Food systems are the combination of all actions it takes to produce and consume our food on a day-to-day basis – from farm to fork to landfill. Food systems include any activity that produces, aggregates, processes, distributes, consumes or disposes of food.
Resetting our food system s is urgent. Food systems have fed a growing population, but the cost is unsustainable. Current food systems often encroach on natural habitats, pollute the planet, exacerbate rural poverty and underlie ill health and disease. Market and government failures impose high costs on society and the environment.
Poverty and hunger are increasing in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, while the majority (79%) of the world’s poor continue to live in rural areas. Over 800 million people are hungry and 3 billion people are malnourished.
Food systems produce around a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, while agriculture is the largest user of land and water, accounting for 70 percent of water use. Reducing the emissions of “hidden” environmental, health, and poverty costs estimated at almost US$12 trillion per year, compared to US$10 trillion in market value.
1/3 of food produced globally is either lost or wasted, while food loss and waste is a major contributor to global emissions. Meanwhile, millions of people are either not eating enough or eating the wrong types of food, resulting in a double burden of malnutrition that can exacerbate illnesses and health crises.
Photo credit: Curt Carnemark, World Bank