Nourished Planet: sustainability and the true value of food

Nourished Planet: sustainability and the true value of food

July 06, 2018

Nourished Planet: sustainability and the true value of food

In the newly published volume, world experts and BCFN together trace a path towards true sustainability in the agri-food systems, illustrating not only the problems, but also the potential solutions.

As Guido Barilla, BCFN Chairman, writes in the forewords to the 2018 Nourished Planet volume, “this document  represents a guide of sorts for the young people who are concerned about how food reaches our tables, who  produces it and how, and which policies will not only feed the next generations, but also nourish them”. Food is not just a source of energy for our body, it goes well beyond its (essential) biological function, involving other aspects of our life and that of the planet. 

Well aware of this, the BCFN experts engaged world-renowned experts (including the book editor, Danielle Nierenberg, co-founder the non-profit organization Food Tank) to offer a global plan towards agri-food systems and nutrition that are characterized by true sustainability, and also based on documented virtuous examples that can be adapted to different contexts. Hans Herren, Alexander Mueller and Pavan Suhkdev are just some of the big names featured in the book. 


The true value of food

How much is a cup of coffee from a plantation in Colombia worth? What about the bread in the Mediterranean diet or the mango fruit shipped from India to the rest of the world? The value of food is measured not only by the price that consumers pay when they purchase the product, but also by external factors that influence its value and make it difficult to fully assess. “Furthermore, most of the effects of the different agri-food systems on human health, on the ecosystem, farmlands and water, are economically invisible, and this is at the root of our decision makers' lack of interest, and that of individual consumers”, explained Pavan Sukhdev, ambassador of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and Alexander Muller, sociologist and UNEP collaborator, in their contribution to Nourished Planet. "Many of the benefits and costs accounted for by agriculture are invisible at first glance, but they heavily influence the well being of humans and the planet", they added. Nourished Planet is therefore a useful inspiration for the economic analysis of these sustainability challenges, helping to find practical solutions to the problems through a holistic approach, that is often bottom up. Following the approach adopted by BCFN experts, finding effective solutions means listening to the community to understand its real needs. "There is a strong, unbreakable bond between food, individuals and the community", explained Sukhdev and Muller, adding that this link is not just environmental, but also social. 

A full journey

The 2018 edition of Nourished Planet consists of four chapters that explain the key pillars of agri-food sustainability, including social and cultural issues that are food related and the impact of food on our health. The publication provides an in-depth look into the 'ingredients' of a sustainable agri-food system, the obstacles that stand in the way of this kind of sustainability, the impact that individual food choices have on health and the environment, healthy traditions and virtuous examples. The key actors of the 'food business' are also investigated, and how they weigh in consumers' decisions.  

 “Talking to those who are already aware and convinced about the challenges of sustainable nutrition is not really the best way to push for change” explained Nierenberg, adding that: "By bringing this information to the wider public, we hope to generate dialog and the kind of 'inconvenient' conversation that helps create better food systems for everyone". 

And since words are not enough, at the end of each chapter the publication proposes practical action plans and recommendations for actions to follow up the conversation. 

Find out more about Food and sustainability

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