18 May 2016


Presented today in Siena, “Eating Planet. Food and Sustainability: Building our Future” produced by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation. This edition shows how, with a balanced diet (and sustainable choices including local products and native animal breeds), it is possible to reduce the environmental impact of our daily food choices, prevent the emergence of chronic and cardiovascular diseases and lead a healthy and sustainable lifestyle

Siena 13/05/2016 – Everybody knows that transport, heating and using electrical energy are some of the key contributing factors to climate change. However, few people are aware that our food choices are leading us to literally devour the planet we live on. Indeed, our biggest impact on the environment comes from what we eat. If we just consider greenhouse gas emissions, it is food that makes the biggest contribution to climate change, with 31% of the total, higher than both heating (23.6%) and transport (18.5%) . Particularly significant is the consumption of meat, which is responsible for 12% of overall emissions, while dairy products contribute 5%. Furthermore, between 1990 and today, greenhouse gas emissions caused by agriculture have increased by 20% and have doubled since 1960. Our food choices therefore play a key role in the protection of our planet. Hence the adoption of the food and environment double pyramid – a model which promotes the Mediterranean Diet and highlights its benefits for people’s health and the planet’s well-being – as one of the first steps to be taken towards protecting the planet and our health. This is one of the areas discussed today in Siena at the presentation of the second edition of “Eating Planet. Food and Sustainability: Building our Future” – the book produced by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation, the think tank created with a view to analysing the fundamental issues connected to food and nutrition around the world. The event was held at Santa Chiara Lab, attended by Davide Usai (General Manager of the Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena), Luca Virginio (Vice-President of the BCFN Foundation), Marco Moro (Editorial Director of Edizioni Ambiente), Riccardo Valentini (Professor in the Department of Forestry and Forestry Resources Science at the University of Tuscia and a Member of the BCFN Foundation Advisory Board), Angelo Riccaboni (Chancellor of the University of Siena), and Katarzyna Dembska (BCFN Researcher).

When discussing food choices, it is also important to consider the choice of products, which should be produced in a sustainable way. As Professor Simone Bastianoni of the University of Siena (Department of Physical Sciences, Earth and Environment) explains, choosing traditional local products is a practical way of ensuring our diet is environmentally-friendly. Agricultural practices, animal husbandry, food processing and packaging are all key factors which determine the environment impact of the food we eat. If we take the “Carbon Footprint” as an example, meaning the estimated greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere, beef is also one of the foods with the highest greenhouse gas emissions. However, if we opt for native breeds, even though they may be less productive, we can reduce these emissions by around 30%. This is also the case, to differing extents, for many other foods, such as extra-virgin olive oil or the cinta senese breed of pig compared to the breeds traditionally reared. Moreover, sustainable and organic production processes can reduce CO2 emissions by 25% for the end product.

Vice President of the BCFN Foundation, Luca Virginio said “we are delighted to be here in Siena to present the second edition of Eating Planet, together with the Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena, because we are confident that our organisations – BCFN Foundation and Fondazione Mps – can work in harmony to promote and support the socio-economic development of the local area in order to create a more widespread and sustainable well-being for all. We are also convinced that these challenges can only be overcome by fostering a culture which encourages us to think about making sustainable food choices which are good for our health but also for the environment as a whole and our local area. The adoption of a sustainable diet really can become a catalyst for change in order to protect our health as well as the planet we live in, but also to help the economic development of local areas. BCFN will continue to offer evaluations and analysis providing new and scientifically-valid proposals, and practical solutions for the sustainability of the agro-food system and for a more equal, healthy and sustainable distribution of food”.

The General Manager of the Fondazione Mps, Davide Usai, explained “The strategic planning of the Fondazione Mps also includes sustainable development and issues connected to it, such as the protection and promotion of the environment, and the development and strengthening of the agro-food supply chain. In 2015, the Fondazione Mps became the first banking organisation to sign and comply with the Milan Protocol on Food and Nutrition, launched by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition, and promoting it in turn throughout its own networks. In September 2015, ACRI signed the Milan Protocol, highlighting just how closely connected our commitment is to that of BCFN. The agro-food sector in the Siena region should be placed at the heart of this drive for change, with a view in turn to developing into other sectors, because of the significant position it occupies in the local economy and above all for the co-existence within it of all the elements which make our local area so unique”. Usai continued, “Finally, by sharing the essence of the values expressed in the Protocol, the Fondazione Mps is developing a number initiatives such as the pilot project sCOOL FOOD aimed at creating an educational course for students on healthy lifestyles, and collaborations with the University of Siena regarding the sectors of agriculture, well-being and sustainability”.

The Chancellor of the University of Siena, Angelo Riccaboni, explained "The agro-food sector is one of the most pro-active in tackling the challenge set by the UN sustainable development goals adopted by 193 countries. The involvement of stakeholders and the organisation of training sessions are key steps to ensuring that agriculture and food production are transformed into opportunities for global growth, promoting social, political and environmental sustainability. The job of the Universities, as has been undertaken by the University of Siena, is to take practical steps in communicating knowledge and ideas to support sustainable development. Research, innovation and education are ways of fostering a new development model which does not simply seek to achieve its own goals, but which also takes into account social well-being and environmental balance. The fact that two renowned foundations such as the Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena and the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation are fully committed to the issues of sustainable development gives that extra push in the right direction".

In its first edition, Eating Planet built its analysis and proposals around the 3 main paradoxes in the food system: For every malnourished person in the world, there are two who are overweight; 40% of cereals are cultivated for the production of animal feed and biofuels despite the scourge of widespread hunger; and on a global level, we waste a third of the total amount of food produced, which is the equivalent of 4 times the quantity needed to feed the 795 million malnourished people around the world. So what can be done to resolve this problem? What can we all do to move towards a food system which is both healthy and sustainable?

Through four key pillars of analysis, Eating Planet provides an evaluation of food as an overarching element in all areas of our life, from the economy to health, from sustainability to traditions and offers an alternative model using the well-being of people and the planet as a common basis.

The eating habits of Italians are changing and new generation appear to be abandoning the Mediterranean diet for new food trends characterised by meals with a high fat content. And it is this change in eating habits combined with the reduction in physical activity which is responsible for the growing levels of obesity. For example, Italy has one of the highest rates of child obesity in Europe. The situation is not much better for adults and the elderly.

The latest Istat report shows that thanks to the Mediterranean diet, Italy has the longest life expectancy and slimmest people in Europe, but that our country could see this situation worsen due to the gradual change in eating habits, especially among the younger generations. Today, almost 2 in every 10 teenagers are overweight, with one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in Europe, while fewer and fewer young people and adults are getting regular physical exercise (only 3 in 10). If we combine these two factors (sedentary lifestyles with changing eating habits characterised by diets rich in animal proteins and fats) and we look at future projections, we see the inevitable rise in the rates of illnesses as a consequence, such as diabetes (with a new case every 5 seconds), cardiovascular diseases (which remain the main cause of death around the world, leading to 20 million deaths in 2015 alone) and chronic diseases (which cause 60% of deaths globally).

Moreover, Italy is witnessing a growing trend of people abandoning the traditional Mediterranean diet in favour of other eating models. In Italy, around 105 million meals are eaten every day, 24% of which are consumed outside the home, with a preference to eat lunch out (53%) rather than dinner (47%). The speeding up of people’s lifestyles is also having an effect on what we eat: lunch is eaten “on the go” in less than ten minutes for 9% of the people surveyed and 14% eat while walking from one place to another. The result of this is that the time dedicated to eating is reduced and other everyday chores take precedence. The picture is similar in most other countries in Europe.

Although Europeans claim that they are adopting healthier diets, there are still many people who find it difficult to eat healthily in countries likes Hungary (54%), Slovakia (2%) and Poland (49%). There are a number of obstacles which Europeans have identified as hindering their ability to eat healthier diets, including: the excessive time it takes to choose and prepare meals (31%), the lack of control over food which is prepared by others (27%), and the belief that healthy food is also less tasty (23%).

In Eating Planet, BCFN tackles our relationship with food, encouraging us to extend and enrich the time we dedicate to it, focusing on the convivial nature of eating and promoting lifestyles with methods of consumption which are more sustainable for people’s health and the planet.


Leading names in the fields of science, environment and food, both in Italy and around the world, participated in and contributed to the production of Eating Planet.
BCFN would like to thank Tony Allan, Gianfranco Bologna, Barbara Buchner, Paolo De Castro, Sara Farnetti, Ellen Gustafson, Michel Heasman, Hans R. Herren, Alexandre Kalache, Aviva Must, Marion Nestle, Danielle Nierenberg, Jamie Oliver, Shimon Peres, Carlo Petrini, Gabriele Riccardi, Camillo Ricordi, Paul Roberts, Vandana Shiva, Pavan Sukhdev, Ricardo Uauy, Riccardo Valentini.

Over the course of the year, Eating Planet will be presented in New York, Naples, Rome and at key national events dedicated to culture, science, literature and sustainable development.

Caterina Grossi, Media Relations Manager, caterina.grossi@barillacfn.com, +39 0521 2621

Simone Silvi, Senior Account Media Relations, s.silvi@inc-comunicazione.it, +39 335.10.97.279
Francesca Riccardi, Media Relations Consultant, f.riccardi@inc-comunicazione.it, +39 335.72.51.741

ufficio.stampa@fondazionemps.it + 39 0577 246054

The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation (BCFN Foundation) is a think tank created in 2009 in order to analyse the key issues connected to food and nutrition around the world. By adopting a multi-disciplinary approach, economic, scientific, social and environmental factors are studied in terms of their effects on the food system. The President and Vice President of the BCFN Foundation are Guido and Paolo Barilla, while the board of directors is made up of, among others, Carlo Petrini, the President of Slow Food and Paolo De Castro, who ch3airs the committee on agriculture and rural development at the European Parliament. The Advisory Board oversees the work of the BCFN Foundation. For more information: www.barillacfn.com; www.protocollodimilano.it
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