Howarth Bouis, director of HarvestPlus, an international research program that seeks to reduce micronutrient malnutrition with enriched staple foods, believes that fortifying commercial products such as salt can work in urban regions, but such efforts may not be able to reach all those in need, especially the poor living in remote rural areas. Instead HarvestPlus promotes the use of biofortified crops, produced through either conventional plant breeding or genetic modification. With this strategy, Bouis says, people can grow for themselves the nutrient-rich foods that they need: “It is the plants that are doing the work and not manufacturers.” But the process of biofortification can cause color changes to the foods, so convincing consumers to accept them could be a challenge.
Everyone agrees that a balanced diet is the best way to combat micronutrient deficiencies. But for people in the developing world without access to such a diet, they might take their nourishment with a few grains of fortified salt.
Nourishing Soft Drinks?
Besides fortifying salt, Levente Diosady of the University of Toronto has also developed a method to purify rapeseed protein, a by-product of canola oil manufacture. “The protein meal is highly nutritious, but it comes out as black sludge,” Diosady explains. His process separates the protein from bitter compounds and then concentrates it into a neutral-tasting powder that contains all the essential amino acids. Similar to soy, the canola protein has the additional quality of being soluble in acidic liquids and hence could supplement soft drinks, which in developing countries are often consumed in lieu of water because of safety concerns. Diosady plans to develop a protein-enriched soft drink called LiveADE.
This article was originally published with the title A Dash of Nutrition.