Type to search

The Interconnected Ecosystem of Agriculture, Food and Health


Technologies, markets, and demands are drivers of the agri-food and health industries. As the world is experiencing heightened health awareness, consumer demands are drastically changing, forcing agriculture, food, and health companies to think and plan outside the box.

Large-scale livestock production’s adverse environmental impact is driving the search for alternative protein sources in the agricultural and food markets. Expert analysts project that, by 2050, alternatives to meat proteins will constitute one-third of the protein industry.

The year 2019 was the year of the plant-based burger, with food giants Burger King and McDonald paving the way by adding meat alternatives to their menus.

High-protein crops like pea and canola are replacing traditional soy protein products. Moringa and whole quinoa grains are also being added for improved flavor and texture. The Tyson brand is also looking at long term sustainability in the face of changing consumer demand. Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, an American doctor and psychiatrist noted that:

‘adequate good nutritional therapy is the medicine of the future.’

As more consumers look for sustainable plant-based foods, the food industry is offering more options to satisfy this new demand. This trend is likely to continue as consumers seek a more active and healthy lifestyle, influencing their dietary choices.  “Eating well to live well” means eating nutrient-rich food that provides more nutrition per bite. Make healthy choices 80% of the time and treat yourself with the next 20%. Make sensible food choices such as whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and beans.

Throughout history, we have been told that ‘We are what we eat’.  In the early twentieth century, Edison said the doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet, and the cause and prevention of disease. Is this what Hippocrates was telling us in 390 BC when he said, ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’?

Knowledge is Power

Scientific knowledge available today tells us that what we put into our mouths can result in a range of conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, issues involving all the major organs. But is having an understanding of food enough to inspire us to change our diet? As the rates of food-related illness and disease increase, national efforts to promote improved nutrition are required to promote wellness and reduce populations’ increasing health costs.

Backyard gardening: grow your own food, improve your health.

In the last century, scientific studies have shown a decline in nutrients found in common vegetables grown under large-scale agricultural conditions. These studies indicate that the decline is mainly due to the practice of growing food for traits like size, growth rate, and pest resistance, rather than nutrition. Food crops grown in nutrient-rich soil contain more nutrients that enter our body when we eat them. You can control the amount and type of fertilizer and pesticide you add to your soil and plants in your garden. Home gardens, therefore, offer a promising approach to enhance household food security and well-being.

Agriculture today contributes one-third of the global greenhouse gases emitted. Large scale farming is depleting soil and water, destroying forests, and reducing the planet’s biodiversity. The more food we grow in this way, the more we damage the environment and destabilize the climate. So food production must be more sustainable for our future well-being. Growing our food sustainably is our only hope for our planet.

In the Virgin Islands, most of our food consumption is satisfied by importation. Although there has been an increase in local production, we still need to scale up the production of healthy food and feed hungry people. We also still need to protect the environment. Our goal should be to ensure that wholesome, nutrient-dense food is accessible, affordable, and culturally relevant while preserving our environmental resources and supporting our community.

Our mission for 2021 is:

‘Eat Right: Live Right’

You are what you eat. Eat to live, feel well and be well. 

Information for this article was sourced from the Internet, publications, and the author’s own resources.

Previous Article
Next Article

Next Up