The dangers of dichotomising food

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This might seem a tad controversial to some, especially coming from a nutritionist, but I’m going to say it… ALL foods have a place in our diet, that’s right all of them. The World Health Organisation defines health as not just being free of disease but being in a state of physical, mental and emotional wellbeing – this, to me, is a really powerful statement and opens up the argument of what health really means.

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4. Choose Fairtrade products (when and if you can!)

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When Fairtrade first started to creep into my consciousness (mostly from my amazing mum who has been shouting the good cause since we were kids) it was just another picture on a chocolate wrapper to ignore. But as my interest in where food comes from, sustainability and general interest in trying to be a better person grew I wanted to understand more about what it actually means. Hopefully this post will allow me to share some of what I’ve learnt, mostly through being a coffee and chocolate junkie!

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3. Regional and seasonal products

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A handful of big businesses dictate the production, distribution and marketing of most of the food we eat. This current food system allows 1 billion people to go hungry every day, at huge cost to the environment. That just doesn’t make good sense to me, so what can we do to fight back against this?

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2. Organic foods

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The organic movement is believed to have been founded by the Botanist Sir Albert Howard, along with a few others, when he brought back from India methods for ‘natural agriculture’ which he began to implement in the UK. This involved adapting traditional farming methods to develop efficient methods of crop rotation, erosion prevention and use of compost.

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1b. Plant-based food preference – from an environmental perspective

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How often do you consider where the food in your shopping trolley comes from? How it began life? Where and by whom it was nurtured and the journey it then took to end up in a supermarket, corner shop or market place and from there into your belly? This is what I challenge you to try and do more of, to get curious about your food and treat every item you buy with the care and thoughtfulness you’d give to… oh I don’t know, choosing somewhere to live? I have a feeling that if we all took the time to invite more thought into what we buy and how much, our diets would naturally become more ‘sustainable’ and world-friendly.

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1a. Plant-based food preference – from a health perspective

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A plant-based diet can be described as one where at least 2/3 of the diet is composed of foods that either are plants or are made entirely from plants – e.g. whole fruit and vegetables, pasta, seeds, pulses and nut butters. Interest in following plant-based diets has increased in recent years; veganism having grown by 350% in the UK since 2006. The Eatwell Guide (the UK’s healthy eating guideline) is also actually composed of 75% plant-based foods.

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How can nutrition be sustainable..?

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I have a very deep rooted and personal interest in food, nutrition, the environment and sustainability. So, when I started studying nutrition academically and first heard the term ‘sustainable nutrition’ it’s safe to say my heart beat a little faster in excitement!

Definitions:

Sustainable – ‘able to be maintained at a certain rate or level’

Nutrition – ‘the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth’

Therefore, sustainable nutrition – ‘sustainable production of healthy, nutritious food as well as healthy diets sourced, made and disposed of sustainably’ (Forum for the Future)

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