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Healthy and Sustainable Eating: Leading the Shift – Event Highlights

Sue Mah with Dr. Fiona Yeudall and Dr. Cecilia Rocha

Sue Mah with Nutrition Connection Forum speakers Dr. Fiona Yeudall and Dr. Cecilia Rocha. Image source: Lucia Weiler

Hosted by Nutrition Connections, this year’s annual forum explored the shifts that will be required in eating habits and food choices in order to benefit the health of current and future generations as well as the health of the planet. Here’s our summary of a few of the presentations.

What is Sustainable Eating? – Dr. Cecilia Rocha

Dr. Rocha is a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, a Professor in the School of Nutrition and a researcher at the Centre for Studies in Food Security at Ryerson University.

Sustainable diets, defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations are: those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources.

Rocha reminded us of the 17 sustainable goals proposed by the United Nations, in particular, goal #12 which focuses on responsible consumption and production. Consumers have the potential to be agents of change through their healthy and ethical choices of what to eat. Through responsible consumption, ordinary people can effect change by carefully selecting the products they buy. However, price, convenience and brand familiarity are often the most important decision for most consumers, rather than fairness, sustainability and health.

In a world in which food is mostly a commodity, bought and sold through markets, how do we make the transition from unsustainable and unhealthy food systems to sustainable diets? Can consumers, through their choices of what food to buy, lead the way to that transformation? Rocha further posed this thought-provoking question: Is it realistic or reasonable to put this heroic task on the shoulders of consumers?

Rocha acknowledged that alternative food markets such as Community-Supported Agriculture (CDA), famers’ markets and fair-trade may offer consumers a more sustainable, healthy and ethical model of food production and consumption. Her opinion is that these alternative markets are still viewed as niche and alone, aren’t the answer. Rocha suggested that public policy is needed in at least three areas to facilitate responsible consumption:
– taxes and regulation (e.g. on sugar-sweetened beverages, use of chemicals, ultra-processed foods, and advertising)
– subsidies (e.g. for ecologically-friendly processes and alternative markets)
– information, education and nudging (e.g. food-based dietary guidelines).

 

How Do Our Eating Habits Compare to Canada’s Food Guide? – Dr. Rachel Prowse

Dr. Prowse, Applied Public Health Science Specialist at Public Health Ontario, compared the recommended proportions of food (by weight) in the new Canada’s Food Guide versus Ontario adults’ intakes from the 2015 Canadian Community Health Survey – Nutrition Public Use Microdata File. Research results are expected to be published next year, however preliminary findings show that we’re not eating according to the recommended proportions of the food guide. Dr. Prowse suggests that non whole grains and “Other foods” (such as cookies, cakes, pastries, ice cream and confectionary) may be displacing nutritious foods on our plates. A consumer shift towards eating a more plant-based diet may help to drive the production of sustainable food options.

 

A Deep Dive into Food Waste – Dr. Kate Parizeau

As an Associate Professor at the University of Guelph, Dr. Parizeau researches the social context of waste and its management. Parizeau shared some staggering statistics:
– Canada generates 12.6 million tonnes of organic waste per year
– Canada wastes $49.5 billion of food annually – enough to feed every person living in Canada for almost 5 months.

In collaboration with the Guelph Family Health Study, Parizeau looked at food waste both at the household level. Household food waste was defined as either “avoidable” (food that could have been eaten such as whole fruits and vegetables, spoiled food, uneaten leftovers, food past it’s best before date as well as bought but forgotten food) versus “unavoidable” (such as egg shells, banana peels and meat bones).

The study found that about ¾ of the household food waste was avoidable. Most of the avoidable food waste (over 65%) came from fruits and vegetables, 24% from bread and cereals, 6% from meat and fish, and 2% from milk, cheese and eggs. Overall, this amounts to an average of $936 per year, over 175,000 calories thrown out and 1,196 kg of C02 emissions created.

 

Image source: Kate Parizeau

 

Food literacy skills can result in reduced food waste. Behaviours such as meal planning, shopping with a list, food preparation, storing food safely and cooking at home are encouraged. A new cookbook Rock What You’ve Got – Recipes for Preventing Food Waste is now available for free download. This cookbook was created by the Guelph Food Waste Research Group in partnership with The Helderleigh Foundation, George Brown College’s Food Innovation and Research Studio (FIRSt).

 

 

 

2018 Food & Nutrition Trends

Trends 2018

Here’s a selection of trends predicted by food and nutrition experts around the world! We’ll share many more exciting new and influential trends at our 11th annual Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists course on April 18th. Join us to help your business leverage the insights on nutrition trends that will shape the future of eating.

1. Fermented Foods. In a recent survey of 2,500 dietitians fermented foods are predicted to be one of the top trends for 2018. A source of the good, probiotic bacteria, fermented foods include yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, miso and natto. (Today’s Dietitian)

2. New and Improved Canada’s Food Guide.
It’s been a decade since the last national food guide. With the much anticipated launch of the new Food Guide this year, we can expect to see messaging around not just what to eat, but also how to eat. (Dietitians Sue Mah & Lucia Weiler)

3. Hello Leftovers, Goodbye Food Waste. Canadians will continue to think about how their food choices can reduce food waste. Consumer strategies include a revival in the use of leftovers, right-size portioning and GIY (Grow It Yourself). (Loblaw Food Council)

4. Mindful Choices. Today’s consumers are thoughtful, mindful and conscious about making responsible food choices. They want to understand what is in their food and how it was produced in order to make informed decisions for their health, sustainability and ethical issues. (Innova Market Insights)

5. Rising Food Prices. The price of vegetables and the price of food purchased at restaurants will each rise 4-6% this year. Climate patterns are driving vegetable prices up. The average family of four in Canada will pay $348 more this year on food to a total of $11,948, and 59% of that budget will be spent on dining out. (Canada’s Food Price Report 2018)

6. Micro-markets for Food. As consumers are learning more about food, they are looking for more specialized, individualized choices that align with their personal values whether it be nutritional profile (fat, sugar, sodium, calories), location of production or antibiotic use. This is driving the development of micro-markets for specialized products. (Food Focus 2018)

7. Technofoodology. By the year 2020, there will be 24 billion internet-connected devices installed globally – that’s about 3 devices for every human on earth! This IoT (Internet of Things) revolution is changing the way we purchase, receive and interact with our food. There will be continued expansion of resources including Alexa, Google Home, “click and collect” online grocery shopping, as well as delivery of restaurant meals and meal kits. (Business Insider, Supermarket Guru)

8. Food Blockchain Revolution. Thanks to the Bitcoin, blockchain technology is taking off as a novel way for the agri-food business to record and disclose transactions in an open virtual space across the entire supply chain. From farmer to processor to packer to distributor to packaged goods maker to retailer to food service operator to exporter, blockchain technology brings a new level of transparency and information sharing. For example, in the event of a food safety recall, specific products can be traced easily and quickly. (Ketchum Food Forecast)

BONUS TREND:  Career & learning emerged as the second most important trend that enables business performance, up from fifth last year. As companies build the organization of the future, continuous learning is critical for business success. (Deloitte, 2017 Global Human Capital Trends) Our Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists course testimonials confirm the empowering discoveries they made to help their business performance:
Solid one-day program. Highlighted the latest nutritional trends that are affecting everything from product innovation and marketing to government relations.
It was a great day and hugely useful. Really impressed with the amount of information packed into the day. 
This course was packed with truly relevant information, and right away I was able to apply some of my new knowledge here at the agency.

We hope that you’ll join us for an inspired day of learning at our 11th annual Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists course!

Food Waste – How you can reduce it, save money and eat better.

We love food and as dietitians, it’s our passion and calling. At the 95th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair’s Nutrition Forum, we joined chefs, farmers and scientists to discover more about food’s farm to table journey. We even had the chance to meet the Federal Minister of Agriculture Hon. Lawrence MacAulay on opening day!

Royal winter failr 2017-11-06_19-46-03
The Food and Nutrition Annual Forum was organized by members of Dietitians of Canada. Featured speaker Dr. Mike von Massow, from the University of Guelph highlighted why we waste so much food both at home and in food service/grocery business and what we can do about it. Here are 5 takeaways from his presentation:

  1. Food waste awareness is increasing in the public eye. Canadians are starting to take notice of the amount of food that goes in the green bin or garbage. Some people may even feel guilt or shame when talking about their food waste.
  2. Fact: 50% of food waste comes from homes! Researchers say that simply thinking about food waste helps you throw out less. Be especially mindful of fruit and vegetables as produce makes up almost 70% of total food waste!
  3. ‘Best Before Date’ does not necessarily mean ‘Bad After’. Do you know how to interpret and apply ‘Best Before Dates’ shown on pack without compromising food safety? Send us your questions!
  4. Choose what you can use and don’t buy too much at once. Not only does this cut food waste, but it also helps save money. Menu planning, pantry checks and correct food storage practices will also help reduce food waste.
  5. Foodservice and Grocery are not immune to food waste and customers may form judgements around the amount of food left uneaten on a plate or thrown away by businesses. In restaurants, a plate waste assessment can help start a discussion about serving food differently to reduce waste. Registered Dietitians can help with this work!

What’s your plan to save food from the green bin? Contact us for credible & doable tips that can help you cut waste, save money and eat well.

The Buzz on Sustainability

Sustainability DFC event-1

Sustainability is HOT! Food industry leaders are responding to this ever growing consumer trend and making sustainability a top business priority. Responsible consumption is everyone’s responsibility and it encompasses concerns for people’s nutrition/health, for the welfare of animals and crops, for our communities and the environment overall. Here’s a selection of sound bites that we and other thought leaders tweeted from national events on sustainability food waste.

  • Features of a #SustainableHealthyDiet: reduce overconsumption; maintain a healthy weight; limit consumption of nutrient-poor foods; reduce food waste; conserve water and energy in the kitchen.” (DFC symposium)
  • $31 billion of #FoodWaste in Canada 2014. 53% of food waste is from fruits n veggies. Yikes! (DFC symposium)
  • #ReduceFoodWaste by eating leftovers, meal-planning, preserving food.” (DFC symposium)
  • ReduceWaste! Eat what you buy – a family of 4 throws away over 120lbs of food a month!” (DFC symposium)
  • Some work to do: Canada wastes 40% of food post-purchase.” (DFC symposium)
  • Wasting less food is not only important from a sustainability standpoint but also for budgeting.” (Conference Board of Canada, Ontario Agri-Food Education Inc. presentation)
  • Only “59 % of Canadians understand what organic food means” (Conference Board of Canada Report Card on Food)
  • Environmental footprint labelling is on the rise in grocery stores. Could this trend be here to stay?” (DFC symposium)
  • The food system of the future must be: nutrition sensitive; climate smart; secure the environment and our natural resources” (DFC symposium)
  • 5 top tips from 100 years ago that still apply today: (DFC symposium)
    • Buy it with thought
    • Cook it with care
    • Serve just enough
    • Save what will keep
    • Eat what would spoil