Hi Whi Community, today I'd like to tackle a topical issue: food sustainability and its importance.

In Italy, my country, strawberries are known as the typical summer fruit, but in the last few decades it is no surprise to find them either in Winter even in the smallest grocery stores. How is it possible? How have our diets changed in the last years? And is it good for our health?

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In the 1980s, globalization aided worldwide free trade and this brought to our countries products never seen before. This contributed to improve our lifestyle and enrich considerably our diets and it is well-known that varied diets are the healthiest ones. Take exotic fruit as an example: it contains high levels of mineral salts, antioxidants, vitamins and “good fats”, but it was unknown in Italy until thirty years ago. Compared to us, our grandparents’ diet was poorer because the available ingredients were just the local ones and so they always almost the same all year round.

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The other side of the coin is that with this new way of trading, we do not always know the origin of these products and how they were actually produced. In addition, this can also highly disadvantage local producers, because foreign products prices are often more competitive than local ones. Why? Because they often come from “poor” countries, where the labour who produces it is underpaid, but this is disrespectful of human rights. On the contrary, we know the origin of home-grown products, which are fresher, because they did not travel long distances, so were not closed in containers for many days, worked or wrapped up. This has an enormous impact on our planet, causing high levels of pollution due to refrigeration and transportation.

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Is a compromise possible? Yes indeed it is: we can both give priority to seasonal and coming from local sources items and still have a varied diet. The key is being always aware of what we are buying, of its origin and way of production. This includes foreign and exotic food on condition that it is produced in a safe and fair way, in order to respect both the people who produces it and our planet.

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- Helen Reeva, 29th August -