“I love the focus for this year’s World Food Day. Why? Because it speaks to the issue of nutrition, not just food. Currently, I think [the] one thing that we have failed to unpack as Africans is the issue of nutrition.”
This is the view of Professor Lindiwe Sibanda, director of the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Pretoria. She joins the Farmer’s Inside Track Weekend podcast to talk about today’s World Food Day commemoration.
This year’s World Food Day theme is “Our actions are our future: Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.” At least 150 countries across the globe are hosting events and outreach activities in order to drive positive change in food systems globally.
Sibanda says this year’s theme roughly translations to “you are what you eat.”
She emphasises that food security can also be contributed to by individuals, and that healthy eating should take more of priority in Africa.
“We are not nourishing our bodies. We are feeding our bodies with junk. Where is this junk coming from? It’s coming from highly processed foods that are high in oil, high in sugar, and high in salt.
“Where is that landing? It’s landing in our hearts, giving us hypertension. It’s landing in our body as fat deposits, which are the stores for all the bad chemicals that we are absorbing.”
One way to ensure that we are getting more nourishment, says Sibanda, is to look at the diversity of what we have on our plates. She says that a healthier plate tends to have more colour in it than white foods.
“Do we have the reds, the greens, the yellow, the oranges, and the white on our plate? Can we have more of the coloured food than the white starch? [White starch] is usually your rice, your pap, your Sadza. [We should] really try and make sure we have more vegetables, more fruits in our diet.”
Another way for people to contribute to food security is to cut down on waste.
Sibanda explains that half-eaten food contributes to food waste, pollution and ultimately climate change.
“We take so much food when we’re in hotels or when we’re at weddings or at funerals and we leave it on the plate. Think about the damage to the environment [when] that food you are leaving on the plate goes to the dustbin. When it’s in the dust, what you are throwing away is the water that has gone into producing that food, it’s the energy that has gone into cooking that food or, producing it on farm.”
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