Good for the world

By Jen Scoular

It was a great celebration of the successes in our local community at the BOP Export Awards.

So many innovative, brave and bold people exploring their passions and extending their horizons. I was asked about how our industry was going, and I replied that with global demand for food that is healthy for us and for the environment, avocados are a sweet spot. Not that we need any sugar in our avocados – except of course when we combine them with chocolate for the easiest and most delicious dessert, that is nearly good for us.

I attended the Produce Marketing Association conference in Melbourne in June and heard from Dr Sandro DeMaio, an Australian medical doctor now CEO of EAT: a science-based, global platform for food systems transformation.

He talked about the double burden of malnutrition – those hungry and those overweight. However, those overweight are also malnourished in that they eat far too few nutrients. He reported that the world has never been richer but 150 million children are malnourished – so will never reach full potential in size or brain development. And, he reported, those kids will earn a third of the normal wages two and three decades later.

Meanwhile the increase in obesity ramps up the demand on our health systems with rapidly rising rates of non-communicable disease, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

From a nutrition perspective, we win with avocados, which have 19 vitamins and nutrients, good fats, carbohydrates and protein. From the perspective of how we treat the world when we grow, pack and export avocados – we have some more work to do. We are embarking on a sustainability story – starting with better understanding of our practices, and how we can improve those – to mitigate any damage we make to the world of tomorrow. It goes back the question – how good are we for the world?

Another speaker at the conference got up and gave his view, as a farmer in Australia. His view may well be shared by farmers in New Zealand who are certainly taking quite a lot of flack about the environmental footprint of farming. He said he farmed product that consumers wanted. They wanted more meat, they got more meat. Plentiful supplies of dairy products and grains. He said rightly that as consumers, we buy the cheapest milk, but then expect the farmer to adopt better than the cheapest ways to produce that milk. He suggested consumers have double standards – let the farmers be sustainable, but how many consumers still drive to work? He asked the audience – how many of you are wearing polyester? How many are wearing clothes that were made locally?

I came away feeling that I was certainly in a great industry, but as both an individual and an industry, we need to work harder to earn our place as being good for the world.

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