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For a healthier planet, eating these 50 foods is pushing campaign: The Salt: NPR

Only three crops – wheat, corn, and rice – account for nearly 60 percent of all plant calories in most diets, according to a new report. A farmer inspects a stunted corncob in his cornfield on 1

3 March 2019 in Zimbabwe.

Jekesai Njikizana / AFP / Getty Images

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Jekesai Njikizana / AFP / Getty Images

Only three crops – wheat, corn, and rice – account for nearly 60 percent of all plant calories in most diets, according to a new report. Above, on 13 March 2019, a farmer in Zimbabwe inspects a stunted corncob in its dry cornfield.

Jekesai Njikizana / AFP / Getty Images

Why would a conservation organization be involved in a campaign to persuade people to diversify their diets? As it turns out, the way we eat is very much related to the preservation of wildlife – and many other topics. This was the subject of a conference in Paris where the World Wildlife Fund and Knorr Food teamed up to launch their campaign and launch a report entitled "Future 50 Foods for Healthier People and a Healthy Planet".

The WWF, says David Edwards Since 1970, wildlife populations have dropped 60 percent, and animal protection is not enough to save them.

"We need to address the drivers of habitat loss and species collapse," says Edwards. "And the biggest driver is global agriculture."

According to the report, 75 percent of the food we consume comes from only 12 plant sources and five animal sources. And only three crops – wheat, corn and rice – account for nearly 60 percent of the plant's calories in most diets.

The lack of diversity in agriculture is damaging to both nature and food security, the report says. It is important that we change our eating habits to protect the planet and ensure that we can feed the growing world population.

The report states that reaping the same crop on the same land repeatedly consumes nutrients in the soil, resulting in intensive use of fertilizers and pesticides that, if misused, can damage wildlife and harm the environment. It squeezes protein-rich plant foods that can be eaten in addition to or instead of meat. In particular, the production of red meat requires much more water and land than plants and causes significant greenhouse gas emissions. This is an engine for deforestation of the forests.

The unbelievable loss of wildlife over the past 50 years has included the steep decline in insect populations, which is often referred to as the insect Armageddon. "Nature can not stand this pressure," says Edwards. "The food system has pushed wildlife to extremes."

Maria Haga, director of Crop Trust, an organization focused on preserving crop diversity, says the new campaign is on target. "We probably have 30,000 plants worldwide that we could eat," she says. "We eat about 150 of them." And having just a handful of cultures so dominant is "really a challenge to the whole food system."

Haga says dependence on just a few cultures also poses a threat to food security. The world population is on track to reach 10 billion by 2050. If we want to feed all people with a changing climate, Haga says, we need different plants that can adapt to extreme weather conditions. The planet has lost thousands of food varieties in the last hundred years, says Haga. And once they are gone, they are gone forever.

Pierre Thiam from Senegal is now a chef in New York. He says people are starting to address the problem and variety of alternative foods, many of which have grown up with food. An example is the old Kornfonio, which resembles couscous.

"It's a grain that's great for the planet," says Thiam. "And it's gluten-free, it's resistant to dryness, it's growing in two months, the glycemic index is low, so it's great for your health as well."

Thiam says many articles about "future foods" The list comes from Africa, which also covers 60 percent of the world's arable land. In recent decades, multinational food companies have urged Africans to import Western-style foods like bouillon cubes. Thiam says farmers are the backbone of the African economy, and boosting their earning capacity would lift the entire continent.

The campaign's 50 foods were selected for their high nutritional value, low environmental impact, taste, availability and affordability. In addition to grains such as Fonio, these include various mushrooms, beans and legumes, nuts, tubers, algae and cacti.

Many of the food crops recommended in the report have higher yields than the crops we currently rely on, and some are tolerant to the challenges of weather and environmental conditions, which means they can not only reduce the land needed for harvesting but can also prove invaluable in the face of growing uncertain climatic conditions.

Since it is France, the report was served with a four – course meal with some of the best food the 50 products.

Back in the kitchen, Chef Francois Roche is shaving root vegetables (black salsify) in the form of Tagliatella pasta. It is served with British cheddar and fino sherry sauce, walnuts and smoked egg yolk. He says the menu is very plant based. He does not cook with much meat, usually as a spice or as part of a dish.

Chef Francois Roche's menu for a "Foods for the Future" lunch includes tagliatelle with British cheddar and sherry sauce, walnuts and smoked egg yolk.

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Chef Francois Roche's menu for a "Foods for the Future" lunch included tagliatelle with British cheddar sherry sauce, walnuts, and smoked egg yolk.

Eleanor Beardsley / NPR

Tshiqi Bongiwe is a publisher of magazines from South Africa. She is stunned by the wonderful taste of all plants. "This whole idea of ​​diversifying our diets is very interesting in our view, as we are from South Africa in a very strong environment with strong meat and starch," she says. Wheat and corn are the biggest for us. Therefore, it is amazing to learn how to replace it. "

Global food conglomerates could be expected to resist such a surge in diversity, but Dorothy Shaver, head of sustainability at Knorr, says the company wants to take that step, saying the shift in the amount and types of food that the Inheriting people is inevitable and will also open up new markets.

"This actually gives us a great opportunity to identify some of the tastes that people miss," she says. "And then we can put them on the plate of Bring people. We can get people to exchange one of their white potatoes, which they may eat four to five times a week with a purple yam root. Or in Indonesia an Indonesian sweet potato instead of white rice.

Razor says doing this around the world would have a tremendous impact on the environment, saying that Knorr will try to establish 10 or 15 of these so-called "mainstreams" of future foods in his courts. She says that his popular cheddar and broccoli rice dish will soon have versions of black beans and quinoa instead of rice.

Sam Kass was head of the White House under President Barack Obama and led First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move." Kass says, with one in three American children now targeting obesity, the urge to change our diet – with a stronger focus on plant foods – is just what's needed.

"The Exciting There are some of the biggest issues we face – climate change and human health – coming together and the solutions are deeply aligned, "he says. What's good for us is better for the planet. "

It's easy to solve the problems, and do not worry if you're unfamiliar with foods like Fonio or Salsify." You can start by giving up meat and eating more beans.

"Any Bean, "says Kass." You can not go wrong. Black beans, pinto beans … They could not be better for you and are as sustainable as any other product. "

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