Global Food Sustainability

Global Food Sustainability

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Introduction

Food sustainability is taken in the context of countries being able to consistently feed themselves while ensuring that a constant production of food that is; safe, with constant supply, affordable, and of high quality. It is an aspect that entails the global capability of countries to feed themselves and the factors that hinder formulation of a good sustainable food system (Healey, 2011).  According to Heasman & Lang (2015), food sustainability is a global issue that is facing many countries, including developed, developing, and third world countries. Countries and economies are unable to feed themselves due to poor food sustainability system that can not only ensure a consistent supply of food, but also provide quality food that is health-promoting. This research-based article will take a general review and analysis of a sustainable food system on a global scale by addressing issues related to food production, supply, pricing, wastage, quality, sustainability elements, and policies that promote good and sustainable food systems.

The global food system is complex in nature since it is influenced and affected by myriads of aspects including; cultural, environmental, and economic factors. There is need to revise and review food production, supply, and quality related policies so that a sustainable food system can be created in every country to avoid the aspects of malnutrition, starvation, and poor health to groups of people that rely on low quality foods since accessibility to fresh foods is not possible (Feenstra, 1997).

Environmental Elements of Global Food Sustainability

Food sustainability is a global aspect that is complex in nature and entails a wide scope of integral aspects to consider. However, there are a number of factors or elements that must be put to consideration for an efficient food sustainability system to be realized so as to promote quality and healthy eating, eradicate starvation cases across the globe, and end malnutrition as the core drawback in the food production sector that have been affected countries across the world (Kloppenburg Jr et al. 2000). Based on Maloni & Brown (2006) findings, the aim of food sustainability is to develop a culture that promotes food security in any economic system of any country. A country that can be able to feed its people has the ability to do so much more, but food will always be the basic need and it must be sustained.

The first element for food sustainability is Sustainable farming practices. This entails the ability of a country to promote food production systems that have low carbon, and one that promotes organic farming (Holt-Giménez & Altieri, 2013). The use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides has for a long time affected the quality of food being produced. Countries are heavily depending on genetically modified organisms which have adverse health implications. Ensuring soil fertility as a basic practice of sustainable farming will ensure that the future of quality food production for societal sustainability is promoted (Healey, 2011).

The second element is environmental protection or rather, food production system that has low environmental impact. The earth’s resources must be used in a sustainable manner that ensures balanced exploitation for the sake of future generations. Environmental impact extends t o minimization of energy usage, promotion of environmentally friendly transport systems, storing foods in a manner that preserves them, an ensuring that the practices undertaken in relation to food production, supply, and storage do no harm the environment and affect climate change negatively. Moreover, food processing industries must ensure minimum or no environmental pollution occurs in their food waste disposal practices (Behnassi et al. 2011).

According to Bazgă (2015), the protection of public health comes in as an important element of food sustainability. Farmers must produce food that is safe for human consumption. This entails controlling the usage of pesticides and other crop related chemicals to avoid transferring these chemicals to human body systems after consumption. Cancer is a serious global disease and it is related to consumption of adverse chemicals from the foods that are commercially grown and redistributed across the globe. It is also good to control the use of growth promotion supplements which end up affecting human health leading to more health problems as the world tries to solve the problem of food sustainability.

Food loss and wastage form the other element of sustainable food system. There are countries that have high level of food production but poor storage capacities which lead to wastage of food in some areas while people in other places are suffering. Food wastage must be curbed so that sustainability can be achieved. This can be achieved through coming up with programs to help people facing malnutrition and other forms of food shortages. Moreover, food wastage can be curtailed by developing better food storage systems that can preserve foods. The expired foods should also be disposed accordingly in a manner that poses no health or environmental hazards.

In addition, food supply management is a crucial sustainability aspect that must be addressed for food sustainability to be enhanced. Supply management entails food distribution in a manner that is safe while ensuring good food pricing is enhanced so that food affordability can be enabled. The supply of food should also support bio-security which involves the protection of human and animal populations against harmful biochemical and biological substances. Every grocery and supermarket should also have access to fresh supplies of food products so that human populations can be able to access quality and fresh foods (Bazgă, 2015).

Critical Social Elements of Food Sustainability

The first social element to food sustainability is food security. This refers to the ability of a nation to feed its people by availing quality and affordable foods. Many countries are able to feed their people but there is no food security, a huge number of people have no access to quality food while others depend on food aids from other countries (Behnassi et al. 2011). Secondly, urbanization is a social aspect that has been affecting food sustainability in most countries. This is the aspect of people moving to the urban centres and leaving the rural areas with less people to promote agricultural activities. It has thus become hard to sustain the inflated urban populations due to the neglect of the rural areas which promote food production (Fulponi, 2006).

Change in pattern of consumer needs forms the other social elements that determine the level of food sustainability. This entails a change in food choices, taste, preferences, and affordability. Consumers have resulted to junk foods as the alternative to fresh and healthy food consumption. This has been attributed to misleading advertisements on junk-foods and the inability of most people to access fresh and healthy foods. The overdependence on junk food has led to neglect of production of quality and fresh foods in most parts of the country, translating to a country that cannot be able to meet the food demand its people requires.

Insecurity and exploitation of peasants are serious social issues that have continued to paralize agricultural and food security programs in most countries. Insecurities due to inter-clan, ethnic, and international conflicts have led to paralysis of economies of some countries leading to poor food production capabilities. In other countries, peasants have been exploited for long, their land taken by the rich and used to grow crops under forced or exploited labor and the produce exported while the people of that country go hungry (Neufeldt et al. 2013).

Human health and quality food access form a social element that any sustainable food system must address. Food may be available but how does it improve or affect human health. It is here that the aspect of genetically modified organisms, use of pesticides and chemicals, and the aspect of bio-security are addressed. Production, supply, and storage of foods must be safe to ensure that human health is improved. Food unfit for human consumption must be regulated across all social platforms and strategies to produce quality foods enhanced (Neufeldt rt al. 2013).

Key Economic Elements of Food Sustainability

Government policies and funding on food sustainable programs forms the first economic elements of food sustainability. Government policies should promote not only quality food production programs, but also distribution and pricing standards that must be adhered across the country. Some areas should not have a higher food access than others while all citizens pay the same taxes to their governments. Equitability is an issue that is demanded by a sustainable food system (Fulponi, 2006).

Mechanized farming and modern agricultural practices are economic elements that promote food security. As demographics in a country continue to rise, there is need for higher capacity for food production. The industrialization of the food sector is very important in ensuring massive processing of food products and their redistribution to all parts of the country at a fair price. The practice also sets a chain of job creation and economic prosperity whereby people are able to buy food because they have income generating activities, and food supply and availability is consistent (Neufeldt et al. 2013).

The other economic element is Food pricing volatility which is affected by government policies on food pricing and taxation, and availability of distribution channels. A country may be producing enough food to feed its nation, but the accessibility of that food is poor leading to high demand for food in areas with limited supply, which result to high pricing and exploitation. In the end, people are not able to access foods. Poor government strategies and policies also fail to protect farmers and consumers from unscrupulous traders who hoard foods with intention of inflating prices via creation of artificial shortage. Food affordability is a aspect that must be promoted by a food sustainable system (Oosterveer & Sonnenfeld, 2012).

Ethical Problems Connected to Food Sustainability

Global food sustainability has ethical issues that affect its implementation and achievement of a food secure nation that can feed its self. The first ethical issue is nutrition inclusivity which involves everyone having access and affordability of food irrespective of their economic capability to afford that food. There is no person who should starve to death or face malnutrition while the government can set up programs that avail food and nutrition to its citizens. This means that people have a right to adequate food (Oosterveer & Sonnenfeld, 2012).

Natural resources conservation forms the other ethical aspects that must be considered. Food production is important in promoting food sustainability; however, the exploitation of land as a factor of production must be done ethically. Forests must be preserved and waste disposal controlled for a health environment that does not end up affecting the quality of foods produced is maintained (Gardner, 2014). The rise in food demand is jeopardized by environmental degradation. Opportunities for agricultural production continue to decline due to increased depletion of natural resources. Human generations are denied the chance to inherit a healthy environment (Oosterveer & Sonnenfeld, 2012).

According to Oosterveer & Sonnenfeld (2012), the other ethical issue is unscrupulous business dealings and hoarding of food. This is an aspect that has affected food distribution and affordability. Some people hoard food and deny its access to a group of people so that artificial demand can be created. This means that the prices of foods go up and only those who have high income can afford foods leading to a large section of people to starve or get malnutrition. Corruption and poor government policies on agriculture are also part of ethical dilemma that has denied food access and sustainability in most countries. This is because money meant to promote viable agricultural programs that can promote food security and sustainability is put in people’s pockets. In the end, acute food shortage is realized and starvation sets in.

According to (Alkon & Agyeman, 2011), environmental conservation forms the other ethical issue, this entails the need to protect the environment from pollution. Land and water are useful components in promoting agricultural practices. However, when these two aspects are polluted via chemical discharge, poor drainage of sewerage, and poor disposal of chemical and food waste produce, agriculture is affected. The polluted water may be used to grow crops and rear animals, but the end product is that the quality of food will be affected leading to human ingestion of harmful products which endanger their health.

Major Threats and Opportunities in Business

The greatest threats to food sustainability is; poor government policies on agriculture, pollution, and increased climatic changes that affect the environment. Agriculture has become an important commercial venture based on the rising global demographics and the need to feed rising population numbers. However, in most countries, poor agricultural policies affect commercial food production business whereby farmers get little support in agricultural programs and middlemen buy food products at a throw-away price and resell them at massive profit gains (Alkon & Agyeman, 2011). This has discouraged commercial farmers from investing in agriculture, leading to food insecurity.

Secondly, increased pollution on land and water due to human activities and industrial discharges has affected the potential of sustainable farming. This is as a result of climatic changes that have been sparked by the pollution and thus affecting the rain patterns which most farmers depend on. From a business perspective, food production and supply in the global market has been unreliable due to the inability to meet the global demand to satisfy food security needs (Heasman & Lang, 2015). The other threat is corruption which has paralyzed investment in agriculture. Poor government policies discourage import of food where it is needed and exportation of food where it is needed leading to business imbalance for food traders (National Research Council (U.S.), 2012). 

When it comes to business opportunities, the first opportunity is that the demand for food has risen more than ever due to the high rate of population increase (Khor, 2003). This means that agro-businessmen will have an opportunity to expand their businesses by investing more in agricultural produce; in the process, food sustainability will be achieved. Innovation in the agriculture sector has taken a new notch and this has provided an opportunity for more efficient mechanization, processing, packing, and distribution of food products across the world (Capone et al. 2014). On the other hand, irrigation has become a remedy for business farmers to farm and produce commercial foods that will boost their business.

Ethical and Sustainable Solution to Global Food Sustainability Problems

Considering that food sustainability is a global issue and faces worldwide related challenges, there need to come up with plans and strategies that address the issue so as to create a sustainable food system which will eradicate starvation, malnutrition, and health related problems due to food shortage, inaccessibility, and un-affordability. The first thing is for respective governments to set up environmentally and cost friendly agricultural policies that will encourage agricultural production and commercial practices that not only benefit the farmers, but the consumers as well through availing quality, accessible, and affordable food products.

Just like in any sector, environmental and social ethical considerations must be put in place. This involves the regulations of production processes while promoting bio-security measures across all production platforms. The protection of human health is of at most importance in a sustainable food system, this means that quality must be maintained at all times, irrespective of provision of food quantity (Capone et al. 2014). The other aspect is to combat corruption and streamline government agencies that deal with promotion of sustainable agricultural programs and business practices. This is through setting up watchdogs and quality test programs that ensure any funding is utilized appropriately (Gardner, 2014).

Extensive research funding should be injected in Agri-business to promote food security measures that are economical and achievable. Moreover, control of pollution is an aspect that will promote stable climate that support agriculture while in the process limiting the hazards of ingestion of harmful chemical effluents that may have been released into the environment (Hobbs, 2007). Protecting the environment tends to balance the ecosystem which in turn promote healthy farming with capability of sustaining the population of any given country (Alkon & Agyeman, 2011). In addition, investment in modern agricultural technologies that are cost effective and promote efficient food production will be a boost to quality and quantity production of food for sustainable food systems (Bazgă, 2015).

In conclusion, food sustainability is a global issue that is faced by every country in one way or the other. However, some countries are doing better that others based on the economic and agricultural policies they have put in place in sustaining viable agri-business practices. Sustainable food system should ensure that a nation has access and affordability of quality foods in consistent manner throughout the year. Embracing better business and technological policies will help improve the aspect of food security on a global scale.

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