Research points to ethical eating for health, environment

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During a global pandemic, eating well in a sustainable way is more important now than ever, according to new research by Flinders University and published in the journal Health Promotion Journal of Australia.  

Eating local and growing your own fruit and vegetables can save money, provide families and local producers with vital income, and improve health and immunity, the researchers said.

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

The researchers conducted 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

The 47 participants of the online course found their understanding of the food system and their attitudes towards food purchases changed to consider social and environmental sustainability, as well as health. The researchers said they study showed how much more can be done to improve food supply and personal food decisions so that every bite considers the food's origins and cumulative impact on the planet.

"The COVID-19 pandemic provides many good reasons to eat in healthier and more sustainable ways," said Kaye Mehta, PhD, lead author and associate professor at the university, in a statement. “Food system literacy is an opportunity for people to make better food choices that are good for their health as well as the environment and farmers.”

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