Findings of IUFoST Traditional Foods and Food Culture Scientific Roundtable (SRD8)

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Global perspectives on the Central Supporting Role of Traditional Foods, culture and processing in ensuring sustainable, resilient and healthy food systems were presented. 

African Food Prize Laureate Prof. Ruth Oniang’o underlined the great diversity of African traditional foods and food cultures. What is most important is that Prof Ruth has put forward African specificities that are very current in the evolutions and needs of the food systems as, for example, the alternative sources of proteins, vegetable proteins, fermented foods, insects (such as locusts). Prof Ruth also highlighted the fact that the pandemic has changed our vision on our food and highlighted traditional food cultures for their contribution in micronutrients and the strengthening of immune defenses.

The South American perspective was offered by Prof. Jaime Amaya-Farfan who pointed out the hybridization of food cultures between Native American cultures and European, African and Asian cultures imported by immigrants. He also showed the importance of the adaptation of these different food cultures to the local food resources, for example, the substitution of cereals by pseudo-cereals or the use of the hugely important resources of the Amazon or the consumption of nutritionally rich foods. 

Dr. Hiroya Kawasaki, Associate General Manager of the Sensory and Consumer Insight Group of Ajinomoto Company Japan highlighted the specificities of Japanese cuisine, in particular the use of seasonal products but, above all, the use of dashi-based products (the platform broth of Japanese cuisine) which provides umami flavour (MSG-type flavour) and the aromas of the Maillard reaction and makes it possible to prepare products with a low-fat and a low caloric content with mild flavour. 

National Contact Point chosen by the Lebanese Minister of Education and Higher Education for ‘Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials’, Prof. Lara Hanna highlighted the health and environmental benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which is based on a high consumption of fruit and vegetables, a moderate consumption of fish and dairy products and a low consumption of red meat but always with inclusion of olive oil. She also highlighted the difficulties in promoting this diet, particularly the economic difficulties. The basic concept of Mediterranean diet and health aspects was emphasized as a very important model globally.

Prof. Rekha Singhal focused on the great diversity of Indian food cultures and India's unique positioning in traditional foods for over 5000 years. She mentioned how these traditional foods exhibit efficacy both as a technique to preserve food and also with medicinal benefits especially spices and wisdom in the intelligent and optimal use of resources. She demonstrated the many benefits of herbs and spices, millets, legumes, and pulses, especially for immunity boosting or fighting against diseases of modern times with combinatorial effect.

Dr. Lijing Ke presented in a most original way how food complies with the Chinese traditional philosophy of yin and yang. He also showed how food nanoparticles in soups and infusions are vehicles for bioactive compounds or micronutrients. Further, the role of food at a molecular level to bring about metabolic changes in such small amounts is being understood with models and the interactions at a cellular level.

Founder of the Korea Food Security Research Foundation, and author of “A History of Korean Food”, Korean Foodways from Prehistory to the Present”, Prof. Cherl-Ho Lee provided a basis for the origin of cooking methods and fermented foods, and for future contributions of Korean foodways to the world, in particular with regard to the intersection of food and traditional Eastern medicine. 

“A survey of classical literature [in Korea] reveals the historical background and manufacture methods of traditional food categories, such as rice cakes, Korean sweets, fermented sauces…” (Cherl-Ho Lee).

Findings and Recommendations for Action are included in this report attached. Please acknowledge IUFoST source when using or disseminating.