Editorial: What’s Your View?
We are approaching the third biennium of Harvard’s Initiative on Food Security and Nutrition (FSSN), and the theme for the 2016 graduation ceremony was “Building Healthy Cultures: Achieving a Food system that produces safe, secure, and nutritious food for everyone, everywhere.”
This theme could not have been chosen better by the Harvard administration. Harvard is largely a place of “overconsumption,” or, for those who know me, overabundance. We feel the need to throw seemingly endless amounts of food in the garbage, with more and more Americans dining out at restaurants daily.
We are surrounded by global wildlife that end up as valuable nutritional supplements or packaging material. Commercial fishermen are grappling with an aging population and the collapse of the commercial fish market.
Yet, despite the need for food systems reform, we need to slow down and actually listen to what the different stakeholders have to say.
Too many of us in leadership roles adopt the attitude that the topic of nutrition is not a “priority” or “something to have a conversation about.” I agree. I believe that food is both. Some are asking, “What does education look like?” Education to me is seeing the way that food is critically important to all facets of human life.
Food Security and Nutrition are large and complex subject matters. They require the capability to move at various speeds to understand and to act. Perhaps it is time that we be open to more diverse perspectives and different perspectives, as I think that leads to better solutions.
Convincing Weaker Nearsighted Nomads to Purge Their Attic
I believe that if an individual has good eyesight, then they are more likely to walk into an office and convince their boss to “get rid of those coffeepots” and replace them with better one. In the education realm, or in any higher education institution, the late Bob Davenport believed that hearing from a diverse set of voices was crucial for success.
In late December, the UN hosted its first Nutrition Statistics Day. Throughout the previous year, high-level negotiators in the Sustainable Development Summit and Rio+20 Summit all convened to create the SUSTAINABLE OPTIMAL ACQUISITION OF FOOD (SOFA) agenda for 2016.
The agenda is built on six “Ys” that started with food and nutrition. The first “Y” was “Yields.” The second was “Yields Change.” The third was “Yields We Need to Rebuild Our Culture.” The fourth was “Yields That Get Us Meaningful.” The fifth was “Yields that Nurture Our Culture.” The sixth was “Yields We Need to Be More From.” We are close to completing that agenda.
For me, the next Y is “Yields.” The more that we are able to understand and capture the impact of our “Yields,” the greater our chance to effectively engage every part of our society and to leverage data to do things differently.
How to Pave the Way? In UNESCO’s “Demystifying Nutrition” report, they give some other interesting ideas about harvesting the Yields. They are:
Collecting data on sustainable food systems
Implementing new policies and practices to improve food access
Educating, empowering, and setting behavior-change goals
Making the “Yields” a priority for the world and especially the UN
Here is my personal take on this:
We need more Top 10 Club members. Top 10 Club members are influential people who have significant influence. There are fewer Top 10 Club members in the health, nutrition, or food security world these days. Therefore, if there is one “Yields” like the “Yields of Life” mentioned above to have, I believe that this “Yields” should be the “Yields of Lives” that change how we view and experience food for all.
Robert McKevitt was taught in the School of Public Health, University of Iowa, at the Iowa Crop Science Center and the Center for Integrated Pest Management. He has authored more than 300 journal articles and books in soil, agricultural, environmental, and consumer health. His articles are printed in over 170 refereed journals. He is a frequent guest on both NPR and NTDtv.com. See His Website: www.mckevitt.com