What you can do – and ask others to do – to help make our food and farming system fit for the future
The main features of a sustainable food and farming system are well understood even though, at the moment, there is no legal definition of ‘sustainable food’. There are, however, lots of examples of good accreditation schemes, like those certifying ‘organic’ and ‘Fairtrade’ food, which are clearly defined.
Sustain’s working definition, developed in consultation with our membership of expert organisations, is that sustainable food – in other words, good food - should be produced, processed, bought, sold and eaten in ways that:
- Provide social benefits, such as safe and nutritious products, and improve people’s experiences of good quality food, for instance by growing and cooking it, which helps to enrich our knowledge and skills, and our cultural diversity;
- Contribute to thriving local economies that create good jobs and secure livelihoods – both in the UK and, in the case of imported products, in producer countries;
- Enhance the health and variety of both plants and animals (and the welfare of farmed and wild creatures), protect natural resources such as water and soil, and help to tackle climate change.
In practice this means:
Reducing food waste (and packaging) saves the energy, effort and natural resources used to produce and dispose of it, as well as money.
Consuming more vegetables and fruit, grains and pulses, and smaller amounts of animal products produced to high-welfare and environmental standards helps reduce health risks and greenhouse gases.
This benefits wildlife and the countryside, minimises the energy used in food production, transport and storage, and helps protect the local economy.
This scheme for food and drinks imported from poorer countries ensures a fair deal for disadvantaged producers.
Future generations will be able to eat fish and seafood if we act now to protect our rivers and seas and the creatures living there.
We need to cut down on sugar, salt and fat, and most of us want to avoid questionable ingredients and processes such as genetic modification (GM) and some additives.
Fresh out of the garden or allotment is unbeatable, and a vibrant mix of local markets, small shops and cafés, and other retailers provides choice, variety and good livelihoods.