Food insecurity has been an ongoing issue in South Africa. Between September and December 2020, a total of 9.34 million residents faced acute levels of food insecurity, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). South African food manufacturer Knorr believes that by promoting diet diversity, plant-based eating and sustainable food production, we can help the food system and ultimately aid food security.
According to a statement issued by Knorr, Mzansi’s food insecurity figures were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic as the country went into strict lockdown between March and July 2020.
“This resulted in the biggest economic decline in nearly a century, and saw 2.2 million people lose their jobs. The loss of jobs ultimately affected the consumers’ food choices and access to food,” the company said.
“We also cannot ignore the effects of the recent civil unrest on food security in the country. The riots damaged crops and food infrastructure, caused disruption to agricultural trade and movement of goods, which left many citizens starving or with little or no access to food.”
An unhealthy food monotony trend
An increasing number of people are food insecure and in an effort to survive, South Africans are buying only what they can afford. This, in turn, causes an unhealthy food monotony.
“These food monotony barriers are threatening the resilience on our food system and are intensifying the limited food we can eat as we rely on a nano-range of foods that come from twelve plants and five animal sources. Whilst these food sources fill tummies, they don’t provide enough healthy and nutritious food choices.”
Knorr says we need to protect citizens’ access to healthy and nutritious food choices, and is now committing to help drive change through championing dietary diversity, encouraging plant-based meals and promoting sustainable farming.
“Through various initiatives, we are working to grow the local sustainable agriculture supply chain and reinvent food for humanity.
“Eating to improve our food system is not hard. We need to steadily adapt our eating habits and food choices to help South Africa move towards a better food future.”
Championing dietary diversity
Food diversity provides nutrient adequacy and is known to aid a healthy diet. Adding varying foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, grains and proteins to meals is recommended to ensure dietary diversity.
Earlier this year, Knorr also released findings from its 2021 study on “Understanding the eating habits of the SA population”, compiled by market measurement firm NielsenIQ. The study included recommendations on how South Africans can adapt their diets of mainly meat and starch to have a well-rounded meal that is composed of:
- 33% vegetables
- 32% starch
- 15% dairy
- 12% meat
- 8% fats & oils
Encouraging the consumption of plant-based meals
Food experts recommend adding more fruits and vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds to increase the nutritional value while also decreasing the environmental impact of South Africa’s meals.
When adapting to plant-based meals, one needs to do it at a comfortable pace and introduce more plants by incorporating plants-based vegetables to your starch and then gradually add starchy vegetables to your everyday meals. This can be followed by replacing meat with nutrient-dense and environmentally friendly plant-based alternatives or Future50Foods.
Develop sustainable ways to grow and produce food
Another encouraging trend in the fight against food insecurity is South Africans aspiring to be more food sustainable and are engaging in sustainable gardening.
“However, growing their own food at home can seem daunting. Ideally, this would be the A-list sustainable lifestyle we want to live, but many citizens are tied down with daily obligations. Buying food from local supermarkets is a great way to reduce environmental impact, whilst supporting economic growth.”
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