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What Makes Food Sustainable?

What makes food sustainable? There are many different definitions of sustainable food.

Sustain, a UK charity devoted to promoting sustainable food, emphasizes protection of biodiversity, environmental friendliness, health, and social and economic benefits.

According to the University of Queensland, Australia, there are a number of things that impact the sustainability of food, including farming practices (i.e., use of pesticides and other chemicals, harvesting approaches), transport, processing, and business practices (i.e., Fair Trade).

Sustain has clear recommendations for sustainable eating and drinking, and these are listed below:

– Purchasing local, seasonal foods
– Buying food produced by environmentally friendly farms
– Keeping animal product consumption to a minimum
– Buying only fish that are caught or farmed in a sustainable manner
– Choosing Fair Trade-certified foods
– Not purchasing bottled water
– Eating in a way that promotes health and well-being (consuming lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and avoiding artificial ingredients)

The University of Queensland makes similar recommendations, suggesting at least one meat-free day per week, seasonal eating, minimizing consumption of processed foods while favoring those that are organic and sustainably harvested, and buying Fair Trade tea and coffee.

Buying local and unprocessed or less processed foods is particularly critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and environmentally destructive practices, whereas Fair Trade standards benefit local peoples in other countries, helping to break cycles of exploitation and poverty.

All sustainable food recommendations support human health.

Sustainweb, “7 Principles of Sustainable Food,” 2012.
The University of Queensland, Australia, “Why Consider Sustainable Food?” 2012.
EatWell Guide in North America

Sustainable Food

Image source: www.maisontuckerhouse.ca

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