Food for thought: a good deed in the diet

A farmer outside of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand
A farmer outside of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand

Ever wonder how you can help change the world? Believe it or not, the answer can be found with your choices of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Heavy-protein diets and overindulgence in processed foods are, in fact, not only bad for your health, but also straining on the finite resources with which these foodstuffs are made of, such as water and electricity.

Our world is experiencing unprecedented growth in urban populations, creating pockets of wealth in emergent economies, most notably in the Far East. With this new-found economic freedom, diets are drastically changing, often mirroring unsustainable habits of the West.

The issue of food security is has been featured on the top of political agendas as of recent, drawing media attention for the prime ministers of Malaysia and Bangladesh.

In my latest blog piece of Inside Investor, I have outlined how better diets can alleviate overtaxed resources. The following is an excerpt from that article:

Often pinpointed as the saviour source central to food security strategies, Southeast Asian nations are more likely to export less in years to come. As urban population growth raises aggregate demand and exponentially eats up domestic production, more resource-intensive food items will be strained along the way due to the new-found economic freedom of the nouveau middle class.

In the period between 1990 and 2010, Southeast Asian urban centres saw the fastest growth in urban to rural population portion in the Asia-Pacific, according to data from the UNESCAP, a trend widely expected to continue (figure 1). This also reflects a larger global trend: In the same period, the world’s urban population overtook its rural population for the first time in human history. Fifty-one percent of the planet now resides in urban areas, a shift forecasted to stay on course at a pace of 1.9 per cent a year.

While Southeast Asia’s rapid urban population growth of 2.2 per cent a year will continue to overtax already inadequate infrastructure in cities such as Bangkok, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta, South Asia has seen the fastest growth in the Asia-Pacific, creating the opportunity to point to jarring comparisons. In India, over one million new urban residents will be tacked onto cities per month, the equivalent of spawning a new Hong Kong or Singapore every year.


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