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Food and sustainability

Double Pyramid 2016: Sustainable Eating Updated

The message of the food and environment Double Pyramid, now on its 7th edition, is consolidated with the 2016 edition thanks to new sources and cutting-edge studies.

A healthy diet is also good for the planet. This is the simple and direct message delivered by the Double Pyramid which, thanks to its robust scientific basis, has been developed year after year and has now become an important point of reference for the international community, looking to tackle the issue of sustainability with an eye on the agro-food sector. A preview of the 7th edition of the Double Pyramid was given in Milan on 12 October, on the occasion of World Food Day, at an interim event before the International Forum on Food and Nutrition organised by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation on 1 December 2016.

More data supporting sustainability
The Double Pyramid, created using studies carried out since 2009 by BCFN researchers, is much more than just a colourful infographic: it is the result of processing robust scientific data and the model produced by the BCFN has been featured in a number of specialist publications, including those released by the FAO . Just like any reputable scientific model, the Double Pyramid is not set in stone: it changes over time according to progress and new findings from research in the sector of environmental sustainability linked to nutrition and food production. Indeed, the 2016 edition is based on over 1,300 pieces of data from 410 different sources; a step forward compared to the first edition in 2010 which used 140 pieces of data from 35 different sources. In more practical terms, the addition of new scientific data over the last few years has not had a substantial structural impact on the Double Pyramid, thus confirming the validity of the initial data, rather, it has enabled a wider statistical coverage and provided increasingly precise numerical values. The environmental impact of each food is calculated by taking the average value of the data collected and, for foods which are usually eaten cooked, the impact of the cooking process has also been added. Consequently, these new scientific findings once again highlight the importance of the Mediterranean diet for people’s health and the protection of the planet.

New aspects of sustainable development
Our society is changing, and so in turn are the factors which influence our health and the state of the planet. Each edition of the Double Pyramid has given greater visibility to certain aspects which are deemed to be especially significant, and the 7th edition is no exception.
The experts behind the document dealt with a number of hot topics. Firstly, the correlation between nutrition and life expectancy is examined, identifying the “blue zones” – geographical areas with the longest life expectancies in the world - thanks in part to people’s diet, as well as molecular biology and the length of telomeres, the parts of chromosomes which determine how long cells live for.
Moreover, following on from the results of the COP21 conference in Paris, the impact of agriculture on climate change is also tackled (including the measures taken by various countries to deal with the issue) and the rising importance of food in the political and socio-cultural debate, with particular focus on cities where over half of the world’s population now lives. Furthermore, to highlight once again the significance of individual food choices on the well-being of the planet, there is also a discussion of trending diets and a number of different menus are put forward (including a vegan option), demonstrating how each person can make a difference to the environment by choosing what they put on their plate, without having to pay a small fortune in the process. Indeed, this edition also looks at the cost of sustainable diets with the help of the economic pyramid, and with abundant research showing that it is possible to follow nutritional recommendations without needing to spend more.
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