What is Food Sustainability?
The UN defines food sustainability as “the idea that something (e.g., agriculture, fishing or even preparation of food) is done in a way that is not wasteful of our natural resources and can be continued into the future without being detrimental to our environment or health.
Food sustainability means producing food in a way that protects the environment, makes efficient use of natural resources, ensures that farmers can support themselves, and enhances the quality of life in communities that produce food, including both animals and people.
This idea is the driving force behind a movement to address the fact that significantly more resources go into our global food system than come out of it.
The UN’s Food Systems | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (fao.org) states that a sustainable food system (SFS) should deliver nutrition and food security for everyone in a way that is economically viable and socially beneficial.
Why is it important?
It determines humankind’s ability to produce enough food for everyone on the planet now, as well as for future generations.
The World Food Programme reports that more than 1 in 9 people worldwide — 821 million people — go hungry every day. Since the population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, food production would need to increase 60-70% percent by then to meet this additional demand.
To accomplish this growth, hundreds of millions of hectares of forest would need to be converted to farmland, which would have a massively negative impact on the environment.
Moreover, the agriculture industry currently produces more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation industry, including all road transport, aviation and shipping. Increasing the size of this industry by 60-70% would be devastating to the environment.
Food production currently accounts for 70% of the planet’s freshwater usage. Increasing that usage to keep up with the growing demand for food will put even greater pressure on already scarce resources.