A healthier planet for better nutrition and a longer life

A healthier planet for better nutrition and a longer life

December 22, 2020

A healthier planet for better nutrition and a longer life

There is a need for greater awareness that our food choices affect our health, which is strongly linked to the health of the planet. 

Food plays a central role in our health, which is inextricably associated with the health of the planet. This is in a nutshell what emerged from the Forum 2020 Resetting the Food System from Farm to Fork organized by the Barilla Foundation and Food Tank. The connection between human health and the health of the planet is crucial according to Walter Ricciardi, Member of the European Advisory Committee for Health Research and Italian representative on the executive committee of the World Health Organization. "There is no chance for us to live longer and happier lives unless our planet is well," he said.

A “medicine” available to everyone

We need to understand that what we eat affects our health. The consequences of a poor diet are there for all to see, as diet is responsible for a range of non-communicable diseases that cause millions of deaths around the world every year, and which are also among the factors that pose a greater risk in the event of contracting COVID-19. The current pandemic is influencing the debate on food as prevention and, in a certain sense, it has also changed our approach to food. As highlighted by one of the experts who spoke at the forum: Sandro Demaio, Founder of the Sandro Demaio Foundation, people have returned to cooking and reconnected with food.

The science is very clear that nutrient density and food quality play a huge role in human health,” said Mark Hyman, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine and writer, according to whom we need to review our cultivation methods so we can produce foods with a higher nutrient content, reconsidering what we grow and how we do it to be regenerative towards the earth, climate and human health. We need to ensure that foods which are rich in nutrients are accessible to everyone and not only to those who can afford them financially, while also moving towards a plant-based diet, reducing food waste and differentiating.  

A global responsibility

No country is immune to malnutrition and, in addition to ensuring that everyone becomes aware of the importance that food choices have on our lives, we all need to play our part. “Doctors, nutritionists, health workers, farmers, the industries that produce food, all must work together to understand that food within the food system is the main driver of many of our global crises,” explained Hyman. For Walter Ricciardi, leadership at all levels, not only political, but also industrial and academic, is fundamental. Just as it is crucial, for Demaio, to share a common vision and goal: in addition to COVID-19, another priority to share is to try to take action against climate change.

Initiatives and policies to support better human and planet health are already in place. An example has been set by the European Union with the Farm to Fork Strategy, at the heart of the European Green Deal, which aims to make food systems fair, healthy and respectful of the environment, as well as by the United Nations with the Food Systems Summit planned for 2021 on the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals

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