The Periodic Table of Food Initiative (PTFI) is a global effort to create a public database of the biochemical composition and function of the food we eat using the latest mass spectrometry technologies and bioinformatics.
Food is at the center of the world’s most urgent challenges and largest opportunities. According to the World Health Organization, malnutrition is the leading cause of death and disease globally. In fact, there is a “triple burden” of malnutrition at all levels of the population:
- Undernutrition: The lack of food and/or access to it.
- Overnutrition: The consumption of too many calories.
- Poor nutrition: Not the right nutritional content (vitamin and mineral deficiencies).
Our scientific understanding of the foods that nourish us is still rudimentary. At most, 150 of food’s biochemical components are measured and tracked in conventional databases, which only represents a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands of biochemicals in food. Beyond health, we also know today’s food production negatively impacts the quality of our water, soil, and air, and contributes to climate change. A food system that supports human and planetary health requires a better understanding of the interactions between food, health, nutrition, and environment.
A Periodic Table of Food
We would like to acknowledge the following people for important early contributions that have influenced the creation of the PTFI:
Laszlo Barabasi, Northeastern University
Edith Feskens, Wageningen University
Bruce German, University of California Davis
Jeff Gordon, University of California Davis
Carlito Lebrilla, University of California Davis
Dariush Mozaffarian, Tufts University
Howard Shapiro, University of California Davis
Justin Siegel, University of California Davis
Steve Watkins, Verso Biosciences
David Wishart, University of Alberta