ADEQUATE food that can be accessed by all West Australians from a safe, affordable, nutritious and environmentally sustainable food supply is a key priority in developing food security for the State.
Curtin University’s International Institute of Agri-Food Security Director, Professor Janet Bornman, says it has become increasingly obvious food security is not only about production but also what types of food are most beneficial for health and well-being.
“We need to bring together the different public and private sectors to work collaboratively on agricultural outcomes, healthy food benefits, the impacts of climate variability, food supply chains, community engagement and lifestyle consumer choices,” she says.
“Food security cannot be solved in only one or two areas because its realisation relies on a functional pathway of delivery from the farm to the consumer.
“To deal with these issues, there should be more emphasis on stimulating local awareness and engagement that will bring benefits to remote areas by involving those living in these areas.
“By encouraging local, quality food production, remote areas will be less reliant on food brought in over long distances and less at the mercy of price discrepancies between remote and metropolitan communities.”
Professor Bornman says, to move in this direction, research-based community activities need to be geared towards greater self-sufficiency and nutritious food awareness that will benefit science and stakeholders.
The International Institute of Agri-Food Security, drawing expertise from Curtin’s five teaching areas, is establishing FOODSolutions, a Curtin International Graduate Research Training Program for Agri-food and Health.
“Given the cross-cutting initiatives that solutions to food security offers, we are aiming to attract and engage students, emerging researchers and farmers to build the capacity required to meet current and predicted health and food security challenges,” Professor Bornman says.
Healthway Food Law Chief Investigator and Curtin Research Fellow Dr Christina Pollard, believes the key is matching environmental changes throughout the food system with education programs to assist with food literacy and understanding what constitutes a healthy diet.
“Recent in-store promotions of lower-priced fresh fruit, vegetables and milk will influence the types of foods people purchase,” she says. “We know the cost of healthier foods is more per kilojoule than unhealthy foods so this will make a difference.
“Interventions to reduce the advertising and promotion of energy-dense foods – those high in fat, salt and added sugar—are also called for.
“Effective nutrition education campaigns are needed so that consumers know what and how much they should be eating and have the skills to plan, purchase and prepare for a healthy diet.”