How we define “healthy” will define our future
8 ways to support a healthy diet and healthy planet
Our world is rapidly changing. 795 million people are hungry. 1.9 billion people are overweight or obese. And the added burden of malnutrition affects almost every country in the world. Clearly, our global food system is broken.
Consider the following:
- The world’s population is expected to reach 9.8 billion people by 2050, with billions moving to resource-intensive diets. As a result, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture, forestry and fisheries could increase by 30% by 2050.
- 2 billion people are deficient in micronutrients, yet one-third of food produced is lost or wasted between farm and plate.
- Three crops – corn, rice and wheat – account for more than 50% of people’s plant-based calories. It’s no wonder 25% of global land is highly degraded and 80% of terrestrial biodiversity loss is related to food systems.
It’s time we transform our food system
The good news is that we’ve ramped up food production to the point where we can feed 9-plus billion people with the calories we produce today. But our focus has been narrow and siloed, and the health of our planet is suffering.
Environmental stress is rapidly increasing, as nearly one quarter of all GHG emissions are attributed to our food system and 75% of our land is substantially degraded. The future of our food supply is in serious question due to poor soil health that diminishes crop production. Hunger and poverty continue to plague large parts of our world, and the food we eat is contributing to a global health crisis. It’s imperative that we transform our food system.
We must connect the dots. Food is the single strongest lever we have to concurrently optimize human health and environmental sustainability.
The global adoption of healthy diets from sustainable food systems would safeguard our planet and, at the same time, improve the health of billions. Simply put, the way we produce and eat food will determine whether we achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (U.N. SDG) by 2030.
Which is why we at Kellogg believe that to nourish the world’s people and our planet, now and in the future, we must extend our definition of wellbeing beyond nutrition. Wellbeing also must encompass emotional and societal interconnectedness. We’re looking at our foods with this comprehensive lens. In addition to providing nutrients of need that support a health microbiome (physical wellbeing), our plant-based foods should delight our sense and bring us together (emotional wellbeing). They also must support sustainable production and access to nutrition (societal wellbeing).
Doing so is part of our Kellogg’s® Better Days global signature purpose platform. Through it, we’re addressing the interconnected issues of wellbeing, food security and climate resilience by leveraging our portfolio of plant-based foods to drive positive change for 3 billion people by the end of 2030.
Recently, at the FoodFluence conference in Budapest, Hungary, my colleagues and I talked with a group of influential health professionals about how we are working with others to transform our food system through nature-based solutions to climate, supporting farmers and protecting our much-needed biodiversity. We also explored reshaping their role as food communicators to encompass a broader definition of wellbeing, beyond nutrition. Joining us was Chef Arthur Potts Dawson from the Chefs’ Manifesto, who shared the following cornerstones of their important work.
8 ways you can make a difference today
1. Choose ingredients grown with respect for the earth and its oceans. Get to know your ingredients. How are they grown, raised or sourced? Choose ingredients with the lowest environmental impact.
2. Help protect biodiversity and improved animal welfare. Support biodiversity by using different varieties of plants, grains and proteins. Chose producers who commit to higher animal-welfare standards and fish and seafood that is abundant and sourced sustainability.
3. Invest in livelihoods. Chose products that are priced fairly to ensure a viable livelihood for farmers and suppliers. Choose ingredients with as few intermediaries as possible.
4. Value natural resources and reduce waste. Plan food orders and menus to minimize food waste. Use the whole ingredient and encourage nose-to-tail, root-to-leaf eating, as do chefs worldwide who support the Chefs’ Manifesto.
5. Celebrate local and seasonal food. Buy locally produced foods, in season.
6. Focus on plant-based ingredients. Make vegetables and beans the centre of your dishes. Increase use of plant-based proteins.
7. Learn and educate on food safety and healthy diets. Understand and embrace food safety practices. Eat a colorful plate to maximize nutrients.
8. Advocate for nutritious food that is accessible and affordable for all. Support initiatives in your community – like soup kitchens, food banks and community gardens – that increase access to nutritious meals.
Together, we’ll continue to work toward a healthy future that nourishes people and the planet. To follow our journey, follow @KelloggWellbeing, #BetterDays on Twitter.
- GBD 2017 Diet Collaborators. Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Lancet. 2019 May 11;393(10184):1958-1972.