Food is increasingly subject to study because its quality can be evaluated through various disciplines that deal transversally with the multidimensional aspects of the whole agri-food chain: the nutritional quality but also the healthiness, safety and applied technology, traceability and sustainability in all steps of the chain.
The research enables us to face the new challenges of our planet’s future, by putting into place the knowledge resources that can be driving for development and change in the environmental, social, and economic sphere.
Global quality in the agri-food sector is a decisive factor in which innovation plays a central role. From investigations to identify foods with molecules that counteract cellular aging, to experiments on energy saving and reuse, from the valorisation of the ancient agronomic techniques revalued on a scientific basis, to the applied research for the reduction of the ecological footprint (a complex indicator that evaluates the human consumption of resources compared to the earth’s capacity to regenerate them). The integrated approach to healthy and sustainable food production will change the perception of food and its centrality with respect to development prospects.
Universities and research centers are at the forefront of this challenge, which also passes through the increasing awareness among citizens of the conscious use of Earth's resources that enable food production: attention in the food choices of individuals and entities purchasing collective catering for schools, hospitals, socio-welfare structures, dissemination of information opportunities for all citizens on the value of food, recovery of the meaning of conviviality, openness to other cultures, transmission of traditions through food, they are increasingly present in training and educational activities proposed by the school and university system.
The school system, in particular, actively promotes the themes of healthy and balanced nutrition with entertaining activities throughout the different levels of schooling, with initiatives to update teachers and the dissemination of awareness materials for families. Learning to nourish oneself and to stay with others, reviving traditions and learning new uses for the kitchen and the table, have become multidisciplinary fields of learning within schools, not just the need to nourish but gestures, practices and behaviors that convey identities, values, meanings. In this respect, it is important to understand also the scientific motivations that suggest, based on the results of biomedical research, what foods can help today's children grow in a balanced way and tomorrow's adults add to their quality of life.