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Food menu fit for pandemic

Monday, 3 August 2020

Ethical eating with health, environment in mind 

On the heels of devastating bushfires, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic, eating well in a sustainable way is more important now than ever, Flinders University experts say. 

‘Eating local’ and growing your own fruit and vegetables can save money, provide families and local producers with vital income – and also improve health and immunity.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic provides many good reasons to eat in healthier and more sustainable ways,” says Flinders University researcher Associate Professor Kaye Mehta.  

“Gardening or being part of a community gardening or local food swap group lifts social connection, reduces anxiety and stress, and improves mental health by nurturing plants out in the fresh air.”   

In a new study, the researchers warn the Australian diet is not sustainable, with high rates of eating meat, excessive packaging and food waste and unhealthy consumption levels.                                

But how much time do people spend weighing up food decisions for their nutritional content, environmental sustainability and fairness, ask Flinders University nutrition and public health experts in a new paper in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia.  

“At the supermarket and when you eat out, do you investigate where the food comes from? In an ideal world, food supply would not only be healthy but also be environmentally and socially sustainable,” Associate Professor Mehta says. 

“Our dietary choices are made within a complex, powerful and unsustainable food system which contributes to rising problems of food insecurity, malnutrition, chronic disease, climate change, loss of biodiversity, and unfair food trade practices,” she says in the new study of  food literacy awareness at Flinders University.  

The researchers put these questions to the test by running a two-week online course examining aspects of the food system, including:  

  • The links between food production and greenhouse gas emissions 
  • The environmental effects of ‘food miles', or distance travelled by the produce 
  • Power, profits and fair prices for farmers 
  • The association between the industrial food system and current public health nutrition problems, and more.  

See more attached: 

For more information contact:  

Name: Associate Professor Kaye Mehta, Nutrition and Dietetics, College of Nursing and Health Science, Flinders University M: +61 (0) 414 683 043 
Name: Tania Bawden, Media Adviser, Office of Communication, Marketing and Engagement, Flinders University Tel: +61 8 8201 5768   Mob: +61 (0)434 101 516