Health and Medicine

Australian families encouraged to tuck into Science Week with a healthy and sustainable challenge

A digital lunchbox launched by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, aims to get people thinking about making both healthy and sustainable food choices and what they might be eating in the future.

For example, a dragon fruit is healthier than chips, but which of these choices is actually better for the planet?

The CSIRO Tuckerbox provides nutrition and sustainability ratings for a range of different foods and drinks that users can add to their lunchbox in different combinations to improve their score.

It also gives a taste of the food we could be eating by 2050 based on the latest research in food innovation, including work aligned with CSIRO’s Future Protein and Trusted Agrifood Exports missions, as well as the Ending Plastic Waste mission.

CSIRO research scientist Dr Gilly Hendrie said with many families eating meals together at home, the Tuckerbox can be used to complement home school activities during National Science Week, which this year has theme of ‘Food: Different by Design’.

“Making good food choices is a combination of understanding what foods are healthy as well as getting into good habits, and the better we are at this when we’re at home, the easier it is to make smart choices when we’re out and about,” Dr Hendrie said.

“The Tuckerbox also reflects the complexity of making real world food choices, where it’s rare that we can make perfectly healthy or perfectly sustainable choices, so it’s about understanding how we get balance.”

CSIRO Nutrition Systems Scientist, Dr Jessica Bogard said sustainability is an increasingly important consideration for consumers that want to know their food has been produced with minimal impact on the environment.

“The tuckerbox aims to get people thinking about what resources are used to not only grow food but to transport and process it too,” Dr Bogard said.

“There are many ways we are working to create more sustainable food systems, and technology will play a key role in the future, such as through developing ways to build and maintain healthy soil, managing water wisely and minimising air, water, and climate pollution.”

Mum of eight-year-old Lily, Bianca Evans, said her whole family looked at their lunchboxes with new eyes after playing with the Tuckerbox.

“As a family we already spend time talking about healthy choices and we like to get Lily actively involved in the kitchen. The Tuckerbox gave us all a great opportunity to think about how our choices also impact the health of the environment,” Ms Evans said.

“I think the Tuckerbox has inspired Lily to think about a career in science, she was very excited by the idea of growing food on Mars or helping to invent robot chefs to personalise our food when she gets older.”

The Tuckerbox draws on decades of research and innovation developed by CSIRO in partnership with the food industry, including adapting livestock and crops to our changing climate; improving sustainability in how food is produced, processed and transported; increasing the nutritional value of food; and helping people make their diets healthier.

Source: CSIRO

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