Marzena Zukowska

Innovation Through Nutrients: A #SocEntChat summary from Monday, May 13th, 2013

Have you ever watched kids pluck green vegetables off of plants and gobble them up like candy? The pleasures of wholesome food go beyond good taste and good health. Eating well-fresh, uncontaminated, responsibly-sourced food is as good for the Earth and other species as it is for our bodies – and this is exactly what the focal point became for last week’s Nutrients for All #SocEntChat.

After a two-hour question and answer session on Monday, May 13th, we had many great examples of initiatives and organizations that were bringing a positive and nutritious change worldwide. Below is a summary of the key learnings, challenges, and solutions that came to the surface!

The Questions

Q1. Thinking about a #Nutrients4All World, what are the main barriers you are facing in the field of your work?

Q2. How can the agricultural, food, health, and business sectors be incentivized to protect our vital ecosystems?

Q3. Farmers play a critical role in Nutrients for All but face pressures to produce more, less-nutritive food. How can social entrepreneurs help?

Q4. How do we address the issues of bioavailability – whether our bodies can absorb those nutrients?

Q5. What is the role of the food industry in developing a Nutrients for All World?

Q6. What innovations are addressing the most pressing challenges to build a Nutrients for All world?

The Challenges and Barriers

1. Nutrition needs to be mainstreamed – the issue is not being recognized widely enough. We need to recognize the importance of nutrients in developing the local economies.

2. Nowadays, the development targets in most cities are focusing more on the residential and business areas. Along this line is the fact that there are law in certain areas that define “urban” areas with non-agricultural activities.

3. Nutrition accords low priority among poor as food security is prioritized.

4. The quality of the land can also be considered one of the barriers along with erratic rainfall.

5. Awareness of “safe food” is an issue: it is both known to select groups and due to the bombardment of opinions on safe and organic food in media, most people are confused about what the term even means.

6. The cost of the process and acceptance of changing behaviors means that the consumption of nutritious food is appreciated but not practiced.

The Solutions

1. Safe and organic farming should be encouraged and incentivized by all governments and supported by awareness campaigns.

2. Education of standards and nutrient information needed.

3. People need to be wary of processed, commercial foods.

4. If we increase the demand for nutrient-rich food, we can lower the prices. That is why a global movement is necessary.

5. Healthy ecosystems can ensure access to nutrient rich soil which will lead to nutrient rich food – this means we need to maintain healthy, resilient environments to ensure water availability for farming and long term food security.

6. Greater cultivation of local plants better adapted to dry conditions, which can get benefit from infrequent rainfall and control erosion.

7. There is big support is coming from new age funding, examples like social venture capital and platforms like Changemakers.

8. We need to accept responsibilities at the individual level, making decision in collaboration.

9. Great farmer-consumer collaboration, making nutrient-rich food more locally available.

10. Combining certain foods can increase absorption of nutrients by the body.

11. To make real transformative change at scale, we need to engage the food industry to assume ethical leadership in our society.

12. Food processing research and development needs to be reinvigorated for healthier, more sustainable products.

13. Minimizing wastage at all stages in the food processing chain.

The Examples

1. ‘Skyscraping Hydroponic Greenhouses’ can counter nutrient land shortages and rising food prices.

2. ’Green Cupboards and Stackable Green Shelves’ are aesthetic and inexpensive enough to be kept in every home.

3. Shikha Roy is working with tribal women who are landless and turning wasteland into farms.

4. Ashoka Fellow Biplap Paul is ensuring regular irrigation facilities to ensure water for farming is available.

For a full recap of the conversation, read through our Storify.

For updates, follow the #nutrient4all hashtag on Twitter and check our Facebook page regularly.

Health Care
nutrition, public health