University of ArkansasSustainable Healthy Diets: Examining the Trade-offs of Processing, Nutrition and Environmental Sustainability
Dr. Ebenezer Miezah Kwofie is an assistant professor of food systems sustainability and resilience at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He holds a joint appointment at the Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and the Food Science Departments. He has Ph.D. in Bioresource Engineering from McGill University, Canada. Prior to joining the University of Arkansas, he was a Research Associate at the Food and Bioprocess Research lab at Bioresource Engineering Department, McGill University, where he served as manager for International Food Systems Development projects, working in developing countries including Zambia, Malawi, Ethiopia, Bolivia, and Honduras. These projects were focused on enhancing food systems sustainability and strengthening the capacity of stakeholders (farmers, farmer cooperatives, small-scale food enterprises, NGOs, and local government departments).
Dr. Kwofie’s research explores the connectivity and dynamics of environmental, economic, and product-process efficiency to address food system sustainability and resilience. His research applies life cycle thinking to evaluate trade-offs of food process, nutritional quality, and environmental impact. Additionally, he focuses on industrial eco-efficiency optimization through techno-eco-environmental modeling and sustainability decision analysis of food and bioproducts across their value chains.
Production and consumption of sustainable healthy diets are the desired outcome of the food system. In the last decade, consumer demand for nutritious and environmentally sustainable diets has increased considerably. Navigating the health-environmental dynamics is becoming essential in consumer food choices because healthy foods may not necessarily be sustainable, and vice versa. For household meal preparation, the impact of processing significantly changes this environmental nutrition relationship. In low resource setting communities, the processing choices further complicate this relationship because of the socioeconomic implications. Examining the dynamics and the associated trade-offs of this complex network is critical and could be an important pathway for transitioning towards sustainable healthy diets. Using the common bean value chain as a case study, we will examine the impact of processing on nutritional and nutraceutical quality, and explore the dynamics of the trade-offs of processing, nutrition, environmental sustainability, and the socioeconomic implications of such processing choices in a low resource setting community.