The scoop With increased pressure on supply chains from COVID-19, food systems are seeing a shift toward local-purchasing. For environmental purposes, maintaining local food supplies post-pandemic will be crucial.
Support farmers markets, food hubs, and community-supported agriculture. Ride the wave toward more resilient and sustainable food systems.
Things to know
- Large-scale and complex food systems buckled under the unpredictability and immeasurable pressures of a global pandemic
- Millions of pounds of food products lost across the US
- Grocery stores are dealing with food shortages
- Consumers are shifting to purchasing locally and local farmers face an increased demand for local food
- We need resilient and sustainable food systems even after the pandemic
- How to support local and shop small:
- Farmers’ Markets
- Community Supported Agriculture Programs
- Food Hubs
Bottom line Eating local should not be expensive or exclusive. You can buy local food based on what fits your schedule and budget. Sustainable and local food systems rely on consumer behavior.
There is no doubt a major increase in local purchasing during COVID. However, reaching sustainable development goals and building resiliency in food systems requires your action to support local farmers. Buy local.
Dig deeper → 5 min
The problem with food waste
- 30% of all food in the US is thrown out (UN Environment)
- Food waste is often incinerated, which causes pollution... instead of feeding hungry mouths, or nourishing soil as compost.
- Food waste harms the environment, which is already stressed by food production’s demand for land, water, and the associated release of greenhouse gas emissions.
What you can do
- Plan meals ahead of time
- Use leftovers creatively, in multiple ways
- Shop responsibly, with a purpose
- Store food intelligently; don't let it go bad too soon
- Support local initiatives, there are good-neighbor ways to help
Bottom line As individuals, we can reduce the environmental consequences of food waste by making simple adjustments to our food habits. Cultivating awareness around food waste will help us work towards a more sustainable food system.
Dig deeper → 4 min
The billion-dollar banana maker announced an ambitious plan to eliminate fossil-based plastic packaging by 2025, and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.
Dole's plan Turn food waste into repurposed solutions like...
- Pineapple skin packaging
- New snacks made from rejected fruit
- Facilities powered by food waste converted into electricity.
What to expect Other major food producers will respond. The goal-setting sustainability trend continues, and only time will tell whether R&D goal-making converts into tangible results.
In the meantime, you can feel a little bit better about your next purchase of a Nicaraguan-born Dole banana.
Dig deeper --> 1 min
What’s the sitch? For all the innovations we have today, access to quality food is still a critical issue across the globe. Food disparity is driven by a number of factors, such as income inequality and local production levels.
Big picture The barriers that prevent many people from eating healthier are interconnected with race, inequality, and systemic biases embedded in our society. Race, education, careers, income, and housing all play a role in determining food access.
Why it matters Overcoming system inefficiencies like excessive subsidies for meat production helps to lower barriers to healthier foods but it will take a national and global effort to completely eradicate systemic inequalities.
Dig deeper → 1 min
Current score Sports are still ‘cancelled’ - thanks COVID - but this ‘stoppage of gameplay’ presents an opportunity to improve sustainable business practices.
Quantify it Waste Management (WM) estimates that the four major professional leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) generate approximately 35,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year from their fans’ waste activities alone.
Big picture The sports world is rife with possibilities to convert to more sustainable practices that would strengthen bottom lines and increase public perception and longevity of their industry.
Why it matters Sports’ influence extends far beyond the reach of their stadiums, fields, rinks, and media presence. They impact cities’ transportation infrastructure, boost local economies and can significantly affect their regions’ environmental systems.
Next steps Say bye to hot dogs, and hello to better AC.
- The pandemic draws attention to the meat industry and indicated essential changes necessary in the ‘food space’
- Plant based alternatives can help pivot from factory farming and more towards a plant based future.
- Another adjustment will need to come in the live event arena where improved HVAC technology and design will reduce air pollutants and filter bacteria while increasing energy efficiency and lowering costs.
Bottom line This pandemic will give fans and consumers a rare opportunity to play a role in systematically changing the operations of the sports industry. Our past has revealed that human beings can quickly adapt to changing environments.
The sports industry as a whole should reflect on this opportunity and make significant changes needed to forge ahead and prevent history from repeating itself.
Dig deeper → 2 min
The scoop John Tyson, Chairman of Tyson Foods, sent out a dire message about the global food chain supply breaking as millions of chickens, cattle and pigs face euthanasia due to widespread closures of slaughter houses.
Where it stands
- Meat processing plants across America face closure due to the pandemic.
- Processing plants use the ’just in time’ inventory system.
- Animals have limited processing time, after which they get too big and loses their monetary value for companies such as Tyson.
- It is difficult for meat processors to pivot between varying amounts of demand, exposing its shortcomings as a reliable form of food production.
What are the main concerns?
- Most meat processing plants operate in counties in America worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
- Thousands of animals and workers in these poorly-sanitised plants remain in close proximity to one other.
- The chances of infections spreading are incredibly high in the plants, with over 5,000 meat workers and 1,500 workers contracting the virus since April.
- Meat processing systems lack a vital aspect of sustainability: resilience.
Zoom out Farmers have discarded millions of pounds of edible food due to the virus and warn of increased food security concerns. Almost 30-40% of food is wasted in America, equivalent to an estimated value of $162 billion every year.
Bottom Line Our food systems need to focus on resilience plans moving forward, making them more adaptable and decentralised to effectively deal with external disturbances such as a pandemic.
Dig deeper → 5 min