Why do we focus on calories instead of nutritional value?

Why do we not make more use of savory and nutritional abundance?

Mora 2011, “How Many Species Are There on Earth and in the Ocean?” in PLoS Biology, August 2011, Vol. 9, Issue 8



In general, plants as well as people need many nutrients to grow into healthy beings and together we depend on soil. The healthy plant takes up the nutrients from atmosphere, but primarily from the soil. Creating AWARENESS of the poor soil conditions worldwide and the implications of further degradation IS ESSENTIAL.

Industrial /commercial farming strategies include the breeding of varieties that can grow in poorer and poorer soils, but these seeds grow up to be nutrient poor plants. In eating such plants people take in energy (calories) but deprive themselves of healthy components that can be gained from plants grown up in healthy, nutrient rich soil.

If this sounds too academic, it is because I am one, but I also spent considerable research time as part of participatory/community projects. Research papers and policy documents are often interesting and well intended, however I find that sometimes they are of limited practical use and poorly connected to the day-to-day farm life. In adapting a nomadic research style I hope to better connect the dots, identify problems and challenges that will lead to practical solutions for farmer and consumer. It is clear that rural regions are rich in beneficial sensory experiences in need of maintenance support. Researchers and policy designers do agree. Some quotes from a recent report on European gastronomic heritage building on the UNESCO intangible heritage listing of the MEDITERRANEAN DIET

“Educational aspects

A. whereas the present and future health and wellbeing of the population is determined by diet and the environment and hence by farming, fishing and livestock breeding methods;…


Ai. whereas the European heritage is made up of a set of tangible and intangible elements and, in the case of gastronomy and food, is also formed by the locality and landscape from which the products for consumption originate;

Aj. whereas the longevity, diversity and cultural richness of European gastronomy are founded on the availability of high-quality local produce;…


Cultural aspects

21. Emphasises the need to create awareness of the diversity and quality of the regions, landscapes and products that are the basis of Europe’s gastronomy, which forms part of our cultural heritage and also constitutes a unique and internationally recognised lifestyle; stresses that this sometimes requires respect for local habits;…


39. Calls on the Member States to take measures to preserve the European gastronomy-related heritage, such as protection of the architectural heritage of traditional food markets, wineries or other facilities, and of artefacts and machinery related to food and gastronomy;…”


On the UNESCO list of intangible heritage (since 2003) are several regional and national diets (<10), among which the Mediterranean Diet. This is meant in large to preserve the variety of social and cultural aspects of the food production and consumption of countries, in this case the Mediterranean region. The diet itself is hard to define, but a common denominator seems to be OLIVE OIL, although this does not hold true for all countries.

I have eaten some wonderful local food products and sharing of these products is indeed important. To sell these products on the markets is often problematic because of increasing complexity in rules and regulation on local, regional, national, and international governmental levels. I listen to the stories of the farmers…

Meanwhile, supermarkets everywhere are dominated by products from large food producers, which control the market and influence policy in their interest, most of the time successfully. (to find out more, please revisit Philip Howard’s website ).

It seems that in order to support and promote these wonderful products and cultural practices, a more lenient set of rules would benefit small producers, as a transition period to test the market and raise some capital before investing in required infrastructure for increased production.