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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)


Many thanks for giving me this oppertunity to offer a set of suggestions on how we may change various food systems in use today in order to ensure a sustainable supply of wholesome food the present and future generations. It is heartening to note that there is now a growing awareness that changing the current food systems is the key to dealing with all forms of malnutrition, hunger, NCD's, not to mention the great human misery they entail.

However, some crucial points still remain unnoticed or ignored; first we must understand the difference between a food system as a thing, and then a food system in actual use. Secondly, in all academic and/expert discussions, attention has been solely directed at physio-chemical aspects of food, i.e., energy it contains in Calories or Joules, and the ingredients contained in an 'idel' diet of universal applicability. I have disagreed with these two ideas on purely scientific grounds, and it has been included here.

I for one derive a certain pleasure from the taste, flavour, colour, texture, temperature, etc., of my food. Very often, eating is a pleasurable social/family occasion. I have collectively called tem dietary enjoyment. There is strong evidence to show that this is so in nearly all documented societies. Let us not turn nutrition into a sterile intake of fuel like putting petrol into a car, for dietary enjoyment is a valued part of the human heritage.

My policy suggestions arise from the distinction between a food system as a 'thing' and a food system as a 'thing in active use'. Then, it is clear that the form of a food system would have to conform to the purpose into which it would be put.

Is it used today to provide people a sustainable, varied, wholesome and balanced diet? Prevelance of obesity, deficiency diseases, NCD's, not to mention millions of the hungry speak either of a tool badly misused, incompetently used, ill designed, or any combination of those. Recall that food systems are not, I repeat not, a new invention. It was used by the precursors of our Stone-Age ancestors, otherwise, we would not have managed to evolve into H. sapiens sapiens.

These are very obvious things; unfortunately the current usage of food systems fails to appreciate it principal function, the goal we now strive to achieve. The sole justifiable function of a food system is to enable us to satisfy one of our fundamental needs viz., nutrition. Food systems have failed to serve this purpose adequately. If we should fail to take remedial action as soon as possible, one would be justified in wondering whether justice and fairness are also on the market.

Best wishes!

Lal Manavado.