A food system covers everything from food production, manufacturing to getting on the dinner table. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO), ‘A sustainable food system (SFS) is a food system that delivers food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised.’
In simple terms, it means that the way we produce food is healthy for both the planet and us. People mainly associate the concept of sustainability with the environment but remember, it links to the economy and society too. The European Food Information Council has outlined the 3 Pillars of Sustainability in this post below.
Environmental, Social and Economic are the three pillars of #sustainability.— EUFIC (@EUFIC) March 10, 2020
🌍 To truly be sustainable, our actions have to incorporate all three pillars, without compromising our ability to meet our future needs. pic.twitter.com/tLMlxCR43g
Food sustainability is an issue because it relates to us in many aspects. We depend on the food system for our lives, livelihoods, and to satisfy our cravings for bubble tea. Food is ‘cultural, seasonal and the foundations for what we live upon’ (Sustainable Business Network).
The global population is increasing at 81 million people each year, but the land on our planet can't just keep growing. To support the human population, food systems must be more efficient. However, it's not helpful that the world's food system is becoming more and more unsustainable.
We all know about the more obvious negative environmental impacts such as pollution, over-cultivation and greenhouse gas emissions. But a huge part of unsustainable food systems is actually food waste, both in the production cycle and in your kitchen. Statistics from the UN show that each year, one-third of all food produced is wasted! This is 1.3 billion tonnes of food worth $1 trillion, enough money to feed 2 billion people!
In addition, the food system directly affects the wellbeing of humans in terms of being able to access nutritious food, working in the food industry and trading. Since food culture is significant to us in so many ways, it is important that our food system can sustain human society long-term.
New Zealand has a great reputation for being environmentally conscious and sustainable. While negative impacts from the food system here are still evident, NZ is doing its part to be more sustainable. It is important to us as 60% of the country’s income is from the rural sector (Sustainable Business Network).
There are six main areas of improvement, including production, manufacturing, distribution, waste, access and education. New Zealand organisations are actively promoting food sustainability and reducing food waste, which is the easiest way for consumers to take action in. Love Food Hate Waste has great tips for reducing food waste for a practical household. The Sustainable Food Co. is the first plant-based, zero-waste catering company in NZ. KiwiHarvest is an organisation that redirects surplus food to people in need and has saved around 6.5 million tonnes of food. Find out how you can take action here!
"Here at The SFC we place a huge emphasis on food sustainability. We contribute zero waste to landfill throughout our entire process from sourcing to serving, and we're proud of it. We really don't have a bin!"
The Sustainable Food Co.