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Thought for Food

Posted 06/07/2011 by KatieJ

No - it is not an example of mis-typing but one approach to encourage young people to think about ways to tackle the challenge that faces the world in terms of feeding its burgeoning population.

Student teams from Imperial College and Reading University in the UK and Wageningnen University in the Netherlands beat challengers from eight other European universities to become the winners in the pan-European Thought for Food student challenge (www.tffchallenge.com). The teams had been expected to ‘push boundaries, merge their creativity and imaginations and develop visionary ideas for a new generation.

The students will now go forward to One Young World (www.oneyoungworld.com) to be held in Switzerland in September 2011, said to be the world’s leading forum for young leaders, where they will initiate a global dialogue on food security for the future, one the major challenges for the world.

In terms of their solutions, the Imperial College team designed a Smart Phone application (app) Morph my food and associated website to reduce food waste by offering recipes and ideas for using leftover food. The Imperial students claim that their approach can help save the world ‘one lonely egg at the back of the fridge’ at a time.

The amount of food wasted has recently been estimated by the US Department of Agriculture at 27% of available food in 1995, the last time that such a study was conducted, and that percentage does not include food wasted on farms and in fisheries and during processing.

The Reading University team turned the name of the challenge around to encourage a new understanding within the younger generation about the importance of making healthy food decisions. In Food for Thought, the team developed an experiment to teach students about foods that will improve cognitive performance and then challenge them to think of creative ways to tackle the global food problems.

The Dutch team was less original in advocating the established campaign called Meatless Mondays, but backed this up by distributing researched facts about food production, the environment and natural resource constraints.

Not exactly earth-stopping, but these efforts at least show that young people are engaged about one the major issues facing us all.

In a more concrete step, the findings of a year-long investigation into EU agriculture have been published by the UK House of Lords agriculture, fisheries and environment EU sub-committee. The committee is calling for a significant increase in investment by the European Commission in scientific research in the agriculture sector by reducing the proportion of the funding devoted to the EU’s sacred cow, the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), and diverting it to agricultural research by the EU’s research programme.

As C&I has previously reported, agricultural research spending has fallen considerably despite the increasing need for new ways to tackle future food needs. But will the EU be prepared to sacrifice its CAP for such desperate need?

Neil Eisberg - Editor

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