Sustainable food systems ensure that food is grown, processed, distributed and recycled in ways that are environmentally responsible, equitable and economically viable for current and future generations. Environmental stewardship and regenerative agriculture is practiced through food growing and business practices that avoid harm to our air, soil, seeds and water, and renew the resources needed to feed our population.
2013 Snapshot Food System Topic Areas:
- Regional Foodshed
- Urban Agriculture
- Food Waste
- Environmental Sustainability
The key findings in this section are informed by the Dashboard statistics, case studies and expert commentaries.
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California is home to one of the largest food producing regions in the country– supplying fruit, nuts, vegetables, grains and livestock for not just much of the U.S but also the world. The strain of producing food for the world on local environmental resources, however, is cause for serious concern. Excessive use of synthetic pesticides, concentrated animal waste, monocrop farming, over tillage, global shipping, and extreme wastage are all some of the practices that have put our environment and the resiliency of our food supply in jeopardy. Soil health, water supplies and air quality can be jeopardized by agricultural practices more focused on mass production than protecting the ecosystem and sustaining local communities. Food waste generated from multiple points along the food supply chain contributes to approximately 9% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions— threatening our local resiliency and contributing to climate change. Local and sustainable food system strategies such as regenerative, community-supported and urban agriculture, farmers markets surplus food recovery, and community composting have all been identified as better alternatives for the health of people and the planet.
As we strive to undo the negative environmental impacts of our food system and establish more responsible practices, it is important to ensure that those most impacted by these impacts are a part of the solution, including small farmers, agricultural workers, residents living adjacent to large industrial agriculture, women and people of color farmers and low-income families who benefit from surplus food distribution.