16th of October was World Food Day, to raise awareness of hunger across the globe and to stress the importance of a nutritionally balanced diet to support people’s health and well-being. The theme for 2022 is ‘Safe food today, for a healthy tomorrow’ which highlights the long-term impact of food production for the population, the economy and the environment.

Foods should be sourced, consumed and distributed in a sustainable and responsible manner and with minimal waste.

Food equals life.  Where we source and the types of food, we eat hugely impacts our planet and those who we share it with.  There has never been a more important time in modern history to consider these points.  Especially post covid, with its impact on global supply chains, followed by the impact of the war in Ukraine all of which have resulted in a massive global decline of major food staples.   We must become more mindful, less dependant on others and above all less wasteful.  For these reasons we have to think carefully about how and where we source our food whilst eliminating food waste.

By being more mindful, we can all play a vital role in safeguarding quality domestic and global food supplies.

Sustainable means low environmental impact, respectful of ecosystems, culturally acceptable, affordable, and nutritionally adequate. How can we as individuals reading this article right now, help the planet, whilst at the same time improve the quality of our own health and those around us? We can all start by consuming more locally produced foods that are in season.  That have not travelled from halfway around the world and or from regimes that don’t share our values of democracy and human rights.  We must purchase foods with minimal packaging, focusing on substance not branding.  Use up leftovers that have been left in the fridge to make a delicious soup or stew. We can also freeze a whole bread loaf and only take out what you need. Not only will it taste fresh, but it will also last longer.

Much of the land used to grow food to feed livestock and produce meat results in deforestation, global warming and the high use of water which negatively affect the survival and biodiversity of our planet.

Why not consider going vegetarian or vegan twice a week? This would not only be good for our environment but also have a positive impact on our health.  Research shows a strong link between high consumption of red meat and increased risks of stomach and bowel cancer as well as cardiovascular disease. Whilst meat can be a good source of protein in appropriate portion sizes, why not prioritise the intake of plant-based protein such as beans, lentils, nuts and seeds which are less damaging to the environment and beneficial to health.   Let’s look to reduce the consumption of highly processed foods, particularly those high in fat, sugar and salt.  All of which increase obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol. Eating too much salt can lead to raised blood pressure, which triples your chances of developing heart disease and stroke

How can we utilise perfectly nutritious and in increasingly more expensive food more efficiently that unnecessarily ends up in the bin every week?

I find that preparing a food shopping list and planning weekly meals and recipes ahead are great ways to prevent food waste. In addition, cooking in batches and freezing portions in individual pots mean that you will only take out what you need. Zero food waste will also be reflected in your pocket as buying only what you need will reduce your food shopping costs.

So, “World Food day or not”, Let’s make a difference every day, starting today, to be more mindful of what we eat and in doing so nurture the health of ourselves and our loved ones as well as our precious planet.

By Elaine Loubo