The promotion of traditional and indigenous diets can help advance towards the establishment of a food system that respects the environment, culture and the well-being of people, fundamental conditions for sustainable development.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) held an event on Wednesday at its headquarters in Rome in which it advocated for disseminating information on these diets around the world to raise awareness about how they favor the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
In his opening speech to the meeting, the agency's director general, Qu Dongyu, called for “making available and affordable” traditional foods, especially for the most vulnerable groups, in order to improve people's health.
Qu stated that traditional and indigenous healthy diets "contain the wisdom of our ancestors and the cultural essence of entire generations."
Change of habits
He cited as an example the Mediterranean diet, which involves a high intake of a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, herbs and olive oil; the new Nordic diet, the traditional Japanese diet and the regional cuisine of South China.
Qu pointed out that all of these ways of eating have a number of benefits, such as lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease and diabetes.
Despite the many benefits of these diets, they are often neglected due to changes in eating habits and consumption patterns caused by factors such as population growth, globalization, urbanization, economic pressures and the fast pace of life.
In this context, Qu called for joining forces so that traditional diets regain their importance through initiatives that awaken the interest of young people in the rediscovery of healthy meals made at home and discourage the consumption of fast food.
The FAO has referred to malnutrition in all its forms as one of the greatest challenges of this century and unhealthy diets are one of the main causes of this complex problem.
Qu highlighted the key role of traditional and indigenous ways of eating in eliminating hunger and malnutrition and underscoring the urgency of transforming food systems to make them more nutritious and inclusive.
In conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO), FAO recently published the Principles for Healthy Diets to support countries in promoting these ways of eating.
Next year will mark a decade since UNESCO declared the Mediterranean diet as intangible cultural heritage. FAO and Italy have started a series of seminars on different aspects of this diet on the occasion of the anniversary.
Source: UN News