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Sustainble Super-Sprinkle: Powdered Local Foods

Posted by plosmedicine on 30 Mar 2009 at 23:41 GMT

Author: Stacia Nordin, RD
Position: Registered Dietitian
Institution: Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security and HIV Consultant
Submitted Date: April 17, 2005
Published Date: April 18, 2005
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

Dear Dr. Zlotkin and colleagues:

I appreciate your years of work on this sprinkle product and it sounds like the product is much improved from the pill form of micronutrient treaments.

I'm not at all opposed to sprinkles-types of products or other nutrient pills for treatment (or in other special situations), as long as recipients are also educated about where the nutrients come from in food. In the sprinkles case, a message could be put on each sachet about eating a wide variety of foods. But instead, once again, a message is being sent that nutrition comes from a pill / a packet, a foreigner, and all with money.

It is too bad that all that research, time, energy and money couldn't teach people (or local manufacturers) how to make their own sprinkles from local nuts, fruits, greens, oilseeds, insects, fish, and the like. Instead of just sprinkling a packet onto a bulky carbohydrate food, use the sprinkle as treatment along with teaching about planting and eating less of that bulky carbohydrate in the first place.

The results could be just as immediate and dramatic, but with an impact that could last for generations to come. The organisations that support this type of permanent intervention could be mentioned during every teaching session along with big banners and flyers that announced them as the inventors and /or supporters. Just imagine a nice sprinkle powder that everyone can have on hand to improve their own nutrition without relying on a packet from an outside source that is manufactured with machines and jetted in with thousands of litres of petrol (or trucked across the country if it is made in country).

I'm sure that pre-packaged, sourced-from-far-away products have their place in wars, tsunamis, a few cities and other disasters, but for the majority of the 750 million children in the developing world, their own indigenous foods would have just as much effect with a longer-term impact on the society's nutritional health.

I saw Dr. Zlotkin's presentation on sprinkles at the ICD conference in Chicago on 2004 and he did include a sentence about diversifying diets as part of the whole project, but it was strongly overshadowed by bringing in external resources and experts. When I asked him about using the same resources that went into developing, manufacturing and transporting Sprinkles to create a local sprinkle product with an emphasis on local diversified diets, he immediately responded that it wouldn't work.

How do we know if no one really puts the effort into it at the level that products like sprinkles get?

I've posted this message to several food and nutrition listserves and magazines and I am now beginning to learn of some small projects working towards local sprinkle products. Dr. Zlotkin and team could assist these projects to research the work and scale it up to other countries with other local foods.

Competing interests declared: I declare that I have no competing interests