19/11/2021

Don't play with your food

2 min
A wheat harvesting machine in an archive image

"Don't play with your food". It is a popular saying that grandparents and parents have traditionally addressed to children to scold them when they refuse to eat. It comes from a time when people went hungry, and it has survived in the collective imagination. In many parts of the world malnutrition persists. In our country there are pockets of poverty which struggle to maintain a proper diet that paradoxically coexist with food waste –it happens in many homes, and also in restaurants and supermarkets–. Two contradictory realities. To this we have to add that the predominant diet in the first world is based on a strong consumption of meat and other types of food whose production produces unsustainable ecological stress. This model has a very relevant effect on the climate crisis, in such a way that global industrial livestock and agriculture, and the massive intercontinental transport of the goods they produce, are largely responsible for the excess of CO2 we emit into the atmosphere

Faced with this, there are two complementary movements that feed each other and seek to minimize the effects of this unsustainable reality in order to move towards a paradigm shift. On the one hand, there is organic agriculture and livestock farming, which minimise the general use of polluting chemical agents that are harmful to health and are also respectful of animal rights. On the other hand, there are the new diets centred around reduced meat consumption, vegetarianism or veganism, which in some cases, however, are not free of health problems if applied incorrectly. In any case, there is a growing social awareness of the need to act in this dual area of production and consumption to help curb climate change and to ensure a healthy and sustainable food future for all humanity. The so far unstoppable growth of the world's population, coupled with the intensive exploitation of the Earth's resources, is a suicidal race that we must reverse.

Humanity has experienced several food revolutions, starting with the Neolithic and ending with the Green Revolution of the 20th century, when between the 1940s and 1960s, through science and technology, great advances were made in cereal production. Now we are surely on the verge of an essential new change of model in which technology and science will once again play a key role, but which also calls for the active involvement of citizens, who, at least in the developed world, will have to eat less and better, and will have to be much more careful and supportive when it comes to avoiding waste. In this sense, the changes in habits in schools that are taking place in many schools in Catalonia are a good path to follow, a path that should radiate to homes and to society as a whole. But, undoubtedly, not everything can be left to voluntarism or civic initiative. These new trends must also be set in legislation to ensure that future generations can eat in a healthy and sustainable way.

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