The consequences of such modern consumption patterns are well known. World-wide, the prevalence of obesity doubled between 1980 and 2008. More than one billion adults are now overweight, and 400 million others are obese. Combined with more sedentary lifetsyles and tobacco and alcohol consumption, inadequate diets are resulting in the rise of non-communicable diseases: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or gastro-intestinal cancers, all directly related to diets, are now growing rapidly in all regions, and not only in rich countries, as was the case in the past.

Agroecology provides a number of answers. It favours a gradual transition away from the fossil-energy-based farming of the earlier generation, and it seeks to preserve soil health and to reduce soil erosion. In fact, it is mostly because of its environmental benefits that agroecology is now considered with interest by governments and international agencies. Although it can be practised on a large scale, its insistence on intercropping techniques, and on various combinations between plants, trees and animals – in order to re-establish the agro-sylvo-pastoral complementarities that “modern” agriculture has negated – makes it especially suitable when practised on relatively smaller farms.