Food, people and our planet


The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation (BCFN Foundation) is a multidisciplinary and independent think tank born with the objective to analyse the big topics relating to food and nutrition in the world and promote an open and cross-disciplinary dialogue between the sciences, politics, business and society. At the centre of BCFN Foundation activity is the desire to give people the tools to interpret and understand, through food, the big changes taking place in our society – such as climate change, the depletion of natural resources, undernourishment, the obesity epidemic, waste across the agro-food chain – so as to make more conscious food choices on a daily basis to benefit our health and the health of our planet.

The BCFN Foundation actively promotes scientific research and raises awareness of the challenges currently facing the agro-food system to a wide public, through a series of publicly available publications, scientific articles, participation in conferences and international debates, as well as the organisation of a yearly International Forum that analyses the changes and challenges of current society through food with the contribution of scientists, politicians, the private sector and civil society. BCFN Foundation research and knowledge distribution concern four main areas: access to food; food and health; food and sustainability; and food and society.
Eating planet, food and sustainability: building our future

The book Eating planet, food and sustainability: building our future, presented by the BCFN Foundation on 18 February, first in Milan, then in New York, tackles, with a multidisciplinary approach and through the contribution of young researchers and international experts, the big challenges the international community will have to face to guarantee the health of humanity and the health of the planet. A long journey is under way, spanning from the recently concluded Universal Exposition to the ambitious objectives set by the Paris Climate Conference, COP21, to tackle the three big paradoxes of food. The first concerns the access to and the excess of food: for every undernourished person in the world there are two overweight or obese people; the second relates to the overuse of natural resources and sustainability: 40% of cereal harvest is used to produce feed and biofuel regardless of the spread of famine; and the third regards food waste: each year we waste a third of food production, equal to four times the quantity needed to feed the 795 million undernourished people in the world. What can be done to resolve this situation? What can each and every one of us do to make sure we head in the direction of food that is both healthy and sustainable? Eating Planet tackles these topics and offers possible solutions, showing how each and every one of us can help make the transition towards a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle and society.

The BCFN Foundation underlines the importance of sustainability across the agro-food chain – from farmers to producers and distributors – but also the behaviours of individuals and families whose daily choices can have a powerful influence on the market and, consequently, draw more attention to safeguarding the environment in which we live. The double food and environment pyramid shows, for the first time, the close relationship between the nutrition of foods and their environmental impact generated in the production, distribution and consumption phases. If we adopt a balanced food model in line with nutritionists’ recommendations, like the Mediterranean diet, we can reconcile the health of a person with the health of the environment.

New generations: the leaders of tomorrow

Young people are at the heart of the BCFN Foundation. Since 2012, the BCFN has encouraged young researchers from across the world to respond to the challenges facing the current food system with the BCFN YES! Young Earth Solutions competition. Now in its fifth edition, young BCFN YES! finalists from previous years have formed a group of alumni, composed of 80 young people from five continents and a diverse array of disciplines. They share the desire to build a different world. The Youth Manifesto is the result of BCFN Alumni’s work for Expo 2015; the document contains seven operational proposals to tackle the challenge of the paradoxes in food and identifies seven key roles in the system (policymakers, farmers, activists, educators, the food industry, journalists and researchers). Presented to the Italian Minister of Agriculture Maurizio Martina and a large number of country representatives in their EXPO pavilions, the Youth Manifesto has even reached the European Parliament in Brussels at an event that brought the delegation of BCFN alumni and their message to the heart of political debate.

The BCFN Foundation aims, through the BCFN YES! Young Earth Solutions competition, to encourage young researchers to conduct research projects with the objective to improve food safety and guarantee healthy and sustainable nutrition. Moreover, it favours collaborative research such as to open up new areas of research and create new generations of experts. Topics of interest include promoting sustainable diets, resilience to climate change, urban food policies, new communication networks and technologies, and the role of women and young people in farming.

Aimed at doctorates and post-doctorates, the BCFN YES! 2016 competition opened on 22 March. Ten finalists will present their project at the BCFN International Forum to be held at Bocconi University Milan on 30 November and 1 December 2016 in front of a panel of international experts tasked with selecting which project to support.