This Lab addresses major societal challenges relating to food, food production, feeding and health, reflecting current and future trends in human activity and their relationship to the environment. The first major challenge concerns our collective capacity to feed 10 billion humans in 2050, in a context of climate change, soil alteration and biodiversity erosion (especially in agricultural landscapes) that compromises ecosystem services. In addition, the world is currently experiencing increasing migratory flows both internationally and between rural and urban areas.

To address this, we need to adapt agricultural production to find more sustainable energy- and water-efficient production processes with reduced impacts on biodiversity. This includes reducing waste throughout the cycle from field to fork, including better production, harvesting, storage, transport, transformation, consumption and end-of-life treatment processes. At the same time, we must educate citizens in order to accompany these evolutions in terms of food availability and eating habits, in relation to changing societal and culture-based representations of food and feeding.

The second major challenge concerns the links between well-being, health and food habits. Food and eating habits are commonly associated with various public health issues, including malnutrition, obesity and related disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other serious illnesses. Differences in lifestyle and level of income can often be linked to these conditions, necessitating socially differentiated actions aimed at promoting healthy eating habits, aimed at practices both within and outside the home. This further implies more socially responsible marketing and packaging practices, using consumer science to educate rather than to maximise consumption.

Developing healthy and sustainable eating and living practices should also be a key target for education policy in all countries and parts of the world, encouraging children and their families to adapt their nutritional habits and physical activities to their lifestyle, in order to remain fit and healthy. This implies a better understanding of communication procedures between experts and consumers with a particular focus on the new role played by social media and so-called influencers in disseminating sensory knowledge. It also highlights the evaluative and emotional dimensions of food discourses.

 

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