Reflections, the red thread that connected all the speeches, workshops, meetings and events of the sixth edition of the Food&Science Festival that took place from 30 September to 2 October in the city of Mantua.
The theme of reflections also characterised the panel organised by ABACO Group, sponsor of the Festival, moderated by Il Sole 24Ore journalist Micaela Cappellini and opened with the provocative question ‘Will the Mediterranean diet still exist in 2032? Speakers included Antonio Samaritani, the CEO of ABACO Group, Ettore Capri, professor at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and director of the European Observatory for Sustainable Development in Agriculture OPERA, Roberta Mannucci, nutritionist and Associate Medical Director UPMC Chianciano – UPMC in Italy. So how do climate change and the various challenges facing agriculture today reflect on the Mediterranean diet? Technology is an essential ally in the climate challenge and in promoting sustainability in agriculture. Crops and food production systems are changing, also thanks to technology. Agriculture 4.0 makes it possible to analyse the health of crops and the land itself: we collect data from satellite observation, from sensors on the ground and then analyse them and understand how to interpret them and how best to use them.
Product traceability, quality and safety certifications are based on data. The data that are acquired thanks to 4.0 technology allow a high degree of reliability of information, thus also guaranteeing the use of sustainable practices.
Climate change and geopolitical variables require new approaches in order to provide for the needs of the population and to do so in an environmentally friendly way. Until a few years ago, all productivity increases were carried out without taking into account what the environmental impact was. Today, with huge demographic pressure, we must continue to produce, but we must do it in a sustainable way to ensure a future for both our planet and new generations.
We must orchestrate the ecosystem: create synergy with the entire agri-food system, to optimise resources, produce healthy, safe and sustainable food and limit waste. It is important to understand that there can be no cultivation without prosperity, and vice versa.
Where to start? Sustainability is not just a concept, it is rather a container for the cultural innovation necessary for a cultural change that must involve different disciplines and that implies responsibility on the part of all the actors operating in the context, from the academic world to the training of new operators, producers, processors and distributors of food, to the duty of individual citizens to follow good practices within a virtuous path that involves the entire community.
Reducing waste, educating, orchestrating complex systems: we need to find a balance in an environment that is constantly changing and where one variable influences the other. We must strive for food sustainability, so eat better, waste fewer resources, consume less water, less soil.
Technology plays a central role in this path because it allows us to take information, to process a set of data, to bring them into a system, raising them to consciousness, and thus to culture, and thus to that necessary change in behaviour.