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Food Production and Sustainability

EIT Food’s mission is to catalyse the transformation of the food system for it to become more sustainable, healthy and trusted. With its objective to change how food is produced, consumed and valued by society, EIT Food is responding to a number of global challenges that put pressure on current practices and systems.
© EIT Food

Food is essential. It gives us life. It gives us health, energy, vitality; it helps us to survive, to grow and to adapt.

Food is everything. And so its future is precious. Because the thing that unites seven billion of us can just as easily divide us. Food inequality is at an all-time high, the population continues to grow as resources continue to decrease, and all in the age of fake news and misinformation.

EIT Food’s Mission

EIT Food’s mission is to catalyse the transformation of the food system for it to become more sustainable, healthy and trusted. With its objective to change how food is produced, consumed and valued by society, EIT Food is responding to a number of global challenges that put pressure on current practices and systems.

Food Production, Health and Sustainabilty

Firstly, food systems need to be capable of feeding a growing world population, which is projected to reach 9.8 billion in 2050, and 11.2 billion in 2100 (1) .

Secondly, with more than 2 billion people overweight or obese, and 800 million undernourished (2), and an expectation that half of the global population will be overweight by 2030 (3), there is an urgent need to create healthier diets that address global nutritional needs (4), while respecting local and regional food practices.

Thirdly, the rise of food-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs)—such as type-2 diabetes almost doubling over the past 30 years (5) –puts pressures on health systems around the globe. We will explore NCDs in Week 2.

Fourthly, food production is the largest cause of global environmental change: Agriculture occupies approximately 40% of global land (6) ; food production is responsible for up to 30% of global GHG emissions (7) and 70% of freshwater withdrawals are connected to the food industry (8).

In addition, food system industrial activities require approx. 26% of EU’s energy consumption (9), and the expected 76% rise in the global appetite for meat and animal products by 2050 could increase greenhouse gases by 80%.

Moreover, approximately one third of all food is lost or wasted (10).

Food Production Safety

Finally, highly publicised food contamination and authenticity scares have led to consumer concerns over the complexity of the global food system, undermining confidence in the transparency, safety and integrity of the food value chain.

Against this backdrop, we are driven by the understanding that the food system challenges can only be tackled if competence networks and knowledge across all sectors of the food system are fully leveraged.

Medical professionals have a crucial role to play in solving these challenges and so we have designed the Nutrition for Health and Sustainability course to support you. Not only to understand the role of nutrition as biochemistry and physiology and as a source of non-communicable diseases, but also in the wider context of food in social and cultural contexts.

The aim is to give you some tools to be more effective, as medical practitioners and as future leaders to help build a healthier society on a healthier planet.

Author: Maarten van der Kamp

© EIT Food
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Nutrition for Health and Sustainability

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