Mankinds relationship-with-food-past-present-and-furure 01


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What did the “earliest humans” eat two million years ago? How has their diet
evolved? What is it composed of today? What can we expect for tomorrow?

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Mankinds relationship-with-food-past-present-and-furure 01

  1. 1. Press Release September 2011 Mankind’s Relationship with Food: Past, Present and FutureWhat did the “earliest humans” eat two million years ago? How has their dietevolved? What is it composed of today? What can we expect for tomorrow?After the monographs about children and television, the tyranny of dieting in 2010and appetite control and disorders in 2011, the Louis Bonduelle Foundation iscontinuing its exploration into eating habits. This new monograph, based onpapers by Pascal Picq (paleoanthropologist at the Collège de France), MartinePadilla (Director of Research in Food Economics) and Serge Hercberg (Director ofResearch with the Inserm, Professor of Nutrition and Coordinator of the NutriNetSanté survey), presented at the Louis Bonduelle Foundation Conference last Maygives an overview of how food habits have evolved over the centuries. .This is a summary of the monograph “Mankind’s Relationship with Food: Past, Present and Future”Full monograph available upon requestCredit: Louis Bonduelle FoundationPress ContactMagali DelmasVivactis Public Relations - Tel: + 33 1 46 67 63 44 - Email:
  2. 2. The origins of the human dietHominids, the ancestors of the “Early Humans” fed on fruit, leaves, insects and meat. Made upof different food types, this fructivorous/omnivorous diet, rare in mammals, came from the lineof descent of the apes of the Old World. However, it is not easy to have a varied diet, and itrequires cognitive capacities as well as cultural and technical knowledge. It was by followingthe example of others that Hominids selected the right foods. Primitive tools enabled them tohave access to food with a high nutritional value such as nuts, pulses with hard pods, rootsand meat which they cut with their sharp tools.Early humans of the Homo genus, who emerged around two million years ago, conquerednew regions and left Africa thanks to… their diet. Since they found an efficient way to procuremeat (a foodstuff available in any season and at any latitude) they no longer had to stay inthe tropical forests. What’s more, harnessing fire and mastering the art of cooking vegetables(rather than meat, as is wrongly believed) led to the transformation of their bodies, especiallythe increase in the size of their brains.A leap in time: in a dozen parts of the world, at roughly the same time (10,000 BC), HomoSapiens began to settle and to cultivate plants and vegetables. The diversity of their diet wasreduced, resulting in vast natural selection. The only survivors were people capable ofdigesting certain foodstuffs. And the species evolved: skeletons became less robust, and thesize of bodies and brains decreased.Today’s FoodThe Industrial Revolution in the mid 19th century radically transformed our diet and how weeat. In less than two hundred years we saw the emergence of: − Industrial food production. Food has become increasingly distanced from the raw product, and is now “ready-to-eat” and high in sugar, fats, salt and preservatives and contains less and less fibre. It is estimated that consumption of processed food has multiplied three-or fourfold in France over the last twenty years. − Changes in how we eat. Despite the fact that throughout the history of mankind, meals have represented a moment of sharing and conviviality, eating has now become far more individual and less ritualised, a phenomenon described as the de-structuring of meals. − A change in food habits. Certain foods such as bread and pulses have fallen out of favour, replaced by red meat which is considered more noble. In 1900, daily consumption of bread stood at 900 grammes per person compared with 110.5 grammes in 2010.Our perception of food is also changing. Until recently, we ate for pleasure, but now food islinked to aesthetic concerns and health preoccupations.The Food of the FutureA decline in hyperconsumption, a return to raw products and cooking, more responsiblefood for pleasure and conviviality and the desire to limit the environmental impact are thetrends that have been taking shape over the last few years.What should we expect in the future? Will the return to local produce continue or will
  3. 3. globalisation get the upper hand again? No-one can say for sure, but experts envisagevarious possible scenarios, one of which involves the problem of sustainable developmentand responsible eating which seems to be more than just a passing fad. Nevertheless, weshould be wary of counter-intuitive realities! For example, while it is good for theenvironment to eat local, in-season products, the same cannot be said for local productsthat are not in season. The environmental impact of greenhouse production and thefertilisers required is greater than the impact of transporting imported fruit and vegetablesthat are in season in the place that they are grown.But will we be able to feed tomorrow’s world? According to various analyses, the fooddemand in calories could increase from 40% to 68% between 2000 and 2050. This is asignificant increase, but agronomists assure us that the Earth can feed a great manymouths.The fundamental question remains: how can we guarantee a fair distribution of highquality food? By putting humanity back into tomorrow’s food. The importance of nutritional epidemiology Our relationship with food has changed drastically over the last fifty years and developing countries are now faced with a genuine epidemic of illnesses such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Over recent decades, nutritional epidemiology has shed light on the links between the incidence of these pathologies and diet. In France, the NutriNet-Santé study, which began in 2009 and aims to involve 300,000 people, will enable us to create a gigantic database – one of the largest in the world in the health sector – about the nutrition and health of the French population. By means of participant follow-ups over a long period (ten years), the study will allow for a precise examination of the relationship between food intake and mortality and the incidence of major pathologies.
  4. 4. About the Louis-Bonduelle Foundation Set up in October 2004, the aim of the Louis-Bonduelle Foundation is to help to bring about a long-term change in eating habits by putting the benefits of vegetables at the heart of its work. The Louis Bonduelle Foundation has set itself this task, in aninternational context, declaring its goal to go further than mere speechifying by givingeveryone effective, practical and often original ways of introducing vegetables into theirday-to-day lives.Its programme is based on three main areas:- Informing and raising awareness- Supporting research- Working “on the ground”.“At the Louis-Bonduelle Foundation, we believe that, as well as providing everyone withinformation, we have to provide support for people to change their eating habits”Christophe Bonduelle, Chairman of the Louis-Bonduelle Foundation.For further information, news and recipes, please