Let’s Re-imagine Food and Health in America
REIMAGINING THE FOOD SYSTEM
Our modern food system continues to be under a microscope. There’s increased scrutiny of food ingredients, food additives and preservatives. The latest research by International Food Information Council (IFIC) highlights consumers’ call for “clean labels”, Whole Foods prides itself on 100 ingredients to avoid and governments, such as Canada and Brazil are rolling out regulations restricting Front of the Package (FOP) labelling (FOP) to limit the amount of sugar, saturated fat and sodium in products. This issue of Why Food for Health Matters Now offers an in-depth on how today’s food system evolved and more importantly the regenerative change that is necessary to address the double burden of hunger and obesity.This infographic published in the British Medical Journal in 2018 by Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian et al. takes a closer look at how today’s food system has evolved.
1910 TO 1950
THE ERA OF VITAMIN DISCOVERY
Our modern food system is really a 20th century legacy which evolved from the era of vitamin discovery and the importance of single nutrients and vitamin deficiencies. Like vitamin C deficiency and scurvy or vitamin D deficiency and rickets.
This led to the isolation and synthesis of all major vitamins and Recommended Daily Allowances during the Great Depression and World War II. Guidelines were prepared for total caloric intake and selected nutrients, such as protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron and vitamins.
1960 TO 1970
COMMODITY CROP & FORTIFICATIONS
In the 1960’s when the world was faced with the notion of feeding a billion people globally, food became a delivery system to prevent famine.
This led to the Green Revolution with the overall goal to feed the growing population with an emphasis on starchy food – wheat, maze and rice to name a few. These staple crops became fortification vehicles to deliver both calories and vitamins.
So was the fortification of commodities a success?
1980 TO 1990
Unfortunately, production of mass commodities led to complex effects on overall health, with the rise in obesity and chronic diseases in the 1980s. This led to the birth of Dietary Guidelines which now focused on chronic diseases in addition to nutrient deficiencies.
The U.S. mandated nutrition labeling in 1990 profiling key macro and micro nutrients such as protein, fat, and carbohydrates in addition to vitamins and minerals as consumer demand rises to know what’s in their food.
2000 TO 2010
By 2000, nutrition science suggests that foods and dietary patterns are more important than single nutrients. We are now faced with the double burden of malnutrition – hunger and obesity (linked to rise in chronic diseases).
Traditionally, malnutrition meant a deficiency of both calories and micronutrients. However, the new paradox is ‘mal’nutrition is linked with obesity and modern non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancers.
The 21st century food system is grappling with dietary complexities and modern science such as gut-microbiome, carbohydrate quality and personalized nutrition. Add to that the possible effects of food processing on health outcomes.
The public health question that begs our attention is how do we transform the food system so that it is: accessible, affordable, nutritious, sustainable and desirable.
Solving our biggest health crisis lies in fixing the flaws in our food system. There’s no time like the pandemic to break down old systems. The food sector is now essential and growing, trust in food is at a record high, people are rethinking health and the pandemic has fuelled incredible, rapid innovation.
Now is the time to take stock of the state of food and health. We must leverage this temporary rise in health consciousness, consumer trust, innovation and sales and use the momentum to start building tomorrow’s opportunities.
HERE’S A PURPOSE DRIVEN FRAMEWORK TO KICKSTART YOUR ORGANIZATION’S TRANSFORMATION
PURPOSE DRIVEN TRANSFORMATION
The silver lining of becoming suddenly “essential”? The food and beverage sector saw a 43.5% revenue growth in 2020, with a projected 2021 revenue growth of 14%, or $21.3 trillion in revenues. This trend, although unlikely to continue in the long term without innovation, provides the sector with an unprecedented opportunity to invest in more sustainable practices.
This is the core of becoming a purpose driven industry, which Food for Health predicts will be led by industry partnering with government, non-profit organizations (NGOs), academia and health professionals.
Here’s a plan to get your organization aligned with purpose driven transformation.