German Nutrition Society (DGE): DGE position statement on a more sustainable diet (2021)

Renner B, Arens-Azevêdo U, Watzl B, Richter M, Virmani K, Linseisen. J for the German Nutrition Society (DGE): DGE position statement on a more sustainable diet. Ernahrungs Umschau 2021; 68(7): 144–54. DOI: 10.4455/eu.2021.030

Summary

Our understanding of the term sustainability has evolved considerably over the last 50 years and is now a key element of social action. An essential part of sustainable development is a more sustainable diet. In this position paper, the German Nutrition Society states that advocating for and promoting a more sustainable diet is an integral part of its activities. Health is a key goal of a more sustainable diet since health, quality of life, and well-being are affected by what people eat and drink. The goal dimensions of environment, animal welfare, and social aspects are explicitly added to the goal dimension of health (in their various definitions).

The food environment is also immensely important for nutritional behaviour. The DGE relies on statements from the report of the Scientific Advisory Board on Agricultural Policy, Food and Consumer Health Protection at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (WBAE) to present a comprehensive form of the various aspects of a more sustainable diet. The position paper ensures a common basis for developing an understanding of a more sustainable diet, and enables the different fields of nutritional science to pursue a differentiated development from their specific perspectives. This paper should provide the DGE with an orientation and a commitment for its work in the future.

Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming (website)

Sustain is a powerful alliance of organisations and communities working together for a better system of food, farming and fishing, and cultivating the movement for change. Together, they advocate food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture, and promote equity.

The Sustain alliance works to influence government, local authorities, businesses, organisations and decision-makers in a position to influence or achieve change. We advocate for transparency, legal responsibilities, good governance and accountability. We work with sister alliances and organisations in the UK Nations and support experts and groups working on specialist issues where we can lend our weight. We also work with leaders, food partnerships and communities in places across the UK – and internationally – to improve health and sustainability through the mobilisation and celebration of local action on food.

The main sister alliances that Sustain works with include:

  • Eating Better, is a movement for change of sixty organisations working to accelerate the transition from producing and eating too much meat and dairy to a fairer, healthier and more sustainable food system that is better for animal welfare and for nature.
  • Food Sense Wales is built on the foundations of Food Cardiff, a multi-award-winning food partnership and founding member of the Sustainable Food Places Network managed in partnership with the Soil Association, Food Matters and Sustain. Food Sense Wales delivers pioneering programmes such as Sustainable Food Places, Peas Please, and Food Power – bringing people together through food.
  • Green Alliance is an independent think tank and charity focused on ambitious leadership for the environment. It works with influential leaders in business, NGOs and politics to accelerate political action and create transformative policy for a green and prosperous UK. Sustain has worked extensively with Green Alliance members, and during the Brexit process with the Greener UK coalition hosted by the Green Alliance, to integrate food and farming into key environmental, fisheries and agriculture policy initiatives.
  • Green Care Coalition, was established in 2016 to promote the commissioning and use of Green Care services, and to give voice to the many organisations in the UK that are committed to delivering or supporting the delivery of high-quality and cost-effective Green Care services. Green Care refers to structured therapy or treatment programmes that take place in natural surroundings and recognise the instinctive connection between nature and health.
  • Nourish Scotland works across Scotland for a fair, healthy and sustainable food system that truly values nature and people. Nourish takes a systems approach to food. This means they work across a wide range of issues and levels: from production to consumption, from practice to policy, and from grassroots to national. They champion integrated approaches to solving the big challenges of the current food system: hunger and malnutrition, diet-related disease, exploitation, loss of biodiversity, and climate change.
  • The Obesity Health Alliance is a coalition of over 40 organisations working together to reduce obesity by influencing government policy. The goal of the Obesity Health Alliance is to prevent obesity-related ill-health by supporting evidence-based population-level policies to help address the wider environmental factors that lead to excess body weight.
  • The Sustainable Soils Alliance is a partnership of farming organisations, businesses, NGOs, applied science and academia working together to restore our soils to health within one generation. The alliance pursues this aim by bringing together the community of stakeholders interested in soil management to debate the scale and nature of the problem, agree on the appropriate indicators and determining factors and identify the relevant policy mechanisms and levers for reform. They engage media and stakeholders, educate the general public and lobby government for a policy framework that will bring about the transformational step change needed to support the development of healthy soil for generations to come.
  • The Trade Justice Movement is a UK coalition of nearly sixty civil society organisations, with millions of individual members, calling for trade rules that work for people and the planet. Trade Justice Movement members include trade unions, aid agencies, environment and human rights campaigns, Fair Trade organisations and consumer groups. 
  • Wildlife and Countryside Link is the largest environment and wildlife coalition in England, bringing together 57 organisations to use their strong joint voice for the protection of nature. Link’s members campaign to conserve, enhance and access our landscapes, animals, plants, habitats, rivers and seas.

Food as Medicine Global

Vision – A collaborative global community of farmers, health care providers, healers, hospitals, clinics, educators, schools, academic centers, students, cooks and consumers united in a vision for a healthy world.

Mission – To facilitate educational conversations and collaborative engagement for unifying agriculture and medicine to promote health and healing for all. Food as Medicine Global (FAMG) is about community. We facilitate conversations leading to increased collaborations and individual actions to promote health and healing for all. We host events for continued cooperative engagement, brainstorming, and learning from each other to advance the Food as Medicine movement.

Why? Many of our current world challenges have a common root: the way food is grown and consumed. Farming practices impact the health of people, animals, and the environment. Healthier soil leads to healthier food, healthier people, a healthier ecosystem, and healthier climate. There is already a great deal of work happening globally in these areas; however, much of it is in isolation. Our intent is to gather information, build bridges, advance conversations, strengthen engagement, highlight success stories, and amplify efforts to energize a global movement. 

The Economics of the Food System Transformation (2024)

On 29 January 2024, leading experts from the Food System Economics Commission (FSEC) unveiled a new economic model that maps the impacts of two possible futures for the global food system. The report is extremely useful for Dietitians and Nutritionists, with diet central to improving our food system.

The text emphasizes the urgent need for a transformation of food systems, highlighting the economic, environmental, and social benefits of such a transformation. It outlines the negative impacts of current food systems on health, the environment, and climate change, identifying unaccounted costs estimated at 15 trillion USD a year. The report also discusses the unsustainable trajectory of the global food system and the potential economic benefits of a transformation, estimating them to be worth 5 to 10 trillion USD a year.

Proposed Solutions for Food System Transformation:

  1. Shifting consumption patterns towards healthy diets: The report suggests regulating the marketing of unhealthy foods to children, providing front-of-pack nutritional guidance, targeting public food procurement on healthy options, taxing sugar-sweetened beverages and unhealthy foods, and reformulating packaged food to encourage healthier dietary choices.
  2. Resetting incentives by repurposing government support for agriculture: It is recommended to repurpose subsidies to improve access to healthy diets and make them more affordable. This involves reforming agricultural support to incentivize choices in line with the goals of the food system transformation, with a focus on lowering the hidden costs of food systems.
  3. Targeting revenue from new taxes to support food system transformation: The report recommends taxing carbon and nitrogen pollution to help achieve positive outcomes and align with expert recommendations from bodies such as the IPCC and OECD. Designing new taxes to suit the local context and targeting resulting revenues towards direct and progressive benefits for poorer households is essential to ensure inclusive outcomes and garner political support for a food system transformation.
  4. Innovating to increase labor productivity and workers’ livelihood opportunities: Public institutions can accelerate the development and diffusion of innovations that meet the needs of poorer producers and remove barriers to their adoption. Priority areas for public research and innovation include improving plant breeding, supporting environmentally sustainable, biodiversity-friendly, and low-emission farming systems, and developing digital technologies useful to small farmers.
  5. Scaling-up safety nets to keep food affordable for the poorest: Developing and strengthening safety nets is crucial to making food system transformations inclusive and politically feasible. Countries should prioritize targeting limited transfer resources on children’s nutritional needs and mobilizing more resources to put in place comprehensive safety nets.

Additionally, the report addresses various tensions and obstacles in transforming food systems, highlighting the need to manage concerns such as fears of food price rises, job losses, policy siloes, global inequalities, and entrenched vested interests. It emphasizes the importance of addressing these concerns to facilitate change and ensure that the benefits of food system transformation can be realized. The report also highlights the rising visibility of transforming food systems as a policy priority, as well as the new ambition to seize the opportunities offered by such transformation, as evidenced by the COP28 UAE declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action signed by over 150 countries.

Source: Food Systems Economics. (2024). The Economics of the Food System Transformation. Knowledge for policy.
https://knowledge4policy.ec.europa.eu/publication/economics-food-system-transformation_en

Teaching nutrition and sustainable food systems: justification and an applied approach (2023 Sep)

Four pillar method of analysis. Prompts to consider when evaluating characteristics of a food product using the sustainable, resilient, healthy food and water system framework.

Campbell, C., & Feldpausch, J. (2023). Teaching nutrition and sustainable food systems: justification and an applied approach. Frontiers in Nutrition. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2023.1167180.

Systems thinking is an essential skill for solving real-world problems, supporting lasting, impactful change, and creating desired futures. Transdisciplinary teaching and learning should be integrated into higher education to ensure students have the knowledge and skills to prosper in an ever-changing world. Education that addresses the interconnectedness of food systems is fundamental in cultivating future generations equipped to mitigate complex problems, such as hunger, nutrition-related chronic disease, and the climate crisis.

Connecting the food, agriculture, and nutrition sectors is vitally important for improving human and planetary health and well-being. While we continue to acknowledge that it is critically important to teach systems thinking in the context of sustainable food systems limited resources are available to facilitate this type of learning. Historically, a “triple-bottom-line” approach focusing on economic, environmental, and social perspectives has been used to define sustainability. In contrast, including nutrition and health may provide a more robust view and even greater consideration for the system in its entirety.

The sustainable, resilient, healthy food and water system framework, addressing all four pillars, can be used in higher education to help evaluate the sustainability of food and compare methods of production, place, and dietary patterns. This paper justifies the need for addressing sustainability issues in the context of nutrition and provides an educational approach to support student understanding and application of a systems thinking approach.

In addition to the resources cited in the descriptions of the four pillars; the Food Systems Dashboard, Our World in Data, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest may be beneficial references to consider for multiple pillars.

Note: Even though the article is written from the perspective of and with examples from the USA, the teaching approach could easily use other examples from any region of the world.

Innovative Food Systems Teaching and Learning (IFSTAL)

IFSTAL (Innovative Food Systems Teaching and Learning) is a cross-university, interdisciplinary food systems training programme for postgraduate students to address global food challenges.

There is an urgent need to train a cohort of professionals who can address and resolve the increasing number of fundamental failings in the global food system. The solutions to these systemic failings go far beyond the production of food and are embedded within broad political, economic, business, social, cultural, and environmental contexts. The challenge of developing efficient, socially acceptable, and sustainable food systems that meet the demands of a growing global population can only be tackled through an interdisciplinary systems approach that integrates social, economic, and environmental dimensions.

IFSTAL is designed to improve post-graduate level knowledge and understanding of food systems from a much broader interdisciplinary perspective, which can be applied to students’ studies. Ultimately, these graduates should be equipped to apply critical interdisciplinary systems thinking in the workplace to understand how problems are connected, their root causes, and where critical leverage points might be.

Led by the Food Systems Research Programme at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, IFSTAL is a pioneering consortium of institutions: Oxford University, Warwick University, Royal Veterinary College, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

Food Systems Transformation WhatsApp Community (2024)

The Food Systems Transformation WhatsApp Community grew out of Food Systems at COP28. It is now a year-round meeting place for food systems folks who will bring information from and back to our homes and communities. There are different channels within it to suit your interests and to limit notifications to only what you really want to see.

💼 Job Opportunities
📖 Recommended Reading
🗣 General Chitchat
🆘 Requests for Support
📅 Event Promotion
👋 Introduce Yourself

Join at: https://chat.whatsapp.com/Cx88Tny19mG8dP7tLNDF14

See you there!

European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Food

EIT Food is an initiative of the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), the mission is to transform how food is produced, distributed, and consumed and to increase its value to European society. They achieve this by solving the biggest innovation challenges through trusted industry, education and research partners working together with informed and engaged citizens. They believe inclusive systems innovation, which enables all people and places to participate and benefit, is essential to a strong food system that is better for everyone.

With teams on the ground across Europe, they bridge the gap between countries and regions with low innovation capacity and those leading the way. They put consumers at the heart of our work, helping build trust by reconnecting them to the origins of their food, directly involving them in the innovation process, and working with the food sector to increase transparency. Collaboration is central to all their work, which spans the whole food value chain, and is vital to meet the big challenges. Together with the community, they work to build an innovative and resilient food system that in turn creates a healthier society and planet.

Initiatives include:

  • EIT Food Educators that provides teachers with fun, creative and interesting activities to engage young people, mainly schoolchildren. Easily accessible, science-based food education materials enhance students’ learning so they can become better informed, conscious consumers of the future. The vision is a world where all young people have access to food education and are aware of exciting and innovative agrifood careers. The mission is to support educators to teach, engage and inspire young people about the food they eat and consider a career in agrifood.
  • EIT FoodUnfolded – Articles, videos and podcasts will take you on a journey through our food system, covering everything from where our food comes from and how it’s made, to the chemistry behind food and how it affects our bodies, to the impact that food production can have on people and the environment – and innovations and alternative practices that could help reduce that impact. Learning more about our food and its origins can deeply impact our food choices, the system our choices affect and, ultimately, help protect our planet. By bringing facts and stories to life, they hope to help you navigate these everyday decisions through knowledge. Together, we can transform the future of our food.
  • EIT FoodHIVE a network which is working together to make a more sustainable, healthy and trusted food system. Members range from leading businesses, research centres and universities, to food investors, mentors, students, startups and alumni. To bring this diverse community together, they have created FoodHIVE, a digital platform to share, network and collaborate.

Sustainable Food Systems Network (EUFIC)

European Food Information Council (EUFIC)‘s Global Sustainable Food Systems Network facilitates communication and collaboration amongst stakeholders in sustainable food systems (SFS) across the globe. In this community, you will find policy makers, business professionals, civil society organizations, researchers, NGOs/non-profit organizations, funding agencies and interested citizens. The network allows members to:

  • Add to and use the resources section
  • Reach out to members through the chat in a field/topic you are interested in. Network, ask questions, build bridges. Chat conversations are private and confidential!
  • Publish about events you are organizing regarding SFS (on average, 30-120 members attend events shared in the feed!)
  • Peruse the calendar of events shared by other members.
  • Share calls, documents, reports, papers, etc. that you think are interesting for the whole community.
  • Ask the community for feedback and start a conversation, e.g. by creating a poll!
  • Share job openings as “opportunities”. The network currently spans 2000+ people, and their personal networks spread much further.

The SFSN Community leaders send a biweekly newsletter with featured shared events, opportunities, posts, and new members for further dissemination.

If you have any feedback, questions or would like to get more involved, email sfsn@eufic.org or contact us directly through the chat (search Community Managers).

Global Food Systems Network Map

The Global Food Systems Network Map is a powerful online tool designed to visually represent the relationships among stakeholders involved in food systems-related efforts worldwide. 

Given the varied and dynamic nature of global food systems, it is often challenging to track projects and partners. This Network Map, created by Meridian Institute, aims to alleviate these challenges by illustrating the landscape of multi-stakeholder initiatives working across food systems, including what issues these initiatives are working on and how they are driving change.

This Network Map will help organizations working in food systems both identify opportunities for collaboration and gather insights on how to focus efforts and resources for maximum collective impact.

The Network Map is hosted on Kumu, an interactive network visualization tool. Learn more about how to navigate the Map here.