“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same
level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
It is not necessary to read between the lines in the analysis of waste causes, to recognize and apprehend all of the weaknesses of the current system: the archaic and industrial nature of it, which is driven by income and cost reduction, and as a result - chronic overproduction. It never was and never will be able to serve the consumers’ best interests. The current system is based upon poor consumers’ qualification and a low level of planning. This system is convenient to retailers, but technological progress shrinks time, makes yesterday’s expensive technologies more affordable and information about price, suppliers and transport links available, and smaller but more efficient forms of trade are coming to the stage. People can get all of the benefits from modern technology through fast information finding, rational decision making, coordination, ordering etc. As shown in the research, 27% of households have at least one member who needs a special diet, and only 6.5% have such a kind of qualified support. This might be the most interesting finding from the collected data. People have special needs, but they do not have a proper consumption regime. This problem, as we can see it in the literature review, came from the deep past when the most important thing was the availability of a product, and its affordability. Unfortunately, the same tradition developed over time and, today, the most popular food is affordable and available. Understanding the importance of an individualized diet is only available to people who can afford a special adviser, or sick people, who have professional care, and for a limited number of enthusiasts.
Nowadays, food consumption is something that can be compared with the sale of other goods, such as clothes and toys. Food, like fashion, can be trendy; you can have a lot of it. As you can pay for it, you can waste it, and you do not really care about it. However, the truth is that food is not an ordinary product; it cannot be treated like other products. Food consumption should become more like a health treatment, rather than entertainment. The key factor for tomorrow’s consumer is their own individual needs. The medicine of today has developed incredibly even compared with 20 years ago. The constraining factor in the field of modern health care is that the major problems arise in people’s bodies today due to food: too much, too little, low quality, unbalanced, and irregular meals. Consequently, doctors spend lots of time on patching up the problems caused in 90% of cases by poor food consumption. People consume more food than they need. Regular overeating is a major problem in modern societies, and, by the way, this food is wasted too. Another waster is the food industry. Most processed food does not provide maximum vitamins, minerals and other nutritious elements, and most of it is over-processed, overcooked, the nutritious elements are destroyed, or it is different from the original food, with a chemical formula; some of the products should not be eaten at all. Moreover, in the situation when food prices rise, famine is still part of reality in the list of countries, problems with waste and CO2 emissions are growing, the inefficiency of the global economy is becoming an increasingly important issue.
The answer to this challenge is obvious: we need to plan carefully what to eat and, according to this, what to produce; no need to think that it will be fall into a completely planning economy, but it can significantly reduce the uncertainty. Just a few years ago, people who were well informed about the importance of healthy food found it hard to plan healthy eating. It was taking up a lot of their time every day. Except for the rich who can afford a personal adviser and a cook, the average person is not a professional and, even with some recommendations from specialists, it is extremely hard to maintain a high level diet. However, today, people have some instruments to organize a healthy shopping list (the Waitrose on-line planner, PDACookbook Plus etc.), and refrigerators which can order fresh milk from a local shop when it runs out are an obvious step forward, Another good answer can be a programme created in Russia called: My Body, a Personal Diet, originally made for diet specialists and Gym centres, but now available for usual consumers. This programme takes all spectrums of the problems which face human beings in modern life. The only problem is that this programme has not been translated into English, and not adapted to local specifics, yet. Also, these programmes are not elements of the global system, yet.
So this technical barrier can be overcome. All that is necessary to do in this programme, or this kind of programmes, is to create a centre of gravity, where researchers and scientists, by joining their efforts, can translate the gathered results of their work into practical use with a visual effect within days, not like it is today, when some achievements should wait for years, before implementation. Because, another problem is that humankind has a huge amount of knowledge about food, the methods of preparation, recipes, how to store products correctly, and how to combine and to consume food in the right way, but suddenly we understand that this knowledge is not in use. As mentioned before, the major methods of food preparation are harmful to the nutritious elements. Cooked food loses more vitamins, proteins and minerals that change their chemical structure and this food is impossible to assimilate. Moreover, popular magazines, TV shows, and cookbooks are the main information providers that usually demonstrate food which is suitable for everyone. All such efforts to educate people about food cannot be accepted as reliable, and the question the credibility of the sources of information is highly important, and still open. It is moreover important to find appropriate methods for justifying the content of information channels which would be used as a source for intelligent decision making, within the interconnection of words of the well-known philosopher, Paul Feyerabend, who claimed that science is an instrument of power, and needs to be concerned about "the chauvinism of special groups" (Feyerabend, 1999).
The cost saving effort leads to the unbearable fact, that almost every big player in the food market has some shady or shameful ingredients in their products, and this is of concern. New technology has given us unique tools but some of them, like RFID, are not developing fast enough. For instance, in 2005, Nokia created a special department for RFID support and development, but now it is closed. It might be that it was useless, but, no, it was interesting, and, first of all, for consumers, because the information about the food, will be available for them. Unfortunately, now, all of the information about transparency and traceability, ingredients has been lost on the shop’s shelves or even earlier, and people cannot give 100% of their capacity to analyse all of the ingredients of the food they are buying or planning to consume. Endless conversations about product labelling are a sophisticated discussion around a simple solution: no wasteful visual information is needed, but all of the needed information could be easily scanned from the product. Realizing or implementing it technically into practice today is possible, like taking a photo with your mobile phone of someone’s business card and upload it in your PC’s database. Just one further step is needed, and consumers could achieve many benefits by using such technologies.
It is like new technologies on a military field that develop a new concept of war. It changes the old core principles of it. It is less about muscles, and it is all about the knowledge, information, intelligence, data collection and qualified decision making. It is technically possible to organize an intelligent consumer process; we have enough knowledge to cover all the necessary issues relating to people’s health protection. An interesting example is the “Free from” food, which is not an interesting product for huge supermarkets and retailers. It has a slow turnover, and probably not a big enough margin. When the author took a closer look at the problem if this “Free from” food is not fitting for supermarkets, the answer was, on the contrary, that the current trade system is not fitting to this, a revolutionary unique new food product type, which perfectly works to cover individual needs.
The words of Albert Einstein at the beginning of this report are extremely important for this analysis: in other words, old problems cannot be solved, within the old system, and by applying old methods; we have to use a new level of thinking and apply new methods. What can be proposed as an alternative to the current situation, let us consider the current trade system through the S-curve system development; we have a long line of present S which came to us from the past; supermarkets are perfectly made for selling as much volume as possible rather than helping us to make the correct, healthy choices, and they definitely do not have the idea to save consumers’ money.
It is obvious that the new S-curve already exists and the elements of this system are presented in the food market: vegetable box schemes with direct delivery, combinations of warehouses and shops with bulk vegetables, which are available at a lower price, the new soft and hardware, which were mentioned before; these are slight but rightful signs of the new era in the food marketing chain.
Furthermore, this development today is not something ephemeral or only imaginable; it already exists, and is well described theoretically, and the entire system of the new curve can be found within the Theory of Life Science Integrated approach to health, and in the Theory of Ecologically Integrated approach to health. It is different from the Productionist paradigm or the Industrial approach which we have now, and the significant difference is that those two theories has a human-centric approach with the focus on individual needs. As was shown in the research, people in modern society have lost their ability to be a careful or qualified consumer; a decision making process is burdened by numerous uncertainties, and there are no significant shifts into something better within the frames of the current system.
Originally, in the literature, the two aforementioned theories were two separate theories, but the author did not find any contradictions between them; the only problem for them was they emerged at slightly the wrong time. As mentioned in the literature review, according to the head of a company which produces “Palm” computers, in the next 10 years, everyone will have a portable mobile device and their ability to plan will increase dramatically. The author believes that the beginning of a new era of food consumption has come, and the whole food marketing system should be ready for the changes which are inevitably coming. Through this work, the author has shown that the original dating for applying principles from the theories of the Life Science Integrated approach to health and the Ecologically Integrated approach to health can be moved from 2050, as originally proposed, into our time, and no limitative factors, besides the changes in the current trade system, exist. The consumers themselves displayed a strong wiliness to use tools to optimize their consumption.
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