Healthy food consumption and local communities
By Ingemar Pongratz
Health and staying healthy is one of the key priorities for consumers today. Consumers have recognized that there are several measures that they can pursue to remain healthy. Quit smoking is one approach of course. Consumption of a healthy diet is an additional measure that we can pursue to remain healthy.
The quest for superfoods, preferably from regions outside Europe has become a trend. Products such as Acaì, Quinoa and other products have become very popular in among European consumers and exports of these products have increased considerably. Increased trade should at least in theory benefit the producers as well. But is this correct?
Is there a connection between Healthy food consumption and local communities?
Quinoa is a staple food in the mountains of South America. The health benefits associated with quinoa consumption are considerable and thus it is not surprising that consumers from Europe and other developed countries increased their consumption of quinoa. Quinoa is, among other, high on protein and essential amino acids. Vegan and vegetarian consumers benefit considerably from Quinoa.
In theory this increased consumption should have benefitted the local indigenous communities in South America. However, increased quinoa consumption in Europe or other developed countries is associated with higher prices. There is a concern that this will leads to problems among the indigenous consumers in poor regions in South America.
In fact, Europe has through the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation scheme launched several projects that are at least in part looking at non-European plants as novel beneficial food items. A common feature of these projects is that they take primarily a researcher’s view on quinoa and other indigenous foods. The projects have also ambitious innovation related objectives, such as develop new growing techniques to increase production, increase biodiversity etc. However, few projects include a social view among their objectives and the project don’t seem to study the effects on the indigenous communities.
There is thus a clear risk that the positives effects focus on the consumers from developed communities and not on the local indigenous communities.
Ingemar Pongratz is founder of Fenix Scientific AB / Pongratz Consulting. We help universities and enterprises to apply for funding from public sources including Horizon 2020 and other European sources. If you are interested in our services, please contact us through the online contact form (Pongratz Consulting site) or send an email to:
Ingemar.Pongratz () pongratzconsulting.com