The future of food sustainability
With a rapidly growing world population, adopting sustainable food practices on a global scale has never been more important.
It’s predicted that by 2050 the world will have a population of almost 10 billion, and it will be impossible to feed all these people without increasing poverty, deforestation and greenhouse gases.
We desperately need to start taking steps to change our food system and protect the future of our planet, and a good place to start is by consuming more sustainable foods. Sustainable foods are those that are produced without the use of hazardous pesticides and chemicals, non-essential antibiotics or growth promotion supplements.
Sustainable food systems provide healthy food to people whilst also providing sustainable impacts on environmental, economic and social systems that surround food. Overall, they’re better for the environment as they use less fossil fuels, produce fewer greenhouse gases and depend on human labour rather than energy-intensive technology.
So, what can we do to ensure the future of food sustainability, creating healthier land and healthier people?
Changing eating habits
According to the World Resources Institute, almost a quarter of food produced for human consumption goes uneaten. We urgently need to change our consumer behaviour when it comes to food and the phrase ‘eyes bigger than your belly’ certainly comes to mind.
Making sure we only buy what we need and reducing the amount of food ending up in the bin is a great way to make your eating habits more sustainable.
Additionally, changing our eating habits to include more sustainable foods will make a huge difference to the future of food. There needs to be a global shift towards more plant-based foods such as legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts, and less animal-based foods such as red meat and processed meats.
Increasing crop and livestock productivity
The farming industry must adapt and adopt new practices to reduce waste and ensure that agricultural land is used as sustainably as possible. One way to do this is to improve infrastructure and processes used in the early stages of the supply chain, which will help to improve yields, reduce waste and ensure our food resources are used more efficiently.
Increasing soil quality will also contribute to increased agricultural productivity, so farmers must be encouraged to build healthy soil by composting and planting cover crops.
Eating more locally sourced foods
If the food you’re eating has come a long way to reach your plate, it more than likely has a heavy carbon footprint. To help make a change we should all be considering the food miles of our ingredients- the distance the food is transported from the time of its making until it reaches our plates.
There is an increasing emphasis on the concept of ‘farm to fork’ which involves both corporates and consumers buying produce directly from farmers, to ensure freshness and reduce food miles.
Not only does this help to improve food sustainability but it also directly benefits the farmers as they get a fair price for their produce- what’s not to love?
Using innovative farming technologies
In order to achieve a sustainable future for the food industry, governments, corporates and farmers alike must change the way in which they produce and handle food. Food production rates have increased dramatically in recent years in order to keep up with demand, which in turn has increased the amount of greenhouse gas emissions created by the industry.
Agriculture emits all three greenhouse gases; carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. However, if innovative new technologies can be implemented into the farming process, these emissions could be greatly reduced.
For example, carbon can be stored in soil as organic matter, perennial vegetation and in trees which reduces carbon dioxide amounts in the atmosphere, so if farmers are able to adopt this technique, they will dramatically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Food sustainability is key to reducing the negative impacts of increased production and ensuring food supplies aren’t exhausted for the future generations.
It requires efforts on both a corporate and consumer level; we must all work together to ensure the future of food sustainability. So, what will you be doing to contribute?