16 October 2019

World Food Day

Bela Gil

“If we want to make a better world, food is a very transformative tool.”

Brazil

 

Bela Gil is a Brazilian chef, TV host, nutritionist, food activist and author. She worries about the fact that 821 million people are going hungry worldwide but also, about the need for those who have access to food to choose healthier and more sustainable diets.

“We have almost the same number of obese individuals and undernourished people,” Gil says.

Gil, who is the daughter of world-renowned musician Gilberto Gil, says she uses mass communication and social media to remind people that traditional, local food sources can help to improve nutrition.

“I use a lot of ingredients that people don’t usually find in a supermarket” Gil says. “I work with indigenous, native ingredients or ancient grains and people are, like, oh my God, I want to try that! Chefs have a powerful thing in our hands, which is the ability to influence people’s behavior.”

It was during her first visit to the famed Amazon rainforest, much of which lies in her home country, that Gil realized how much of a contribution traditional, native foods could make to healthy and sustainable diets.

A greater appreciation of forest foods, says Gil, could help to provide income for indigenous and other local communities, as well as an incentive to stay and take care of the land.

“Everything we choose to eat has an impact—on us, on the environment, on society and on food producers,” Gil says. She urges people to think more about where our food comes from and to demand more nutritious food for all.

“That’s a form of social responsibility because when we have more people demanding good food, it’s a way to democratize access to more nutritious foods.”

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