What is Sustainable Food?

What is Sustainable Food?

There are all kinds of food ‘types’ flying around these days – and most of them are accounted for on Instagram. One food type that is becoming increasingly popular is sustainable food.

First things first is to define this type of food. There is no legal definition of sustainable food, unlike ‘Fairtrade’, for example, so companies can get away with bending its meaning. However, Sustainable Table offers a good working definition: “[sustainable food is food] produced in a way that protects the environment, public health, local communities and animal welfare.”

When it comes to sustainable food, there are four key parts to its creation: production, processing, distribution and disposal.

1. Production

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It is common knowledge that food production is now pretty globalised. Farmers from all around the world export goods to different countries. People don’t care as much as they used to about buying food made in their own country and care more about price instead.

Sustainable food, however, isn’t part of this global production market. It’s about localised food and economy, as in buying local and eating local. It is better to do this because of something called ‘food miles’. Food miles are the distance from where food was produced to where it was sold. They often have one of the largest impacts on the environment.

In sustainable food production, there may be smart greenhouses used, for example. They contribute little to environmental issues as they blend nature with food production in a healthy and humane way. Growth of food is natural and there is not massive damage to landscapes.

If you’re serious about sustainable food, you need to check out where it comes from and the conditions in which it was made.

2. Processing

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When it comes to processing foods in terms of the global market, there can often be toxic chemicals added into the mix. This means people may end up eating chlorinated chicken (among other things) – something many in Britain pointed out during the Brexit negotiations just weeks ago.

However, in sustainable food processing, there should be a complete absence of toxic chemicals and the use of minimal extra materials, like water.

One of the largest issues with food production is that the machines used add so much pollution to an already-polluted world. Sustainable food production incorporates energy-saving technology and/or renewable energy machinery. This is the best way to reduce emissions created by food processing.

3. Distribution

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Food distribution is also one of the major players in terms of emissions. Food can be distributed via any means, particularly via plane or truck these days, though. Both of these means are heavy polluters and even big companies can do something to reduce the impact the distribution of their food has.

It comes down to ensuring the efficiency of vehicles and the necessity of them too. Companies should lengthen the life on truck tyres, ensure vehicles are not emitting far too much greenhouse gases by choosing eco-friendly vehicles and minimising the number of routes taken.

Sustainable food distribution is better achieved when food is sourced locally. Big business can do its bit, but it’s not enough if we really want to eat sustainable food. Local, organic food is the best way to ensure maximum environmentally-friendly distribution.

4. Disposal

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When it comes to waste, humans are pretty bad. We have landfill sites that pollute huge parts of the environment, allow poverty to survive and show our complete disregard for other countries.

Part of sustainable food means a lack of waste. That includes us too – we shouldn’t waste. Instead we should reduce our disposal/waste by reusing and consuming the whole product.

Sustainable food, though, makes provisions for disposal. You can compost lots of foods to use for your garden or allotment and can recycle it by giving it to food collections. Another key part is taking note of sell-by and use-by dates that can be found on sustainable food products too. Take note of the use-by date rather than the sell-by and don’t stock up on more than you actually need.

Achieving a sustainable food life is possible. With greater knowledge and planning, you can become an eco-food warrior in no time.

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