A sustainable way to feed the world and yourself. Please do these 3 things today!

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is not just important for our own individual health but also for the health of our planet. With a steadily increasing population estimated to reach 9.2 billion people by 2050 (FAO, 2012), there is growing concern about our ability to feed the world into the future. With the massive destructive environmental impact of our agricultural efforts to date, it is clear that to have a sustainable approach to feeding our growing population we will need to make some drastic changes. This issue is the responsibility of us all and this article looks at the top 3 things we all MUST change to make a difference.

We need a balanced way to feed ourselves that doesn't cost the Earth...

We need a balanced way to feed ourselves that doesn't cost the Earth...
Currently, we produce enough food for everyone in the world to have the nourishment they need, however, 1 billion people remain hungry, 2 billion people are malnourished, while ironically, a further 1 billion people are overweight (FAO, 2012).

Our current centralised food system means that most food is produced by a small number of countries. Inequality in the distribution of this food is a major issue with developed countries experiencing food surplus and massive amounts of waste, while developing countries are starving. In fact, 80% of the world's food produced is consumed by the wealthiest 20% (Shah. A. 2008).

Conventional farming has enabled us to increase our food production up until now, however it has come at a massive price. It has been a destructive force for the environment, excessively consuming key resources, such as soil and water, creating land degradation and widespread pollution (Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005). On top of this, it requires high levels of expensive inputs in the form of fossil fuels which are becoming increasingly more scarce.

Added to this are the changing trends in food consumption over time, with the growing middle class segment resulting in more and more people who can afford vast quantities of meat and dairy in their diet. The resultant mass-scale farming of animals has led to poor animal welfare standards, high levels of harmful greenhouse emissions and the majority of cropland being used to grow animal feed.

The final insult, as it were, are the huge levels of food wastage in developed nations with around 1/3 of the food produced globally for humans wasted.

There is no question that we need to find a more sustainable way of feeding the world's population, the question is how do we make that happen.
To get to where we need to be requires complete overhauls to current global trade and food systems, agricultural practices, food policies and subsidies. However, there is a lot that each one of us can start doing immediately, on a daily basis that can already make a significant difference to the problem. Ironically, these recommendations are not just best for the planet but also best for our own health! I recommend that you start here:

If we all change these 3 things...

1. Eat less meat
Currently if all cereals grown were fed to humans rather than livestock it is estimated that we could feed an extra 3.5 billion people. The mass consumption of meat and other animal products supports factory farming practices, poor animal welfare standards and is a major source of environmental pollution. For our own health, diets high in meat and dairy are linked to higher risk of chronic diseases like certain cancers and other inflammatory conditions.
Limit your meat consumption to no more than one meal per day and aim to have a few nights per week that are meat-free. When you do eat meat, make sure you know how the animal was raised – avoid mass produced, factory farmed animal products and instead choose, organic, free-range and grass-fed, or sustainably fished where possible.
2. Minimise Food Waste.
Australians alone discard up to 20% of food that they purchase and throw out on average 345kg of food per household per year.
Plan your meals in advance and buy what you need for the week. Get creative with leftovers. Best before dates are not indicators that something is off or rancid, they are merely recommendations that food be consumed by this date for optimum freshness. You can tell if something is off by how it looks, smells and tastes. Check before you throw it out.

Planning your meals ahead and buying only what you need not only helps reduce waste but means you'll be saving time and money and eating more home-cooked healthy meals.
3. Shop local and seasonal.
These days we are used to having any food we want whenever we want it. This luxury comes at a huge environmental cost however, with food being transported great distances, consuming massive amounts of fuel and adding to global warming with the carbon dioxide emissions. There is also great human and economic cost from this food model with developing countries becoming dependent on export sales and focusing on export production rather than local needs and self-sufficiency.
Buy local and seasonal where possible. The fresher your food, generally the higher the nutrient content and the better the taste. Buying local reduces the distance that food has to travel and helps to strengthen the local economy.

Getting to know your local producers and their products means that you can make more informed choices about the food you buy. How much pesticide or antibiotics have been used? Was the animal grass or grain fed and able to roam freely? Was the fish sustainably caught? Local farmers markets are a great place to go for this.

When you do buy food that can't be produced locally, then look for 'fair trade' products. When buying food that can be grown in the region, use a hierarchy of preference: local, national, regional.

Your actions make a difference!

These recommendations are by no means the extent of the change that we as individuals can make to create a more sustainable future for our planet and food security, however, at the same time, don't underestimate the positive impact that these changes can make if we all do these three things on a daily basis.

What's really important is that we are aware. Aware of our impact and aware of our responsibility to make a change to our food consumption and behaviours. Through these everyday choices we can make a significant difference to the state of our own health and the state of our planet and the food security of generations to come.

If you need help or guidance in planning a sustainable way of healthy eating that ensures you are eating a balanced, nutritious diet then please contact BodyNatured. Remember, what we choose to put in our mouths today makes a difference to the health of our planet for tomorrow.


Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). (2014). Food Security and why it matters. Retrieved from: http://aciar.gov.au/aifsc/food-security-and-why-it-matters.

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). (2012). Improving food systems for sustainable diets in a green economy. Working Document 4. Rome, Italy.

Foodwise. (2017). Fast Facts on Food Waste. Available at: http://www.foodwise.com.au/foodwaste/food-waste-fast-facts/.

Millenium Ecosystem Assessment. (2005). Ecosystems and Human Wellbeing: Biodiversity Synthesis. Washington DC, USA, World Resources Institute.

Paxton, A. (2011). The Food Miles Report - The dangers of long-distance food transport. London, UK. Sustainable Agriculture Food and Environment (SAFE) Alliance.

Pearce, F. (2002). 20-year study backs organic farming'. New Scientist, http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2351-20year-study-backs-organic-farming.html, viewed 8 November 2010.

Shah, A. (2008). Global Food Crisis 2008. Retrieved from: http://www.globalissues.org/article/758/global-foo....

Soil Association. (2012). Feeding the Future: How organic farming can help feed the world. Retrieved from: https://www.soilassociation.org/media/4958/policy_....

Sustainable Table. (2016). Industrial vs Organic Farming Systems. Retrieved from: https://sustainabletable.org.au/all-things-ethical-eating/industrial-vs-organic/#references


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