KNOWLEDGE MAP Back to overview

An overview of insights on the (un)sustainability of the international food system.

Food & Sustainability

…as consumer?

A consumer can improve the sustainability of her diet, but also by becoming active in redesigning the food chain is she able to contribute to making the food system more sustainable.

A sustainable diet

By having a more plant-based food pattern and limiting the consumption of (red and , a consumer can decrease her ecological footprint. Generally speaking, choosing seasonal products is more sustainable and if a product passes fewer links and covers a smaller distance from producer to consumer, it scores higher on sustainability. Finally, the consumer can contribute by paying attention to certificates.

Alternative food networks

Via channels such as food cooperatives, farmers’ markets and food stalls that are committed to sustainability, consumers can become active in alternative networks. What these initiatives have in common is a greater emphasis on local and sustainable production and a connection between producer and consumer. Willem and Drees, for example, sources potatoes, vegetables and fruit from local and regional farmers. “Uit je eigen stad” is an idealistic company that produces vegetables, mushrooms, chicken and fish in the city and sells it in its own store and restaurant. The Slow Food movement (in contrast to fast food) focuses on a social consumption style. The premise is that people can enjoy food and be aware of how it is produced. Every individual in the food chain is himself a consumer and by seeking new forms of cooperation that go beyond the paradigm of economic profit, social and cultural food values that have gotten lost over time can be given new meaning.

PBL (2013), p. 91-94.

Dagevos, J. C., Bakker, D. H., Vogelzang, T. A., & Meeusen, M. J. G. (2015), p. 28-29.

Case study: Youth Food Movement

The Youth Food Movement (YFM) is a Dutch youth movement that, through events like eat-ins, debates, YFM Academy and the Food Film Festival, promotes young adults’ awareness of the effects of food choices and the honesty and health of the food system. Regularly YFM organises large gatherings under the name of Damn Food Waste, where solutions to reduce food waste are central (damnfoodwaste.nl). While the YFM as alternative food network has not existed for very long, there is growing interest in their methods from both public and private sectors as well as from consumers who are normally not so involved in conscious food choices. In time, it is not inconceivable that it will lead culture shift.

Website YFM.