How to cultivate a healthy planet

Food cultureFood is culture. What we eat is deeply ingrained in us, is part of our culture. Yes?

Yes and no. Surely when travelling we’ve all sometimes longed for the taste of home. Yet the ‘taste of home’ has changed more rapidly in the past 50 years than in the whole history of humans on this planet.

How wonderful it would be to think we had kept the best of our traditions, and introduced new benefits; but instead it seems to be the opposite. Increasingly, new eating habits are leading to epidemics of ill-health; not only among humans but also among ecosystems, animals, and – not least – the soil.

There is good news. For instance, there is no lack of food: the challenges of feeding the world’s still-growing population are political and technical, not agricultural. There is no lack of knowledge: if best farming and fishing practices were to be globalized, there would be enough nutritious food for everyone. And if food-processing industries were to adopt common-sense rules about nutrition, even processed food can be healthy.

The problems may be global but, as usual, the solutions are necessarily local. We can use the best participatory methods to engage citizens, local authorities and business. Together we can support local farmers to restore soil and ecosystems, reduce our own food waste and turn the residue into an asset, learn and teach how to enjoy healthy food.

In other words by working together, locally, we can aim to keep and restore the best of the traditional cultures while making the most of new opportunities.

Perhaps, indeed, this is the best route to cultivating a planet that is a healthy habitat for humans – and many other species.

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