From Food Composition Risk to Biodiversity Risk, A Program for Food Surveys and Composition Studies


Ronald Calitri


Poster presented at the 5th. International Food Data Conference, Washington D.C., 7/1/03


Food Consumption Risk, Nutrient Intake Variation, Biodiversity


Objective: to present food composition risk as a multivariate process extending through preparation, market, processing, agricultural practice and biodiversity. Provide formulation of risks arising at each stage with quantitative magnitudes. Discuss the testability of the hypothesis that biodiversity risks pass through to market and whether risks may be concentrated at any stage. Methods and Materials: Review literature on calculation of food composition risk from samples in national nutrient databanks,  “natural” variations in composition, and food traceability to geographic origin. Discuss foods and food groups in Brazilian Pesquisa de Orcamentos Familiares. Project selected nutrients from food groups. Estimate intra-household and inter-income variation. Compare with variation from biodiversity in food groups from literature and if possible original research on Brazilian rice or coffee. Results: Probable finding of systematic underestimation of biodiversity risk in food composition risk studies. Identification of Brazilian food groups most subject to biodiversity risk. Probable levels of population food composition risk of several percentage points in some components. If sampling proves possible, systematic variation of rice or coffee composition with price could be identified.  Significance. The proposed formulation should improve measurement of nutrient consumption derived from survey data. A systematic program to catalog variations of food composition arising from biodiversity should significantly advance knowledge. A by-product would be improved public information to estimate actual intakes.



The abstract reports technicalities, the poster a skeleton of the entire argument. Its main purposes are to pass on what ideas are possible, and to ask conference participants for their thoughts and references to the literature. The possibility of beginning a project to compile an ongoing record of the food composition of the tree of life seems implicit in remarks by many conference participants.


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