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Sustainable food system

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**Definition of Sustainable Food System**:
– Defined by various organizations as economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable.
– Focuses on providing healthy food while maintaining healthy ecosystems.
– Encourages local production and distribution infrastructures.
– Aims to be humane, just, and protect farmers, consumers, and communities.

**Challenges with Conventional Food Systems**:
– Industrial agriculture causes environmental impacts and health problems.
– Relies on inexpensive fossil fuels.
– Prioritizes cheap and efficient calories over nutrition.
– Compromises ecosystems through pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

**Power Dynamics in the Food System**:
– Transnational corporations have significant control over the food system.
– Concentration of power in the supply chain controlled by corporations.
– Food deserts limit access to healthy food in certain areas.
– Obesity and undernutrition are linked to poverty and marginalization.

**Disempowerment of Consumers and Producers**:
– Inequality in access to healthy food exists across different areas.
– Small farms tend to be more sustainable than large operations.
– Lack of supermarkets in low-income areas for healthy food options.
– Smallholder farms promote biodiversity and crop diversity.

**Sustainable Food Production and Technologies**:
– Sustainable agriculture, organic farming, and novel food alternatives address environmental impact.
– Technologies like vertical farming and digital agriculture promote sustainability.
– Importance of innovation in food production for sustainability.
– Use of sustainable technologies to reduce environmental impacts and promote sustainable food systems.

A sustainable food system is a type of food system that provides healthy food to people and creates sustainable environmental, economic, and social systems that surround food. Sustainable food systems start with the development of sustainable agricultural practices, development of more sustainable food distribution systems, creation of sustainable diets, and reduction of food waste throughout the system. Sustainable food systems have been argued to be central to many or all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The large environmental impact of agriculture – such as its greenhouse gas emissions, soil degradation, deforestation and pollinator decline effects – make the food system a critical set of processes that need to be addressed for climate change mitigation and a stable healthy environment.

Moving to sustainable food systems, including via shifting consumption to sustainable diets, is an important component of addressing the causes of climate change and adapting to it. A 2020 review conducted for the European Union found that up to 37% of global greenhouse gas emissions could be attributed to the food system, including crop and livestock production, transportation, changing land use (including deforestation), and food loss and waste. Reduction of meat production, which accounts for ~60% of greenhouse gas emissions and ~75% of agriculturally used land, is one major component of this change.

The global food system is facing major interconnected challenges, including mitigating food insecurity, effects from climate change, biodiversity loss, malnutrition, inequity, soil degradation, pest outbreaks, water and energy scarcity, economic and political crises, natural resource depletion, and preventable ill-health.

The concept of sustainable food systems is frequently at the center of sustainability-focused policy programs, such as proposed Green New Deal programs.

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