Source The Age
Food sustainability is about culture, education, health, equity and respect for the planet we live in.
Eat better, eat less, food for all. Source
Always on the search for new and thought provoking content on responsible production and consumption and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that feature in The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas I was pretty stoked to come across the Food Sustainability Index website See here
The Food Sustainability Index (FSI) has been created by the Economist Intelligence Unit in partnership with Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition (BCFN). The FSI is a tool designed to highlight international policies and best practices relating to global paradoxes and to the main SDGs for food, climate change, sustainable cities, responsible production and consumption, health, gender equality, education and infrastructure.
This study is composed of a white paper, a city monitor, infographics and a digital hub – all tools intended to further expand data relating to the 25 countries and the 16 cities which were at the centre of our research.
It’s a tool for all stakeholders which can be used to promote better awareness for all involved in the food supply chain.
The aim is to promote sustainable practices and to rebalance the fundamental links between food, people and the Planet.
so how does Australia fair
Overall we are 8th on the list
Where do we star -Australia scores strongly on food waste and loss (ranked 2nd in the index)
BUT nutritional challenges have been identified as a particular issue for us. We rank 16th in the nutritional challenges pillar, well below other developed countries such as France, Japan and South Korea.
You can access all the graphs here and you wont need a magnifying glass to see them
There is also a fascinating blog about us titled Australia’s Food Bowls which I have reprinted below
Australia has a reputation for good weather, healthy lifestyles, fresh food and a high quality of living—not least in its biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne. However, growing urban sprawl around both cities, and associated high rents for agricultural land, are putting increased pressure on local farmers.1,2 If left unchecked, this process could have negative implications for the quality of life of the cities’ inhabitants.
Agricultural land around Sydney currently produces around one-fifth of its food,3while that around Melbourne can produce up to 41% of its needs. However, two recent studies—Sydney’s Food Futures4 and Melbourne’s Food Futures5—found that this could change dramatically if current trends are not reversed.
The studies produce stark estimates of what current policies would lead to. For Sydney, these include that the area would lose 90% of its fresh vegetable production and 60% of its total food production, and that the Sydney Basin would only be able to meet 6% of the food needs of the area’s residents, from 20% currently. In the case of Melbourne, the study predicts that the area would only be able to accommodate 18% of the city’s food needs by 2050.
The scale of the decline projected by the studies is quite dramatic. Although the food could be sourced elsewhere, this would mean transporting it over greater distances and sacrificing freshness. At the heart of this lies the issue of food sustainability, which is addressed in the 2016 Food Sustainability Index (FSI), developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit with the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition.
Local issues, national priorities
The three pillars of the FSI—sustainable agriculture, nutritional challenges and food loss and waste—all link to the debate about the future of agricultural production in Australia. Overall, the country came 8th out of the 25 countries measured in the FSI. This is one of the lowest rankings for a developed state, suggesting room for improvement.
Even though Australia scores strongly on food waste and loss (ranked 2nd in the index), nutritional challenges are identified as a particular issue for the country. Australia ranks 16th in the nutritional challenges pillar, well below other developed countries such as France, Japan and South Korea. This suggests that a focus on a healthy diet is a key priority for the country’s policymakers. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has warned about growing rates of obesity in the country,6with current figures indicating that 63% of adults are either overweight or obese.7
Ensuring a large amount of operational agricultural land close to major urban centres such as Sydney and Melbourne would help to tackle this issue. If urban sprawl continues to claim agricultural land and the share of the city’s overall food needs supplied by local producers continues to decline, the amount that residents need to pay to eat a balanced, nutritious diet is likely to increase. Producing food close to market reduces transport costs and negates the risk that higher energy prices will push up food prices. So-called “food deserts”—areas where there are very limited options for purchasing fresh food—are already reported to be quite common in Sydney, notably in the west of the city.8 In these areas, health problems related to a lack of fresh vegetables and fruit, such as type 2 diabetes, are more common.
Guaranteeing a stable supply of fresh goods close to major population centres is also central to curbing food loss levels (defined as the mass of food production intended for human consumption that is lost during the production, post-harvest and processing stages). Although Australia is a strong performer on this measure in the FSI, pushing agricultural production further away from population centres could change this. Food that has to be transported over greater distances is liable to suffer a higher rate of loss. This is particularly the case for perishable goods. If grown close to market, the loss from these products can be reduced.9 In addition, transporting goods over greater distances means higher carbon emissions.
All is certainly not lost. The Sydney’s Food Futures project argues that there is still time for policymakers to protect agricultural land close to the city and asserts that there are plenty of viable measures that policymakers could put in place to support this.10 Moreover, the study finds that sustainable strategies to integrate food production with other essential services could actually lead to an increase in food production in the area and create jobs for local people.
However, this will require a concerted effort from government. A key point of reference for policymakers could be the Milan Urban Policy Food Pact, signed by 138 cities in 2015 (including Melbourne, but not Sydney). The outcome is a plan aimed at reducing food waste, encouraging healthy eating and ensuring the sustainable purchase of food in an urban context.
More broadly, these issues are relevant to Australia’s commitment under the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015.11 Six of the 17 SDGs deal specifically with issues related to food. In particular, SDG 3 (“to ensure health and well-being for all, at every stage of life”), SDG 12 (“to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”) and SDG 15 (“to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems”) all have directly relevant implications for the urban sprawl and loss of agricultural land around major population centres. Source
One thought on “Australia getting larger and larger – study shows a healthy diet should be a key priority for the country’s policymakers.”
That FSI website is fascinating, I need to spend some time there… I’m still flummoxed by a central dichotomy though, one I rarely hear addressed.
“A key point of reference for policymakers could be the Milan Urban Policy Food Pact, signed by 138 cities in 2015 (including Melbourne, but not Sydney). The outcome is a plan aimed at reducing food waste, encouraging healthy eating and ensuring the sustainable purchase of food in an urban context.”
Now, this sounds sensible. But… Reduce food waste (how?). Encourage healthy eating (what is “healthy eating”?). Ensure sustainable food purchasing (what does that even mean?).
I really don’t understand how Australia would address the fact that on the one hand, government and industry strive unceasingly to grow demand for animal products (or even food more broadly, I guess) but on the other is the suggestion that we need to be more frugal or thoughtful about what, how much and how we produce and eat food.
For example, in a recent M&LA Annual Report, under Strategic Imperative 2, this statement is made:
“MLA works to grow demand for [meat] through aggressive marketing and promotions…”
And that surely includes such things as the Lamb ads, the Get Some Pork on your Fork campaign, the recent aggressive drive to lift dairy consumption and so on.
When we look around, we don’t see the industry seriously encouraging reducing consumption or healthier eating. Quite the opposite. Because, I assume, they aren’t in the business of downsizing. Bear in mind too that people who DO promote reducing consumption (especially reducing animal food in our diet) and healthier eating by way of reducetarianism, vegetarianism or veganism are unceasingly portrayed as the nutty fringe and lampooned mercilessly.
Isn’t something just a little wrong with this picture?
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