Oil & Globalisation, Obesity and Sustainability

May 11, 2017

Image from FoodNavigator

Globalisation increases the flow of money, people, knowledge and resources. The global food trade has been growing rapidly in last decades and made the same kind of food available everywhere. Oil is one of the most global traded commodity.

 

Poor oil becomes one way to get cheap calories
Vegetable oils, particularly palm and soybean oil are two of the most consumed oils. These oils are cheap because countries likes Malaysia, Indonesia and China export in large quantity and some are incentivised by their government policies. As a result, no matter what countries we are in, our diets have become more similar, which are heavy in calories and low in nutrients. Despite the "cheap calories" partly solve the famine problem in the less developed countries, increasing obesity concerns every the developing and developed countries.

 

Image from CNN

Adapting lifestyle: energy dense to nutrients rich

Adapting our lifestyle to the changing supply of food has become the way to live healthy. Besides doing more exercise, we can also make changes in our diet. Instead of choosing energy dense food, choose nutrient rich food. It could also applied to the way we choose our oil, even though all oil provide similar amount of energy, fat likes saturated fat and trans fat will cause heart diseases, while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are more beneficial to our health. A good oil should be protected by good packaging and handled carefully such as avoid temperature changes, sunlight and air, so that we can get the most nutrients out of it.

 

Image from FoodNavigator

From food security to food sustainability

After secured the food supply and food safety problem, developed countries now are looking for more sustainable way to produce food. Palm oil has been related to the deforestation and labour exploitation problem for long time, even after the establishment of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). According to the RSPO 2016 Reports, they are still facing lots of challenge, and the lifting of the suspension of the IOI (Malaysia palm oil supplier) after just 4 months undermined the credibility of the RSPO panel.

 

Sources:

1. BBC News - Obesity crisis: Is this the food that is making us all fat?

2. Food Navigator - Global food supply balance is becoming increasingly unstable as population grows

3. Food Navigator - Good year, bad year: 2016 was challenging for RSPPO; Will it fare better in 2017?

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