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Food Sustainability: How it Can Enhance Our Future

Updated: Mar 11, 2023


The concept of food sustainability has been around for over 70 years, starting with The Sustainable Agriculture Movement that came about in the 1950’s and 60’s. Over the years and up until now, sustainability has become a bit of a buzz word among some business owners and food manufactures. Food sustainability is important and in the realm of food and nutrition professionals, it needs to be highlighted and understood for the key player it is in how our foods are produced, distributed, packaged and consumed. Let’s take a look at the what exactly food sustainability means, some of the ways we can benefit from honoring its principals, and how changing our food choices can help transition our planet into a more sustainable world.


What is Food Sustainability?

Food sustainability refers most often to foods that are safe and healthy as they are produced without the use of hazardous chemicals such as pesticides and antibiotics or growth hormones. It is not just about food itself though. Sustainability as a whole combines factors such as how food is produced, the ways it is distributed, how it’s packaged as well as how it is eaten by consumers.


Sustainable farming practices produce food with the goal of maintaining a healthy environment and ecosystem. The process is challenging because mass scale food production goes against the health and safety of animals and the environment which is also how farmers become most profitable. Sustainable farming supports organic crops and low carbon food production. The absence of fertilizers, chemicals and GMO’s protect biodiversity.


3 Main Benefits of Sustainability


1) Health benefits include access to healthier foods that provide optimal nutrition required to ward off chronic illnesses, need for medications and hospitalizations.


2) Environmental benefits include a reduction of carbon emissions which reduce pollution and improve air quality. The lack of deforestation makes a positive impact on the environment by protecting natural habitats, maintaining a healthy water cycle and preventing soil erosion.


3) Financial benefits include less expensive clean and fresh foods due to resource conservation, less expensive operating costs on farms, and increased income in local economies.


Making Food Choices with Sustainability in Mind

Every choice you make from here on out about what to put on your plate will make an impact on the future. Increasing fruit, vegetable and nut consumption is just a start. Reducing the amount of red meat and sugar plays another huge role in meeting the world’s ongoing demand for food. Making changes in the way we plan our diets is necessary for all of us if we want to push towards a healthier, more environmentally friendly future.


Transitioning to a More Sustainable World

The transition to a more sustainable world includes increasing awareness in 3 main areas:


1. Eating local and focusing on foods that are in season- when you consume foods that are produced in your local area, less energy is required overall. Fewer resources are needed to package, transport and store the food items. Choosing foods that match the season you are in also helps with energy conservation.


2. Reducing food waste is key. The amount of food that we throw out is said to be as much as 40%. This means all the resources that went into producing, packaging, transporting and storing is wasted which translates into millions of dollars.

3. Including a variety of foods in your diet actually benefits the environment by enhancing the agriculture by keeping soil fertile and reducing eland erosion.


In Summary

It’s especially important as health care professionals to educate society of the effects and benefits of food sustainability on our planet to ensure a bright future for the generations that follow. Encouraging people to eat from community based food sources, strive for more plant based diets rather than ones from animal sources, reduce their amount of food waste and support local sustainable farming efforts can all contribute to a healthier, cleaner and longer lasting existence.


References:

Food Sustainability: The Factors, Choices and Impact. Available at https://www.thespruceeats.com/food-sustainability-5217551 Accessed on 1/9/23.


Sustainability. Available at https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sustainability/ Accessed on 1/9/23.


What are the Benefits of Food Sustainability? Available at https://www.adv-bio.com/what-are-the-benefits-of-food-sustainability/ Accessed on 1/9/23



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