Lesson 4: Health and well-being of youth

How and why can combating food waste and educating people to consume less and better help the well-being of young people?

So far we have analyzed the relationship between poverty, health and education: it is a strong, bilateral relationship in which each element influences another and is influenced in turn. Eradicating poverty is certainly an ambitious goal, but let’s try to take it one step at a time. What can we do concretely, in our daily life, to lower poverty levels and improve the well-being of young people when it comes to food waste, food security, climate change and sustainable lifestyles?

Combating food waste is now an ethical imperative because food waste has strong environmental and economic repercussions.

Suffice it to say that in order to produce the food that will not be consumed, natural resources are unnecessarily used and emissions to the atmosphere equal to 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and waste is generated.

Redistribution of food going to waste can also contribute to improving the nutritional status of socially fragile segments of the population.

EUFIC is a non-profit organisation that provides engaging science-based information to inspire and empower healthier and more sustainable food and lifestyle choices.

Waste less and consciously consume to protect the environment and the world we live in.

As we saw from the previous video, wasting food means wasting land, water and labor that went into producing it.

Waste occurs also at the distribution level: many foods that are close to expiration or have aesthetic imperfections (spots on the skin or dents) are sometimes not even offered for sale, or when they are, they are discarded by buyers.

This is a behavior in which consumers can improve, and sometimes distribution is already helping in this regard when it offers less “beautiful” and near-expiration products at cheaper prices.

Although in the short term reducing food waste seems to have no impact, in reality it can allow us to respond to ethical, social, economic and psychological needs: wasting less means saving money and not feeding a production and consumption system that is close to collapse, it means placing a different value on the resources at our disposal and understanding to what extent our consumption is dictated by a real need, knowing that we have adopted a sustainable lifestyle allows us to feel well-being on a psychological level because we recognize that we are part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Source: https://ssir.org/articles/entry/healthy_eating_active_living_reflections_insights_and_considerations_for_the_road_ahead

Moreover, each person’s youth transition and their relationship with food systems is uniquely shaped by specific intersections with multiple factors including gender, class, wealth, health, location and intergenerational relationships.

From a development perspective, today’s youth generation is on the front line: it will have to cope with the effects of environmental and climate change, which are likely to accelerate and intensify during their lifetimes and those of their children.

Since new generations occupy the first places in shaping tomorrow’s world and are also the first to suffer the heaviest consequences of what has been done so far, it is necessary to reconsider their relationship with the food system understood not only as a system of food production and consumption, but also as waste disposal, recycling, policies on sustainability, and anything else in between.

“The generational approach should help food systems researchers and development practitioners to understand that today’s youth generation is historically situated as a “generation in itself,” facing a unique and unprecedented conjunction of historical processes which is creating novel opportunities and challenges that are conditioned by uncertainty and risk.”

(Glover, Sumberg 2020)