Food systems around the world are undergoing dramatic transformations, rooted in developments that include higher incomes, greater rates of urbanization, longer supply chains, more diverse diets, and new ways of purchasing and consuming foods. These transformations are occurring alongside increasingly complex problems with malnutrition in all its forms: stubbornly high rates of undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies as well as rising rates of overweight, obesity, and accompanying noncommunicable diseases – with multiple forms increasingly found in the same communities, households, or even people. Traditional diets are giving way to diets full of ultraprocessed, nutrient-poor foods that lure consumers with convenience, price, and taste.
Complicating food systems further are the growing pressures being put on the environment, as agricultural production intensifies to meet rising global demands for animal source foods, fish, fruits and vegetables, as well as cereals and legumes. Food is being transported farther from where it is grown to where it is eaten, creating not only environmental pressures, but also increasing risks of food safety. Meanwhile, the gap between diets that are recommended and diets that are affordable continues to grow.
Food systems present us a wide range of points of entry, from agriculture to transport, processing to marketing, sales to choice, preparation to consumption. Understanding these many angles and addressing the complex problems that challenge our food systems globally will require many voices from many perspectives: policymakers, researchers, farmers, economists, the private sector, development organizations, and more.
To provide a place for these voices to speak, for this broad community to listen and learn and connect, the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) is pleased to announce the launch of the Food Systems Idea Exchange. With guidance and curation by researchers from A4NH’s Food Systems for Healthier Diets (FSHD) flagship, this new blog will host contributions from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. Readers are invited to engage in discussion about how we can collectively guide food systems around the world through transformations to ensure we provide healthy, sustainable diets for all.
To find Food Systems Idea Exchange contributions and sign up to receive notifications of new posts, visit the FSIE landing page on our website. For information on how to submit contributions to the Food Systems Idea Exchange and content guidelines, please email CRP-A4NH@CGIAR.org with “Food Systems Idea Exchange” in the subject line. Be sure to sign up for A4NH’s newsletter and follow us on Twitter @A4NH_CGIAR to catch the latest from the Food Systems Idea Exchange.
John McDermott is the Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health. Inge Brouwer leads the Food Systems for Healthier Diets research flagship.
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