The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is launching a new campaign to promote the consumption and availability of healthy foods on a global basis to help alleviate malnutrition. Hats off to them for recognizing that an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption is key in this goal.
In the western developed world small farms and community gardens are increasing and the availability of healthy and inexpensive produce has never been better. But in the developing world the trend is urbanization which is causing a decrease in the supply of fruits and vegetables in these areas as people move from small towns to the cities. The lack of fresh produce is not good for the overall health of the planet’s population.
Most of the world’s diet is dominated by grains–rice, wheat and corn. Governments and industry after World War II focused on ensuring a plenteous supply of these high caloric foods. In their blog post announcing this new campaign the Chicago Council stated that after the war, “To make these grains more predictably abundant, safe, and affordable, governments and businesses invested heavily in research, production, processing, and transportation systems for these crops.” That is one of the reasons why grains dominate our food supply today.
They went on to say that, “Today, as our understanding of nutrition continues to evolve, it’s clear that the food system needs to make the same kind of investments in fruit and vegetable production as well.”
One of the major challenges, growers, packers, shippers and retailers face with fruits and vegetables is major percentage of spoilage along the distribution path post harvest. The United Nations estimates that, depending on where the produce is grown and shipped, anywhere from 30-50% of fresh fruits and vegetables are lost due to spoilage in the supply chain.
According to the Chicago Council, the total global market for fruits and vegetables is expected to rise to $2.3 trillion by 2017. That should be plenty of incentive for governments and everyone in the supply chain to join this worthy campaign.