SAÚDE: ALIMENTAÇÃO E CIÊNCIA – Toni Massanés | FRUTO 2020


Thank you Felipe,
thank you, Alex. Thank you, Fru.to. I’m sorry but I don’t speak Portuguese,
so I’ll have to speak in Spanish. My presentation was translated, so I hope we can
understand each other. At the turn of the
century, in the beginning, there was a culinary revolution in the
restaurant and high cuisine business. Some of the representatives
are here today. This revolution was
based on creativity. The door to creativity
was opened. An ancient monastery
was being reformed thirty minutes away
from downtown Barcelona so we had the opportunity
to see if we were capable of taking this creativity
to the entire world. To everyone. The idea was to popularize
this culinary creativity to solve real people’s issues. Therefore, turning artistic, creative dishes into an aid that could
assist those with eating difficulties, like allergies, intolerance, etc. For this, we needed to
have that creativity, but we also had to connect with
scientific and nutritional facts and use design thinking tools in order to go from culinary
art to scalable, feasible, applicable, affordable options, available for society at large. That was the idea
behind creating the first responsible eating lab
that we call Alícia. This is how Alícia came to life in 2003. Alícia is a research center where
chefs and scientists work together and work in transdisciplinary
manners in every field. There are chemists, technologists,
nutritionists, agronomists, but also anthropologists,
historians, thus social scientists. Alícia comes from
“Alice in Wonderland”, the most quoted nonscientific book
in scientific literature, and at the same time, one of the
most creative books of all times. It’s also an acronym of the words
“alimentación” and “ciencia” in Spanish. Our mission is very clear and
simple: for everyone to eat better. But what does “everyone”
and “better” mean? “Everyone” means
every single one. Every single one,
regardless of life, health or economic conditions. At each moment, every single one of us has different
needs that we have to fulfill. The young child that you see in the beginning
of the life-line we drew, has a rare disease. He can’t consume
certain amino acids. He can’t consume certain proteins. So we have to make sure this child
can eat as well as the rest of us do. The man at the end has no teeth.
I was talking to Bill before. This man has no teeth, Bill. So we have to make sure
that this man can also eat. There are other people
with cancer, diabetes, with scarce money and not a lot of electricity, so they can’t store food. Or there’s that whole
part that we need when we make our meal, which is raw materials. Bill explained it perfectly. The human species differs from other species because we apply technology
to transform food; we transform food through
knowledge, before eating it. We build our food. We’re the only species to do so.
Like Bill said, it allows us to dedicate 20%
of our energy to our brain, which is only 2%
of our weight, etc. But to do this,
we need knowledge, so we created a knowledge lab, but we also need new raw materials. Because every time we eat
it, it becomes a part of us, and so we need a new
tomato to make a new salad. Therefore we also need soil,
farmers, water, energy, CO2 production to make the tomato
we need every day to make our salad. So raw material to make the food and knowledge. And what does ‘eat better’ mean? Healthier, more sustainable and better. We need cuisine
that operates responsibly with the environment and people. And what does it mean to eat healthier,
more sustainable and better? Well, it depends on what and whom. We developed a tool to
measure all our projects and to be able to evaluate them
before and after we carry them out. Safe means it can be eaten
without causing harm. But things that seem safer, like water, isn’t safe for people with certain swallowing difficulties. So, we have to change water so that it can also be safe
for people with dysphagia, to prevent water from going into
their lungs and causing infections. 1 out of 3 people older than 74
has some degree of dysphagia, according to the latest research,
and other related diseases. Sufficient means sufficient. And sufficient depends
on each person. An athlete or a hunter may need three times more calories
than someone sedentary, etc. So we also have to adapt to that. And lastly, balanced. We need all those macro and
micro nutrients that are necessary in each case. Sustainable means ecological, we have
to leave a planet to our children. We can’t be squatters
of the world’s future and use up everything our
future generations will need. But it also means economical. Economical and ecological should
be the same if we didn’t cheat. Because the definition of economy is
the management of finite resources. But we cheat. We make others pay
either in another place, or in the future, for that which
we don’t want to pay ourselves. When we say economical, it means
we need to have access to food, but it also means that if we want
people to continue producing tomatoes, which we need, those people have
to charge a fair price for that tomato. If not, there’s no balance, and in the end we’re the
ones who won’t have tomatoes. It also means practical. We can’t be food heroes. We can’t keep going after
small growers out of town to get carrots to eat. We need systems that work. What does “good” mean? The translation is
not “tasty”, but good, in the ethical sense as well. When neuroscientists studied
what we like in a palatal sense, they discovered we need
to be morally close to our values. Eggs from chickens that were not well-treated,
when we taste them and someone asks which one is creamier
or has the best salt balance, we choose those that are
ethically closer to us. It makes complete sense. Because we are what we eat.
We also eat moral values, of course. Second to last. It also has to be meaningful. We know that. We can mention thousands of examples
from anthropology, religion, etc., but we could also talk about trends, which make us like one
thing more than another. And if it’s part of our cultural
identity, or family identity, it’s not that things seem better,
they actually are better. They stimulate our
neurotransmitters more. It’s how it is. And lastly,
it has to be stimulating. We have to want to eat it.
Many of the problems… There are thousands of examples,
and you all know them. In the end, sometimes a good diet,
from a nutritional standpoint, doesn’t work because
we don’t follow it. Because we need our bodies and our system that allows us to validate all of these values to say ‘OK, this is good,
this is tasty’. It stimulates you. And then you want
to keep eating it. We assess this in every
single one of our projects, before and after,
and therefore we see which ones can be actionable. When we created Alícia, Senac SP asked us
to come talk about our project about 12 years ago. We had the opportunity to do
so and they gave us a gift, which was discovering a big
part of Brazilian cuisine. Well, not a big part, a small one.
Brazil has so many different cuisines. We were in São Paulo
and also in the Amazon. You can see Felipe there,
explaining something to me. And I’m learning to cook, they made me
wear a hair net right on my bald spot. That happens all over the
world, not only in Brazil. Don’t worry. After we came, there
was a big crisis in Spain. All over, but we got hit bad.
Then Brazil had a crisis. And we almost died trying, but we learned from it
and we’re alive. What doesn’t kill you
makes you stronger. As a matter of fact, we expanded and developed many projects
throughout these years. For example, projects to try
and preserve some native species. My country has an issue. The Amazon is suffering
from deforestation, and my country’s problem
is that it’s reforesting. We haven’t had so much
forest in one thousand years. It’s been a thousand years. And it’s a problem for us. The problem is global, but solutions
are always local. This is key. Why is it reforesting? Because we’re losing
all our farmers. We’re running out of them. They leave their lands, which
become a forest continuum, then the fires come, we are
in the Mediterranean, like Australia, and therefore the fires don’t
have open fields to die down. For us, having less fields and more forests is a problem. This is a native sheep breed, called Xisqueta, lives in the Pyrenees, it will go extinct as a species
if we don’t consume it. So to save it, we have to eat it. Some things are paradoxical. This is just one example. Another one is small
farmers that produce saffron. Other projects have to do
with an important ethnicity that has been around for 600 years,
the gypsies in Catalonia. We worked with them
on issues of identity so their cuisine,
which is unappreciated becasue they’ve been nomads,
suffered from racism, etc. So they’ll be valued
as part of our cultural heritage. But we also study historical books and work with bioarcheologists
to recover recipes from the past. We have recipe books
from the 14th century; we’ve recovered those from
historians, as you can see. Or we make fish snacks. We work with the food industry,
but only to improve food. We are a foundation
with a social purpose. We don’t just create other foods,
we don’t create richness. We want people to eat better. These are fish snacks, not made with fish flour but
the entire fish, bones included. They’re nutritionally appropriate to give to children.
It’s one of our programs. We also have anti food waste initiatives
and circular economy programs. But this is not what Felipe
asked me to talk about. I’m here to talk about health. As I said, our vision is 360°, now called transdisciplinary. Through time, we developed
a very science-based method that we try to apply
in our projects. Initially, when we first started, we designed our flowchart and put
people at the center of our goal. After some time, “The Lancet”,
which is quite important, explained how the food
system works. At Fru.to, you place food
at the center. It’s two different approaches. We focus on people
but our objective is the same. “The Lancet” also stated that people
are at the center of the food system, which is similar to the life-line
I showed you. Thus we asked ourselves where we intervene in the food
system, according to The Lancet’s line. And we saw that we intervened
in all these moments. We carry out specific
projects that help people. For example, in education. Almost 40,000 children participate in our lab’s workshops
according to age and curriculum. We also had a bus going to small cities
taking good food, sustainable and healthy. We have activities in schools
from lower-income neighborhoods in underprivileged areas because unfortunately that’s
where we see more obesity. So we have a lot
of prevention projects. In Alícia, we had a realization throughout these years,
from 2003 to 2020. We learned and used
cuisine to maintain health, which is the topic of my talk. We used food to help prevent and cure some specific diseases and help take care of people. This is a paradigm
used by medicine now, not only to cure, but also prevent
and take care of people. So, from the kitchen,
we’re always working together with hospitals and research centers specialized on the
diseases we work with. And how many diseases
have we worked with? All of these. We’ve developed concrete
health and food solutions for all these diseases and probably other ones we’ll probably have to add
to that list soon. From serious diseases
like psoriasis to very specific diseases,
like Prader-Willi, or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, all the way to major
diseases like diabetes. Some examples. We have a project where,
for the first time, we make specialized manuals
for each type of cancer. It’s not the same
to have breast cancer, throat cancer or head
and neck cancer, or colon cancer where they remove a part of your intestine and so you have different
absorption issues. There’s also interaction between
medication and chemotherapy and each case is different. So we created manuals
with easy recipes; everyday food for each
of these treatments. What to do when people
have mouth sores, or issues like lack of appetite,
cachexia, etc. All of this in a practical
and easy way that works. These manuals, like
most of our projects, are in our website and available to anyone
who wants them. We also have projects for
the early onset of dementia. The elderly sometimes
have mild dementia and begin to forget how to manage
their food and how to cook. So we’ve been working
with neuroscientists – we always work with specialists
on specific diseases – and we produced manuals so
they can continue cooking at home during the first stages
of memory loss. We also have recipes
for grinded food, food that is easy to chew, working with food
served at hospitals in a very specific way. We come from a world where
restaurants love to give texture, and now we give texture
to help people eat better. Additionally, in our work,
I believe we set a benchmark in treating dysphagia, for example. It’s a condition which
makes it difficult to swallow. We also have solutions
to help treat kidney diseases and diabetes; it’s all
in the website. This was done for a real child who couldn’t eat protein and now he can,
even though it’s a fake egg. We created it to normalize his diet.
Look how happy he was. Last thing, because
I’m running out of time, our last project. We just launched a website, which is in Catalonian and Spanish
for now, and will soon be in English. It would be great if somebody would
translate it into Portuguese. Some diseases, like refractory schizophrenia, cause some serious issues, like children having
epileptic attacks. We’re talking numerous,
up to 200 a day. They remain in the ICU. There is no medication for them. A keto diet, not the Hollywood one,
but one followed up by neurologists, with up to 90% of calories
derived from lipids, can make these attacks disappear. It’s the only way it can happen. The problem with eating 90% lipids is that you can’t eat
bread, pasta, pizza, etc. So what did we do? We made a website for each ratio – there are different ratios,
I won’t get into it now – but these patients
and kids can feel better, because they can eat bread,
pasta and pizza thanks to this connection
between science and food. I know it’s a lot of information. But I hope it gave you an idea about what we are doing
with the Alícia project. Thank you very much.


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