On “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg,” Fabrice DeClerck, Science Director at EAT and Scientist with Bioversity International, describes if humans improve their dietary health, the planet’s wellbeing will follow suit. “When we take just a quick horizon scan, and look at the challenges that have risen in dietary health—caloric insufficiency, climate change, severe questions about how do we protect biodiversity—we see that changing our diets to more plant based diets[…] not only is a key means to securing dietary health, but also is a key solution space for protecting the planet,” says DeClerck.
“We’re faced with both an environmental epidemic and a health epidemic. We need significant behavior change,” DeClerck told Food Tank. At EAT, a non-profit startup which uses science to transform and disrupt the food system, DeClerck leads research studying guidelines to a healthy and sustainable diet: “fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, leafy greens, and smaller proportions of meat,” explains DeClerck. Eating for the sake of planet health, however, considers not only the food that people eat, but also the food that people waste. “Every ton of fruit, vegetable, and food that is lost is equal to hectares of land that were wasted, a number of species or biodiversity that had been lost, and gallons of water that have been wasted. So efforts to reduce food waste and loss are paramount to achieving a healthy diet sustainably by 2050,” DeClerck explains.
While eating healthier is important, it is also crucial “to have the more nuanced, grand discussions about how we approach production practices, feeding practices, and cultural approaches that fit within health and sustainability,” says DeClerck. To redesign these practices in the food system, DeClerck challenges all stakeholders—policymakers, private sector companies, and consumers—in the food system to get involved, and get involved now. “We need significant policy support, and we need the significant support and pressure of the private sector in order to achieve these goals,” says DeClerck. “We’ve reached a period in human history where there’s very little wiggle room left. The decisions that we’re making over this decade and the next decade are going to have consequences that will take hundreds to thousands of years to rectify.”
Millennial food choices and behaviors can put heavy pressure for change in the food system, challenging the private sector to redesign supply chains quickly. “I think a lot of the food companies are just trying to figure out how to keep up with them and how quickly consumer demand is changing, particularly in terms of foods that are environmentally responsible,” says DeClerck. In the absence of visible political changes in the food system, DeClerck urges people to work toward a healthy and sustainable diet together. “If we can do that collectively, it does lead to change. We don’t have to wait for political action. We can take on quite a bit by ourselves and with our families and friends.”
To learn more about how growing food may help communities realize their power, listen to the full podcast episode. You can listen to “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg” on Apple iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you consume your podcasts. While you’re listening, subscribe, rate, and review the show; it would mean the world to us to have your feedback.
Photo courtesy of EAT.