From corporate nutrition to public nourish
In order to appease the unsustainable eating habits of millions of the so-called sovereign consumers (easily manipulated by the Big Agri-food industry and public relations specialists), humans are eating this planet far beyond its capabilities, mortgaging the food and nutrition security of future generations to maximise profits with the private exploitation of food systems. The planet will be destroyed – and then, will future generations have to migrate to other worlds in spaceships filled with fatty people, as marvellously depicted in the Pixar film ‘Wall-E’? Raj Patel’s Stuffed and Starved is still a painful analogy of our post-2015 world, although the elites keep insisting in cooking up the statistics to make us believe we are progressing a lot.
If we want to abate and reverse the growing self-destructive trend in the low-cost food system, the so-far called ‘nutrition’ science, polluted by a money-driven ethos and appropriated by the corporate cluster to promote corporate solutions to global health based on profit-making blueprints – such as the ready-to-use therapeutic food best known by the commercial brand Plumpy’Nut – could be re-branded as ‘nourishment’ as proposed last month in WN article. This split in the nutritional world, between those exercising a technologically-driven, patent-protected, profit-seeking and results-oriented type of nutrition and those promoting an open-knowledge, well-being-seeking, holistically-driven and happiness-oriented type of nutrition science could be epitomised by using and promoting two different terms: ‘nutrition’ for the former, ‘nourishment’ for the latter.
‘Nutrition’ would deal with food as a commodity, a mono-dimensional good whose tradeable features are dominant, stressing the value-in-trade aspects of food and nutrition. ‘Nourishment’ would approach food as a commons, a multi-dimensional public good whose cultural aspects, human rights considerations, essentiality for human survival, and natural origins, would also be valued. The value-in-use of food would be taken into consideration by the new food and nourishment policies.
This letter appeared in the journal World Nutrition 6, 11-12: 875-876. December 2015.
Pledges tofight hunger must not get stuck in ‘could’, ‘should’, and ‘may’; the politics of ‘could’, ‘should’, and ‘may’ must end.
nutrWe risk ending up focusing on the greater appeal of reducing hunger, but solely focusing on increasing dietary energy consumption will not adequately address the right to nutrition targets. To reach these targets cannot be at the expense of the processes employed to achieve them. Why? Because the list may be reduced to a shopping list from which one can choose according to ad-hoc preferences. How can the world assure that the HR principles are woven into the right to nutrition? We need to start a true transformative process in order to de-block some of the block-ins that obstruct change* in our system that have been allowed to grow over the past 50 years. The high level UN panels on the topic have separated the political issues from the technical ones in an effort to build a ‘common understanding’. (B. Partnaik)
*: Perhaps the most significant lock-in is political in nature. (O. de Schutter)