ cereal crop /rotations * = 100% } Cultivation of Cereal Grains ** Pasturage Industrial Protein Central Italy Emilia‑Romagna Lombard‑Venetian Plain Southern Italy and Islands * Difference between the average of values recorded in the rotations and the values recorded in the cereal crop system.4 0. on gross revenue b . 2011.

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

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

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

Between 2004 and 2007.5 percent. was used in the production of biodiesel fuel. .” 2011. volumes of corn used in food and food products increased at an annual rate of 1.17 The per capita quantity of food lost or wasted in different regions of the planet (kg/year) Source: FAO. a total of 8. while the share of the total corn crop used in the production of ethanol increased by 36 percent. an estimated 38.6 million metric tons of vegetable oils. a much greater rate than the growth rate for production of vegetable oils as foodstuffs (4.2 percent). The same dynamic seems to be at play in the production of biodiesel: in Europe.4 percent of its total corn production to make ethanol.144 eating planet 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 5 Europe North America & Oceania Industrialized Asia Sub‑Saharan Africa North Africa. roughly 3 percent of world production. West & Central Asia South & Southeast Asia Latin America Consumer Production to retailing figure 3. “Global food losses and food waste. The industrial use of vegetable oils grew by 15 percent annually from 2004 to 2008.

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

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

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

2011. In case of an energy crisis. i.000 2.250 3.148 eating planet required to acquire the necessary know-how for the transition.19 shows the estimated effects of an energy shock in the year 2050 on global output. Figure 3. the results will be strongly dependent on how long agricultural systems will take to shift from an HEI approach to an LEI one. We 3. If there is no reduction in the quantity of energy available.000 2000 2005 2030 2040 2020 2050 1990 1980 1995 1970 2010 2015 2035 2045 1975 1985 2025 min. In any case. in the case of reductions of available energy from 2025 on. leaving unchanged the rankings of the scenarios in terms of yields and calories produced.500 2. . an approach with low external inputs would lead to a Worse-Before-Better (WBB) result. the world agricultural system is clearly fragile. the results are sharply influenced by the share of cereal grains destined for animal feed and biofuels.e. If that period proves to be short.500 kcal/person/day 3. a modification of these hypotheses would not change the outcome in qualitative terms. a drop in productivity over the short term with a return to higher yield levels over the mid to long term.750 2. the results of a strong HEI growth energy shock and a BAU energy shock should be less negative.. 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. As these results suggest.250 2. The results of the simulation show that.19 Agricultural production for human nutrition (daily cal per capita) and the simulation of energy shocks Source:BCFN su data FAO.

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. .

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

Demand for water is already quite high and. with water-saving diets). it must be closely controlled to avoid unfair price increases and limited accessibility for the more vulnerable members of the population at large. That means.003 percent of the total) are theoretically usable and only 9. industry. taking into account the global factors that will affect water consumption (demographic increase. now and in the future.000 to 14. with annual per capita availability of less than 1. while in developed countries the share given to industry is by far predominant (59 percent).8 the availability of water: from abundance to scarcity To understand the current scenario in terms of water resources.4 billion cubic kilometers of water. urbanization and expansion of economic activities.000 cubic kilometers of water (0. While privatization may entail certain advantages in terms of greater efficiency in the management of water sources. industry. in turn.4 percent of all world water resources are found in just 13 countries. It is estimated. rising prosperity of the population with a resulting modification of lifestyles and eating habits.001 percent of the total) is actually available for use by human beings. in agriculture. how much water do we have? Overall. will only grow in the future and . we must consider the availability of water and its various uses. Freshwater resources are also distributed very unequally among the regions of the globe: 64. absent serious action. 3. however. Where the domestic use of water is concerned. A growing number of countries. We also need to formulate a new set of regulations that really will ensure the right to water while defining the boundaries of privatization. and in our homes.20).000 cubic kilometers of water (approximately 0.water economy | food for sustainable growth 151 par excellence) and on a personal level (for instance.000 cubic meters. that less than 45. and the production of biofuels) and the reduction of the available water reserves (climate change and pollution in particular) (figure 3. The agriculture sector accounts for 70 percent of global freshwater consumption. The share allocated to agriculture is even greater in countries with a low to medium incomes (in some developing countries it reaches 95 percent). present and future. and families. because it is of adequate quality and is accessible at an acceptable cost. more than one out of every six people on Earth does not have access to the minimum quantities defined by the UN (20–50 liters of freshwater daily per capita) as necessary to meet primary needs linked to food and hygiene. how we use water: farming. find themselves gravely short of water. our planet possesses some 1. the scarsity of water. while 22 percent goes to industry and the remaining 8 percent to domestic uses. on the other hand.

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

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

Another major factor that will affect the future availability of water resources is climate change. Among the chief causes of reduced water availability is pollution. with clear and direct consequences in terms of infrastructure for access to water. In 2007. The investments needed to ensure distribution of water to the growing number of city dwellers are rising. 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. especially in terms of waste management. 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 . sugar cane. Improvements in economic and living conditions in developing countries. as well as the general expansion of economic activities (ranging from industrial production to the service industry and tourism). exert growing pressures on available water resources and on natural ecosystems. which threatens water quality. the process of urbanization is accelerating sharply. why water availability is declining. In particular. the world’s urban population outstripped its rural population. and vegetable oils typically requires the use of a greater quantity of water than does the production of cereal grains. In particular. sugar.154 eating planet Meanwhile. This leads to a rise in water resources utilized because the production of meat. Certain statistics throw a harsh light on the scale of the problem: it is estimated that every day 2 million metric tons of waste generated by human activity are dumped into watercourses. 70 percent of industrial waste is dumped into rivers and streams without any purifying treatment whatever. the rising global demand for energy puts massive pressure on water resources. In the past 20 years meat consumption in China. as are those for the corresponding treatment and purification of waste water from domestic and industrial use. Economic development is also a key driver of the future rise in demand for water. for example. which results in the pollution of a substantial part of available freshwater resources. has more than doubled. 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. In developing countries. 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. and other crops. milk. Above all. for the first time in history. principally because of the volatility of oil prices and the support of national and international environmental policies. by 2030 it will double again. the production of biofuels has increased exponentially in recent years (ethanol production has tripled between 2000 and the present day).

as well as the training and creation of an adequate professional staff. 2. and governance. to attain effective and sustainable operation of structures over time demands periodic maintenance activities. 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. a substantial increase in average sea level. to enjoy physical and economic access to an adequate and secure supply of water. But it will not be possible to attain the goal of halving the number of people without access to basic sanitation. without discrimination. roughly 884 million people lacked access to sufficient water resources of adequate quality.water economy | food for sustainable growth 155 surface and oceans that is covered with ice. They must be framed within the context of an overall cross-sector development strategy that takes into account infrastructure. precipitation. the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. and only recently. reducing to 672 million the number of people who still do not have running water where they live. such as intense precipitation or strong heat waves. In fact. It demands immediate choices that must be both wise and courageous. because the result is projected to be 13 percentage points below the stated goal.6 billion lacked access to adequate basic sanitation. In that same year. and capable of altering current trends. it is estimated that in 2015 some 2. the distribution of information about how to collect and store water resources .” Yet in 2008. If we extrapolate from current trends.9 the right of access to water: reality and prospects The “right to water”—recognized for the first time in history. as well as a significant increase in the frequency of “extreme” weather phenomena. in 2015 the percentage of the population with access to water in their own homes will surpass the stated goal of 90 percent. and temperatures). 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. education. a gradual shift toward the poles of non-tropical storms (with resulting significant effects on winds. The future that looms before us therefore appears especially challenging. 3. Making drinking water accessible in sufficient quantity and quality to meet the primary needs of every person was Target 10 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). In fact. 84 percent of them in rural areas. which aimed to “halve. 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.7 billion people will not have access to basic sanitation facilities. by 2015. The actions designed to improve water supply and basic sanitation in a community cannot be adopted in isolation. Moreover.

Moreover. and when you take into consideration the place of production. 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. but has to do with the direct and indirect consumption necessary for its production. Figure 3.400 liters in the case of meat-rich diet. especially our food-related behavior. In particular. depending on their environmental impact in terms of the water footprint.22 shows the quantities of virtual water linked to certain kinds of easily identified mass market products and finished industrial products. the foods with the greatest environmental impact are at the top and the foods with the lowest impact are at the bottom. To achieve the goals set by the United Nations will demand the coordinated involvement of all actors.600 liters (in the case of vegetarian diet) to about 4. 3. the water footprint of a single product can vary considerably from one place to another. . have a powerful effect on our consumption of water resources.23 shows the food pyramid adjoining the environmental pyramid of water. As we described in section 3. the water footprint of a commodity. etc.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. because livestock consumes a significant quantity of cultivated products as food. Figure 3. both on a local scale and internationally. in some cases for many years before being transformed into food products.500 to 2. eggs. depending on such factors as climate. The term “virtual” refers to the fact that most of this water is not contained physically in the product. in which the different food categories are arranged in hierarchical order. a good. whether they are public agencies or private organizations. 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. and derivatives) present a greater water footprint than cultivated products.1. 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. The water footprint of some of them may appear surprising.10 choices and behaviors for sustainable water consumption As we discussed earlier. Our consumption habits and our behavior. both when you compare different products with one another. milk. the yield of crops. 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. the agricultural techniques employed.000 to 5. livestock and dairy products (meat. In the environmental pyramid on the right.

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

2011.000 figure 3. .22 Average global water footprint of certain commonly used product typologies Source: BCFN.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 2.400 8.000 A hamburger (150 g) A pair of leather shoes 2.

500 Meat 9.500 Sugar legend 1. If we compare the water footprints of the two menus.140 Sweets 1.800 Pork 4.25).900 Poultry 3.055 Legumes 3. This is simply because of the considerable quantities of agricultural products fed to the livestock in order to bring them to market as food. entail substantial environmental fallout as well as nutritional effects. which shows the water consumption required in order to produce each of those beverages (figure 3.000 Yogurt average value 970 Fruits 900 Potatoes Vegetables: 325 n 0 1k 2k 3k 4k 5k 6k / 15 k 20 k food pyramid figure 3.065 Walnuts and hazelnuts 6.900 Olive oil 4. it is clear that including dairy and livestock products such as milk and meat.water economy | food for sustainable growth 159 low Sweets Red meat 10 k 5k 4k 2k 1. A menu heavy on animal-based food products is decidedly less sustainable as a result. and then we have calculated their impacts in terms of water consumption (figure 3. it is possible to build another pyramid.800 Cookies 1. the second is based on the consumption (actually rather limited consumption).300 Bread 1. White meat 15. Pasta Rice.24). Eating habits.795 Sunflower seed oil 5. high meat-consumption .693 Pasta 1. Eggs ti o Cookies. both balanced in nutritional terms. of red meat. Yogurt dc on su p Cheese.23 Water footprint of the food pyramid (liters of water per kg or liter of food) Source: BCFN. The first daily menu calls for a diet that is rich in plant-based proteins and with few animal fats. Fish. results in approximately three times the consumption of water resources. especially multiplied across whole societies. Potatoes.300 Eggs 3. however minimal. therefore.000 Milk 1. To illustrate the differences we have drawn up two daily menus. It is clear that individual eating habits.000 Cheese 4. And vice versa: most of the foods recommended for low consumption are those that also impose a larger water footprint. 2011.5 k 0 Olive oil Bread.5 k 1k 0. Legumes Fruits Vegetables high re c om me n de Milk. If everyone on the planet were to adopt the average. can have a very substantial impact on the availability of water resources.400 Rice 3. By analyzing the water footprint of the most widespread and commonly consumed beverages. There can be no doubt that most of the foods recommended for relatively higher consumption are also those that present a smaller water footprint.645 Cereals 1.

or 1.11 national water footprints and the trade in virtual water We’ve seen how water footprints can be calculated for each product or activity. economic sectors). this would clearly be unsustainable. and the Thais (2. In terms of per capita consumption. of beverage) dietary regimen of the Western nations.3/0.24 Water footprint of beverages (liters of water per glass Source: BCFN. a family.452 trillion cubic meters of fresh water a year. 125 ml. for instance. In absolute terms.483 cubic meters per person per year. or cup . Given the strain water supplies are already under. the inhabitants of a city. 30 ml. 2011.3 (tap) American‑style coffee 100 50 Carbonate beverage 25 legend average value min max 0 0 20 40 60 80 100 140 figure 3. an entire nation) or producers (private companies. 3.223) (figure 3. . amounts to 7.160 eating planet 150 140 125 Milk 120 Wine 106 Orange juice 43 38 Beer 34 Espresso 15 Tea 0. followed by China (883) and the United States (696). followed by the Italians (2. public organizations. the citizens of the United States top the list with an average water footprint of 2. They can also be calculated for each well-defined group of consumers (an individual.232). however.243 cubic meters per person per year—twice the annual outflow of the Mississippi River. the amount of water used in food production would soar by an estimated 75 percent. the country that consumes the largest volume of water is India (987 billion cubic meters per year). The global water footprint.7 (bottle) Water 0. .26).

25 Virtual water consumption and eating habits: two menus compared Source: BCFN.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 2.550 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 1.325 LITERS 125 LITERS figure 3.030 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. 2011.140 4.

as noted above.162 eating planet The differences between countries depend on several factors. for example. plant transpiration.26 Contribution of the leading consumers to the global water footprint (m3 per capita/year) Source: BCFN. 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). 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. 2011. and the quantity of water necessary for farming).000 Average world water footprint Home consumption of water Agricultural products figure 3.500 Industrial products 2. the model of consumption (especially where eating habits are concerned. . and the agricultural practices adopted (especially how efficiently water is used). as well as the utilization of industrial goods). while of the top 10 wheat importers. Today agricultural products are traded all over the world. Of the top 10 wheat exporters. the climate (which especially affects the level of precipitation.000 1.000 2. That trade pays no attention whatsoever to the water component included in the exchange.500 3. three are seriously short of water.

Figure 3. it is possible to achieve a net savings in the volume of water consumed when a product is marketed by a country with high water productivity for that product. The greatest risks. given the ongoing deregulation of international trade.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. importing nations benefit from the products made using lots of water while leaving the exporting nations. The globalization of the use of water seems to entail both opportunities and risks. The level of interdependence among countries in the virtual exchange of water resources is. which made the products using their own water resources. lie in the possibility of excessive dependence on other nations’ water. net importers are shaded in red and next exporters in green. to a country with low water productivity.27 gives some sense of the patterns and volumes of the global trade in virtual water embodied in agricultural products. however.” In this process. it. . on the other hand. Moreover. One of the chief opportunities lies in the fact that virtual water can be considered as an alternative water source. to suffer the problems of overconsumption. 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. Water Neutral: Reducing and Offsetting the Impacts of Water Footprints. because of the option of trade. 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. and in the possibility of “water colonialism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 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. .

it is necessary to encourage investments that make it possible to remove technical and political obstacles.action plan | food for sustainable growth 173 action plan encourage nutritional behaviors and choices that are in keeping with the model of the double pyramid Following the model of the “double pyramid” means adopting a balanced diet both in nutritional terms and in terms of environmental impact. the 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). ought to focus on parents and the school system in order to encourage more responsible approaches to consumption. . the only possible solution is that of a differentiated approach. etc. water availability. In the awareness that there cannot be a single model of production that is capable of ensuring sustainability in different agricultural context.) and reduced emissions. We should consider that healthier foods also imply lesser environmental impacts in terms of the consumption of natural resources (soil. With particular reference to future generations. etc. 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. ensure water access. while it should not exclude the children themselves. in part with a view to the reduction of waste. The model of the “double pyramid” (food and environment) in fact shows that with sustainable diets the two objectives can be easily attained. we should also take into account other significant variables such as the local availability of energy and human expertise. In this context.). one that takes into account the actual availability of resources and different socioeconomic and geographic settings. encourage sustainable agriculture that takes into account local needs and considerations The global agricultural system reveals a number of aspects of fragility. in part due to the current and future effects of climate change. 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. adaptation to atmospheric phenomena. water. More in general. aside from the classic factors at play (soil quality. 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. In that context.

7 4.1 4.5 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. Nutrition and Health by Ricardo Uauy facts & figures 4.3 4.12 Demographics. 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 . Food.2 4.9 4.table of contents introduction Agriculture.11 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. Longevity.6 4.10 4.

. 4. 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. It analyzes the recommendations made by the most well respected scientific institutions around the world in the fields of nutrition and health.

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

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

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

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

9 mILLION 9 mILLION 11. equivalent to approximately 246 million people.5 mILLION 2007 2005 2015 Equivalent to 30% of all deaths worldwide.6 million are due to heart disease and 5. the worldwide rate of diabetes was roughly 6% among people aged 20 to 79. 7.9 million deaths worldwide that can be attributed to cancers.180 eating planet 4. Of these deaths. According to future estimates.4 mILLION In 2007.  food for health RISE IN DEATHS CAUSED BY CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE 17.4 million in 2030. In 2007.7 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. with roughly a 27% increase over 2003 (194 million diabetics) 194 mILLION + INCREASE estimate 2003 27% 246 mILLION estimate 2007 . there were 7. 2015 + mILLION 7 YEAR DIABETICS/PER Every year there are more than 7 million new cases of diabetes worldwide: one every 5 seconds. this figure will rise to 9 million in 2015 and to 11.

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

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

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

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

This value includes both direct health costs (hospital treatment and care. for example. equal to 30 percent of all deaths. 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. unhealthy diets. The most recent estimates of the total cost of cardiovascular diseases in the United States indicate an impact of US$473.9 million deaths in all Europe and over 741. by 2015.7 million were caused by strokes. the increase in cardiovascular diseases is strongly linked to poor diet. to cite once again a shocking American statistic. This makes cardiovascular disease the number one killer on Earth. Aside from their importance to health. In the United States it is estimated that 80 million people are affected by one or more cardiovascular disease in any given year. Similarly.3 Coronary diseases are responsible for the greatest number of fatalities (1. 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. If we assign a cash value to these data. Over the last decade. In the United States. Throughout Europe.1 Overweight and obesity are now fully recognized as diseases. and we are seeing this phenomenon spread to the younger sectors of the population. that is.3 million deaths every year (2 million within the European Union). in nearly all the countries on earth. The gravity of overweight and obesity among young people is documented. nearly a third of all American children and adolescents have been found to be either overweight or obese. Of those deaths.000 die of those diseases. without adequate prevention.” Currently.5 million deaths due to cardiovascular diseases worldwide.3 billion in 2009. According to a recent study by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. On the other hand. there has been an exponential increase in obesity. the impact of cardiovascular diseases.000 in the member nations of the European Union). some truly astonishing numbers emerge. It’s been estimated that. their impact on global health could increase by 17 percent in the next 10 years. The World Health Organization has noted that in 2005 there were roughly for a healthy life | food for health 185 the consumption of tobacco. some US$70 billion. on the other hand. pharmaceuti- . cardiovascular diseases are responsible for 4. the number of deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases worldwide will grow to 20 million every year. by the tripling of cases of overweight young people from 1970 to the present day. and more than 860. and the excessive consumption of alcohol. more than 65 percent of all Americans are obese or overweight. they also have significant economic effects.6 million were due to heart disease and 5. 7. physical inactivity.

with a projected rise to US$300 billion in 2025.5 percent over 2007.3 percent of the population.6 the cumulative cost over 10 years of cardiac diseases. the impact of diabetes. Another 37 percent of the total economic impact of cardiovascular diseases is due to the indirect costs related to the loss of productivity of the working-age patients due to sickness and death and the other informal costs for the care of patients.0 percent in 2007. or about 246 million people. etc. 63 percent (€13. the total costs of cardiovascular diseases have been estimated at roughly €21. In Europe.8 billion per year. in 2025 this number is expected to to rise to a little under 60 million (5. the total economic impact of cardiovascular diseases for 2006 was estimated at roughly €192 billion. Every year. a 50-percent increase.186 eating planet cals. The spread of cardiovascular diseases entails serious economic and social repercussions. an increase of 54. That’s an increase of roughly 27 percent over 2003 (when it was estimated that 194 million people suffered from this disease). With reference to diabetes (another disease strongly influenced by diet). In China.). A study by the American Diabetes Association7 estimated the cost of diabetes .1 percent of world population (380 million people). for example.8 million (6. home assistance. and diabetes in China will be equivalent to US$558 billion.6 percent of the population) by 2025. which will rise to 7. and the indirect costs calculated as a loss of working productivity caused by the sickness or premature death of the patients.6 percent of the population). the costs incurred in the treatment and care of diabetes are very high.5 for a total of roughly €8 billion annually. which include the costs of hospital treatment and care and the cost of pharmaceuticals. among people aged 20 to 79 the worldwide incidence of the disease was around 6.8 billion) have to do with the direct costs charged to the health system. Estimates for 2025 indicate a substantial increase in the rate. An even more worrisome growth trend is expected in India.2 percent of the population) is expected to rise to 69.8 million (7. those costs reached a global level in 2007 of about US$232 billion. 4 Of these costs. strokes. worldwide. In Italy.8 million people with diabetes in 2007. there are more than 7 million new cases of diabetes—a new case every 5 seconds. According to recent WHO estimates. which corresponds to a total average per capita cost of €391. According to the estimates of the International Diabetes Federation. but also in developing nations such as China. As in the case of cardiovascular diseases. it is estimated that there were approximately 39. The prevalence of diabetes will grow both in industrialized countries and in developing countries. not only in the developed countries. where the current number of cases of 40. equal to 4.

2 guidelines for a healthy way of eating and lifestyle The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical. diabetes. in 2007 there were 7. 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. to a level of 9 million in 2015 and 11. therefore. is a fundamental component in creating a healthy lifestyle. according to the estimates of the U. In a similar context.400 annually.6 billion. about 75 percent occurred in low. and tumors is such that it demands an in-depth analysis of the role played by the different dietary and behavioral choices (physical activity first and foremost) in the onset of the leading chronic diseases.).S.4 million in 2030. in 2002 cancer caused a loss of human life equivalent to nearly 10 million years.”9 while a healthy lifestyle is “a way of life directed toward the reduction of the risk of diseases and premature death.9 million deaths worldwide that could be blamed on tumors. just for the direct health costs of the disease (hospitalization.650 is attributable directly to diabetes. direct medical costs alone for cancer in Europe have been estimated. but in many cases conscientious prevention can put off or reduce the risk of onset. But what kind of diet and lifestyle? Analyzing the guidelines for preventing chronic diseases from the World Health Organization and the world’s most . According to WHO data. clinical treatment.7 percent of the total years of health lost by all European citizens to disease. Another study done of European diabetics8 estimates that. by the European Society for Medical Oncology. Cancers are also tied to poor diet and nutrition. heart attacks and cancer).834 per patient was incurred. In the United States. etc. and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. American diabetic patients on average bear costs of over US$11. Diet. As for Europe (EU25). The scope of the socioeconomic impact that can be traced to cardiovascular diseases. of which US$6. an annual average cost of €2. mental. National Institutes of Health. including both health costs and productivity losses.” 10 Not all diseases can be prevented (for medium-income countries. for a healthy life | food for health 187 in the United States in 2007 to be US$174 billion. A clear majority of these deaths will occur place in low. the economic impact of cancers rose to more than US$228 billionin 2008. at €56. Estimates point to a worldwide rise in deaths caused by tumors. Most of those costs (55 percent) was due to hospitalization for acute and chronic complications. roughly 16. medium-income countries. of them. 4.

Adopt a balanced diet. pasta.and micro-nutrients. Smoking tobacco (lifestyle). 9. 4. Hypercholesterolemia (diet and lifestyle). 7. Avoid overweight and obesity. Low weight and malnutrition (diet).. 6. Don’t smoke. Choose sources of complex carbohydrates (cereal grains and legumes) and increase the consumption of unrefined cereal grains (for example. 2. Arterial hypertension (diet and lifestyle). . Increase the consumption of legumes. swimming. Increase (up to about 400grams/day) the consumption of fruit and vegetables. Smoke produced by indoor fires. Eat two to three portions of fish a week. characterized by careful control of the total caloric intake and by a proper composition of the various macro.e. Avoid the excessive consumption of alcohol (no more than one glass for women and two glasses for men a day). either moderate (for instance. breadsticks made with whole wheat flour). 4. bread. walking. for 30 to 60 minutes a day. consume four to five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. 8. 3.1): 1. Engage in regular physical activity. most days of the week. 6. i. Iron deficiencies (diet). 2. Alcohol (lifestyle). 5. Unprotected sexual relations. running. or bicycling) or high intensity (for instance. 10. over both the short and long term (and make sure not to regain any excess weight you might have lost). conducted worldwide. shows that among the top 10 health risks on Earth. The study. focusing especially on those that are rich in food fibers. respected international scientific societies11 leads us to the following key actions (figure 4. 5. or team sports).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. 9. Obesity (diet and lifestyle). 8. which is easy to do through the elimination of snacking. 3. seven are linked to lifestyle and diet: 1. 7. Non-potable water and hygienic shortcomings.

schools can involve children in food preparation through simple and entertaining activities. 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.

.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.

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

.000 Americans. diets close to the Mediterranean diet help protect against the most widespread chronic diseases.12 This diet. and fish. omega-3 fatty acids. The indicated that the best dietary regime was that of the inhabitants of Nicotera. In general. The nutritional value of the Mediterranean diet. The Japanese dietary model 13 —taken as an example of the dietary style prevalent in eastern Asia—favors the consumption of cereal grains. in particular. The Mediterranean diet appears capable of reducing the risk of heart attack by 72 percent. Fish consumption averages 107 grams daily. phosphorus. These characteristics ensure that the North American diet falls notably far from recommended guidelines and should be to some extent revised and supplemented. respectively 11. and very little meat. Montegiorgio (Marche). in Calabria. This diet includes an abundance of mineral salts. 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). A number of studies15 have shown that sticking to the Mediterranean diet produces significant reductions in overall mortality. That diet has triggered concern over the exponential increase in obesity and metabolic diseases in the United States. which are not adequately counterbalanced by a high level of fruit and vegetables. Their diet was based on olive oil. who followed a Mediterranean dietary style. but is protective against all causes of mortality. This seems to be the result of an excessive consumption of food (about 2. The populations of Nicotera. equal to no less than 24 percent of the total daily intake.16 Similar results are also found in recent studies17 conducted for 10 years on a sample of more than 380.600 grams as against the roughly 2. capable of adhering—in different measures and ways—to the principles sanctioned by medical science. bread and pasta. red onions. and polyunsaturated fats.7 percent and 7. vegetables. diet and chronic diseases. much higher than the 45 grams of the Mediterranean diet and the 18 grams of the North American diet. basically. including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. garlic.192 eating planet the center of attention of the scientific world.000 grams daily of the Mediterranean model and the Japanese model) and an unbalanced nutritional composition that tends toward overconsumption of red meat and sweets. largely derived from fish. That study compared the diets of the populations of seven different countries to test those diets’ benefits.1 percent of total daily consumption. is largely rich in proteins and sugars. and Campania had very low blood cholesterol levels and a minimal percentage of coronary diseases. aromatic herbs. All of this shows that very different dietary models can coexist side-by-side. especially from deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases and tumors. was scientifically demonstrated by the well-known “Seven Countries Study” 14 directed by Ancil Keys.

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

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

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

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

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

especially for school-age and pre-schoolage children. some of them quite serious. which can also vary considerably in terms of weight characteristics. 5-8 percent to thermogenesis. in view of the rise of obesity among children and adolescents. in which tissue-deposited proteins are used for the generation of energy. and only 2 percent to growth. the principal macronutrients. Their bodies are undergoing a phase of growth that demands the presence of the amino acids necessary for the generation of tissues.500‑1. the body makeup.034 countries / organizations who 906‑1. 30-40 percent to physical activity. the WHO recommends limiting the excessive ingestion of fats and sugars from the earliest ages. and the average level of physical activity of the individual boy or girl.377 1. FAO.198 eating planet lism.094 1.1. especially pre-school-age children. and carbohydrates. 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 4.1).417‑1. The chart shows average values. fats. And so there is an overall range of values that can be considered reliable.204‑1. in the child’s growth and ability to perform normal physical activities.957 Source: Società italiana di nutrizione umana.453‑1. the optimal average quantitative amount of energy to be ingested in one’s diet (kcal/daily) 24 age of the child italy 1‑3 years 4‑6 years 7‑10 years 768‑1.613 1. excessive inputs of energy encourage the deposit of excess fat.694‑1.398 1.667 1. 2006. 1996. Proteins constitute an essential component of all human cells and for that reason an adequate protein intake has proven to be fundamental. especially table 4. . Prolonged periods of inadequate energy intake can lead to full-blown malnutrition and/or a state of reduced protein reserves.088 1. Therefore. 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 contrast.916 usa 806‑1. When the intake of energy is to be lower than the required minimum. problems may arise. the principal macronutrients necessary for the proper ingestion of energy for pre-school-age and school-age children are proteins.792‑2. As noted earlier.

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

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

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

the regulation of the ingestion of nutrients may prove to be less than optimal. lean body mass is roughly equivalent in the two sexes.794 2.993‑2. is more significant in male adolescents than their female counterparts. which may result in shortages of given elements.739‑2. Requirements of energy and nutrients are variable from day to day.864‑2. The increase in lean body mass. is efficiently satisfied through the finely calibrated and automatic regulation of the appetite by the hypothalamus. . Associazione italiana di dietetica e nutrizione clinica. The most common nutrient deficiencies at this age are iron and calcium deficiencies. In contrast.343 2. the energy requirements during adolescence for males and females age energy requirements (kcal/daily) 11/12 years 13/14 years 15/16 years 17/22 years males 1.515‑3.28 Adolescents can come down with anemia as a result of the sharp increase in the tissue demand for iron. in most cases. even for the same individual.942‑2.976 2.297 1. Table 4. which means that they have a final value of lean body mass almost twice that of females.29 especially of muscles.202 eating planet cents. and level of physical activity.2.048 1. The appetite encourages the ingestion of food that satisfies the need for both energy and various nutrients. 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.411 Source: Developed by BCFN on data from the Società italiana di nutrizione umana. 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). table 4. 2011.215 females 1.898‑2. Peak growth generally occurs between the ages of 11 and 15 for girls and 13 and 16 for boys.277‑2.393‑2. The ranges are sharply influenced by such factors as weight. but when adolescence begins males accumulate more lean body mass for every additional kilogram of body weight acquired during growth.2 shows the intervals of energy requirements in adolescents. The energy requirement. body makeup. During pre-adolescence.338 1. The nutritional requirements of adolescents are influenced first of all by physical growth. in particular in the muscular and erythrocytic mass. The system generally works well to ensure the ingestion of sufficient quantities of energy to satisfy metabolic needs.

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

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

. 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.

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. governments and international organizations that are involved in health issues have formulated guidelines to establish a balanced diet in the various stages of life. sumed over the course of the day.7 guidelines for healthy diets and sound lifestyles in children and adolescents Given the importance of diet during adolescence.34 In general. as well as alternating foods over the course of the week.) and foods produced by and from animals (meat. cereal grains. etc. dairy products.2 Breakdown of caloric intake during the day Source: BCFN on Società italiana di nutrizione umana data. good nutrition is not enough. with a specific focus on adolescence.206 eating planet Breakfast 20% Dinner 30% Mid‑morning snack 5% Afternoon snack 10% Lunch 35% figure 4.33 4. it means a mixed diet that includes plant-based foods (fruit. etc. . up to and including adulthood.). vegetables. 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. 2011. seeds. legumes. Variety is also a good idea. Caloric intake should be broken down as shown in figure 4. cheese. It also can help reduce risks linked to common chronic diseases in later ages.2. As we have noted. prosciutto. nutritional science indicates that children should eat five times a day.

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

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

in the various phases of their lives from children through old ages. longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition In 2025. 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. . 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. In the last hundred years. 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. according to United Nations estimates. Finally. the world will have more than 8 billion inhabitants. 2010. physicians are also key actors in establishing dietary and lifestyle virtuous cycles.3 The various actors in food education Source: BCFN.longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition | food for health 209 involvement of the families themselves—can and should play a truly active role in encouraging balanced ways of eating. In particular.

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

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

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

Figure 4. is beginning to witness a decline in life expectancy at birth in some states. Kentucky. with a shift from approximately 6 percent of GDP per year in the 1960s to the current level of . the global elderly population (over 65) is growing continuously and will reach an estimated 1. and the economic and social impacts of the principal diseases As a result of global economic growth.longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition | food for health 213 4. and Louisiana. even though Bangladesh is a country with only partial suffrage. the state with the highest rate of obesity. In Italy.71 years for men (figure 4. This means an increase in economic inactivity and dependency on the younger members of the population. alone among all developed countries.14 years for women and 65. life expectancy is just 67 years for men and 74 years for women. which is only three years less than men’s life expectancy in Europe. inadequate healthcare structures.5 trillion) was invested in healthcare in 2009 compared with 5 percent in 1960. average worldwide life expectancy37 has increased steadily since the turn of the century. in 2010 it was 70. The United States.6 shows the effects on healthcare costs of living longer lives but not in good health. 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. life expectancies are progressively falling. In the United States. In Bangladesh. Chronic diseases are already the leading cause of death in the world. numbers that are much lower than in the countries shown above. but it is expected that between 2005 and 2015 deaths from such diseases will grow by 17 percent.4). and major challenges in terms of obtaining basic pharmaceuticals. 17.5 percent to 25.5 shows the 10 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with the highest life expectancies. the UN predicts that the rate of elderly dependency will grow from the current 11. As was mentioned earlier in this chapter. Oklahoma.9 billion in 2050. Alabama. Estimates tell us that that rate will rise until it reaches 48 percent in 2050. and scientific progress.9 demographics. men’s life expectancy in 2020 will rise to 71 years. The chart shows the increase in the share of GDP spent on healthcare on average in the OECD nations and certain representative countries. who are showing the highest rates of obesity and smoking. for example. albeit more modestly.4 percent of GDP (approximately US$2. longevity. there has been growth in healthcare spending. In Mississippi in particular. especially among women. a general improvement in living conditions. too. Tennessee. Europe has the highest rate of dependency on Earth. Life expectancies are rising even in countries that still lag in terms of economic and social development. Worldwide. A recent study38 has shown that in states such as Mississippi.4 percent in 2050. Arkansas. Figure 4.

01 48.70 59.05 60.52 53.09 68. population (1950‑2030) .10 49.67 51.48 62.14 71.08 64.09 50 60 70 figure 4. 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. diseases that result from.214 eating planet 10 percent (approximately €180 billion).21 63.27 65.65 70.42 56. major increases in healthcare spending are also predicted.59 72.71 67. 2010.75 73.83 55.4 World life expectancies.79 74.17 70.33 65. perhaps 80 percent of all cases of chronic disease could be prevented.64 58. or are worsened by. In general.20 69.66 46. comparison between the male and the female Source: BCFN on UN (World Population Prospect) data. A great deal of this spending.63 67.85 64.47 68. In China and India. goes for the treatment and care of those suffering from the chronic diseases we have discussed in this book. unhealthy diets and lifestyles.59 62. of course.79 80 61.35 57.76 66.

to medium-income nations. Patients with high levels of cardiovascular risk (hypertension.7). . of Source: BCFN on OECD data. dementia results in people living 11. Certain risk factors predispose people to both dementia and cardiovascular diseases. physical inactivity.24 percent in high-income nations. The estimated worldwide cost of dementia in 2010 was US$604 billion. and cancer. and smoking) are often predisposed to contract neurodegenerative diseases as well (figure 4. finally rising to a rate of about 30 percent at the age of 80. with the prevalence doubling every four years.5 because of an absence of structured and accessible healthcare services.longevity and welfare: the fundamental role of nutrition | food for health 215 ing such risk factors as smoking tobacco. 83 and 1. and the excessive consumption of alcohol. 77 For the poorest countries a fundamental 72 74 76 78 80 82 84 86 88 part of patient care is provided outside the healthcare system by the families figure 4. comparison between the male Currently in Italy it is estimated that 2 population (2010) and the female million people suffer from dementia. cardiac diseases. unhealthy dietary models and customs (diets). 72 percent of the costs are 84 Canada incurred in those very same countries. 0.24 percent 85 Switzerland in low-income nations. Life expectancy in 10 OECD high-income nations.9 percent of their years on Earth in a condition of chronic disability and to lose 1. Dementia affects between 1 and 5 percent of the population over 65. diabetes.1 percent of their total years of life. 70 per86 Italy cent of those costs are incurred in West80 ern Europe and in North America.) 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. (Recent statistics have shown a rising incidence of dementia in individuals over 65. 2010. high levels of cholesterol.50 per85 France 78 cent in medium.35 percent in 79 low. 84 Finland 78 While only 38 percent of the people who 84 suffer from dementia live in high-income Austria 77 nations.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. According to the Global Burden of Diseases Study. Older people are also more likely to be stricken by neurodegenerative conditions (dementia) and osteoporosis as they age. tobetween 2 percent and 10 percent. 0. Korea 80 In England the social cost of dementia 84 Australia (₤17 billion) is greater than the cost of 78 strokes.

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

7 minutes in 2021. Osteoporosis is increasing worldwide and the World Health Organization has identified it as a health priority. The incidence of osteoporotic fractures is expected to increase from one every 8.1 minutes in 2001 to one every 3. 2011. Japan.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 an additional 34 million have such low bone mass that they are at risk of developing osteoporosis. or vertebral fractures—very close to the likelihood of suffering coronary problems. 75 million of them in Europe. femur. afflicting 7 percent.7 Prevalence of Alzheimer’s by age group (2009) Source: BCFN on EURODEM study. Most of them have a 15 percent probability of suffering wrist. and the United States. 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 Italy. In the United States perhaps 10 million people suffer from osteoporosis.3 percent). osteoporosis is one of the most common chronic diseases associated with aging. . 40 Osteoporosis affects an estimated 150 million people around the world. 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 a pathology characterized by the decline in bone mass and the deterioration of the microarchitecture of the bones. putting it third after hypertension (16 percent) and arthrosis and arthritis (17.

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. A 5-7 percent reduction of body weight. which is linked to Type 2 diabetes. disability and suboptimal health. One of the most important non-dietary factors is smoking tobacco. In particular. and osteoporosis) and the role played by diet and lifestyle. it is likely that humankind will soon experience.7 billion in 2050. with life expectancies and the rate of principal chronic diseases both rising. since it is also strongly correlated to insulin resistance. a central feature of diabetes. but in women older than 45 osteoporosis is the cause of a greater number of hospital admittances than other diseases.000 men. 15 percent between 50 and 59 are affected. The economic burden of osteoporosis is comparable to that of the leading chronic diseases. Because overweight and obesity are both linked to the development of insulin resistance and the onset of diabetes. neurodegenerative diseases. The number of osteoporotic fractures is expected to rise with the aging of the European population. The nutritional approach is univerally recognized as a fundamental tool in preventing and treating Type 2 diabetes and its complications.41 Among women. heart attacks. 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. compared with more than 30 percent in the 60-69 age range and 45 percent of the 70-79 age range. tumors. may reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by as much as 60 percent. 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 prolonged old age marked by the risk of fragility.10 diet and lifestyle and their effects on longevity and diseases of aging As we have said. 4. including diabetes. a practice that increases roughly thirty-fold an individual’s risk of contracting pulmonary tumors. 42 Numerous studies have shown that abdominal fat is perhaps even more strongly correlated with Type 2 diabetes than a high body mass index. with costs rising from €31. diet is important in preventing the accumulation of excess abdominal fat. for the first time in modern history.9 million women and 840.218 eating planet by gender.7 billion in 2000 to approximately €76. cancers. . obesity. diabetes. however: in Italy the disease afflicts 3. and breast cancer. Tumors and tumoral diseases are caused by many factors but harmful lifestyles and diets certainly increase their likelihood. Below is a summary of what’s currently known about the relationship between longevity and certain diseases (diabetes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 5.2 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 5.8 5.9 5.1 5.3 5.15 The Salient Characteristics of the Mediterranean Diet The Mediterranean Diet and Commensality Mediterraneity Today: the Decline of a Model How to Recover the Significance of Mediterraneity interviews We Must Construct a Culture of Responsibility by Joaquín Navarro-Valls Whoever Controls Food Controls Democracy by Vandana Shiva The Consumer Culture War and the Food System: What Does This Mean for the Mediterranean Model? by Michael Heasman action plan .14 5.5 5. Gender.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.table of contents introduction Food for Peace—a Call for the Mobilization of Goodwill by Shimon Peres facts & figures the cultural dimension of food 5.6 5.13 5.4 5.10 5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

probably discovered by accident. 5.2 how food contributes to communication and conviviality Food took on a very important role in the development of the earliest forms of human communication. These practices are not found among other species.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. In a larger territory the discovery of a food source had to be communicated in greater detail. 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. so did social groups begin to expand.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. 5. . 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. 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. Moreover. At the origins of what we now call conviviality were the primitive practices of sharing food around a fire by groups of human beings who sat face to face. necessary for boiling. and showing teeth are typically hostile gestures. Language probably also evolved in part due to the need to alleviate tensions bound up with the division of foods. smiling.” So the ability to communicate must have played a considerable role. succumbs to the human drive for cultural elaboration. but also because in the animal kingdom direct eye contact. The extent of the territory occupied by the group also expanded. laughing—and eventually talking. 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. is certainly evidence of cultural evolution. there is a clear recipe for conflict and violence. as noted by Lévi-Strauss. “if we add to this the idea of placing food in the middle of a group of individuals. opening the mouth. not only because of the fear of fire. from the 20 or so members typical of Homo erectus groups to the roughly 50 to 150 members common during the period of Homo sapiens. The use of cooking utensils. and water (plus a receptacle) in the other case. in order to explain exactly where it was located and how many members of the group it could feed. and been in turn rewarded. with different parents and children. As the human brain grew. So even the simple act of cooking. This was undoubtedly one of the ways in which language developed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.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. 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. for example. already a widespread habit in many countries.

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

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

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

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

and specifically Italian society. 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. trivialized. The abandonment of the Mediterranean diet appears to be unmistakable in the larger Italian cities. thoughtlessly or indifferently. 5. The great German sociologist Max Weber wrote about the disenchantment (Entzauberung) of the world associated with advent of modernity: where food has become disenchanted. the index of Mediterranean adequacy has dropped to 1.23 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. where the index had been 5.14 mediterraneity today: the decline of a model From the 1950s to the present day.44. The results of the studies by Flaminio Fidanza (one of the pioneers in food and nutrition research. of its sacrality. stripped of all meaning. and correlated pathologies are most common not in the areas where food and eating are considered important daily social occasions. that is. Italy included. Every day in Italy about 105 million meals are consumed. of also of poor quality. at any time—in short.the mediterranean culture | food for culture 273 origin. of which 76 percent are eaten at home and 24 percent are eaten . and to the sacral importance of food. not just their makeup.2 in 1991. as well. we have witnessed all over the Mediterranean region. and deprived.6 in 1965. not just the maintenance of the body. where food is commodified. And vice versa: obesity. but rather in those areas where food is pervasive. we ought to turn to the quality and the world of “Mediterraneity” in order that it might help us to re-enchant it. so to speak. have changed from a number of points of view. a gradual abandonment of the Mediterranean approach to food in favor of less-healthy ways of eating. not just its quotidian aspects. responsibility. to the social occasions in which the foods are consumed. since Keys’s first study. In Montegiorgio. diabetes. always available for consumption. to the total quality. not just the nutritious value and health. cheap. as well as with a reduction in physical activity.2 in 1960 but dropped to 2. it fell to 3. Overweight and obesity in Italy and Spain seem to correlate with the abandonment of the Mediterranean diet. who thoroughly investigated the state of affairs in Italy beginning in the Sixties)22 have shown that the index of Mediterranean adequacy in two Italian cities that have been symbolic in this context has dropped drastically: in Nicotera that index was 7.9 in 1991. In recent years European society. and personal choices.

Source: BCFN on Nielsen-Barilla data.25 On an aggregate level lunches (53 percent) outnumber dinners (47 percent) while 71 percent of the meals are consumed with one’s family. 16 percent with friends and colleagues.5 million meals consumed daily away from home are lunches. 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 5.1 Breakdown of the 105 million meals consumed daily in Italy by mode of consumption Note: Data expressed in %.1). and only in 30 percent of all cases are those lunches eaten between one and two o’clock in the afternoon (figure 5. 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.000 meals analyzed. that 11 percent are “lunch on the run” and 5 percent are the “catch-up lunch. among the meals consumed away from home. 2009. Base: 99. and 16 percent are eaten alone.” Lunches eaten in less than 10 minutes account for 9 percent of the total number of lunches eaten away from home. 105 million meals daily. away from home.

and link with local cultures. diversity.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. .

The result is that the time and the quality of the space devoted to nutrition over the course of the day is more and more squeezed in among the other daily commitments of individuals who increasingly find themselves obliged to sacrifice the quality of their own nutrition. The distinctive features and traits of Mediterraneity. as can be seen in figure 5. 2009. with one million “primi piatti” consumed away from home every day (for the most part in bars and cafeterias). shows a greater degree of variety.2.2 Distribution of preparation time for meals at home and away from home Note: Data expressed in %. Source: BCFN on Nielsen-Barilla data. Moreover. 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. 14 percent of the meals eaten away from home were eaten standing up. they are predominantly “primi piatti.276 eating planet Less than 10 minutes From 10 to 20 minutes From 20 to 30 minutes From 30 minutes to 1 hour From 1 to 2 hours More than 2 hours 5% 4% Total 9% 29 % 30 % 39 % 28 % 22 % 22 % 22 % At home Away from home 26 % 42 % 4% 2% 1% 0% 10 % 4% figure 5.” or pasta or soup dishes (41 percent) and main entrees (42 percent). on the other hand. especially the tendency to assign meaning and significance to eating that rise above the merely nutritional or functional aspects. but not at a table. 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. But it is . while 15 percent of those meals were eaten sitting down. Base: 80 million meals at home daily. As for the meals eaten away from home.

While awareness of the importance of good nutrition to overall well-being is rising. it tends to affirm itself over time. by the growing number of people afflicted with diseases directly linked to overweight and all obesity26). the same productivist paradigm that is now sweeping other areas of Earth (this is demonstrated. 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. people report it seems fairly easy to adopt a healthy diet in countries such as the Netherlands (79 percent). on the other hand it is clear that certain values typical of Mediterraneity have by now permeated the entire continent. While. Specifically. On the other hand. The statistics shown have to do with Italy. despite the fact that most European citizens say they follow a healthy diet.the mediterranean culture | food for culture 277 increasingly difficult to reconcile Mediterraneity with a reality that makes its practice more and more challenging. with 57 percent of respondents who believe that it is easy to eat in a healthy manner as against the 66 percent of the EU25 average. is 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. if we broaden our view to include sociopolitical context of the entire European Union—which. 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. actually practicing those values is becoming increasingly difficult. What appears most significant. Italy is below the European average. but they correspond to the figures for Europe as well. Well aware of the importance of the makeup of diet. although it only partly shares the larger cultural tradition mentioned here. and Poland (49 percent). the challenges of adopting a balanced diet. on the one hand. is the emergence of a meaningful fracture between ideal dietary choices and actual everyday practice. The lifestyle of European citizens seems to be the chief obstacle to their eating . In fact. Slovakia (52 percent).3). 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. among other things. the number of people who have difficulty eating in a healthy manner is pretty high in countries such as Hungary (54 percent). however. the vast majority of European citizens (83 percent of the total) say they are conscious of the crucial significance of what they eat for their own physical well-being. and Malta (77 percent). However. and this is the most worrisome datum. Sweden (77 percent).

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

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

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

aiming at the excellence of the ingredients. 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. in the simplicity and clarity of its benefits. an alliance. An exquisitely Mediterranean nutritional paradigm. to forge a great pact among all the actors of the world of nutrition and food. The second significant element is bound up with the method of activating the process of change. 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. and an intact social structure. which while it preserves the typical character of competition in the relationships between the various players in a single sector. establishing a direct and respectful link with the context in which the raw materials develop. It is necessary. A concerted effort will be required. the environment. • last of all. • restore the value of food as a medium for a fertile relationship between the generations. • 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. spread the culture of taste and the enjoyment of life through authentic food. makes it possible to undertake cooperative games intended to promote a new dietary paradigm—in the hope that one day in the not too distant future it may become dominant.the mediterranean culture | food for culture 281 food materials that go into a cuisine. • return to a healthy relationship with the territory and the context of the raw . to promote the construction (and reconstruction) of a social fabric that is steadily weakening under the pressure of modernity. Revitalizing the magic and astonishment of food in its rituals and its carefree pleasure—as the fuel of life and culture—allows a renewed centrality to the role played by people and their feelings. to this end.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Washington D. A. 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. 2008. Holt-Giménez. “Climate Trends and Global Crop Production Since 1980”.C. 9 Winne. or typical displacement. Bush.: Beacon. Statistics Division. Oxford: Fahamu.” at http:// www. at http://www. March 2011.indianexpress. Financial Times. For an explanation of volatility. 31 may 2011. Michael Masters.. or average quadratic displacement is an index of dispersion in experimental measurements. Statistics Division. please see the section entitled “A New Emergency: the Dramatic Instability in Food Prices. Eric. Broken markets: How financial market regulation can help prevent another global food crisis. The World Food Prize.373. 2010.worldfoodprize. It measures the amount of variability of one group of data or one causal variable. World Bank. Raj Patel. Food Rebellions! Crisis and the hunger for justice. Press Conference by The President. Boston. International Data Base. Washington DC. 67 Suppl World Development Report 2008 “Agriculture Center Development”. Rose Garden. 5 august 2009. 7 June 2011. David B. Justin Costa-Roberts. based on FAO estimates using the Food Security Model of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). to achieve consistency with FAO estimates for 2010 on the number of undernourished people in the world. That datum was calculated by using the world population figure as of 31 December 2010. Testimony of Michael W. Standard deviation measures the dispersal of data around an expected . “Obesity. Murray.. Census Bureau. “The 2011 World Food Prize Laureates. “The State of Food Insecurity in the World”.920. The data shown in the figure above related to the last two years. Nutrition reviews. Statistics Division.” 19 The standard for all | notes 299 “NAC Draft Food Bill: PDS Gets Legal Backing & Eminent Panel. and social inequalities”. Enfield: Publishers Group UK [distributor] 2009. White House. Washington DC. update of 22 March 2011. October 2007. FAO. March 2011. diets. Mark. 2. 8 World Bank.. FAO. Wolfram Schlenker. Rising Global Interest in Farmland: Can it Yield Sustainable and Equitable Ben‑ efits?. Closing the food gap: resetting the table in the land of plenty. Science. George W. U. Masters. viewed 4 November 2011. food for all 1 2 3 86 www.” Indian World Bank 2010. Mass. Lobell. 29 april. 2011. 2009. FAO.cfm?nodeID=33367&audienceID=1. “Russia Wheat Ban Worked”. This agency estimated that the world population as of 22 March 2011 was 6. 4 5 6 7 Worthy. 13 14 15 16 17 18 12 11 10 FAO.. London: World Development Movement 2011.907. March 2011. Drewnowski.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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