Consumerism Enviromental Ethics Fair Trade Lifestyle

How to develop sustainable food systems


Our world is constantly falling short of resources we need to survive due to overconsumption and unsustainable production processes. The global population is expected to increase to ten billion by 2050, with more mouths to feed without accounting for the current hunger and malnourishment numbers. The global food production industry will account for an additional 56% production efficiency in order to feed the entire population. However, due to our unsustainable and wasteful habits, we might not be able to achieve this, unless we change the way we view our production methods.

We have seen an increase in incomes which have incentivised more resource-intensive and animal-based foods into our markets (world resources institute). We should also cut greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production, 26% of which is caused by food production, while reducing the 50% use of habitable land by agricultural needs. The only real solutions lie with the adoption of sustainable food systems that provide healthy food globally, creating sustainable environmental, economic and social systems surrounding food.

Optimize agricultural land use

Optimising agricultural land should become our first priority because without land, growing food will prove even more challenging than it is now. A land sparing strategy is our greatest hope at this moment because this method ensures high yielding agricultural practises. Land sparing requires a smaller area of land to achieve the same results of arable land, and therefore leaving greater areas of natural habitat untouched. Boosting dry-land by improving soil and water management practises can reduce overall water and energy consumption while growing more food with less land. These strategies will guarantee higher agricultural practises capable of feeding the growing population without compromising biodiversity, a crucial part in producing the world’s food.

Reduce food loss waste

Loss and waste occurs all along the supply chain, from production all the way down to disposal. The world resources institute claims that reducing 25% of food loss and waste would close the food gap by 12%, the land gap by 27% and greenhouse gas emissions by 15%, and all this can be achieved by 2050/ actions to take include measuring food waste in our homes and the overall food industry, setting reduction targets, improving food storage and streamlining operation labels.

The industry is responsible for ensuring that the supply chain adheres to the guidelines set for them, however, the most important solution here is improving food storage. We need to be more intentional about the food we consume and the required storage methods in order to extend the food’s lifespan. This means eating less perishable foods, fermenting and dehydrating some food items, as well as freezing left over perishables. These methods are not all the we can do to reduce food waste; however, it is a start on how we can become better consumers and encourage more responsible food production methods.

Requesting immediate action from industry representatives

The food industry has many representatives from local to national and even international representatives whom consumers can reach. Writing to the representatives or calling their offices is a great way for everyday consumers to influence food system’s policies. We can urge them to adopt new environmentally-friendly policies around farming, food production and the supply chain.  

As consumers we are always being urged to consume less and be more responsible by the same industries involved in wasteful practices across different industries and it is time we gave them our ultimatums. We are well within our rights to demand that farming and agricultural practices be more environmentally-friendly and that our food production methods involve less artificial matter. We also require more local food representatives and access to the industry so that more transparency and honesty can exist between the industry and consumers.

Tsholofelo Masela

Intentionality is a platform created towards engaging independent and intentional fashion consumers to positively impact social and environmental sustainability.

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