The rise of slow food restaurants and farm-to-table dining has increased everyone’s awareness of how great sustainable food can taste. As we become more conscientious of the need to reduce our environmental impact, many of us want to enjoy fresh, environmentally-friendly food at home.
In this article, we’ll explain what sustainable food is and what you can do to support sustainable agriculture.
What is sustainable food?
At its most basic, sustainable food practices involve not harvesting more food than can be replaced.
A sustainable food system is also a secure one. There’s little risk that the food supply will be disrupted, workers enjoy job security, and food is safe to eat.
In regards to the environment, sustainable food protects biodiversity, maintains soil and water health, and produces less greenhouse gas emissions.1
Importance of sustainable food
A sustainable food system is essential, as it helps protect the health of our planet’s resources for future generations.
Sustainable food practices encourage abundance in terms of biodiversity, food variety, and land arability. Unfortunately, the UK currently only produces 53% of the food it uses.2
How to support sustainable agriculture
When consumers choose sustainable food, business leaders respond by producing more sustainable food, and the entire supply chain becomes more environmentally friendly.3
Here are some choices you can make, as a consumer, to support sustainable agriculture:
Eat less meat
Half of the British agricultural production currently feeds livestock.4 A study found that if farmers raised fewer pigs, cows, sheep and chickens, countries could import less feed, use fewer pesticides, and reduce CO2 emissions.5 Eating less meat may incentivise farmers to prioritise producing fruit and vegetables, which would be better for the planet.
The European Commission is currently advocating for countries to adopt a ‘Farm to Fork’ food model where consumers predominantly buy food produced locally.6 Locally grown food doesn’t travel as far, so less CO2 is expended during transportation, and, on top of that, it’s better for you. Sustainable food is fresher, so it’s more nutritious and higher in health-promoting antioxidants.7
Organic farms are better for soil health, which helps the soil produce healthy crops for years to come.8 As well as helping protect the earth, organic farming releases fewer pollutants into the environment, as well as less greenhouse gas emissions.
Typically, organic farms encourage a healthy, biodiverse local environment, with a greater variety of plants and animals. Consumers benefit from organic food containing fewer pesticides (sometimes, none!) and sometimes more nutrients.9
Read more: Why go organic - pros & cons