Our food system has a unique part to play in the future of our planet and our people. We must create a system that can feed us all in a sustainable and health promoting way. This will require us to ensure that we take radical steps to review, redesign and implement policies and support for the food system in its entirety. We must redesign the whole pathway, from land use and agriculture, to packaging and distribution, to people and culture, so we can ensure our food is healthy for both our planet and ourselves.
For example, around a fifth of the UK’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions come from the food system, rising to 30% if the emissions of all the food we import are factored in. Whether this is emissions from agricultural practices, conversion of land to farmland or the fossil fuels used across the various stages of the food system, the food we eat is doing terrible damage to our planet. This is alongside the knowledge that our diet is harming our health.
In 2019 the Lancet Commission on Obesity concluded that the pandemics of obesity, undernutrition, and climate change represented a paramount challenge for humans, the environment and our planet. These interacting pandemics have created a global syndemic and one of the common, underlying drivers of the syndemic is the food system. The report identified the need for systems-level interventions that could serve as triple-duty actions that impact across diet (obesity and undernutrition) and climate change at the same time.