by Jennifer Parker, Policy Committee Co-Chair
Today’s industrial farming and food production techniques may have served their purpose in producing more food and making it more readily available and convenient - for some - but this model of production puts at risk the viability of a sustainable food system as it heavily impacts the environment, and has been pushing limits on natural resources. The agri-food system is already fragile, sensitive to fluctuations in the availability of resources (land, water, nutrients, fuel etc) and to changes in climate and diet, demanding a real need for a new model of food production. This new model of food production needs to move away from simply focusing on producing more, and instead, create models that consider producing “better”. It is crucial to find a balance between producing healthy and quality food that can feed everyone, that is resilient against shocks such as extreme weather and maintain a healthy environment, rich in resources that can sustain the production of enough food for all – these factors should not be mutually exclusive.
Plain and simple, we have a population expectancy of 8.1 billion people by 2025. We have depleting resources which are exacerbated by the current model. The food we do produce is currently enough to feed everyone, but it doesn’t due to massive distribution problems that leaves thousands of pounds of food to lay to waste. Our agri-food system is not working.
So where do we go from here? The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Division for Sustainable Development produced a report on Food and Agriculture: the future of sustainability, which outlines nine key areas they found to be of consensus that enables us to focus on realistic efforts right now.
1. Organized small and medium farmers, fully including women farmers, should be a primary focus of investment – recognizing that private enterprise will play a significant role in many solutions
2. Define the goal in terms of human nutrition rather than simply “more production”
3. Pursue high yields within a healthy ecology – they are not mutually exclusive and policy and research must reflect that
4. Impel innovation and the availability of diverse technologies suitable in different socioeconomic and ecological contexts
5. Significantly reduce waste along the entire food chain
6. Avoid diverting food crops and productive land for biofuels, but explore decentralized biofuel systems to promote energy and livelihood security that also diversify and restore rural landscapes
7. Insist on intelligent and transparent measurement of results - we cannot manage what we cannot measure
8. Develop and adapt public and private institutions that can effectively respond to these new goals
9. Motivate and reward investments and business systems that result in measurable impacts to the “public good”
Looking to Florida’s efforts, there have been many impressive initiatives popping up all over Florida to help address some of our food production, distribution, waste and other issues. Just as these key consensus areas suggest above, it is just these types of local initiatives that we need to model from in order to create a more holistic and therefore resilient food system.
Join us on our next Policy Committee call, February 22nd from noon until one o’clock EST as we take a look at various Models for Food Production and their Impacts and Benefits and the directions being taken now right here in Florida!