What does sustainability mean in the food industry?

The same FAO document describes a sustainable food system as “a food system that provides food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases that generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised. Sustainable food is safe and healthy food. It is produced without pesticides or dangerous chemicals, non-essential antibiotics, or growth-boosting supplements. You've probably heard the term sustainability before, but do you know what it means? Many people mistakenly believe that sustainability means the same thing as environmentalism, but there's more to it than that.

Sustainability is about finding balance and allowing the planet and all the resources it contains to remain available to future generations. These practices focus on meeting the needs of the future while still meeting the needs of daily life. Participating in sustainable food practices ensures that your business or home has a low environmental impact. Sustainable nutrition aims to avoid damaging or wasting natural resources.

It minimizes the contribution to climate change, as it often means eating more local foods that aren't transported too far. Sustainable agriculture options ensure respect for biodiversity, since smaller, local farms tend to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables for consumers on a smaller scale, which, in turn, protects the biodiversity of land and soil. It also helps to promote good employment and community support. The global food system faces significant interconnected challenges, such as the mitigation of food insecurity, the effects of climate change, biodiversity loss, malnutrition, inequity, soil degradation, pest outbreaks, water and energy shortages, economic and political crises, the depletion of natural resources, and avoidable health problems.

In the food industry, especially in agriculture, problems have arisen in the production of some food products. For sustainability and food security, the food system would have to adapt to these current and future problems. The study of sustainable nutrition applies systems theory and sustainable design methods to food systems. The emergence of new companies with a sustainability mentality in the food industry can help reshape the food industry to focus on more sustainable practices.

According to one estimate, only four companies control 90% of global grain trade, and researchers have argued that the food system is too fragile due to various problems, such as mass producers of food (i). A sustainable food system also promotes local production and distribution infrastructures and makes nutritious food available, accessible and affordable for all. The level of environmental impact of food production relates to where and how food is produced and to the local availability of natural resources, such as water and soil. So what does this mean for the food industry? The food industry is enormous and involves growing and producing food, transporting, preparing, packaging and discarding.

Global methods of food production must change to minimize the impact on the environment and support the global capacity to produce food in the future. It's easy to see that the food industry has a negative impact on the environment, but many members of the food industry are taking steps to improve sustainability efforts. In addition, the conventional food system does not structurally facilitate sustainable patterns of food production and consumption. The main factor is population, because as the population increases, more food is produced, but most food products are wasted.

Both consumers and people involved in food production have a role to play in sustainable food practices. In cases where such products are imported and continue to be imported, ecological tariffs could, over time, adjust the prices of specific categories of products (or of specific countries of polluting origin that do not collaborate), such as meat associated with deforestation, foods with a non-transparent origin in the supply chain, or foods with high implicit emissions. .

Hazel Guanio
Hazel Guanio

Award-winning tv advocate. Hipster-friendly pop culture aficionado. Proud food lover. Certified beer ninja. Hardcore tv aficionado. Freelance zombie scholar.