How can we come together to fight food insecurity in Mzansi? We can start by getting more people to eat a more diverse diet and more plant-based foods, believes food manufacturer Knorr.
Food insecurity has had a stronghold on Mzansi for a while now. According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), 9.34 million people faced high levels of acute food insecurity between September and December 2020. The biggest problem is the growing number of people who are food insecure.
The global health crisis brought on by Covid-19 only exacerbated food insecurity, as Mzansi experienced one of the strictest lockdowns in the world between March and July last year.
“The loss of jobs ultimately affected the consumers’ food choices and access to food.
“We also cannot ignore the effects of the recent civil unrest on food security in the country. The riots damaged crops and food infrastructure, caused disruption to agricultural trade and movement of goods, which left many citizens starving or with little or no access to food.”
Survival of the convenient
To survive, South Africans are buying only what they can afford. These foods may fill tummies, but they do not provide enough healthy nutritious choices, says Ramdeo.
“These food monotony barriers are threatening the resilience on our food system and intensifying the limited food we can eat. we rely on a nano-range of foods that come from twelve plants and five animal sources.”
Ramdeo adds that South Africa is facing an unprecedented challenge, and advocates for change to start with adopting more diverse diets.
“Eating to improve our food system is not hard. We need to steadily adapt our eating habits and food choices to help South Africa move towards a better food future… by championing dietary diversity, encouraging plant-based meals and promoting sustainable farming.”
Championing dietary diversity
Diet diversity provides nutrient adequacy and is known to be a great source for a healthy food diet.
“Adding food such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, grains and protein to meals is recommended to ensure dietary diversity.”
Earlier this year, Knorr also released findings from its 2021 study on “Understanding the eating habits of the SA population”, compiled by market measurement firm NielsenIQ. The study included recommendations on how South Africans can aim to have a well-rounded meal. It should be composed of:
- 33% vegetables
- 32% starch
- 15% dairy
- 12% meat
- 8% fats and oils
Encouraging the consumption of plant-based meals
Advocates of diverse diets recommend adding more fruits and vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds to increase the nutritional value and decreasing the environmental impact of our meals.
“When adapting to plant-based meals, one needs to do it at a comfortable pace and introduce more plants by incorporating plants-based vegetables to your starch and then gradually add starchy vegetables to your everyday meals.”
This can be followed by replacing meat with nutrient-dense and environmentally friendly plant-based alternatives or Future50Foods.
Develop sustainable ways to grow and produce food
South Africans can also contribute by growing their own food. More people of Mzansi are already aspiring to be more food sustainable and are engaging in sustainable gardening.
However, growing their own food at home can seem daunting, says Ramdeo. Ideally, this would be the A-list sustainable lifestyle we want to live, but many citizens are tied down with daily obligations.
Alternative, she recommends buying food from local supermarkets as it is a great way to reduce environmental impact while supporting economic growth.