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4 Ways to Make Sustainable Food Systems Better

When we think about better food, what often springs to mind is sustainable food. We might understand that sustainability is connected to environmental, economic, and social developments. However, what we don’t usually associate with the movement is the challenges that come with identifying sustainable and affordable food. Knowing how to do better with the options we’re presented in our current system and what steps we can take today is an ongoing challenge. In fact, when we think about what sustainable food looks like in a practical sense, most of us are faced with obstacles that hinder our ability to better support the movement.

As a result, this blog is going to look at 4 ways to make sustainable food systems better – for everyone. We want to answer these questions:

  • How can we easily identify sustainable food?
  • How do we innovate for a better, sustainable, future?
  • What changes can we make today?

How to make a sustainable food system

1. Listen to our communities and grow with them

To make the system better, we need to recognise what’s working and what needs improving. That means widening the conversation about better food to understand a variety of perspectives on the current system. We want to achieve our vision for improving the food system for everyone.

To do so, we need to listen to different people’s needs and wants when it comes to food. We then need to respond to them so everyone is brought along. To assist us in this goal, we’ve launched a series called What is Better Food, which asks some of the lesser-known voices of the sustainable food movement what their take on the current food system is, what food means to them, and what changes they’d like to see in the future.

2. Request more information about where our food comes from

To make better choices, we need better information. Currently, the labelling on our food is focussed on calories and ingredients. There’s an increasing number of certifications, such as FairTrade and Organic, but do they really paint the full picture?

We think people deserve to know more about who and what’s involved in their food supply – from farmer to fork. Knowing where our food comes from, that the people who grew it were paid fairly, and that the land was not abused in the process isn’t too much to ask. In this regard, Better Food Traders is doing the work for you. Rest assured that every business that makes up our movement works towards principles set by the gold standard for fruit and veg retail practice.

This includes:

  • Telling customers where their fruit and veg is grown. 
  • Ensuring fair pay in their retail businesses, which means no fat salaries to directors or bonuses to shareholders at the expense of low paid workers.
  • Supplying mostly or all certified organic or organically grown produce by Better Food Traders.

We’re providing people with an ethically driven alternative to the current UK food system. This means fairly paid, low carbon, healthy and delicious produce! What more could you ask for?

3. Reduce food waste

Sustainable eating isn’t just about choosing foods that are beneficial to our environment and bodies. It’s also about reducing our food waste, which currently totals 3.6 million tonnes per year in the UK.

Every year, 100,000 tonnes of readily available and edible food from the UK’s retail and food manufacturing sector is wasted, which is the equivalent to 250 million meals going uneaten[1]. Instead, this food ends up in animal feed, used for anaerobic digestion, and even goes to landfill, which results in devastating environmental consequences. With 8.4 million people in the UK struggling to afford to eat[2], this is simply unacceptable.

According to the NGO Project Drawdown, avoiding food waste is 15.7 times more effective in decreasing carbon emissions than recycling[3]. This is because wasting food also wastes the energy and resources that went into getting it to us in the first place.

Here’s a great blog from the Better Food Trader Growing Communities, which outlines a few extra things you can do to keep your produce at its best and help reduce your waste. 

4. Increase support for locally grown produce

One of the best ways to disrupt the current food system and ‘be the change’ is to sign up to your local Better Food Trader veg box and reap the benefits of healthy, organic produce. It’s a great way to do your part and bask in the glory of your better food choices, and it helps support local jobs and your community too!

How can I make my food choices better?

We’re glad you asked! Thankfully, there are several changes you can make today that will go a long way.

  • Grow your own food, such as herbs or tomatoes
  • Eat seasonally to reduce your carbon footprint
  • Buy more plant-based produce
  • Reduce food wastage
  • Research recipes for those leftovers!
  • Buy locally
  • Share this blog!

You can also volunteer with your local Better Food Traders by clicking here. Or, if you’re feeling political, support campaigns and petitions calling for a more sustainable and fair food system. www.sustainweb.org is a great place to start.

Join the better food movement today and do better.

Sustainable food in local supermarket

References

[1] Drawdown.org. 22/02/21, Reduced food waste. Source article: https://drawdown.org/solutions/reduced-food-waste

[2] Fareshare.org. 22/02/21. Hunger food waste. Source article: https://fareshare.org.uk/what-we-do/hunger-food-waste/

[3] The Grocer. 22/02/21. Why there can be no more excuses for supermarket food waste. Source article.

Header photo by Edward Howell on Unsplash

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