Understanding the key issues in order to find solutions for sustainable food systems.

FOOD PARADOXES

The three main food paradoxes

The BCFN Foundation has identified three key food paradoxes which encapsulate the main problems to resolve in order to create a development model which is focused on improving the sustainability of food systems.

The three food paradoxes represent a key touchstone, because they bring together highly contrasting sets of data, clearly highlighting the inconsistencies entrenched in our food system.

Solutions to these paradoxes were proposed and debated during Expo Milano 2015 and led to the creation of the Milan Protocol.

The three main food paradoxes

FIRST PARADOX: FOOD – ACCESS AND EXCESS

An obese planet dying of hunger

We produce enough food to feed everyone on the planet, but worldwide hunger is still a serious problem with 795 million people suffering from a shortage of food. At the same time, 2.1 billion people are suffering from obesity or are overweight.

This contradiction arises from unbalanced lifestyles and a range of deep and complex faults in our production, commercial and distribution systems, as well as education regarding food and nutrition.

An obese planet dying of hunger
An obese planet dying of hunger

Our solution

  • Strengthening global governance of the world’s food systems and improving agricultural, agro-industrial and commercial policies in order to ensure a more balanced access to food.
  • Rethinking the use of natural resources, especially in the first stage of the agro-food supply chain (cultivation).
  • Intervening in the supply chain and managing the volatility of prices to consolidate fair working conditions in order to incentivise investment, pay farmers a decent wage and increase the opportunities for food access.
  • Reducing the waste of food and resources throughout the agro-food supply chain.
  • Promoting lifestyles which promote better food sustainability and advocate healthy and nutritionally balanced diets.
  • Investing in food education for rural populations in developing countries. An increase in the access to primary education of 100% can improve food security by 20-24%.

SECOND PARADOX: USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Should we feed people, animals or cars?

We urgently need to feed a growing global population, and yet 40% of the world’s cereal resources are used to feed livestock and produce fuel.

Solving this paradox is a significant challenge because it means making responsible choices and allows us to question what sustainability is all about.

What does sustainability mean? Sustainability is a concept which arises from an idea as old as time itself. It is the ability to maintain the ecological processes which occur within an ecosystem into the future. And this is why sustainability means taking responsibility for younger generations.

In order to tackle the second food paradox, it is important to place the concept of sustainability as a guiding principle behind all of our decisions and prioritise the wellbeing of people and the planet.

Should we feed people, animals or cars?
Should we feed people, animals or cars?

Our solution

  • Improving the efficiency in the way natural resources are used..
  • Conserving, protecting and improving natural resources.
  • Proposing agricultural methods which protect and improve equality and social wellbeing in rural areas.
  • Focusing on the resilience of people, communities and ecosystems.
  • Implementing policies which are responsible and effective to boost the sustainability of agro-food systems.

THIRD PARADOX: FOOD WASTE

To ensure there is enough food for everyone: don’t waste it

Every year, we waste a third of the world’s production of food in the supply chain, during the processes of conservation, processing, distribution and consumption. The amount of food wasted is four times more than the quantity needed to feed all of the people around the world who are malnourished.

Consequently, food waste is both an economic and a moral problem, as well as an environmental issue: when waste breaks down in landfill sites, it releases methane gas, which is 20 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.

The third food paradox is a contradiction which we need to increasingly raise awareness about in order to encourage people to adopt behaviour conducive to improving food access for all.

To ensure there is enough food for everyone: don’t waste it
To ensure there is enough food for everyone: don’t waste it

Our solution

  • Agreeing to a shared definition of food loss and waste.
  • Prioritising policies aimed at reducing food waste which tackle its root causes and set out a hierarchy for the use of food, because identifying the nature of food loss and waste is essential for eradicating hunger around the world.
  • Recognising the positive contribution of long-term cooperation and agreements on the food supply chain (between farmers, producers and distributors) in order to achieve better planning and forecasting of consumer demand.
  • Providing the support necessary to launch awareness raising initiatives, including among professionals in the food sector.

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