From the Editor
The pandemic that broke out in 2020 still makes the top news every day all over the world – it could not be otherwise - in all the media, be it newspapers, the tv or the web.
All the other news covering anything but the pandemic seem to have vanished, with people getting the idea that "if nobody talks about it anymore, it means that it wasn't a big concern after all", which couldn’t be more wrong.
Problems do not just vanish because the news is no longer covering them. They remain and get worse because media have lost focus, hence do not draw the necessary attention to them.
Of the many important issues lacking media coverage today, environmental protection is one that would require immediate attention. It had received increased coverage in the media in the months preceding the pandemic thanks to Greta Thunberg and the movement she had helped to create. In these Covid times, street parades and manifestations have been halted unfortunately, or are organized ever so sparingly, for obvious reasons. Nonetheless, awareness towards environment protection has not faded at all through these difficult times. Indeed, quite the contrary. The pandemic has helped to raise and grow awareness towards the need for better caring for the planet.
Safeguarding the environment is part of the great debate on sustainability, which also involves the major problem of food availability, a primary need for all people.
Sustainable food consumption and availability is achieved with the proper management of the food supply chains, a smarter, environment-friendly and responsible use of resources (just think to the huge problem of pollution generated by livestock manure, thus the huge carbon footprint the large breeding farms create), as well as implementing more safety, reduction of waste and healthy nutrition. The Farm to Fork project, the ten-year plan promoted by the European Union, goes in this direction and, although not formally binding, it does stand as a road map that cannot be easily ignored - also because people’s opinion over the need for green policies is growing in strength, hence consumers will increasingly dictate strategy development at political level.
New technology, inspired by artificial intelligence, is being created to address these issues. New skills will be required to master these technologies, hence new employment opportunities are emerging.
For instance, new software that examines the environmental footprint of products (Product Environmental Footprint - PEF) has been developed, allowing to adjust strategies accordingly to improve food supply chains. Technological development will be key in aiding us in the enormous task of feeding everyone in a sustainable manner. Digitisation combined with broad-band networks will boost new services, such as “smart” and reliable labelling for better traceability, safety and quality of products.
In this scenario, it is worth mentioning the ever-growing market of food supplements, which plays a key role in terms of sustainability. It is well established that taking food supplements supports a healthier diet and meets a number of needs. Above all, it makes people more aware of the importance of feeling well, preserving one's health and preventing ailments and diseases, which, eventually, translates into a reduced healthcare expenditure. The money we spend in ensuring access to medical care to all is a key issue in times when healthcare resources need to be allocated to fight the pandemic, yet at the same time also need to cover the needs of an increasingly ageing population.
Back to the current pandemic times, perhaps one of the great lessons the Covid emergency has taught us is that we are all interdependent. To survive, we must feed ourselves exactly like our Paleolithic ancestors did. The difference is that, today, we know that our individual survival cannot be separated from collective survival. Sustainability is the huge challenge we are facing today. Though it might not make the news every day, people’s awareness towards sustainability is widespread in the population and growing all the time – that certainly is good news!