Regardless of culture or history, people are eating mostly the same foods: those derived from wheat, corn and soy—or animals who’ve also eaten those foods. These foods now feed the world, but these food habits aren’t the healthiest.
Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that in the last half century, our global food system has lost diversity, which, the study authors note, “enhances the health and function of complex biological systems.”
“In the last 50 years, what’s on dinner plates has grown more similar the world over – with major consequences for human nutrition and global food security,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
Between 1961 and 2009 “national per capita food supplies expanded in total quantities of food calories, protein, fat and weight,” the researchers said. But there has also been “a decline in the total number of plant species upon which humans depend for food.” And in particular, animal-based foods have become “increasingly important in contribution to protein and oil crops dominating fat food supplies.”
To feed the world, more nations are now reliant on “a short list of major food crops,” such as wheat, corn and soy, dairy and meat, the Lead researcher, Colin Khoury, said in a news release that while wheat, corn and soy “are critical for combating world hunger,” they’re leading to l limited diversity of crops, which “obligates us to bolster the nutritional quality of the major crops.”
This predilection towards a few crops can be connected with the rise in food-related illnesses around the world including obesity, heart disease and diabetes, Khoury said. These illnesses are now appearing “even in countries with significant hunger problems,” reports the Times.
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