How to Effectively Encourage Sustainable Food Choices: A Mini-Review of Available Evidence (2022 Nov)

This is open-access peer review mini-review from Frontiers (Psychology) by Wokje Abrahamse, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand. He describes the review as the following:

“Food choices are difficult to change. People’s individual motivations (such as taste, cost, and food preferences) can be at odds with the negative environmental outcomes of their food choices (such as deforestation, water pollution, and climate change). How then can people be encouraged to adopt more sustainable food choices?

This rapid review uses a dual-processing framework of decision-making to structure an investigation of the effectiveness of interventions to encourage sustainable food choices (e.g., local and organic food consumption, reducing meat and dairy intake, reducing food waste) via voluntary behavior change. The review includes interventions that rely on fast, automatic decision-making processes (e.g., nudging) and interventions that rely on more deliberate decision-making (e.g., information provision). These interventions have varying degrees of success in terms of encouraging sustainable food choices.

This mini-review outlines some of the ways in which our understanding of sustainable food choices could be enhanced. This includes a call for the inclusion of possible moderators and mediators (past behavior, attitudes, beliefs, values) as part of effect measurements, because these elucidate the mechanisms by which behavior change occurs. In light of the climate change challenge, studies that include long-term effect measurements are essential as these can provide insight on how to foster sustained and durable changes.”

This article was shared with us through our SFS Toolkit Community of Practice forum titled: Behaviour Change Techniques In Sustainability. Join us on the forum to learn & GROW together!

Nordic food systems for improved health and sustainability: Baseline assessment to inform transformation (2019)

According to the report “Nordic food systems for improved health and sustainability: Baseline assessment to inform transformation (2019)”, there are sufficient data on Nordic food systems to understand the crucial action areas and to begin taking immediate steps towards food systems transformations. A transformation implies a journey into aspects partly unknown and untested. The report highlights the complementarity of scientific assessment and normative dialogue on this journey.

Dietitians and Nutritionists (D-Ns) are key to this! From the report:

Food system actors would benefit from building a common understanding of desired pathways towards transformation, which should be informed by the best available evidence. This can be achieved through sustained, cross-sectoral (e.g. policy, business, research, civil society, producer, consumer) stakeholder dialogues. It is particularly important to include stakeholders who are often marginalized in these types of collaborative decision-making processes.

There will be challenges to initiating these changes, such as adopting a ‘whole food system’ approach; addressing trade-offs among food system goals; and confronting prevailing forces and lock-ins. Yet these challenges should not be an excuse for inaction.

Key messages

  • Food systems should be a critical lever of change in the Nordics to reach global health and environmental sustainability commitments.
  • The gap between current and desired food systems is substantial enough to require transformative change.
  • An integrated food systems approach aligning agricultural, production, trade, manufacturing, retailing and consumption priorities must be taken.
  • There is enough evidence on necessary food system changes to begin action in setting current food systems on a trajectory towards healthy and sustainable development.
  • Sustained, multi-sectoral forums are needed to steer Nordic food system transformation.

Next steps

  • Begin immediate action to transform Nordic food systems
  • Initiate a multi-stakeholder scenario development process to define a common vision for Nordic food systems
  • Develop strategies to handle the trade-offs of change
  • Evaluate Nordic food systems in the global context

Acknowledgement: This page is an extracted from the introduction to the report.

Catalan Food Based Dietary Guideline (2020)(Catalan)

The Catalan Food Based Dietary Guideline was developed by the Catalan Public Health Agency and is a very useful tool for following a healthy and sustainable diet. Sustainability recommendations are provided in boxes called “care about the environment” such as drinking tap water, prioritizing consumption of legumes more than meat, consuming local foods, purchasing olive oil in large packaging to reduce plastic use, and more.

This resource is in Catalan only. It was provided by @juliamunoz_dn the ICDA SFS Toolkit’s Regional Contact for Spain.

Guide to a healthy and low-cost diet for families with children (2020)(Spanish)

The ICDA SFS Toolkit Regional Contact for Spain, Júlia Muñoz (@juliamunoz_dn in our COP), collaborated with her colleagues (Dr, RD Elena Carrillo, RD Marta Anguera, and Dr Irene Cussó) in the development of this document to help citizens follow a healthier and more sustainable diet at the minimum cost. This guideline is based on the results of a previous European-lead research  carried out at Blanquerna School of Health Sciences Ramon Llull University  to promote a healthy and economical diet for different types of families. They then worked with the Barcelona City Council to publish two documents:

1) Guide to a healthy and low-cost diet for families with children. The guide can serve municipal professionals and other social agents or entities to support families in situations of social vulnerability in the field of food. The ultimate goal is to have a useful tool that families and entities can use to quickly manage the fundamental right to adequate food with a small budget.

2) A booklet on Healthy and economic food for families with children. This is a practical booklet for all citizens, mainly aimed at families with children and adolescents from 18 months to 18 years old, especially in situations of economic difficulties, which provides them with guidance and recommendations to prepare healthy and economic daily meals. The guide provides a shopping list for different types of families, seasonal menus, and an estimated cost for one person. The sample menus were prepared based on recommendations of the Spanish Society of Community Nutrition and the Public Health Agency of Catalonia.

Júlia explains that the recommendations include practices for food sustainability such as the use of leftovers to create new recipes or select seasonal foods. Given the current situation of increasing food insecurity due to the rise of food prices, and acknowledging that when people suffer from stress they tend to eat convenient and non-healthy foods (which have a high environmental impact apart from impairing health), it is important to identify these types of resources to keep promoting sustainable diets in a practical way.

Impacto ecológico de la alimentación en España (2022)

Presentamos la nueva edición (31) de Cuadernos de las Cooperativas de Consumidores con un monográfico sobre el «Impacto ecológico de la alimentación en España». Nuestros hábitos de alimentación y el sistema actual de producción y consumo de alimentos tienen un indudable impacto en la salud del planeta, de manera que las decisiones de compra y consumo deberían ser tomadas con la mayor información posible.

Como sociedad, es necesario avanzar hacia modelos más sostenibles y todos los eslabones de la cadena alimentaria deben contribuir a mitigar el impacto ambiental de nuestras prácticas y actividades. Analizado en términos de oportunidad, el camino hacia la sostenibilidad se presenta como un buen momento para transformar nuestro sistema alimentario.

En este trabajo se aborda, desde el punto de vista del sector de la alimentación, cómo nuestros comportamientos y decisiones de consumo generan considerables impactos ambientales y qué se necesita para minimizar los efectos de nuestros hábitos cotidianos con respecto a los alimentos. Esta publicación forma parte del Proyecto “Impacto ecológico de la alimentación”, subvencionado por Ministerio de Consumo, y cuenta con el apoyo y colaboración del Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación.

Hemos conseguido reunir las reflexiones de responsables en la materia y reconocidos especialistas, incluyendo los aspectos normativos y nutricionales, dando voz al sector de la producción y la distribución comercial. Cada artículo se aproxima al problema con un punto de vista diferente, configurando un completo trabajo de lectura recomendada.

Las personas consumidoras quieren reducir su huella ecológica y ya apuestan por las empresas que se comprometen y actúan para reducir tanto sus emisiones como los impactos ambientales. Pero cada día es más patente la gran distancia que existe entre la intención y la acción. A esto se añade el aumento del coste de la vida, que impide tomar decisiones de forma responsable con el planeta. En esta situación, el precio se ha convertido en una barrera para el comportamiento sostenible, por lo que debemos tener en consideración a aquellos colectivos de personas vulnerables para que no se queden fuera en estos momentos y avancen igualmente en el camino hacia la reducción del impacto ambiental de los hábitos de compra y consumo de alimentos. 

En la apuesta por la sostenibilidad, compartida de forma unánime por todos los sectores, hay muchas lagunas y la persona consumidora, como último eslabón de la cadena, reclama más información y un compromiso real y contrastable del sector de la alimentación con el medio ambiente, para que se ofrezcan productos que nos permita seguir unos patrones de alimentación más saludables, a la vez que sostenibles. 

Con este Monográfico también queremos hacer, en nombre de las cooperativas de consumo un llamamiento al compromiso sincero con la sostenibilidad, impulsando innovaciones y nuevas oportunidades empresariales, que permitan avanzar hacia un sistema alimentario más sostenible y respetuoso con el planeta y las personas.

Why Bees Matter – The importance of bees and other pollinators for food and agriculture (2018)

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) collaborated with the Republic of Slovenia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Food to create this pamphlet in 2018 for World Bee Day: Why Bees Matter – The importance of bees and other pollinators for food and agriculture. It reports that 3 out of 4 crops across the globe producing fruits or seeds for human use as food depend, at least in part, on pollinators.

“World Bee Day presents an opportunity to recognize the role of beekeeping, bees and other pollinators in increasing food security, improving nutrition and fighting hunger as well as in providing key ecosystem services for agriculture.” – José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General.

FAO has a page dedicated to Pollinators.

Pollinator Partnership (website)

Pollinator Partnership’s mission is to promote the health of pollinators, critical to food and ecosystems, through conservation, education, and research. Nutritionists can design menus and/or landscaping plans for their own homes, or with their communities in gardens, orchards or commons such as parks, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, schools, religious centres, hospitals, prisons, restaurants – and more!

There are 3 resources in particular that can be useful to nutritionists:

  1. Protecting Pollinators, People, and the Planet brochure, which provides an overview on why pollinators are important
  2. Your Health Depends on Pollinators brochure
  3. Pollinator Friendly Cookbook

Pollinator Friendly Cookbook

Use this cookbook by Pollinator Partnership to create culinary masterpieces that honor pollinators and the work that they do.

Food is a basic human need, and without pollinators, humans would go hungry! 🦅 🦇 🐝 🦋 🪲 🪰 Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, flies, and small animals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. More than 200,000 species of pollinators are critical to the stability of our food supply.

In your search for ingredients, we encourage you to support local farmers that practice pollinator-friendly management techniques. Learn more at the Pollinator Partnership website.

Delivering community benefit: Healthy food playbook (tool)

The “Delivering community benefit: Healthy food playbook” is a suite of resources to support hospital community benefit professionals and community partners in developing community health interventions that promote healthy food access and healthier food environments.

If a facility has identified obesity, food access, or diet-related health conditions among the priority health needs in its community health needs assessment (CHNA), then initiatives to promote healthy food access and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables can be important components of an implementation strategy to address these needs.

The playbook has several sections with resources to support different stages of the community benefit or community health planning process. Each resource provides examples and links to learn more. These resources will inspire and strengthen your efforts to promote healthy and vibrant communities with healthy, sustainable, and equitable community food systems.

Inspired by a commitment to respond to community health needs, Health Care Without Harm’s Healthy Food in Health Care program carried out a national research project to support hospital community benefit professionals and community partners in developing initiatives that promote healthy food access and healthier food environments. The project was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Mapping the planet’s critical natural assets – for Nature’s Contributions to People (NCPs) (2022 Nov)

Citation: Chaplin-Kramer, R., Neugarten, R.A., Sharp, R.P. et al. Mapping the planet’s critical natural assets. Nat Ecol Evol (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-022-01934-5

NCP – Nature’s Contributions to People

As a nutrition professional, this study can help you demonstrate how conserving nature can contribute to human wellbeing and maps the places – both lands and waters – that are essential for providing many of nature’s benefits to nearby communities, like food, freshwater, and protection from storm surge or flooding. Use the maps for areas you are working in to prioritise hot spots for nutrition security.

The study finds that conserving 30 percent of the Earth’s land and 24 percent of marine jurisdictions would sustain 90 percent of the total amount of those benefits to people. Moreover, these ‘critical natural assets’ deliver disproportionately high levels of benefits to an enormous percentage of the world’s population – more than 6 billion people globally – through providing services like water quality regulation, coastal protection, flood mitigation, fisheries, fodder for grazing animals, and many others. 

“All people on the planet benefit from nature” said Becky Chaplin-Kramer, lead author of the study and principal research scientist at the University of Minnesota. “What is striking is just how many people benefit from a relatively modest proportion of our total global land and ocean area. If we can safeguard these areas through a variety of conservation mechanisms that continue to allow the types of use that make them so valuable, including Indigenous and locally-driven conservation, we can ensure that these benefits continue for years to come.”

The research is not only the most comprehensive set of nature’s benefits to people yet to be mapped but the approach that has been developed can be adapted to national or sub-national decision-making scales, and, crucially, can and must be complemented with input from local people “Global maps can provide a big picture view, which can reveal large-scale patterns, but requires local context to make sense of, and to make decisions for, implementation,” says Chaplin-Kramer. “Ultimately, we hope this information can be used alongside other diverse values of nature, including intrinsic values of species. Recognizing the way every one of us benefits from and relies on nature can help create lasting buy-in for conservation.”

Adapted from Conservation International press release.