Nutrition

This category is for posts and articles that are related to nutrition.

The danger of monocultures

The Sustainability of Bananas

Like much of the UK population, bananas are my favourite fruit. They’re packed with potassium, Vitamin B6 and many other vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They make a perfect snack to sustain energy levels thanks to a combination of ‘quick’ and ‘slow’ releasing sugars. To meet our desire for this fabulous fruit we import around 5 billion bananas into the UK every year!

Environmental credentials

In terms of sustainability, bananas have a fairly low environmental impact. This is due to their low carbon footprint which is estimated at 0.48 kg CO2e per kilo. If we compare this to UK tomatoes (grown in greenhouses) which are 2.5 kg CO2e per kilo, this seems quite small. Bananas are energy efficient as they use natural sunlight to grow. They also come with their own tough skin which acts as natural packaging. This is favourable compared to soft berries that need plastic packaging to keep them in perfect condition.

The drama

Global plantations are now under serious threat from Panama disease. Major companies such as Fyfes and Del Monte, have become over-reliant on growing just one species known as the Cavendish. This variety is popular because it was (at first) disease resistant, easy to grow, easy to transport and sweet. Global production methods which rely growing only one species (monoculture) can be problematic. Bananas have become a monoculture crop. Planting the same crop in the same place each year drains nutrients from the soil. This is because nutrients are not naturally replenished as with polyculture and crop rotation techniques. As monoculture soils need more fertilisers it keeps the artificial cycle of nutrient depletion and repletion going. Furthermore, when disease strikes all the plants are susceptible and killed off in one go as there is no natural variety to limit the damage.  All that’s left is infertile waste land.

Panama disease is now spreading rapidly throughout plantations and threatening the survival of this Cavendish variety. So far it’s spread through Sout- East Asia, China, Australia and Africa. It seems like a ‘no brainer’ but if banana plantations diversified species then one disease wouldn’t have such a disastrous effect.


So what can we do?

It’s tricky as we are at the mercy of what industry provides us! However, if consumers are willing to try new varieties it may encourage producers and suppliers to invest in these crops meaning we will have a more secure supply in the long term.

There are some alternative varieties to the Cavendish such as the ‘Latundan‘ banana (also known as Tundan/Apple Bananas) and these can already be found in some supermarkets.

If you’re working for a food company or retail chain, find ways to identify, sample and try new varieties of banana. Whether this be for new product formulation or simply to be marketed straight to the consumer. This will help our banana supply be more sustainable in the long term.

I offer consultation services to the food industry including: Product Development, Menu Design, Supply Chain Analysis and Sustainability Cooordination. If you would like best-in-class guidance on this or any foods, please get in touch.

Citations

  • How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything (Mike Berners-Lee, 2010)
  • Coop life cycle analysis (2009)

streetcube logo

I’m a trusted advocate of streetcube

Streetcube is a new project which transforms shipping containers into street kitchens which serve sustainable gastronomy food.

Streetcube’s innovative sustainable kitchens

They’re launching all over the UK, with the first one being opened in Wandsworth last week.

As a Dietitian with expertise in food sustainability, I am closely aligned with their core values. I’m really pleased to have been chosen as one of their Trusted Advocates. Other Advocates include Raymond Blanc, Dr Clare Pettinger and Professor Philip Sloan.

This project has recently been launched and I’m looking forward to working with the founder and his team on food sourcing, recipe development and creative content for the web platform. Watch this space…

Louise and Hazel on the food medic podcast

My interview on the Food Medic Podcast

I was delighted to be interviewed on the Food Medic Podcast with the lovely Hazel Wallace.

This was my first podcast experience and despite a bit of newbie-nerves I think it went really well!

It was recorded at Global Studios, London in February 2019.

For those who don’t know Hazel’s work, she is a Doctor specialising in nutritional medicine (and an awesome podcast host too!)

In this episode we discussed some really interesting topics including:

  • What do we mean by a sustainable diet?
  • Why is it important to think about the cost of human health as well as the health of the planet?
  • Is a Vegan diet the most sustainable way of eating for the planet?
  • The EAT-Lancet report; what it is it and what does it actually mean with respect to UK public health message?
  • The social and economical factors which can influence and inhibit sustainable dietary recommendations?
  • The sustainability of plant based milks.
  • Sourcing of sustainable and healthy meat.

You can find the podcast here (Season 2 Episode 9)….don’t forget to subscribe: https://thefoodmedic.co.uk/the-podcast/season-2/

Or on the Apple podcast app here

dietitian in a chair

Nutritionist locations in Brighton and Hove

I am delighted to be offering my nutrition services from new facilities in Brighton and Hove.

The clinic rooms are bright, modern, comfortable and private

An example of one of the Therapy rooms available

There are 3 locations, 2 in Hove and 1 in Brighton, details are here.

I am also listed on the Brighton and Hove Therapy Hub

If you would like to book a nutrition consultation with me, then click here. Don’t forget, home visits are also available

sunflower

Sunflower facts

Did you know:

  • The seeds are full of Vitamin E (great for immunity, skin, eyes)
  • They also have lots of fibre (good for the gut and digestion)
  • The seeds are arranged in complex mathematical a fibonacci sequence!

 

Pitta Pizzas

A classic quick and easy children’s favourite.

I use wholemeal pittas for added fibre and Quorn ham for a tasty sustainable topping.

You only need to grill the top of the pizza after adding the toppings.