Our food environment and the global pandemic

Within the current pandemic of COVID-19, our global food environment has been disturbed. Food supply chains are not only business topics anymore - every single person experiences now how it feels when you miss the nutrition that you need in the supermarket. On an individual level, this distribution to people's food environment means a major restriction on human rights and personal freedom in the long term.

Especially in times of crisis, the relationship between humans and food changes quickly. During the last weeks, due to social phenomenon of panic purchasing, essential things like flour were not available in the local stores, because people saved them for themselves and their families. Despite these problems, the local supermarket was the only spot for social contacts in the last weeks. Within the strict rules placed on people's movement, grocery shopping meant the only social interaction for a lot of people.

In many developing countries, such as Africa, food chains have collapsed, food is very expensive and only available to cities. Everyone knows that balanced and healthy diets are important - not just in times of a global pandemic. However, under the current circumstances, healthy diets are especially important, as unhealthy diets, combined with a lack of exercise, can lead to obesity. On the other side of the spectrum, disrupted food supply chains may also result in malnutrition. Furthermore, unhealthy diets and malnutrition can lead to weakened immune systems, fostering contagion.

Sharing information on healthy diets

Our Fellow Geneviève Moreau has always been aware of the strong influence of nutrition on their patients. More than 11 years ago, she launched SIIN, to raise for the link between diet, good health, and the environment.  

SIIN, a fully independent scientific organization, provides training to accelerate the transition to sustainable nutrition. Since the crisis, SIIN focuses on the development of online tools, best practices, online and free resources accessible to all on their social media channels. They were able to transfer their events into webinars and online conferences, with the added environmental benefit of reduced travel. Health professionals who already participated in SIIN trainings are now well prepared to face the crisis – SIIN’s impact during the last decade is now being felt.

"We notice that it is so important to have good health, good health capital and good immunity because the people who are most fragile are the ones most at risk. This shows the importance of SIIN´s actions," says Geneviève Moreau. Espacially in these times, it is important to have a population that works locally, sustainably and to create the best possible health capital. Unhealthy diets are the leading cause of ill health and non-communicable diseases including diabetes, heart diseases, cancer and chronic respiratory disease.* People who suffer from non-communicable diseases belong to the main risk group bein severely hit by COVID-19. 

The crisis as an opportunity

The crisis can be a huge chance for our food environment, and us because our society starts to realize that we can have an impact on the planet. “ There will be a before and after Corona, the after is not especially negative, there is the opportunity to have and bring more meaning into our food system, to consume better, with meaning, so companies must also produce with more meaning. Finally, people ask themselves the question, what do I really need,” says Geneviéve Moreau.

Now is the time to think about alternative systems and technologies ensuring our food supply chains. It could lead us to sustainable local food systems with healthy nutrition on top.

To learn more about the work of SIIN click here 

*Source: https://www.unscn.org/en/news-events/recent-news?idnews=2040