As the saying goes, “we are what we eat.” Because of this, or perhaps due to the increasing amount of scientific evidence regarding the impact of food on health, over the recent months, the Argentine media has been reporting different news related to several aspects of our daily diet. Due to the increase in reports, the media has gradually been putting the debate about the impact of food on health on the local agenda.
Based on ethical and environmental considerations in health matters, vegetarian diets have increased in popularity among Argentineans. What does the Argentine Nutrition Society (SAN) have to say about this issue? The media in Argentina is increasingly interested in knowing the answer to this question. “Vegetarianism is being adopted by an increasing number of people. In light of this fact, we consider that SAN, as the organization that sets nutrition standards in our country, cannot be absent from this discussion,” explained SAN Chairman Dr. César Casávola. Casávola also clarified that vegans (who avoid eating animal products entirely) are at a higher risk of suffering from anemia and other nutritional deficiencies than ovo-lacto vegetarians (who avoids eating meat, but eat eggs, milk and milk products).
Another piece of news related to this issue was a study conducted by Austrian scientists and published in PloS ONE, a journal. According to this study, “vegetarians have a lower quality of life”, as reported by Clarín, a leading newspaper.
In addition to addressing the question of vegetarian diets, Argentine newspapers have often taken advantage of the visits paid to our country by experts on the matter, reported on the debate about the safety of processed food, controls imposed on organic and the reason why “natural” does not necessarily mean good and healthy. “Most of the food we ingest is, to some extent, processed. Food processing is not a new invention; human beings have been doing this for thousands of years. Canning and cooking food are examples of the way in which our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers process and preserve food. Coffee is processed, and so are cookies, milk and even packaged food; most of the food we put on our table is processed,” explained Janet Collins, President of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a U.S.-based organization that visited Argentina to participate in the Argentine Congress of Food Science and Technology organized by the Argentine Association of Food Technologists (AATA). After explaining that all the products currently available on supermarkets’ and groceries’ shelves have been previously analyzed and approved by the pertinent supervisory entities, both national and international, the expert added: “Consumers usually think that food labeled as organic, or natural, or non-packaged food is healthier than processed food whereas, in fact, from the nutritional point of view, there is no difference between them”.
All in all, the debates about which foods are healthy and which are not, safety levels of non-caloric sweeteners, and the long-term impact that different ingredients have on health, are widely addressed by the Argentine media. And there are a great number of voices and positions. However, the audience is not yet able to decode the different and multiple messages.