You may know someone who cares deeply about food sustainability; even if you don’t, you’ve likely heard the topic discussed in public somewhere. People all over the country are thinking more about the sustainability of the foods they’re purchasing, and they’re beginning to get more selective about the foods they eat.
But what is food sustainability, anyway? And why does food sustainability matter? Is it worth being pickier about the food you eat to live a more sustainable lifestyle?
Companies like Griffith Foods place sustainability at the core of their identity. From farmers to customers, the relationships they form with their partners allow Griffith Foods to create better products that are delicious and nutritious for consumers, and foster a better, more sustainable world. As a global product development partner, they create customized product solutions – all of which are developed with sustainability in mind.
But what exactly is sustainability, as it relates to food?
Sustainability, as the word suggests, is all about following practices that allow you to continue tapping into resources without exhausting them, indefinitely – and reducing potential damage to zero or close to zero. There are several stages where food sustainability comes into play, including:
- Production. Most people think about food sustainability in terms of how the food is produced, but this is only one part of the equation. Farmers and food product developers are responsible for growing seeds, raising animals, and eventually cultivating these resources and turning them into a food product for consumers. There are many strategies that can help you maintain sustainability in this area.
- Packaging. We also need to think about the packaging of food. Most food in the modern era features more packaging than necessary, with plastic bags, liners, foam containers, and boxes to hold everything together. Individually, this may not seem like much waste, but on the scale of the American food industry, all this extra plastic and all these non-biodegradable materials can have a major impact on the environment.
- Distribution. Food distribution also matters. Transporting food all the way across the country, or halfway around the world, consumes a lot of fuel and electricity. That’s why many food sustainability experts recommend getting your food from sources as close to home as possible.
What does higher sustainability food actually look like, though? For the most part, sustainable food is just as nutritious and delicious as non-sustainable food. Some would argue that sustainable food tastes even better, because of its typical higher quality.
In any case, producing and distributing sustainable food usually requires:
- Long-term farming techniques. Poor farming practices by inexperienced farmers were at least partially responsible for the Dust Bowl, one of the worst environmental and agricultural disasters to ever plague the United States. We want to prevent things like this from happening, so it’s important to farm the land in a sustainable and responsible way.
- Prioritization of animal welfare. Modern food sustainability also places an emphasis on prioritizing animal welfare. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, you probably agree that animals shouldn’t be mistreated in the agricultural industry.
- Transparent food. Sustainable food development also places an emphasis on being cautious and discerning with the products you use to create foods. Harsh chemicals, like pesticides, are frequently avoided by sustainable food developers.
- Waste reduction. Food sustainability also attempts to reduce waste. That means avoiding surplus quantities of food being thrown away, and reducing packaging so that consumers end up with less plastic in the garbage.
- Reduction of carbon emissions. Transportation is responsible for 29 percent of carbon emissions in the United States. Much of that transportation is executed to ship products from one location to another. Tons of food are shipped across the country every day, but sustainable food practices can shorten transportation distances.
- Nutrition and health. Sustainability, nutrition, and health all share an interesting relationship. Sustainable food isn’t necessarily healthier – but many brands that focus on sustainability also focus on nutrition and health.
The Bottom Line
So what’s the bottom line here? Why does food sustainability matter?
- Future planning. Food sustainability is consequential for our future. If we exhaust all our resources and cause environmental damage with reckless abandon, it’s only a matter of decades before there’s no more land to farm and effective food production comes to a halt.
- Environmental protection. Food sustainability also plays a role in protecting our environment. Reducing carbon emissions and preserving our natural resources will ensure that humanity can flourish for centuries, if not indefinitely.
- Personal satisfaction. Some people practice more sustainable food choices simply because of the personal satisfaction involved. They feel better about the food they eat, they enjoy their meals more, and they know they’re doing the right thing.
There are many motivations that can lead you to food sustainability, whether you’re passionate about protecting the environment or just interested in having better quality food. No matter what, we encourage you to think more about the food choices you make and evaluate your own priorities on the subject.