Sustainable Food System for Sustainable Environment

Deapika paul

Each year, more than 10 million hectares of agricultural land are lost to degradation, much of it due to industrial farming. In agriculture, the concept of sustainability is applied toward the production of food or other plant or animal products using farming techniques and practices that help to conserve natural resources and have minimal impact on the environment. The world has never produced or consumed so much food. And yet it is one of the most troubling moments in the history of food. Gains in productivity have come at an enormous environmental cost. Agro-chemicals have polluted rivers and aquifers. Agriculture and land-use change account for around one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions. In the last century alone, we’ve lost three-quarters of the world’s agricultural biodiversity. If that wasn’t bad enough, roughly one-third of all food produced goes to waste.

At the same time, food consumption patterns are changing. The rising middle class is demanding more meat and processed foods are becoming more popular. Many parts of the world are experiencing a “triple-burden”: the co-existence of chronic hunger, malnutrition and over-nutrition. In the world’s rapidly growing urban areas, these conditions often exist side by side.

“Sustainable food systems are those food systems that aim at achieving food and nutrition security and healthy diets while limiting negative environmental impacts and improving socio-economic welfare. Sustainable food systems are therefore protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as human well-being and social equity. As such they provide culturally acceptable, economically fair, affordable, nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy foods in a way that balances agro-ecosystem integrity and social welfare.”

Now, it is the example of sustainable food. Such, “Is it sustainable?” It’s an increasingly important question to ask when it comes to agriculture and how we eat. Sustainable agriculture enables us to produce healthful food without compromising future generations’ ability to do the same.

Sustainable eating is about choosing foods that are healthful to our environment and our bodies. According the 2019 EAT-Lancet commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems, a global shift toward more plant-based foods including legumes (beans, peas, lentils, peanuts), whole grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts, and less animal-based foods, especially red meat and processed meat, will help feed the world’s growing population a nutritious and sustainable diet. Limiting refined grains and added sugars is a smart move as well.

We need to eat sustainable food because:

Sustainable eating involves selecting foods that are healthy for our bodies and the environment.

This means foods that provide a balanced diet for the body but also facilitate the conservation of the environment. Our biodiversity is threatened with tropical forests are disappearing. Many plants and animals are endangered.

Eating foods that are grown locally improves the economy in our community. Choosing meat that is treated humanely results in healthy animals, a healthier environment and healthier people.

So, eat fresh, eat local and eat organic. Intensive food production harms the environment by depleting the soil and damaging marine ecosystem.

Overexploitation of natural resources has put food safety and the availability of drinking water at risk.

The global food system makes a significant contribution to climate changing greenhouse gas emissions with all stages in the supply chain, from agricultural production through processing, distribution, retailing, home food preparation and waste, playing a part. It also gives rise to other major environmental impacts, including biodiversity loss and water extraction and pollution. There are four type of limitations. These are as following:

Inadequate distribution of food:

Even with full access to markets, many people cannot buy food because they cannot afford the costs. The root causes of poor distribution include the lack of infrastructure such as markets and transportation routes, unsustainable prices driven by corruption and waste, inefficiency in markets, and poverty.

Food waste:

One third food is thrown Food waste that ends up in landfills produces a large amount of methane – a more powerful greenhouse gas than even carbon dioxide. With agriculture accounting for 70 percent of the water used throughout the world, food waste also represents a great waste of freshwater and ground water resources.

Bad food habit:

Our food is rich in sugar, meat, fat and salt. Industrial meat is extremely harmful to the environment. Meat and beef production contributes to deforestation and the production of greenhouse gases (notably methane). Beef and lamb in particular are the most harmful meats in environmental terms. To choose a less polluting meat, patronize small farms, where the animals are raised in the open air and fed in pastures.

Sugar is among the crops most harmful to the planet. By replacing habitats rich in animal, plant and insect life, sugar plantations destroy the most biodiversity in the world. In addition to its intensive use of water and pesticides, the cultivation of sugarcane and sugar beet also causes erosion.

Resources depletion:

Our natural sources are under pressure. Sources of fresh water are running dry and existing water resources are getting polluted.33% soils are degraded. Forests are decreasing.

All this might seem daunting, but as with anything, learning and changing slowly is key. We don’t have to completely rethink our shopping list. Instead, we can make one or two changes each week or month. We can swap beef mince for veggie mince, choose fair trade coffee or have a go at reducing food waste at home. Educating ourselves is important too. Becoming a regular reader of sites like ours will help. Knowing what is and what isn’t sustainable is the first step to leading a more sustainable lifestyle. The second step is using that knowledge to make more informed choices.

There are many ways that we can choose to eat and live more sustainably:

Reduce the amount of eating meat, fish. Animal agriculture is an industry with one of the largest carbon footprints. We don’t have to go full on vegan, just reduce the amount of meat and dairy we eat and up the veggies!

Eating less meat and dairy means that you could spend a little extra on sustainably reared produce.

Choose to eat foods that are in season. Seasonal foods haven’t had to be artificially ripened and are less likely to have come from overseas. Likewise, foods that have been produced locally have fewer air miles.

Reduce the amount of plastic that we use. Plastic only adds to the problems of sustainability as it’s so energy intensive to make and recycle. And choose products that have been traded fairly.

Grow our own herbs, fruit and vegetables. Support our native wildlife and plant life, plant a bee friendly garden.

Our food system must be transformed each steps of the food systems. Production. Processing. Distribution. Consumption needs to be adjusted to ensure healthier food for our growing population and to reduce its environmental impacts. But it is also important to bring all the stockholder together. Government health authorities. Producers,Consumers,Business people to break down the silent thinking, examine all the points of view and work together to find the actions necessary to,

Produce differently: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Eat differently: Decrease of overconsumption.

We all should participate in balanced diet and reducing food waste and shouldn’t do any agricultural activities at the cost of environment.

Author is a student of  Environmental Science and Engineering at Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Trishal, Mymensingh – 2224, Bangladesh


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