World Food Day is celebrated annually in over 150 countries across the world. Celebrated in October, this year World Food Day focused on the theme “Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth”. This is an important theme, as it is clearly vital to acknowledge all those families that feed the world and care for the Earth.
This post summarises some of the best resources in our Wellbeing Database connected to food and wellbeing. The Database was launched earlier this year, and offers an opportunity to access and share resources about wellbeing, to enable learning and collaboration. This post on food and wellbeing is the third in a series which aims to highlight some of the best resources in our ten Wellbeing Database categories. The series started with “Links between Wellbeing and the Environment”, and continued with a post on wellbeing and education, titled “Keep Learning to Improve Your Wellbeing”.
Now we turn to the topic of food; an area central to personal, community and environmental wellbeing. As the famous ancient Greek physician Hippocrates once said, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Food is undoubtedly important for personal health and wellbeing and food-related projects can also be a great avenue towards participation and community engagement. Getting involved with food-related projects - particularly food growing - can also provide a pathway into relationship with the stuff of the Earth that is feeding our bodies and keeping us alive. It is also a wonderful way of connecting more deeply with each other as a community as we connect with the soil. Check out some of the resources below to find out more about the valuable connection between wellbeing and food.
Films, documentaries and videos
Generally, people who live in cities have become disconnected from the land and from the origin of the food they are consuming. To learn more about the bigger picture and context in which this is happening, I recommend the film “Seeds of Freedom”. This film charts the story of seed from its roots at the heart of traditional diversity-rich farming systems across the world, to being transformed into a powerful commodity, used to monopolise the global food system. This point of view has the potential to drastically shift our ethical perspective of how we relate to Earth and people.
A talk entitled “Global Food Waste Scandal” delves deeper into the issues surrounding food waste and brings to light some potential solutions. As well as developing more conscious consumption, there are many potential ways of tackling this problem. The documentary “Community Foodie” also takes a solutions-focused approach to the challenges faced in our food systems. It narrates the amazing work that has been done across the rural areas of Bridgend, Vale of Glamorgan and Torfaen (South Wales) to bring food growing back to the heart of the communities. There, with the support of the Community Foodie Project, local communities have turned their food growing visions into reality. As a result they have created areas that not only offer an abundance of locally grown food, but also provide a place for education, improvement of health and wellbeing, and improved social inclusion.
E-books, reports and research
Most of the reports in the Database offer various visions, purposes and actions for the future. Learning the facts about how the food system works can provide the starting point for changing the wider paradigm towards a more sustainable future. “Full Planet, Empty Plates: The new geopolitics of food scarcity” by Lester R. Brown is an outstanding e-book, which can be downloaded freely, for understanding this vision for the future. Some more reports with some prospective ideas about food and wellbeing are:
- The Future of Food and Farming: Challenges and Choices for Global Sustainability, by the Government Office for Science in London.
- A 2020 Vision for the Global Food System, by WWF.
- Creating a Sustainable Food Future, by World Resources Institute.
- Square Meal: Why we Need a New Recipe for Farming, Wildlife, Food and Public Health, by a collaboration of 10 organisations: the RSPB, Friends of the Earth, the National Trust, the Food Ethics Council, Sustain, the Wildlife Trusts, the Soil Association, Eating Better and Compassion in World Farming working with the Food Research Collaboration.
- The Food and Farming Transition: Towards a Post-Carbon Food System, by Post Carbon Institute.
- Beyond Business as Usual: Towards a Sustainable Food System, by the Food Ethics Council.
There are also some interesting reports about Food and Wellbeing which offer a more specific focus on connecting food with personal wellbeing and health. For example:
- Changing Diets, Changing Minds: How Food Affects Mental Health and Behaviour, by Sustain.
- What is a Sustainable Healthy Diet? by the Food Climate Research Network.
- The Benefits of Gardening and Food Growing for Health and Wellbeing, by Garden Organic and Sustain.
- Reducing Food Waste: Advice from Chefs and Catering Professionals, by Sustain.
- Meat Atlas: Facts and Figures about the Animals we Eat, by Friends of the Earth and Heinrich Böll Stiftung.
Toolkits and Guides
In addition to videos and reports, there are some toolkits and guides in the Wellbeing Database which can help provide step-by-step advice on challenges around food and wellbeing, from an individual point of view or a collective one. For example, this tool kit on “Reducing the Food Wastage Footprint” by FAO showcases concrete examples of good practices for food and waste reduction, pointing to useful information sources, guidelines and pledges on these topics. The inspirational examples included demonstrate that everyone, from individual households and producers, through governments, to large food industries, can make choices that will ultimately lead to sustainable consumption and production patterns, and thus, a better world for all.
There are many significant guides which are worth having a look at, and I’d just like to highlight two of the best here. Firstly, “The Climate-Friendly Food Guide” which explains the diet-climate link, ways to eat more sustainably and delicious recipes. Secondly, “Planning Sustainable Cities for Community Food Growing” is a meaningful guide for planning policy to meet strategy objectives through community food growing.
So, reflecting on Hippocrates’s wise words - “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – it is clear that engaging with food and food systems is important not only for our personal health, but also for the health of our communities and the environment too.
This post was written by Jesús Martin, Research Intern and Wellbeing Ambassador.
Credit for image used in this post: Jennifer C.