“Food is the single strongest lever to optimize human health and it is the single strongest lever to optimize environmental sustainability on the earth, and those two things, up until now have been looked at as separate issues,” said Nancy Roman, who took over the helm of PHA last summer.
However, she argued that must change in order to feed the rapidly growing population in a way that does not compromise the health of the planet.
“Bringing together the conversations about planetary health and diets for 10 billion people by 2050 is a big a goal, but bringing together these two important goals is one way to reach both more quickly,” and failing to do so is a recipe for missing both targets, she added.
For example, she noted, “right now, if every human on the earth ate the recommended amount of fish according to the daily dietary guidelines, there would not be one single fish left in the sea. So, we have got to stop having ideas about what is healthy for people but really impossible in terms of sustaining the planet. And we have to start talking about what is healthy, but also viable.”
She said she hopes that PHA’s upcoming Accelerating a Healthier Future Summit in Chicago April 1-2 will be a “place to advance those conversations in a really meaningful way.”
At the Summit, Roman plans to lead by example by sitting down for a fireside chat with Dr. Sandro Memaio, the CEO of the non-governmental organization EAT which recently teamed with the scientific publication Lancet to deliver a scientific review of what constitutes a healthy and sustainable diet.
While many acknowledge the science in the EAT-Lancet report is sound, it’s recommendation to eat twice as many fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and half as much sugar and much less meat in high income countries were highly controversial.
Still, Roman said, “This report really begins the conversation about how we can drive towards [a diet that is healthy for people and the planet] at a global level, and I am looking forward to having a really interesting conversation with Dr. Sandro Memaio.”
During the chat, Roman said she hopes to outline five strategies needed to bring about a great food transformation.
She added that she is hopeful that the report and her conversation with Memaio will help reframe the debate and “create all new momentum,” similar to how PHA helped reframe and reinvigorate the age-old plea for people to eat more fruits and veggies by launching several years ago a star-studded FNV campaign that used celebrities to make fruits and vegetables more appealing.
The Summit will also tackle this and related issues through a workshop on April 1 that looks at the new rules for public health advocacy.
Experts gathered for the workshop will discuss the need to get industry support for public goals related to good health and nutrition and outline five strategies to create partnerships that are good for health and business.
Similarly, during the Summit’s opening session on April 2, Chef Adam Melonas will show how to boost the nutritional value of common foods ‘by reimagining them into magical, craveable products” that also are sustainable and profitable.
The Summit also will tackle issues such as the role of technology in improving health and diet and how to create more safe places to play.