Biodiversity and Traditional Food
Good nutrition depends on healthy food. And healthy diets require a balance between vegetables, grains and proteins, hence its basis is biological diversity. Biodiversity provides the foundation for human health and is vital for food security. With the world population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, conserving biodiversity and sustainability using its components of, is critical for our wellbeing and the drive to end hunger and malnutrition.
The genetic diversity of crops and livestock underpins diverse and healthy food, as well as being a resource for the food system to evolve and adapt to changing conditions. Diverse food requires diverse farming systems that can increase economic resilience and equity in farming.
Apart from comprising food itself, biodiversity includes the ecosystems that provide the services that play a critical role in supporting sustainable and resilient food productivity. Healthy soils sustain water and nutrient availability for crops, while pollinators enable many plants to produce seeds and fruits as foods. These and other ecosystem services lie at the heart of solutions for the sustainable intensification of production systems that provide for the livelihoods of producers. Farming systems also draw considerably on traditional knowledge of indigenous and local communities, some of which has been used for centuries, if not millennia.
The Tree of Food
Food can be seen as a large tree: the roots securely anchored to a region, its climate, altitude and a certain exposure to the sun; a trunk supporting good production; and brancehs reaching upward, laden with leaves, flowers and fruit.
However, a region is not only soil, climate and geography; it is also culture, knowledge and artisanal techniques. There are therefore many additional roots that go down further and spread outwards in all directions. Food reflects and is reflected in language, music, poetry and community rituals. These roots are deep, often overlapping with roots from other trees, coming into contact with different cultures, languages and stories. These underground meetings can only enrich our tree.
From the roots, we move upwards. The trunk of the tree represents the support necessary for good production: fair for workers and clean for the environment. Then there are the branches, flowering and full of fruit, which represent taste, smell, sight and touch; cooking, which can be traditional or innovative; and all that which makes food a desirable experience. Food is also nutrition, with vitamins and minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. It is a physical and spiritual balance.
All these elements together make a balanced whole. Every product represents a seed, the earth, culture, nourishment and taste and is part of the environmental and social sustainability.