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Sustainable Food System – Targeting ProductionMethods, Distribution or Food Basket Content?
Mälardalen University, School of Business, Society and Engineering.
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
2012 (English)In: Organic Food and Agriculture - New Trends andDevelopments in the Social Sciences / [ed] Reed, M., INTECH, 2012Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this paper was to investigate how much the environmental impacts could be reduced by various changes in the governance of food systems. The importance of production methods, transport and processing of food and the content of food consumption profiles were examined. By examining this we can also answer what effort would give the most environmental benefits to society. The environmental impacts assessed were potential emissions of nitrogen, global warming impact and use of primary energy in the agricultural production, transporting and processing parts of the food system. All examined environmental effects were lower on the studied Ecological Recycling Agriculture farms compared to conventional production. Combing this with changes in our food consumption can further reduce the environmental impact of the food system.

A change to ERA would decrease the environmental impacts, even when the food consumption profile remains as the Swedish average of today. The agricultural area needed would, however, increase substantially making a large scale conversion less realistic. If coupled with a changed diet the area needed for food production would decrease with 30%. The results support other findings that changes in food profiles towards a more vegetarian diet and more organic foods decrease the environmental impacts. This change would have a negative effect in terms of increased food expenditures. The families in a household survey carried out consumed substantially more local and organic products, less meat and more vegetables and they spent 24% more money on food compared to average Swedish consumers.

In the studied community a local food system characterized by a high share of supply and demand of organic food has evolved. This has been facilitated by horizontal and vertical collaboration – horizontal through a high demand from private consumers coupled with large supply from local producers and vertical in the form of public procurement. However, because of the higher price charged for local and organic food a large scale transformation of Swedish agriculture would probably rely more on governmental intervention since few regions experience as high private and public demand for eco-local food. The environmental benefits of organic agriculture cannot be fully realized unless food profiles change. For a governmental intervention in the form of e.g. public procurement to have optimal effect it is as important to focus on food content as on production methods. Localized processing is however of less importance in terms of environmental effects.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
INTECH, 2012.
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-21593DOI: 10.5772/29750ISBN: 979-953-307-117-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-21593DiVA: diva2:649314
Available from: 2013-09-18 Created: 2013-09-18 Last updated: 2014-01-20Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
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  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
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Output format
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