Cookies help us run our site more efficiently.

By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information or to customize your cookie preferences.

High food prices could have negative long-term health effects on Canadians

News Feed
Tuesday, November 29, 2022

When the cost of food increases, it restricts the availability of nutritious foods for low-income people

When the cost of food increases, it restricts the availability of nutritious foods for low-income people

When the cost of food increases, it restricts the availability of nutritious foods for low-income people
Read the full story here.
Photos courtesy of

From Civil Rights to Food Justice, Jim Embry Reflects on a Life of Creative Resistance

In 1972, he founded the Good Foods Co-op in Lexington. Then, in 2001, at a pivotal point of his life, Embry moved to the heart of Detroit, assuming the role of director at the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, where he began integrating his work for social justice into the effort to bring nutritious […] The post From Civil Rights to Food Justice, Jim Embry Reflects on a Life of Creative Resistance appeared first on Civil Eats.

Jim Embry sees tending to land as a sacred and spiritual responsibility. The food systems advocate, land steward, and beekeeper came of age during the civil rights movement in Kentucky and has spent five decades working for social and racial justice. In 1972, he founded the Good Foods Co-op in Lexington. Then, in 2001, at a pivotal point of his life, Embry moved to the heart of Detroit, assuming the role of director at the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, where he began integrating his work for social justice into the effort to bring nutritious food to underserved communities. This move marked the culmination of 30 years of political collaboration with luminaries Jimmy and Grace Lee Boggs. Embry’s focus on urban agriculture and food justice in Detroit drew a global audience, where he hosted audiences include the British Parliament, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, and distinguished personalities such as Danny Glover, David Korten, and Joanna Macy. “I have developed a worldview that enlarged my concern for all the human and non-human people: the plant people, the animal people, the water people, the air people, the rock people, the fire people. These are all our relatives, and we are all children of the Earth.” Embry returned to his home state of Kentucky in 2006, and founded the Sustainable Communities Network (SCN), a nonprofit that connects and supports a variety of entities in a larger effort to build justice in the local food system. SCN works with nonprofits and schools in the region to integrate farming and food production into their work and advocates for local policy that supports school gardens, urban farms, and community gardens and helps get fresh produce to food insecure residents. He is also part of the Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance, a Black- and Indigenous-led organization with a focus on African and African American crops. Since then, he has traveled and spoken extensively, including trips to the World Social Forum in Brazil and to Terra Madre, the International Slow Food Gathering in Italy. Embry now lives alongside his cousin in Richmond, Kentucky, on the 30-acre Ballew Farm, named after his great uncle Atrus, who died at age 100. In June 2023, Embry received a James Beard Leadership Award that recognized his many years of leadership within the justice food and food sovereignty movements. Embry strives to balance community activism and writing with “soil activism,” embodying the essence of a life dedicated to weaving harmony between humanity and the natural world. His ethos extends beyond human boundaries; he sees himself as “stardust condensed in human form, collaborating with kindred spirits to foster beloved communities where every being, from human to water, air, rock, animal, and plant, is held in sacred regard.” Civil Eats recently sat down with Embry to talk about his farm, his family’s agrarian history, and how he approaches his current role as an elder in the food system. Drawing from your experiences as an activist, farmer, and social justice leader, how have historical events influenced and shaped your passion for the social justice movement? I’ve been a participant in all the social justice movements for the past 65 years. In 1959, when I was a 10-year-old, I was a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). My mother was the local chapter president. Those years of activism inspired me to develop a worldview that moves beyond 45, 90, and 180 degrees and approaches 360. My involvement in social justice movements encompasses all forms of oppression that humans are subject to. But I have also developed a worldview that enlarged my concern for all the human and non-human people: the plant people, the animal people, the water people, the air people, the rock people, the fire people. These are all our relatives, and we are all children of the Earth. As a social justice activist and organizer, I have not only participated in historical events, but I have also helped to plan and organize historical events. One case in point is the 1964 March on Frankfort, Kentucky, led by Dr. King and Jackie Robinson. As a president of the state youth chapter for the NAACP, my role was to travel around Kentucky and organize other young folks to attend the march, which attracted 10,000 people. I have gone on in my life to help organize probably 30 or 40 large events, have helped found 30 to 40 organizations, and I have never felt like dropping out. One very important historical moment that influenced my journey was attending Dr. King’s funeral in 1968. It was here that I met Ernie Greene, well known for his involvement in the Little Rock school integration effort. He invited me to spend the summer in New York City in 1968 working construction. It seemed like the whole world was in New York City. There were people there from all over the world, interacting together. It was there that I was exposed to questions around food justice, food apartheid, food access, and the racism within the food and agricultural system. Can you share the driving force behind your commitment to activism and the social justice movement, particularly in the context of fostering a more socially and environmentally sustainable world?  I grew up with a closeness to the land because of my upbringing in Madison County, which sits at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, is fed by the Kentucky River watershed, and is nourished by soil heavy mineralized in limestone rock. My grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins were all small farmers. So, my family culture was a culture of people connected to the land. I call us agrarian intellectual activists. Everything I do has been influenced by my family legacy as small farmers. How does your family history inform your understanding of the challenges faced by today’s small-scale farmers? My family’s history provides me an understanding that conditions during the years of enslavement, during the period after the Civil War, are all connected to what is happening today. The conditions that we faced after the Civil War were not resolved towards justice and are thus still prevalent. There were 180,000 Black men and women who fought . . . [and] brought about the Union victory, defeated the Confederacy, and reunified the country. Most all of those Black soldiers were listed as farmers for their occupation. So, it was Black farmers who saved the union. This is the history and legacy of Black farmers. Are you still actively involved in farming? Yes, I’m currently actively involved in farming, but in defined ways. I’m a beekeeper and I love all those momma bees that go out and gather pollen and nectar on our 15-acre pollinator conservation project as part of our 30-acre family farm. I currently [have] about 30 fruit trees with most every kind of fruit growing. And I have all kinds of berries and fig trees and a whole variety of medicinal and cooking herbs. On our property we have two high tunnels where we’re growing an assortment of veggies. And we do host farm tours, women’s retreats, dinners, and other educational activities here. My cousin next door raises chickens and makes value-added products from elderberries, herbs, teas, and tinctures. We have invested in mushroom logs, and we are replenishing native tree varieties while also intentionally planning additional medicinal herbs that are native to Kentucky forests. We have two ponds on the property, and they get used periodically by family members or friends to catch fish. We have adopted an organic agricultural transition plan and we are in the second year of that activity. But honestly, because of my speaking engagements, I’m away from home for about one-third of the year. Leadership winners Ira Wallace, Savonala “Savi” Horne, Valerie Horn, and Jim Embry speak onstage at the 2023 James Beard Restaurant And Chef Awards at Lyric Opera Of Chicago on June 5, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Schear/Getty Images for The James Beard Foundation) For most of my life, I have not been involved in farming full-time. I moved to our family farm in 2012 to help look after our aunt and uncle who were both 90 years old at the time. They were like second parents to me, and so much that I do now in the food and agriculture system is based upon their teachings. This property that I live on now goes back to the year 1800 or so, when our ancestors were brought across the Appalachian Mountains to live here in Madison County. So, we claim ancestral stewardship of this land. We purchased it in 1889 from those folks who stole the land from Indigenous peoples. “Each decision we make around food is a political choice. It’s an economic choice. It’s a cultural choice. It’s a spiritual choice.” Over the years I’ve developed extensive knowledge about every aspect of the food agriculture system and recognize my role. My role as an elder is to have this systems view, to create synergy, to speak to everyone and point out that everyone has to change since everyone eats. Everyone has to change in how we relate to the food and agriculture system in our daily practice and the food choices we make. Each decision we make around food is a political choice. It’s an economic choice. It’s a cultural choice. It’s a spiritual choice. My dear friend, Wendell Berry, who I met as a student at the University of Kentucky back in 1968, says, “Eating is an agricultural act.” This means everyone is involved in the food agricultural system. Everybody has to change. I have spoken to presidents, peasants, university professors, preschoolers, famous actors, and to kids who are doing hip-hop, beats, and rhymes and working in some of our urban garden projects. I’ve talked to members of the Nobel Committee and kids in FFA, governors, mayors, local schoolteachers, and military veterans with missing limbs who want to farm. These are a few of the people, organizations, and institutions that I’ve been blessed to work with over the years. What are some notable best practices and challenges you believe exist in agriculture? If we lift up one of Albert Einstein’s famous quotes, which is, “We can’t solve today’s problems with the same way of thinking we used when we created them,” then we have to deeply examine that way of thinking. [We have] created unsustainable farming practices, damaging practices, toxic practices, practices that create injustice, health disparities, economic inequalities, loss of biodiversity, and environmental pandemics. Oftentimes, the “best practices” that emerge over time become “worst practices” and create even more problems. “Oftentimes, the ‘best practices’ that emerge over time become ‘worst practices’ and create even more problems.” There are many different schools of thought or different methodologies that people embrace as we do our farm work, and I have borrowed from many, but my favorite is agroecology. Agroecology is an integrated approach that combines ecological and social principles for sustainable agriculture and food systems. It emphasizes optimizing interactions among plants, animals, humans, and the environment while fostering equitable food systems where people have a say in their food choices and production. Agroecology has evolved to include ecological, sociocultural, technological, economic, and political aspects of food systems. The key elements of agroecology involve empowering farmers, promoting local value addition, and supporting short value chains. It enables farmers to adapt to climate change and sustainably manage natural resources and biodiversity. Agroecology stresses local knowledge, biodiversity, synergy, knowledge sharing, and economic diversification. It also focuses on fairness, connectivity, land governance, participatory learning, circular economies, and polycentric governance, serving as a science, practice set, and social movement. How do you envision agriculture’s role in shaping our future? Agriculture has had the biggest role in shaping human culture for the past 15,000 years. Agriculture developed some 12,000 to 15,000 years ago and was a gift to our species by women. Agri-culture—or the growing of food through the use of seeds—allowed us to move away from being primarily hunter-gatherers. This development (and domestication of animals) gave rise to what we call modern human civilization. In my view, it is within agriculture where we have the most profound need for change, and it is within agriculture where we have the most powerful fulcrum point for social transformation of all other human institutions. “In my view, it is within agriculture where we have the most profound need for change, and it is within agriculture where we have the most powerful fulcrum point for social transformation of all other human institutions.” After a sharp and comprehensive critique of our prevailing and dominant worldview of agriculture, we need to develop a farming philosophy, farming practices, farming research whose primary aim is the health of the people, health of the planet, health for all other species on the Earth, and the health of the economy. Right now, the dominant food and farming systems are used to promote profit, plunder, and have a predatory relationship with the Earth. We need a huge paradigm shift in both the philosophy and the practices of farming. That will mean changes in every aspect of the food and agriculture system from seeds to planting to production to harvest to distribution to education to marketing to eating to disposal. In the face of climate change and environmental devastation, every sector will require lots of significant changes or shifts in how we go about the work in this area. For us to enact changes we will need to develop an integrated systems approach. But we don’t have any choice if we want to become good ancestors and leave our great-great-grandchildren an Earth of abundance. What is your philosophy on caring for and giving back to the planet? George Washington Carver said any injustice to the soil is injustice to the farmer. Any injustice to the farmer is injustice to the soil. Our human quest now is to have a much more expanded view of our responsibility not just to resolving the conflicts and contradictions within the human realm but it’s also to be stewards of Earth protectors or protagonists in maintaining the sacred Earthly balance. What advice do you have for those looking to become more involved in advocating for their communities, land, and people striving to heal, reshape, and sustain our environment? I encourage people reading this to contact me. I invite folks to, as Bill Withers would say, use me up. I’m in my last quadrant. I’ve done all kinds of things and recognize the importance of passing on these understandings to the next generations. Secondly, get involved in organizations; they are critical to making change. Then form study groups to discuss ideas. Get out of the U.S.; travel internationally to see the cultures, the histories of other parts of the planet. Get engaged in your community. Become a voracious reader and read books like Farming While Black by Leah Penniman, We Are Each Other’s Harvest by Natalie Baszile, Freedom Farmers by Monica White, Collective Courage by Jessica Nembhard, and the great work of Thomas Berry and Wendell Berry. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. The post From Civil Rights to Food Justice, Jim Embry Reflects on a Life of Creative Resistance appeared first on Civil Eats.

Potassium Depletion: The Invisible Threat to Global Food Security

Research reveals a global threat to food security from potassium deficiency in soils, highlighting the imbalance between potassium removal and replenishment, the critical role of...

Potassium deficiency in soils presents a significant risk to global food security, with economic and environmental concerns necessitating global assessment and sustainable management strategies.Research reveals a global threat to food security from potassium deficiency in soils, highlighting the imbalance between potassium removal and replenishment, the critical role of potassium in crop yields, and the need for sustainable management and policy coordination.Potassium deficiency in agricultural soils is a largely unrecognized but potentially significant threat to global food security if left unaddressed, finds new research involving researchers at UCL, University of Edinburgh, and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.The study, published today (February 19) in Nature Food, found that more potassium is being removed from agricultural soils than is being added, throughout many regions of the world. It also gives a series of recommendations for how to mitigate the issue. Potassium is a vital nutrient for plant growth that helps with photosynthesis and respiration, the lack of which can inhibit plant growth and reduce crop yields. Farmers often spread potassium-rich fertilizers over their fields to replenish the depleted nutrient, but supply issues can inhibit its use, and there are lingering questions about its environmental impact.The researchers report that globally, about 20% of agricultural soils face severe potassium deficiency, with particular regions likely to experience more critical shortages, including 44% of agricultural soils in South-East Asia, 39% in Latin America, 30% in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 20% in East Asia, largely due to more intensive agricultural practices.Co-author Professor Mark Maslin (UCL Geography) said: “Potassium is critical to sustaining the crop yields that keep the world fed, and its depletion poses a significant threat to the food security of millions of people around the world. This is an overlooked issue that needs to be addressed with a range of actions as the world population continues to grow.”Farmers often rely on potash as a fertilizer to replenish their field’s potassium, but the price of the mineral can be quite volatile. Potash production is highly concentrated, with just twelve countries dominating the nearly £12 billion international market for potassium fertilizers, with Canada, Russia, Belarus, and China producing 80% of the world’s total raw potash.The researchers highlight how in April 2022, the price of potash increased 500% above the previous year following a “perfect storm” of factors, including rising fertilizer demand, escalating fuel prices, recovery from the pandemic, a range of government actions around the world, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia and Belarus together export about 42% of the world’s potash supply, but following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the UK, US, Canada, and the EU imposed import sanctions on the two countries, disrupting global supplies and exacerbating the price spike.Since the initial price spike, the cost of potash has fallen by about 50%, but remains elevated, raising concerns that farmers will not be able to access sufficient fertilizer to maintain food supplies under the current system.Co-author Dr Peter Alexander of the University of Edinburgh said: “The volatility of potash prices has major implications across the global food system. Access to potassium is vital for farmers to maintain their crop yields, but the recent high cost of potash makes it more difficult for the most vulnerable to obtain.”This market concentration and vulnerability is one of the reasons the researchers have called for better potassium management and a robust intergovernmental coordination mechanism. Currently, there are no national or international policies or regulations governing the sustainable management of soil potassium akin to the systems that are being established for other vital crop nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus.In 2021, global potash consumption reached 45 million tonnes, with global production projected to rise to about 69 million tonnes in 2025 with new projects starting up in Belarus, Canada, Russia, Australia, Eritrea, and the UK. However, potash mining has raised human rights concerns and has significant impacts on the environment. Potash mining generates millions of tonnes of refuse mostly composed of sodium chloride salts, which can leach into soils and salinize soil and water tables, harming plants and animals.The impacts of potassium fertilizer runoff into local ecosystems are poorly understood, and the researchers recommend more studies about its effects.Lead author Will Brownlie of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said: “The environmental impact of potash mining and use in agriculture is something that needs greater scrutiny. There’s much that we still don’t understand about the effects that artificial potassium enrichment has on nearby ecosystems. By wisely handling nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium together, we can reap multiple benefits, prevent pollution, boost crop yields, and minimize nutrient loss. It’s about coordinating our approach for better farming outcomes.”The researchers put forward six recommendations for policies and practices to prevent potential crop yield declines, safeguard farmers from price volatility, and address environmental concerns. The recommendations include:Setting up a global assessment of current potassium stocks and flows to identify the most at-risk countries and regionsEstablishing national capabilities for monitoring, predicting, and responding to potassium price fluctuationsHelping farmers maintain sufficient soil potassium levels with further research about the yield implications of limited potassium in various crops and soilsEvaluating the environmental effects of potash mining and developing sustainable application practicesDeveloping a global circular potassium economy that minimizes the use and maximizes the reuse and recycling of the nutrientIncreasing intergovernmental cooperation through the UN and other agencies to develop global policy coordination akin to what’s been developed for nitrogenReference: “Global Food Security Threatened by Potassium Neglect” by Will J. Brownlie, Peter Alexander, Mark Maslin, Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles, Mark A. Sutton and Bryan M. Spears, 19 February 2024, Nature Food.DOI: 10.1038/s43016-024-00929-8

California Is Forging Ahead With Food Waste Recycling. but Is It Too Much, Too Fast?

Two years after California launched an effort to keep organic waste out of landfills, the state is behind on getting food recycling programs up and running

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (AP) — Two years after California launched an effort to keep organic waste out of landfills, the state is so far behind on getting food recycling programs up and running that it's widely accepted next year's ambitious waste-reduction targets won't be met.Over time, food scraps and other organic materials like yard waste emit methane, a gas more potent and damaging in the short-term than carbon emissions from fossil fuels. California's goal is to keep that waste from piling up in landfills, instead turning it into compost or biogas. Everything from banana peels and used coffee grounds to yard waste and soiled paper products like pizza boxes counts as organic waste. Households and businesses are now supposed to sort that material into a different bin.But it has been hard to change people's behavior in such a short period of time and cities were delayed setting up contracts to haul organic waste due to the pandemic. In Southern California, the nation’s largest facility to convert food waste into biogas has filed for bankruptcy because it’s not getting enough of the organic material.“We’re way behind on implementation,” said Coby Skye, the recently retired deputy director for environmental services at Los Angeles County Public Works. “In America, for better or worse, we want convenience, and it’s very difficult to spend a lot of time and effort educating people about separation.”Meanwhile, some communities that ramped up collection now have more compost than they know what to do with, a sign that more challenges are yet to come as the nation's most populous state plows ahead with its recycling plans. Only a handful of states mandate organics recycling, and none are running a program as large as California’s, which seeks to slash by 75% the amount of organic waste it sends to landfills by 2025 from 2014 levels.Reaching that goal within a year would be a stretch, experts said.About three-quarters of communities are currently collecting organic waste from homes, said Rachel Machi Wagoner, CalRecycle’s director. While some places are lagging, her aim isn't to punish them but to help them get started, adding that every bit helps the state move towards its goal of reducing emissions.“My goal is about figuring out where the challenges are and getting us as quickly as possible to success," she said.“I don't know when we will reach our 75% goal, but we will reach it," she added.CalRecycle hasn't tallied data yet on how much organic waste was diverted from landfills in 2023. Jurisdictions reported diverting 11.2 million tons (10.1 million metric tons) of organics at the end of 2022, up from 9.9 million tons (8.9 million metric tons) the prior year, Wagoner said.Some challenges include getting residents on board with sorting their trash into a third bin and knowing what goes where. Others concern what to do with the nutrient-rich compost once it's been created from collected grass clippings, tree branches and food scraps.At Otay Landfill near the Mexican border, workers pick through heaps of branches and leaves to pull out plastic bits before the material is placed under tarps. The site processes 200 tons (181 metric tons) of organic waste daily and hopes to double that amount as more cities ramp up collection, said Gabe Gonzales, the landfill's operations manager.Once the compost is made, California's law requires cities to use much of it. But many say they don't have enough space to lay it all out. Chula Vista, a San Diego County city of 275,000 people, is supposed to use 14,000 tons (12,700 metric tons) of compost a year but uses a few thousand at best, said Manuel Medrano, the city's environmental services manager. Some is doled out in free compost giveaways for residents, while heaps of the material are stored in a fenced area of a local park.“To transport it is really expensive, to spread it is really expensive,” Medrano said. “We're nowhere near meeting that requirement."Communities with more open space might fare better. Cody Cain, head of marketing and sales for compost-maker Agromin, said his company has developed a plan to link cities struggling to meet these requirements with farmers who need the material for their soil."We basically are matchmakers. Call us the ‘Tinder' of compost, and we'll bring the farmer together with the city," Cain said.Food waste also can be converted into biogas to fuel vehicles or industrial operations. But a massive facility built three years ago in the Southern California city of Rialto now finds itself facing bankruptcy after Los Angeles was slow to ramp up collection, leaving the plant with insufficient waste, said Yaniv Scherson, chief operating officer for Anaergia Inc.“It's because the cities didn't enforce on time the market is struggling,” he said. “If it doesn’t get feedstock this year, there is a chance it shuts down completely.”LA Sanitation & Environment, which handles trash and recycling for the city of nearly 4 million people, had no immediate comment.Heidi Sanborn, founding director of the environmental National Stewardship Action Council, said she supports the state's law but wants more done to keep plastics out of compost and to develop alternative energy solutions. Some of California's challenges stem from the fact the state is trying to build a system on a scale the country hasn't seen, she said.“We're trying to fix incredibly tough problems. We're not going to find the perfect solution out of the gate," she said.But, Sanborn added, “we're on our way.”Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Imitation caviar: the future of eco-friendly packaging

Notpla, a London-based company, is revolutionizing packaging using seaweed, an eco-friendly alternative to plastic.Stephen Armstrong reports for WIRED.In short:Notpla, led by Pierre Paslier, utilizes seaweed to create biodegradable packaging for various products, including beverages and fast food.This innovative material grows rapidly without needing fresh water, land, or fertilizer, and it helps reduce carbon and ocean acidity.Notpla's journey began with edible drink containers for marathons, leading to sustainable solutions for takeout food containers and other products.Key quote:"We wanted to create something that would feel more like fruit; packaging that you could feel comes more from picking something from a tree than off a production line." — Pierre Paslier, CEO of NotplaWhy this matters:Notpla's seaweed-based packaging represents a significant stride in combating plastic pollution, crucial for preserving marine ecosystems and overall environmental health. This innovation aligns with global efforts to reduce waste and protect our planet, showcasing a practical and scalable solution to a pressing environmental challenge.Be sure to read: Food packaging can harm human health.

Notpla, a London-based company, is revolutionizing packaging using seaweed, an eco-friendly alternative to plastic.Stephen Armstrong reports for WIRED.In short:Notpla, led by Pierre Paslier, utilizes seaweed to create biodegradable packaging for various products, including beverages and fast food.This innovative material grows rapidly without needing fresh water, land, or fertilizer, and it helps reduce carbon and ocean acidity.Notpla's journey began with edible drink containers for marathons, leading to sustainable solutions for takeout food containers and other products.Key quote:"We wanted to create something that would feel more like fruit; packaging that you could feel comes more from picking something from a tree than off a production line." — Pierre Paslier, CEO of NotplaWhy this matters:Notpla's seaweed-based packaging represents a significant stride in combating plastic pollution, crucial for preserving marine ecosystems and overall environmental health. This innovation aligns with global efforts to reduce waste and protect our planet, showcasing a practical and scalable solution to a pressing environmental challenge.Be sure to read: Food packaging can harm human health.

Changing Food Systems Could Create Multi-Trillion Dollars of Economic Benefits Every Year

A new global policy report from the Food System Economics Commission (FSEC), authored by leading economists and scientists, reveals that worldwide changes in food systems...

A new report by the Food System Economics Commission highlights that transforming global food systems could yield socio-economic benefits of 5 to 10 trillion USD annually, surpassing the costs of such changes. It emphasizes the urgent need for policy overhaul in food systems, which currently cause more harm than good, and can potentially save millions of lives and mitigate climate impacts.A new global policy report from the Food System Economics Commission (FSEC), authored by leading economists and scientists, reveals that worldwide changes in food systems could result in socio-economic gains ranging between 5 and 10 trillion USD annually.The most ambitious and comprehensive study of food system economics so far underlines that food systems are currently destroying more value than they create and that an overhaul of food system policies is urgently needed. On the other hand, the cost of transformation would be much lower than the potential benefits, offering a better life to hundreds of millions of people.“The costs of inaction to transform the broken food system will probably exceed the estimates in this assessment, given that the world continues to rapidly move along an extremely dangerous path. It is likely that we will not only breach the 1.5°C limit, but also face decades of overshoot”, states Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and FSEC Principal. “The only way to return back to 1.5°C is to phase out fossil fuels, keep nature intact, and transform food systems from source to sink of greenhouse gases. The global food system thereby holds the future of humanity on Earth in its hand”, he adds. Food systems powerful means to potentially save 174 million lives from premature deathIn the report, the scientists provide the most comprehensive modeling of the impacts of two possible futures for the global food system to date: our `Current Trends’ pathway, and the `Food System Transformation’ pathway. In its `Current Trends´ pathway the report outlines what will happen by 2050, even if policymakers make good on all current commitments: food insecurity will still leave 640 million people (including 121 million children) underweight in some parts of the world, while obesity will increase by 70% globally. Food systems will continue to drive a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, which will contribute to 2.7 degrees of warming by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial periods. Food production will become increasingly vulnerable to climate change, with the likelihood of extreme events dramatically increasing.FSEC also finds that the food system can instead be a significant contributor to economies, and drive solutions to health and climate challenges. In the `Food System Transformation` pathway, economists show that by 2050 better policies and practices could lead to undernutrition being eradicated, and cumulatively 174 million lives saved from premature death due to diet-related chronic disease. Food systems could become net carbon sinks by 2040, helping to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees by the end of the century, protecting an additional 1.4 billion hectares of land, almost halving nitrogen surplus from agriculture, and reversing biodiversity loss. Furthermore, 400 million farm workers across the globe could enjoy a sufficient income.“The cost of achieving this transformation – estimated at the equivalent of 0.2-0.4 percent of global GDP per year – is small relative to the multi-trillion dollar benefits it could bring. Food systems are a uniquely powerful means of addressing global climate, nature, and health emergencies at the same time – while offering a better life to hundreds of millions of people,” says Hermann Lotze-Campen, FSEC Commissioner and Head of Research Department “Climate Resilience” at PIK.“Rather than mortgaging our future and building up mounting costs leading to high hidden health and environmental costs that we will have to pay down the line, policymakers need to face the food system challenge head-on and make the changes which will reap huge short- and long-term benefits globally,” says Ottmar Edenhofer, PIK Director and FSEC Co-Chair. “This report should open up a much-needed conversation among key stakeholders about how we can access those benefits whilst leaving no one behind,” he concludes.Reference: “The Economics of the Food System Transformation.”

Suggested Viewing

Join us to forge
a sustainable future

Our team is always growing.
Become a partner, volunteer, sponsor, or intern today.
Let us know how you would like to get involved!

CONTACT US

sign up for our mailing list to stay informed on the latest films and environmental headlines.

Subscribers receive a free day pass for streaming Cinema Verde.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.