An Example of a Food System
A food system refers to a complex, interconnected network of people and objects that produce food. It comprises natural resources and manufactured inputs, such as synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. It also relies upon human resources, such as labor and knowledge. Below is a picture of a typical food system.
Packaged and processed foods
In today’s food system, we rely on various processes to obtain a food that meets our needs. These processes can be simple or complex, or even include the use of additives. While unprocessed and minimally processed foods are optimal, they may not be feasible for busy families. These cases may be a good opportunity to use fortified or ultra-processed foods to provide the essential nutrients necessary for good health.
The food system includes land, water, energy, and food. Land is an important resource for both food production and for growing fibers and energy crops. It is also a carbon sink. Land is essential for business, transportation, recreation, and housing. It is important to understand how our food system affects our health and how it influences our diet.
Many food systems are shaped by several public and private policies. The food supply chain is influenced by policies regarding farm commodities, social programs, international trade, etc. The current food system has many parts. Changes in one part may have unexpected effects on the rest. To improve the performance of a food system, it is important to understand all its drivers.
Farm to fork
The concept of a food system focuses on the relationship between the source and the consumer. The EU has adopted a strategy called the “Farm to Fork” which aims to promote a healthy, sustainable, and fair food system. This strategy aims at involving food-related SMEs, retailers, policy-makers and other stakeholders.
Farm to fork is a growing trend which focuses on sourcing seasonal, local ingredients. Using these ingredients can help restaurants attract customers and protect the environment. This means they don’t need to transport produce long distances and produce fewer greenhouse gases. Restaurants that practice farm to fork must also constantly update their menu to keep up to date with seasonal changes and new ingredients.
The Farm to Fork Initiative brings together cross-sector allies to advance a food system that is better for the environment and society. It calls for government policies to promote a healthy, sustainable, and equitable food system.
Sustainable community food system
A sustainable community food system is based on equitable access to healthy and nutritious food for all. It includes access to affordable and culturally appropriate produce that is produced locally and sustainably grown. It also includes fair labor practices and access to jobs. Community members are empowered to create new opportunities for themselves and families by eliminating barriers to accessing fresh, local food.
Through policy and education programs, sustainable community food systems are being created and implemented. Examples of these include WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Programs, and Double-Up Food Bucks, which allow low-income individuals to spend more money at farmers’ markets. Community Food Projects are USDA-funded programs that address food insecurity and promote self sufficiency within a community. There are also Farm to Where You Are programs, which help local farmers connect with schools.
Community food system projects must be accountable to the community and stakeholders, and therefore must include process evaluation. Evaluation of community food system projects’ results will provide valuable information that can be used to inform future planning and decisions. In addition, it will serve as an opportunity for participants to reflect on the impact of their work, identify gaps, and make course corrections.
Luxury food retail
Luxury food retail is a prime example. These stores are often a reflection on a country’s financial wealth. These stores are intended to serve the richest segment of the population, the five to ten per cent. Luxury food retail is similar in concept to European supermarket chains. This strategy has taken some market share from smaller vendors in African cities.