My takeaway from day one at the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition 3rd annual conference is that in paradox or opposition, solutions are born. Too much creating of commodity crop – not enough farming for food…is the solution then to focus on growing food versus commodities? Yes, says Dr Vandana Shiva. If we focus on food security but ignore food safety then we may gain more food but lose more nutrition so the health crisis will not improve despite an attempt to address hunger. So do we focus on food safety first? According to several panelists, yes. And if we focus only on having enough but fail to observe the growing quantities of waste – at all steps but primarily post harvest and in production of food – then do we miss the solution which lies in the issue being not about how much food do we need to learn to produce but rather how can we protect our food production. Yes says Jonathan Bloom and others who spoke on food waste.
Too much of the wrong thing is really too little of the right thing. As we know with any recipe, you can’t add more of one ingredient to make up for too little of another – it turns out a different and, in most instances, an inferior product. So where does that leave us? We have to find the middle ground. Perhaps it’s some biotech (i.e. ‘miracle rice’) to get rid of GMOs; perhaps it’s becoming slightly more inconvenienced drinking glasses of tap water (versus bottled) to save water for the future; perhaps it’s changing the ‘sell by’ dates on non-perishable items to prevent persons perishing from hunger while so much food is wasted globally; and perhaps it’s investing in people (i.e. farmers) as resources to grow food to avoid over reliance on tools for growing commodities on farmer-less farms and for food that don’t feed people but rather fuel cars, factory animals, and our health, economic and social global crises.
Too little, too much – the lesson from the sessions today is that no matter what end of the spectrum one lands on, the solution lies in the middle. Follow me on Twitter and also #BCFNforum tomorrow for more solutions from the middle-ground we are forging in Milan thanks to Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition.