20 Oct The Optimeal® tool for healthy, sustainable food products and diets
Both individual consumers and the food industry are increasingly considering the dual impact of their food on health and the environment. Quantifying how sustainable certain foods are is challenging, but the Optimeal® tool allows you to look at this question in detail.
Optimeal was developed in the Netherlands and has contributed to several scientific publications around the sustainability of diets. You can enter a daily diet into Optimeal, and ask it to optimise the diet for nutrition, or to minimise the environmental impact of the diet, or even to replace a certain food item with nutritionally equivalent foods. Optimeal then returns an altered diet that answers the question posed with the minimum degree of change to the original diet. This helps to ensure that the new diet would still be acceptable, due to its similarity to the original diet.
Optimeal can also be used in food product development. For example, a food developer may wish to reduce the environmental impact of a new ready-meal, while ensuring that it meets some constraints around nutrition. Optimeal would optimise the increases and decreases needed to the ingredients in the meal that satisfy the developer’s requirements.
Optimeal differs from the Sustainable Nutrition Initiative’s DELTA Model® in the scale of sustainability it considers. Optimeal is excellent for analysing food and diets from an individual up to a national level, whereas the DELTA Model® considers the sustainability of the global food system. Considering sustainability from the individual and the global perspective are both important in designing future food systems.
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