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Food Inspiration Magazine is the online magazine for foodservice professionals in search of inspiration and innovation. With the magazine we collect, enrich and spread inspiration. The free subscription magazine is published eight times per year and is an abundant source of inspiration for food and hospitality professionals. Our readers can be found in the U.S., Northern Europe, Latin America and Asia.

FIXING THE FUNDAMENTALS

A conversation on food, health, and agriculture

Chef Robert Graham, MD and Dr. Peter Klosse sat down to discuss the future of our food. Much has already been said on the challenges we face in creating a future proof food system. It’s a monumental task, so where to even begin? Perhaps with the fundamentals of good, real food, and the right incentives to produce and provide it.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.


ROBERT

GRAHAM


PETER

KLOSSE

" We’re so excited about the possibilities of food tech that we 
at times forget about the real people."
Robert Graham

When you get very close to individuals personalized nutrition will 
give better answers than the general approach we have now."
Peter Klosse

The animals we eat should be those required for good, sustainable agriculture practices. "
Peter Klosse

Rethinking our preparation and eating real foods. People make things too complicated. Health and food shouldn’t be complex. It should be about fun and just feeling great. People make health complicated but if you just don’t do silly things you have a good chance of being healthy.

My wife never liked cauliflower because she only knew the cauliflower that her mother made for her, cooked in water with a white bechamel sauce. I asked her to trust me and made some oven-roasted cauliflower with spices, and she loved it. We ate a cauliflower between us and it was basically enough.

I love to cook for myself, and if I look critically at what I eat over the last years, meat is disappearing from my plate. Not because I’m an activist or vegan, but because it’s wonderful to discover how good vegetables can taste.

My final question then: what’s on your plate tonight?

The answers for tomorrow aren’t found by turning back the clock. For our future and the future of food, health and sustainability, we need to use what we have. Science is very important for the future and will be helpful in finding better answers than we know now.

Science lets us tailor a specific diet for you, but if the quality of the food is messed up we need to go back to the drawing board.

The popularity of personalized nutrition and nutrigenomics/nutrigenetics really are dialing in to the personalized nutrition portfolio. At the same time there is a huge lack of attention to the more foundational truths. We get lost in the minutiae, and they have a role, but right now we need to start at the fundamentals.

Another thing is that many food supplements are based on a very reductive view of health, in which Beta Caroteen does X and Omega 3 does Y. Real foods are much more complex. Our research methods are too reductive and focused on cause and effect loops. ‘We need to think in complexity. If you are talking about complexity you are talking about a person. What does a person need?

You’re right about not losing sight of the real people. What you see now with these alternatives for meat: ultraprocessed has found a new angle. I don’t believe this is the track for the future. We need to change our consumption but our consumption should still be real foods.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on personalized nutrition. Is it going be good for us or make things more complicated?

Science has recently started looking into more customized diets and the emerging field of personalized nutrition. Many people are trying to understand how genetics can fill in the gaps for high quality nutritional guidance tailored to individuals. We’re so excited about the possibilities of food tech that we at times forget about the real people.

Yes. Those are the core reasons we buy what we buy. It’s important to change that system fundamentally, and you can’t do that by just turning one knob.

I’m so glad you brought up that lifesaving acronym. I would even put an ‘S’ behind it, for Convenient, Affordable, Tasty, and Sustainable (C.A.T.S.).

These changing incentives aren’t the sole responsibility of governments.
Consumers have been spoilt by convenient, affordable, and tasty options (C.A.T.). Healthy options need to follow that model.

The role of the government is huge. We cannot just leave things to the market. That benefits the market, not the people, and not the planet. So governments should consider a much more controlling position. On the one hand the farmers need to be incentivized to produce healthier foods, but on the other hand consumers need to be incentivized to make better choices, through education and research.

I think you and I agree on this topic here. Us in the choir chamber all love to hear our music. But until we change how and why farmers are earning a decent salary not much will change. Do you think the future can ever change if policy doesn’t change?

We should be asking ‘why is the system the way that it is?’ It’s because the system is completely focused on the interests of industry and retail. They are the dominant factors in agriculture. The farmers grow what the industry and retail want. That needs to change. If we can reconsider how that demand came to be we can help farmers make better choices. They’ll start growing quality produce and adding value and ultimately earning more money from that. The biggest question we need to address is: ‘What are we growing and why are we growing it?’

That’s getting closer to the core of the problem. The food system can be more transparent. But what are we really transparent about? If you have a very transparent system that produces nutritionally dead foods it doesn’t lead us anywhere.

I like to push a little bit on this subject. Many people across the industry all agree on these simple principles. But is our current food system getting more transparent? Or are things just getting worse? Everyone is saying we need to change, but the people that are feeding us are not changing.

Definitely. The people that say vegan is the future forget some important elements of biology. We need animals for many nutrients.  We should start seeing animals as the surplus product of agriculture. The animals we eat should be those required for good, sustainable agriculture practices. 

I couldn’t agree with you more. One of our motto’s is also simply: eat more plants. That said we’re hearing a lot about regenerative agriculture and its place in our future food system. Do you think there’s a place for ‘good’ meat on our plate?

I think, coincidentally, that the good thing for the climate and sustainability and the good thing for our health run together. There’s one good diet for both: less meat, more vegetables, more fruits, more locally grown and seasonal, etcetera. Ultimately also less ultraprocessed food, but that’s something that comes later. These goals are both sustainable development goals and health goals.

Let’s dive right in. One of the things I’ve always struggled with is can we balance food, health, and sustainability?

  4 min

Offline: This content can only be displayed when online.

A CONVERSATION ON FOOD, HEALTH AND AGRICULTURE

EXPERT OPINION

Jelle Steenbergen  Xiao Er Kong

  4 min

FIXING THE FUNDAMENTALS

Lees verder

This conversation has been edited for length 
and clarity.


PETER

KLOSSE


ROBERT

GRAHAM

Let’s dive right in. One of the things I’ve always struggled with is can we balance food, health, and sustainability?

I think, coincidentally, that the good thing for the climate and sustainability and the good thing for our health run together. There’s one good diet for both: less meat, more vegetables, more fruits, more locally grown and seasonal, etcetera. Ultimately also less ultraprocessed food, but that’s something that comes later. These goals are both sustainable development goals and health goals.

I couldn’t agree with you more. One of our motto’s is also simply: eat more plants. That said we’re hearing a lot about regenerative agriculture and its place in our future food system. Do you think there’s a place for ‘good’ meat on our plate?

Definitely. The people that say vegan is the future forget some important elements of biology. We need animals for many nutrients.  We should start seeing animals as the surplus product of agriculture. The animals we eat should be those required for good, sustainable agriculture practices. 

I like to push a little bit on this subject. Many people across the industry all agree on these simple principles. But is our current food system getting more transparent? Or are things just getting worse? Everyone is saying we need to change, but the people that are feeding us are not changing.

That’s getting closer to the core of the problem. The food system can be more transparent. But what are we really transparent about? If you have a very transparent system that produces nutritionally dead foods it doesn’t lead us anywhere.

We should be asking ‘why is the system the way that it is?’ It’s because the system is completely focused on the interests of industry and retail. They are the dominant factors in agriculture. The farmers grow what the industry and retail want. That needs to change. If we can reconsider how that demand came to be we can help farmers make better choices. They’ll start growing quality produce and adding value and ultimately earning more money from that. The biggest question we need to address is: ‘What are we growing and why are we growing it?’

I think you and I agree on this topic here. Us in the choir chamber all love to hear our music. But until we change how and why farmers are earning a decent salary not much will change. Do you think the future can ever change if policy doesn’t change?

The role of the government is huge. We cannot just leave things to the market. That benefits the market, not the people, and not the planet. So governments should consider a much more controlling position. On the one hand the farmers need to be incentivized to produce healthier foods, but on the other hand consumers need to be incentivized to make better choices, through education and research.

These changing incentives aren’t the sole responsibility of governments.
Consumers have been spoilt by convenient, affordable, and tasty options (C.A.T.). Healthy options need to follow that model.

I’m so glad you brought up that lifesaving acronym. I would even put an ‘S’ behind it, for Convenient, Affordable, Tasty, and Sustainable (C.A.T.S.).

Yes. Those are the core reasons we buy what we buy. It’s important to change that system fundamentally, and you can’t do that by just turning one knob.

Science has recently started looking into more customized diets and the emerging field of personalized nutrition. Many people are trying to understand how genetics can fill in the gaps for high quality nutritional guidance tailored to individuals. We’re so excited about the possibilities of food tech that we at times forget about the real people.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on personalized nutrition. Is it going be good for us or make things more complicated?

You’re right about not losing sight of the real people. What you see now with these alternatives for meat: ultraprocessed has found a new angle. I don’t believe this is the track for the future. We need to change our consumption but our consumption should still be real foods.

Another thing is that many food supplements are based on a very reductive view of health, in which Beta Caroteen does X and Omega 3 does Y. Real foods are much more complex. Our research methods are too reductive and focused on cause and effect loops.’ ‘We need to think in complexity. If you are talking about complexity you are talking about a person. What does a person need?

The popularity of personalized nutrition and nutrigenomics/nutrigenetics really are dialing in to the personalized nutrition portfolio. At the same time there is a huge lack of attention to the more foundational truths. We get lost in the minutiae, and they have a role, but right now we need to start at the fundamentals.

Science lets us tailor a specific diet for you, but if the quality of the food is messed up we need to go back to the drawing board.

The answers for tomorrow aren’t found by turning back the clock. For our future and the future of food, health and sustainability, we need to use what we have. Science is very important for the future and will be helpful in finding better answers than we know now.

My final question then: what’s on your plate tonight?

I love to cook for myself, and if I look critically at what I eat over the last years, meat is disappearing from my plate. Not because I’m an activist or vegan, but because it’s wonderful to discover how good vegetables can taste.

My wife never liked cauliflower because she only knew the cauliflower that her mother made for her, cooked in water with a white bechamel sauce. I asked her to trust me and made some oven-roasted cauliflower with spices, and she loved it. We ate a cauliflower between us and it was basically enough.

Rethinking our preparation and eating real foods. People make things too complicated. Health and food shouldn’t be complex. It should be about fun and just feeling great. People make health complicated but if you just don’t do silly things you have a good chance of being healthy.

" We’re so excited about the possibilities of food tech that we 
at times forget about the real people."
Robert Graham

The animals we eat should be those required for good, sustainable agriculture practices. "
Peter Klosse

When you get very close to individuals personalized nutrition will 
give better answers than the general approach we have now.
"
Peter Klosse