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Atomization of food systems

Our food systems should work as a distributed chain of nodes, and each node should be able to produce a varied offer for a local population

Photo of Salvador Camacho
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Nudging Solutions

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Other

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.nudgingsolutions.com

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Basel

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Switzterland

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

State of Mexico

What country is your selected Place located in?

Mexico

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

This is my hometown

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

According to wikipedia: The State of Mexico (Spanish: Estado de México, is one of the 32 federal entities of Mexico. It is the most populous, as well as the most densely populated state. It is divided into 125 municipalities and its capital city is Toluca de Lerdo. The State of Mexico is often abbreviated to "Edomex" from Estado de México in Spanish, to distinguish it from the name of the whole country. It is located in South-Central Mexico. It is bordered by the states of Querétaro and Hidalgo to the north, Morelos and Guerrero to the south, Michoacán to the west, Tlaxcala and Puebla to the east, and surrounds Mexico City (the former Federal District) on three sides. The state's origins are in the territory of the Aztec Empire, which remained a political division of New Spain during the Spanish colonial period. After gaining independence, Mexico City was chosen as the capital of the new nation; its territory was separated out of the state. The state name is simply México according to the 1917 Constitution of the United Mexican States, but to distinguish it from both the city and the country it is most often called Estado de México. The state has a territory of 22,499.95km2 and borders the states of Querétaro, Hidalgo, Guerrero, Morelos, Puebla, Tlaxcala and Michoacán. The state surrounds Mexico City on three sides (west, north and east). The state is divided into five natural regions: the Volcanos of the Valley of Mexico, the hills and plains north of the state, the western mountains, the Balsas Depression and the mountains and valleys of the southeast. About seventy percent of the state has a temperate moist climate. Average year-round temperature varies between 12C and 18C with annual precipitation above 700 millimeters. Higher elevations, about 13% of the state, in the center and east of the state have a semicold climate with average temperatures below 16C. Due to the various climates, the state has a wide variety of flora. 609,000 hectares is covered in tree, most of which is in the temperate and cold climates of the state. In the extreme southwest of the state, rainforests can be found and desert plants in the Hidalgo border area. In the highest altitudes, such as the peak of the Nevada de Toluca, alpine grassland can be found.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

18000000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Despite the government’s efforts to combat poverty and malnutrition, in Mexico food insecurity is a persistent problem. Mexico is one of the few OECD countries where gains in life expectancy have not slowed down in recent years. Nevertheless, life expectancy remains approximately five years below the OECD average (75.4 and 80.7 years, respectively).Health care expenditure comprises 5.5% of GDP, which is amongst the lowest across OECD countries. Health insurance coverage for vulnerable populations has expanded over time, but gaps remain. Coverage for a core set of health services in Mexico is the lowest in the OECD at 89.3%. Out-of-pocket payments remain high at 41% of total health expenditure. Indicators highlight some quality of care concerns – for example, avoidable admissions for diabetes are nearly twice the OECD average (249 per 100 000 people), and 30-day mortality after a heart attack is almost four times the OECD average (27.5%).Rates of smoking (7.6%) and dependent drinkers (1.3%) are relatively low in Mexico. Poor diets and sedentary lifestyles means a large proportion (72.5%) of the population are either overweight or obese. Health care expenditure comprises 5.5% of GDP, which is amongst the lowest across OECD countries. Health insurance coverage for vulnerable populations has expanded over time, but gaps remain. Coverage for a core set of health services in Mexico is the lowest in the OECD at 89.3%. Out-of-pocket payments remain high at 41% of total health expenditure. Indicators highlight some quality of care concerns – for example, avoidable admissions for diabetes are nearly twice the OECD average (249 per 100 000 people), and 30-day mortality after a heart attack is almost four times the OECD average (27.5%). Poor diets and sedentary lifestyles means a large proportion (72.5%) of the population are either overweight or obese. Mexico has the highest diabetes prevalence and hospital admissions across OECD countries. Nearly three-quarters (72.5%) of adults in Mexico are either overweight or obese, putting the country in second place among OECD countries. The trend begins at a young age, with children in Mexico more likely to be overweight or obese than the average child living in the OECD (37.7% and 31.4%, respectively). Tackling obesity requires a suite of complementary good practice policies reformulation of foods and beverages to reduce levels of saturated fat, sugars and sodium, and communication policies such as mass media campaign, food labelling and advertising prescriptions. Doctors, in particular general practitioners, also play an important role in optimising the prevention, diagnosis and management of diabetes, which stops the escalation of adverse health outcomes. The agriculture in Mexico tends to homogenization driven by the food producers' oglipoly, the economical incentives foster this trend. Food availability is mainly industrialized food which explains the high prevalence of metabolic diseases.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

The food system is set to feed the industrial production of food, turning crops into raw materials for long-life shelf-products. This homogenization shapes the food availability which has a big impact on populations health. This also displace populations from their lands and compromises their food security, in addition to create havoc on the ecosystems. The food industry relies on the calorie balance concept to inform the populations about the advantages of their products, e.g. a low-calorie product will be advertised as healthy even though it is made with ingredients that are proven to deter health. Atomizing the food production will mean to have nodes with a big variety of crops (as opposed to homogenous ones) that serve a local population and reduce. These nodes will have a seasonal, bio, sustainable and ethic produce. The nodes will count with several food outlets to increase the accessibility of this kind of foods. There should be programs to teach people how to cook. This will have a positive influence in the population's health by eating foods that do not have so much transformation. Besides that, the populations will be educated on how the foods they eat affect their hormonal balance hence their health, and not on the calorie balance. This is based on my research: Salvador Camacho & Andreas Ruppel (2017) Is the calorie concept a real solution to the obesity epidemic?, Global Health Action, 10:1, DOI: 10.1080/16549716.2017.1289650

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

People will eat mostly natural and whole foods and only very eventually industrialized ones, being aware that these are detrimental for their health. These nodes will have a strong link to their served communities being accountable for quality, sustainability, organic produce and ethics. The offer will react immediately to demand without misleading advertisements nor misinformation about the benefits of this food.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

This vision reconnects the community to the food producer. By shortening the distance between the populations and the food producers, there are several advantages such as having a more diverse and seasonal offer, reducing pollution, conservating the local food culture and avoiding homogenization. Most importantly, hyper industrialzed foods will be avoid and this will have a very positive impact on populations health. The local eco-systems will be preserved too, avoiding the monocultives.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website

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Photo of Village Development  Center (VDC)
Team

Thank you so much for the Food Extension Initiative.

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