2014 Double Pyramid - Fifth edition: diet and environmental impact

The importance of nutrition for health is confirmed by the new studies carried out on a daily basis. Recent studies have shown that the agri-food business is one of the most responsible sectors for greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption. In this context, people’s awareness of the fact that the foods that nutritionists recommend we should eat more frequently are also those that have a lower environmental impact is not so widespread. This is why the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition has represented the food and the environmental double pyramid once again this year, in an updated version bearing in mind the latest research results.

The Double Pyramid model which was presented by BCFN for the first time in 2009 has become a line of research over the years: it is a course of study that has been enriched year after year through new stages and by adding new scientific issues that have consolidated the initial schema.

The first idea, which led us to create the environmental pyramid as the inverted image of the classic food pyramid, thus communicating the inverse relationship between nutritionally recommended foods and their environmental impact, marked the beginning of a more and more articulated project.

In the subsequent editions of the report which have been published over the last five years, not only has there been an almost tenfold increase in the amount of scientific data supporting and validating the initial thesis but some model changes have been proposed which take into account the various nutritional needs such as those of children.

We then decided to take a step forward with the aim of finding the most effective way to transform the “good for you, good for the Planet” knowledge acquired through the double pyramid into new dietary lifestyles.

In fact it is clear that we need to find new ways to help people improve their behaviour since even the most health conscious people are not always able to change their eating habits and attitudes which are influenced by advertising and other forms of promotion on a daily basis. Price issues may also influence people’s choices, especially those who are not able to evaluate the alternatives of purchase correctly due to lack of information.

In this perspective, the family, which is traditionally the guardian of food culture and plays a key role in educating the young, should be supported in its educational task. This is why it is more and more important to collaborate with other institutions (starting from schools) and private businesses such as food companies and distribution channels, as well as new and traditional types of media.

The BCFN’s message in recent years is that food represents the second most important factor of global sustainability (following the energy industry): it is therefore a priority for all concerned in the food production chain to reduce its environmental impact since whoever does not take part in finding a solution is part of the problem.

In this context, price is an important issue as it influences consumers’ choices, especially considering how difficult it is for people to compare the true value of the various foods and gain access to all the possible alternatives of purchase.

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