Pasta Is Good For You And Good For The Planet

 

1.     Pasta is Good for You and Good for the Planet 

  • Block 1 Planet_300dpiMade from durum wheat semolina or from the flour of other grains mixed with water and/or eggs, pasta is nutritious by itself. Mixed with other healthful foods like olive oil, tomato sauce, vegetables, beans, seafood and lean meats it is a key ingredient of healthy traditional eating plans around the world.
  • Few foods can boast a “sustainability index” as high as pasta. In all steps of the food supply chain, pasta is sustainable: from wheat harvesting to pasta production to preparation at home and package disposal. Pasta life cycle analysis shows that, from farm to table, the environmental impact of pasta is quite low. In other words, eating a plate of pasta means choosing a food produced in full respect of the environment. [1] [2] [3] [4]
  • Grains are the most important source of food worldwide, providing nearly 50% of the calories eaten, and are some of the least environmentally intensive foods to produce.[5]
  • In the aftermath of the Paris climate conference agreement, nations are more committed than ever to improving the health of the planet. New dietary recommendations from the Dutch government recommend slashing meat consumption by almost half for reasons of health and sustainability and other countries like Brazil and the United Kingdom have incorporated sustainability into their dietary guidelines, encouraging more plant foods (like pasta), and fewer animal foods (like meat and dairy).
  • While sustainability was not included in the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines, a national poll from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future found that 74% of Americans say dietary guidelines should include sustainability measures, and that 92% believe that producing food in a sustainable way is a high priority.
  • Given the heightened awareness of climate change and our environment, it is clear that the long-term sustainability of food is inseparable from discussions of health and wellness. After all, the food system is thought to account for up to one third of global greenhouse gas emissions, and is the largest contributor of non CO2 greenhouse gases.
  • Luckily for food lovers everywhere, shelf-stable dry pasta is poised to become a part of the climate solution. In his presentation at the 5th World Pasta Day and Congress, held in Milan in October 2015, Duncan Williamson of the World Wildlife Foundation explained that pasta has a high “sustainability index” and that good taste and food for the earth can go hand in hand. According to Williamson, healthy pasta meals are an affordable way to embrace more sustainable diets, as “Traditional ways of eating are more sustainable and less expensive.”
  • Grains are among the least intensive foods to produce, requiring fewer resources and water per calorie than most other foods. Research published in Ecosystems found that grains (like the wheat used to make pasta) use only 0.51 liters of water to produce 1 calorie of food. On the other hand, beef production uses 10.19 liters of water to produce 1 calorie of food, while fruits use 2.09 liters per calorie, and vegetables use 1.34 liters per calorie.
  • Also at the World Pasta Congress, presenter Luca Ruini explained that the carbon footprint of pasta is only 15.5 oz CO2eq/lb (34.44g CO2eq/kg), much lower than many other foods.
  • Another speaker at the World Pasta Congress 2015, Alessandra Luglio, a nutritionist in Brazil, explains that pasta “has many environmental advantages. With just two ingredients, it comes straight from nature and the process is simple.”
  • Recognizing the importance of sustainable diets, nutrition experts at the 2015 Healthy Pasta Meals Scientific Consensus meeting, organized by the nonprofit Oldways, added a point about sustainability for the first time to the Scientific Consensus statement, declaring that “pasta is a simple plant based food, and has a low environmental impact.”

 

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[1] Baroni, L., Cenci, L., Tettamanti, M. Berati, M. Evaluating the environmental impact of various dietary patterns combined with different food production systems. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2006) 1-8

[2] FAO (2012) Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity

[3] Scarborough P. et al, 2014. Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the U.K, Climatic Change (2014)

[4] BCFN (2012). Double Pyramid 2012: enabling sustainable food choices

[5]http://wholegrainscouncil.org/files/2014wgcBBconf_BarriersMyths.pdf   P. 11