Hunger, malnutrition and obesity coexist in rich and poor countries alike, often in the same town or even in the same home. Diabetes, heart disease, coastal dead zones and other social burdens connected to our food system continue to rise.
In recognition of this urgent challenge, the United Nations will hold a global summit in September for government, business, nonprofit organizations and civil society leaders to map a more sustainable, healthy and equitable food system. Transforming our food system will require a new mind-set and more careful consideration of blue foods — aquatic animals, plants and algae cultivated and captured in freshwater and marine environments.
Until now, the movement to build productive and sustainable food systems has focused on transforming land-based crops and livestock, largely overlooking the critical role that fish and other aquatic foods play in nutrition, livelihoods and ecosystems around the world. That role will increase as food production becomes increasingly vulnerable to climate change.
Over the last half-century, policymakers and business leaders have given priority to efficiency and scale by supporting major crop and livestock farmers, reducing food prices for consumers and expanding market opportunities. Blue foods, by contrast, represent a large and complex group that defies similar strategies. More than 3,000 species of fish, shellfish, plants and algae are produced globally in a wide array of ecosystems with different technologies at multiple scales. These include, for example, ocean tuna cages in Australia, lines of seaweed and bivalves along China’s coastline, and freshwater catfish ponds in Vietnam, Nigeria and the U.S. Blue foods provide protein and micronutrients that help prevent maternal and infant mortality, stunting and cognitive deficits. They also offer healthy fats that help reduce obesity and metabolic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Central Maine