Double Pyramid 2012 - Enabling sustainable food choices

Continuing the work launched with the first edition of the Double Pyramid paper published in June 2010, BCFN reinforces its analyses to demonstrate how important it is to pay attention to food choices, not only in regard to human health, but also to safeguard the environment. The third edition of the Double Pyramid confirms that human health cannot be separated from the health of ecosystems.

To meet the food and nutrition needs of a richer, more urbanized world with a growing population, it is essential to popularize sustainable eating habits. The Food and Environment Double Pyramid model, which has undergone its third update since 2010, reinforces this theory by confirming the close connection between healthy eating and sustainable eating.

As in the previous edition, the evaluation of environmental data relative to food’s impact was carried out by considering the entire life cycle of foods and taking three basic indicators into account: the Ecological Footprint (which measures the Earth’s ability to regenerate the resources used), the Carbon Footprint (which measures greenhouse gas emissions) and the Water Footprint (which measures the use of water resources). The  paper also introduces the Nitrogen Footprintconcept, understood as the balance of nitrogen throughout the agrifood production chain.

The most important novelty in this edition is the economic analysis of food diets, an aspect that is not secondary due to the period of grave global economic crisis. Data is contradictory in this sense. In Italy, at the same nutritional value, diets rich in animal proteins (and therefore with a greater impact on health and the environment) are slightly more expensive. In other countries (United States, France, and Great Britain) the situation instead appears to be different, and, in some cases, a sustainable diet is more expensive for families.

While awaiting further information, it can however be affirmed that the Mediterranean Diet is more economical on the condition that food is selected intelligently, preferring low cost and high nutritional value foods, including pasta, legumes, some types of vegetables, oil, and dried fruits.  Eating sustainably definitely does not necessarily mean spending more.

Technical Document Double Pyramid 2012:

This document, intended for “professionals” o for those who want to delve into, presents the studies that underlie the considerations reported in the core document, all collected data, used for Double Pyramid construction as well as the most important references. An integral part of this document is the Double Pyramid database.

BCFN Double Pyramid Database:

The BCFN Double Pyramid database contains all data collected and used for the three environmental pyramids construction. Data were organized in rows and columns: each row contains the impact of a single food, each column an information relating to that specific food. It was created in a Microsoft Excel® spread sheet to make it easier for users’ consultancy through proper filters.

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