I’ve been backwards and forwards to Helsinki enough times this year to make becoming a Finnair member worth my while. Whilst I’m here the topic of work conversations is largely focused on food sustainability and improving access to healthy food for low income families.
This is currently a massive area of challenge, especially in the UK with food bank reliance significantly increasing in 2019. The problem is multi-level, and the best ideas and creativity is going to be needed to navigate our way through the next few decades in a way that means everyone eats, and eats well.
Bring food sustainability into the same discussion as food aid and you have somewhat of a dichotomy. Food aid relies, to a large degree, on food waste. The rest of food aid tends to be stock-piled poor quality, cheap food products that are shelf stable – meaning full of preservatives, chemicals, salt and sugar. You don’t need a nutrition qualification to know that’s not good!
So our food aid system relies on food waste and cheap food products that tend to be very low in nutrition. Both are completely inefficient. Obviously wasting more than 30% of food isn’t good for anyone, or the planet, hence the scale of strategic measures to reduce this, and the lower the nutritional value of food the more of it you have to eat!
My economics, and nutrition, brain goes crazy trying to equate these two scenarios. Whilst subtle, the contradiction really highlights how our policies are not aligned with common sense, health and wellbeing for people, or for the planet.
Relating this back to you and I, on a personal level for our health and wellbeing – is our food consumption sustainable and efficient? In other words, are we eating quantity over quality or do we appreciate that less truly is more, and can go much further in supporting our continued wellbeing when we make nutrient rich choices?
I had the pleasure of eating an amazing chocolate truffle cake last Sunday from Raw N More. This was as nutrient dense as it gets (apart from algae, lol), full of plants, nuts and seeds. It was delicious and so rich, enough was definitely enough. I really notice when I eat nutrient rich food I need far less of it to feel satisfied. If I eat dark chocolate compared to milk chocolate I’m aware of this too. A couple of pieces of dark chocolate is enough, but milk chocolate, I could go on and on…
I’ve gone around the houses a bit, but that ’empty’ feeling low-nutrient food leaves you with, that’s not sustainable or efficient, for you or society, and especially not as a solution for food aid. More just wants more, that empty feeling never gets filled and the hunger remains to varying degrees.
Forever drawing comparisons between the micro and macro levels, this little example of how we feel when eating low quality foods – full but not satisfied – is mirrored at the societal level. So food aid and food sustainability policies and initiatives need to appreciate these subtleties and align with, not necessarily the most obvious solution but, the most nutritious and economical in the long-run, for everyone.
Hopefully I’ll be back with exciting news of an action toward this end very soon!