2 Aug 2018

PICNIC ON THE BEACH? LET'S TRY TO MAKE IT REALLY GOOD. BCFN SUGGESTS 5 PICNIC RECIPES THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU AND GOOD FOR THE PLANET

• The Fondazione Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition suggests a sustainable summer holiday menu

• 5 recipes developed by Chef Roberto Bassi for a picnic lunch that helps you to save money and reduce food waste 

• The 5+1 useful tips from BCFN for reusing leftovers and taking less plastic to the beach



6 out of 10 Italians will be going on holiday this summer and 70% will choose the seaside1 , encouraged by the hotter and hotter weather. Once at the seaside, from the northernmost beaches down to the most southerly Sicilian coast, they will (almost) all be busy talking about the same topic: “What's for lunch”, “I'm hungry, but I want something light that won't weigh me down” and “what shall we give the kids to eat”? The secret is to focus on tasty yet "healthy" recipes that help us to keep the extra kilos at bay. Because even in the homeland of the Mediterranean Diet, the risk of becoming overweight is increasingly real. In fact, according to the Food Sustainability Index2 , more than 58% of adults are overweight, and the problem also affects 36.8% of kids and young people between 5 and 19 years of age. Not to mention that our diet appears to contain too much of items like sugar (which accounts for 7.6% of daily calorie intake) or sodium  (with 4.4g a day we consume almost twice the recommended daily level of 2.4 g/day). Unfortunately, few people know that switching to the sustainable Mediterranean diet would be good not just for our health but also for our Planet, because its fundamental ingredients are amongst those with the lowest environmental impact. Therefore, Fondazione Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, with assistance from Chef Roberto Bassi and BCFN researcher Katarzyna Dembska, has developed its sustainable holiday menu of dishes also ideal for beach picnics.

"At present we are witnessing a real 'food habits transition' from a traditional Mediterranean diet featuring fruits and vegetables, whole grains, pulses and extra virgin olive oil, to one rich in animal protein, sugar-rich highly processed foods, salt, fats and low-fiber foods. The direct consequence of this lifestyle change is an increase in obesity and overweight. So here at Fondazione BCFN, we have come up with 5 recipes that are easy to make and also good, healthy and sustainable,” BCFN researcher Katarzyna Dembska explained.

The 5 recipes we offer are based on the principles of the Fondazione BCFN's Double Food and Environmental Pyramid, a graphic model that combines the standard food pyramid (whose principles are the same as those of the Mediterranean diet) with a new “environmental” (upside down) pyramid, where food is classified according to its Ecological Footprint, meaning the potential impact of its production on the environment. While in general we may try to watch our weight, it is in summer that we tend to give way to temptation the most. So here are our recommended beach picnic recipes for you to choose from every day:


Cereal Croquettes: the ideal way of avoiding food waste in the kitchen, croquettes are a healthy, tasty food with the right nutrient intake. Thanks to the grains used in the recipe, these croquettes deliver the right fiber intake and their environmental impact is truly minimal: it takes only 172 liters of water to grow their ingredients – compared to the 2,312 liters necessary to produce a 150g steak.

Sweet and sour caponata with zucchini and eggplant: this is perhaps the best of all sustainable seaside picnic dishes. This is thanks to its ingredients - perfectly balanced and with very low environmental impact. A 130 gram serving of caponata contains seasonal vegetables, which intrinsically reduce environmental impact and are also a source of the mineral salts and vitamins essential at this time of year. And if we had to regenerate the resources consumed to grow and cook the ingredients and reabsorb the waste produced, we would need just 0.6 m2 of land (more or less the size of a washing-machine).

Spaghettini with agretti, zucchini and radishes: the dish that combines the energy input from carbohydrates with the antioxidants in zucchini and radishes. The vital ingredient is the lemon juice, which will keep this dish fresh and tasty whenever it will be eaten. This recipe is both good for our health and easy on the environment: it takes just 204g of CO2 equivalent to produce it.

Pagnottelle with marinated anchovies and fennel: the gourmet version of the traditional beach sandwich. The key ingredients in this recipe are the anchovies - marinated strictly in lemon juice - and the fennel, which provides crispness. Since they contain oily fish, these Pagnottelle rolls ensure us the right intake of omega3s (fatty acids good for both the heart and the brain) and are easy to eat without cutlery, so they can be enjoyed right there on the shore. The added value? They don't require cooking!

Chicken salad with spinach, celery, pears and almonds: there are only 6 ingredients in this picnic recipe, which contains both first class proteins – courtesy of the chicken - and the precious vegetable essential fatty acids our bodies constantly need. The main ingredient in this dish is chicken breast, the finest white meat which also does its bit for sustainability. In fact this recipe's environmental impact is about 581g of CO2 equivalent. 


THE 5+1 USEFUL TIPS FROM BCFN FOR REUSING LEFTOVERS AND CUTTING DOWN ON PLASTIC, EVEN ON THE BEACH

Although on the one hand taking food from home can be a way of avoiding waste (every year in Italy we throw away an average of 145 g of food, much more than the average annual consumption of a 3-person household), on the other we have to take care not to harm the environment. Because often, taking along a traditional picnic may mean using plastic packaging and cutlery that makes its way into the environment after use, either because it is not properly recycled or because it is simply thrown away. This is putting our Planet under huge pressure. Italy is an emblematic example: in 2017, 76.5% of the total tonnage of plastic packaging was used in the food industry3 for packaging its products. This very same plastic that then finds its way into the environment and is not reused. To overcome this problem, the Fondazione BCFN has issued 5 + 1 useful tips for using less plastic when away from home: 


1. Make beach picnics from leftovers from the day before. This will reduce food waste and save you large amounts of money. 

2. Do not use plastic plates and use glass containers to transport non-packaged fruit and vegetables.

3. Take an insulated reusable water bottle with you: it will keep the water cool and you won't have to throw it away when you finish the contents

4. Do not use plastic straws: they take 500 years to degrade4 and are very hard to recycle 

5. Do not take more food than you need; if there are any leftovers, eat them as a snack later

5+1 Dispose of waste in recycling bins


  1 Europ Assistance - IPSOS holiday barometer

  2 The Food Sustainability Index is developed by BCFN in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit and it analyzes the sustainability of the food system in 34 countries, which make up 87% of the global GDP and 2/3 of the world's population

3 Source: Banca Dati Istituto Italiano Imballaggi, 2017

 4 http://www.marevivo.it/news/riduciamo_la_plastica_monouso_continuiamo_con_le_cannucce_ecocannucce_strawfree-905/  


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