Definition of a Sustainable Food System
A sustainable food system is a collaborative network that integrates several components in order to enhance a community’s environmental, economic and social well-being.
It is built on principles that further the ecological, social and economic values of a community and region. Characteristics of a sustainable food system are outline below (based on Pothukuchi and Jufman, 1999):
Sustainable food takes into account environmental, health, social and economic concerns and consists of eight inter-related principles. Although few progressive food ventures meet all of the principles below, this definition is an underlying aspiration to drive awareness-raising and change within our organizations and the wider food system.
Sustainable Food Lab
We define a sustainable food and agriculture system as one in which the fertility of our soil is maintained and improved; the availability and quality of water are protected and enhanced; our biodiversity is protected; farmers, farm workers, and all other actors in value chains have livable incomes; the food we eat is affordable and promotes our health; sustainable businesses can thrive; and the flow of energy and the discharge of waste, including greenhouse gas emissions, are within the capacity of the earth to absorb forever.
Congress arrived at a definition of sustainable agriculture when it passed the "Farm Bill" (Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990). It characterized sustainable agriculture as an integrated system of plant and animal production practices that meet the World’s need for food and nutrition, which in turn enhance the natural resources that food growing depends upon.
These practices also include efficient use of nonrenewables, keeping production economically viable and enhancing both the farmer's and society's quality of life. A sustainable food system, reconciles ecological, social and economic imperatives, and is based on a hierarchy of nested objectives.