April 29, 2013
Education in food: the first ingredient of a great recipe

"We should have a healthy diet." This message reaches us from early age through our family, school, medical community... But, what does "healthy diet" mean? According to the Generalitat de Catalunya health department (GENCAT, 2013) 1 ’a healthy diet is characterized by being varied, balanced and appropriate for age, gender, culture and requirements of each person. It has to be a diet that provides us all the necessary energy and nutrients’ to develop our daily activities. Another body of Generalitat de Catalunya, the Catalan Food Safety Agency, incorporates into the definition a new variable: toxicity. It says that ’a healthy diet has to be toxic products free’ (GENCAT, 2013) 2. Both bodies also add that to have a healthy diet ’it must be taken into account products seasonal nature, giving preference to the use of local and seasonal products’. Theory is clear. But what happens in practice? From these definitions, it could be possible that food that forms our diet is not healthy? There are studies that alert to the chemical or additive products put on different food, both during its production on the land or in subsequent manufacture processes, can be assimilated by our organism and unleash health problems and serious diseases. Do we know the seasonal nature or origin of the food we consume? Are we aware that food produced out of season or food that has gone over long distances loses nutritional properties? We have lost the sense of seasonal nature of much food because currently we can find everything, during all year long, coming from everywhere. It is calculated that imported food we consume has gone over, on average, more than 5,000 km before reaching our tables (Amigos de la Tierra, 2012) 3. We are far from attaining the recommendation of giving preference to local and seasonal products mentioned before. We would know to identify all processes and stages for which food goes along its life cycle and the impacts it causes on environment? Cultivation, selection, cleaning, processing, storage, refrigeration, transportation and distribution; all is taken into account when counting entries of resources and exits of waste. According to FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO, 2011) 4 currently food production by food and agriculture industry is responsible for the 30% of energy consumption worldwide and the 20% of emissions of greenhouse effect gases. All these facts show the relations between food, health and environment and strengthen the need of redesigning the current food and agriculture system towards a more healthy and sustainable model. Precisely those were the main points of the fifth cycle Ecotendències CosmoCaixa, a dissemination, reflection and debate space about the current and future environmental challenges, which ended last 12 March with the session .Idea. In this last session ten innovative projects related to food world developed in Catalonia were presented. These ten projects have in common to achieve a more healthy food and more respectful with environment and they suggest solutions to current problems affecting different points of food and agriculture chain. One of the ten projects selected for the session was the PEP (Pagès-Escola-Pagès) [farmer-school-farmer] project, by INDICIS Foundation. PEP project wants to promote healthy diet among children and young people by means of the knowledge of local agricultural culture. The project acts in the field of primary education and school gardens and currently it is being developed in Floresta School in the city of Sabadell. Its objectives are the following: - To promote habits of healthy diet among the students. - To incorporate consumption of local agricultural products and old varieties to their diets. - To promote proximity consumption. - To make known Sabadell’s farmers and bring together school and farmers. - To use food and cooking as tools to promote creativity. To achieve these objectives from INDICIS Foundation a series of proposals designed to work on the school garden have been developed. These proposals have been worked together with the ESDi Product and Spaces Usability Department Unit and with the collaboration of three ESDi students. Firstly an educational agricultural kit has been created allowing students to make a good monitoring of the garden’s vegetables, to discover this space for themselves, to experiment with the resources that offers and to have information that relates agricultural production to environment. Secondly an identification and information system (benefits for health and environmental information) of the vegetable species they have planted in the garden has been created. And finally, a proposal of divider for school gardens plots useful both for delimiting space and as a support for identification and information system. As regards the proposals of activities, in parallel and first of all, old agricultural varieties and ecological production have been introduced in the garden a surrounding area farmer has visited the school twice. Thirdly, culinary design workshops will be carried out where, by means of creativity, students will elaborate nutritional and attractive food with the seasonal products of the garden and using old varieties of Vallès area. And finally, it is also foreseen to visit the farmer’s property, where students will know what and how he produces, the commercialisation system of his products and the importance of maintaining local agriculture active. By means of the use of methodologies, tools and strategies offered by design, all these proposals become educational resources useful for training and that ease the students learning process. The proposals have the value added of transmitting the concept of healthy diet in a complete way, as we defined it initially. We hope that the proposals arisen from PEP project help students to question, to get information and to analyse what is behind food that form our diet. For the moment, we will have to keep working and putting efforts in projects like this one, where the union of design, education and environment professionals becomes a good recipe to improve our food. References 1 GENCAT. 2013. Alimentació - Consells Generals. In: Generalitat de Catalunya Departament de Salut - Canal Salut " Vida Saludable. Barcelona, IL:, last consultation: 18 April 2013. 2 GENCAT. 2013. Guia "L’alimentació saludable a l’etapa escolar". In: Generalitat de Catalunya " Agència Catalana de Seguretat Alimentària - Temes " Alimentació i Salut " Publicacions. Barcelona, IL:, last consultation: 18 April 2013. 3 Amigos de la Tierra. 2012. Alimentos Kilométricos. Amigos de la Tierra, Madrid. 4 FAO " Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2011. "Energy-Smart" Food for people and climate. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Roma. Ariadna Claret i Carles (29.04.13)