10 Jul 2015

EATING WELL HELPS THE PLANET

The Mediterranean diet is confirmed to be good for people and the environment.



In 2050, 25 million children below the age of five will be malnourished due to the effects of climate change: the equivalent of all the children of the same age in the United States and Canada. And in the West, food consumption causes 30% of greenhouse gas emissions: 12% from meat, 5% from dairy products, 2% from fruits and vegetables, and 1% from grains and grain derivatives.

For this reason, although later compared to other sectors of the economy, the food industry has become involved in policies against climate change. This is a particularly significant choice in the year of Expo 2015 in Milan and COP21 in Paris, events that will issue fundamental directives for a sustainable future. This is why the BCFN Foundation again invites everyone, from institutions to citizens, to do their part: governments to make it possible for people from all countries and every social level to have access to secure and sufficient food, and citizens to become aware that what they eat has repercussions on the environment just as much as the transportation they choose to use.

For World Population Day on July 11, the BCFN Foundation presents new data confirming the validity of the nutritional and environmental Double Pyramid, the model that addresses the health and sustainability of various foods. 

How much can we reduce our environmental impact by changing our diet?
If a family of four adopts a sustainable menu for an entire year, they would save 3.7 tons of CO2, equal to the amount released by driving 26,000 kilometers, or the biennial gas consumption of the same family.
In Italy, adopting a sustainable menu means reducing one’s environmental impact by 30% in terms of CO2 emissions, and shrinking one’s ecological footprint by 17%.
 
Sustainable diets
Adopting sustainable diets therefore becomes increasingly more urgent, not only for the health of people, but for the future of the planet itself.

According to the FAO definition: “sustainable diets are those with a low environmental impact that contribute to food and nutritional security, as well as to a healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets contribute to the protection of and respect for biodiversity and ecosystems, are culturally acceptable, economically equitable and accessible, sufficient, secure, and healthy nutritionally, and simultaneously optimize natural and human resources”.
 
In the “Roadmap to 2050”, the European Union set the goal of reducing CO2 emissions produced by Member States by 80%, and food behavior plays a fundamental role in this. In particular, the EU suggests adopting food habits that reduce the consumption of animal proteins in favor of foods with lower environmental impact.
 
One of the examples of sustainable diets cited by the FAO is the Mediterranean diet, a food model characterized by its variety and distinct nutritional balance. It calls for high consumption of vegetables, beans, fresh and dried fruit, olive oil, and grains (50% whole), a moderate consumption of fish and dairy products (especially cheese and yogurt), and an even more moderate consumption of red meat, white meat, and sweets. The sustainability of the Mediterranean diet is made clear by the nutritional and environmental Double Pyramid model, created by the BCFN Barilla Foundation in 2009, whose validity has been further confirmed by the more than 1,200 other studies used as sources.
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