Welcome to the Tasting The Future blog
These contain ideas, views and experiences sharing my views to build a fairer, more sustainable, resilient, and healthier food system. I welcome guest bloggers so if you would like to share your story, ideas or projects then please do get in touch.
It’s now been over 5 years since I took the plunge and established my own sustainable food systems consultancy business, Tasting the Future. This blog outlines five of my own reflections and lessons on going freelance.
Rolling back the European Farm to Fork Strategy(F2F) to scale up intensive systems of food production, as some agri-food businesses argue, would not solve the current food crisis – It would move us even further away from a food system that is resilient to future shocks. The F2F strategy offers a unique opportunity to promote joined up policies that result in synergies for food security, production, sustainability, and health – it must not be weakened or abandoned.
At the start of a new year I explore 8 sustainable food trends that I think will come to the fore during 2023. Increasing citizen awareness, investor pressure and government action around the health, environmental, social, and animal welfare impacts of or food systems, means that in 2023 the chorus to translate words into actions, to transform a food system many consider not fit for purpose, is only going to accelerate.
Trends explored in this blog include More but plant, less but better meats; net zero; nature positive commitments; Closing the loop and upcycled foods; food provenance, shorter value chains and transparency; agrobiodiversity; regenerative and agroecological farming; and eco labelling.
We have learnt nothing from the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ that was postulated nearly 200 years ago, and our economic and political models (a focus on GDP and short-term politics) continues today – the current climate change crisis is an example of ‘the tragedy’ on a global scale. At COP 27 there were many declarations of intent, but an utter failure to deliver the action promised. In fact, many of the commitments to reduce GHG emissions were weakened, not strengthened during the two weeks of climate negotiations.
In this blog, Andrea Cattaruzza explores the dilemmas confronted by consumers over palm oil – Is it better to boycott or buy sustainable palm oil? Given how productive palm oil planatations are will the alternatives do more damage than good?
Exactly 60 years ago today, the environmental classic ‘Silent Spring’ was first published by Rachel Carson on September 27th, 1962. An author and American biologist, Carson was one of the first scientists to highlight the terrible damage we are doing to the planet through pesticide usage. Her pioneering book ultimately gave birth to the modern-day environmental movement. Sadly, 60 years on, our global appetite for pesticides has not subsided – In fact quite the opposite, it has risen and risen significantly. There are now more pesticides in global circulation than ever before.
This blog, by Prof. Sayed Azam-Ali, CEO Crops for the Future, argues that the current food crisis can only be resolved by change from a fossil food system into a future foods one. This must include climate-resilient and nutritious “forgotten” crops, as well as diverse farming systems that have been displaced by industrial monocultures of energy- and fertiliser-hungry staples.
This blog highlights the importance and impact of citizens, communities, and cities coming together to improve food systems, at a local, national, or international level. In coming together and collaborating, we benefit from a range of ideas and perspectives and can achieve more.
Record breaking heatwaves across the UK and much of Europe have profound implications for our food system. This blog explores the short and long term impacts of these record breaking temperatures on our food system. It also explores two stories of hope from Vanuatu and South Africa, both of which serve as excellent examples of the positive changes that can come from innovation and collaboration in the food and climate space.
A new report Creating Better Health for People, Animals, and the Planet: Food Systems Insights for Health Professionals showcases 10 food-focused initiatives that have taken action to promote human, ecological, and animal health and well-being. From Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Taiwan, Thailand, Uganda, and the United States, the case studies in this report demonstrate how the health sector can play a critical role in food systems transformation
A new report, released today, World Health Day, lays bare the most damaging human health impacts linked to industrial livestock systems, and how these will only get worse as the demand for cheap meat from factory farms continues to grow, particularly in Asia and Africa. ‘The Hidden Health Impacts of Industrial Livestock Systems: Transforming Livestock Systems for Better Human, Animal and Planetary Health’ exposes how governments around the world are turning a blind eye to the public health toll of industrial livestock systems.
In this guest blog Andrea Cattaruzza explores opportunities for food service providers and retailers to encourage their customers to adopt sustainable, healthy diets.
It was 60 years ago that the environmental classic ‘Silent Spring’ was published by Rachel Carson, highlighting the terrible damage we are doing to the planet and giving birth to the modern-day environmental movement. The problems with pesticides that Rachel Carson highlighted in her book have become far more acute 60 springs later, with global pesticide production more than tripling over that period – with an estimated 3 million tonnes of pesticides now entering our soils, water courses and air every year.
Only by taking a less but better meats and more but better plants approach can we hope to improve the health of people, planet, and animals.
This blog explores 12 Sustainable food trends that will come to the fore in 2022. Increasing citizen awareness, investor pressure and government action around the health, environmental, social, and animal welfare impacts of or food systems, means that in 2022 the chorus to translate words into actions, to transform a food system many consider not fit for purpose, is only going to accelerate.
Trends explored in the blog include deforestation free commodities; resilience based on local diversity foods; Regenerative and agroecological farming; upcycled foods; Healthy plant rich diets; less but better meats; A just food transition; Antimicrobial Resistance; Traceability and transparency; Carbon and eco-labelling; and Packaging innovation and reductions.
Our politicians need to place food system at the front and centre of solutions and the discussions taking place at COP and yet over 90% of countries are failing to address GHG emissions associated with food systems which could deliver 20% of global reductions we need by 2030. This blog provides 5 tips for citizen action to reduce our food footprint.
The need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels is to key to meeting our climate change goals. The CO2 shortage demonstrates we need to break this unhealthy dependency.
Alongside a human and ecological health crisis we confront an animal health crisis: Approximately 70 billion animals are farmed for food worldwide every year (60% of all mammals on Earth),[i] the majority of which are produced under intensive livestock production...
Trade policies today are invariably driven by goals that have little to do with our diets, nutrition, environmental standards or animal welfare, instead focusing on issues such as economic growth, incomes, jobs, and export earnings. If the health, social and environmental costs associated with food production and trade are not reflected in the final price of goods, trade is likely to exacerbate the health and planetary crises.
Today, 4th March 2021, marks World Obesity Day. There is mounting evidence that our food system – the way we grow, harvest, process, transport, market, consume, and dispose of food – is making us ill and is contributing towards our ecological crisis. Our food system is negatively impacting on climate change, biodiversity loss and the double burden of obesity and malnutrition. We need a sustainable nutrition transition to shift food systems, so they support nutrient rich foods with governments and the food industry reorienting their policies and practices to support this transition. Without this transition, we will fail to reach the 2030 sustainable development goal ‘to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.’
There is a famous Chinese proverb that says ‘When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills’. 12 months ago who would have foretold of the winds of change, indeed the storm, that has gripped the world in 2020 – a global pandemic which has now brought a global death toll that now stands at over 1.6 million and wrought havoc of global economies and the lives of the 7.8 billion people living on the planet today.
Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing food sectors in the world. With the world’s population set to increase to almost 9.7 billion by 2050 and with mounting evidence of the need for sustainable and healthy diets, sustainable aquaculture, must be a higher priority for governments, investors, and businesses alike.
Over the next year (2021) the market for plant-based food and drink will continue to grow, driven by consumer and investor pressure driven by rising concerns over the impact of our food choices on our health, sustainability, and animal welfare.
Covid-19 must be a wake-up call for governments around the world. A call to take a different path and place human, ecological and animal health at the heart of a new, green economic system.
Today, we consume over 69 billion chickens, globally, each year. That is over 8 chickens for every man, woman, and child alive on the planet today. Our appetite for chicken is driving climate change and biodiversity loss in the Amazon and Cerrado. With much attention focussed on beef sustainability, in this blog I argue that we have dropped the ball on chicken sustainability.
Sustainable nutrition is a powerful lens for all those working in the food system, which will enable governments, businesses, investors and civil society organisations to identify strategies, programmes and interventions that lead to action, innovation and investment
A new narrative and mindsets are required to transform our food system from one predicated on a productivist, feed the world narrative to one that nourishes and regenerates human, ecological and animal health
Eight Covid-19 sustainable food trends that will have a significant impact in a post Covid world:
Now is the moment to turn a crisis into an opportunity – with sustainable healthy and culturally relevant diets at the heart of a new food renaissance – reconnecting our food to people and place.
The Coronavirus crisis has shone a light on the links between ecological health, animal health and human health. It has also highlighted the vulnerability of our global food systems to such shocks. Healthy ecosystems are key to supporting human health and well-being and building resilience within our food systems.
Chile, a country plagued by high levels of obesity has some of the world’s toughest controls which has resulted in a 23% drop in sugary drink sales over just 2 years. Governments around the world need to address the twin human and planetary health crisis. They should be taking a leaf out of Chile’s obesity playbook through marketing restrictions, labelling and taxation.
Sustainable Nutrition is key to fixing our global food system. We need to move away from a food system based solely on increasing yields with less impact (what I would call a ‘productivist’ approach), to one that reduces environmental impacts whilst optimising health and nutritional outcomes. It’s no longer good enough to just produce more food more sustainably. We need to ensure we focus more on the production of nutrient-dense foods in order to optimise nutritional and health outcomes. So we need a fundamental narrative and mindset shift shift from tonnes of a food per hectare to numbers of people fed and nourished per hectare.
Hemp for Victory: Three Disruptive Novel Food Ingredients and their Sustainability Credentials – 2020 has seen an upsurge in attention around the development of several new and exciting novel food ingredients including a protein made from air, a plant often found floating on our on our ponds and the ‘come back’ ingredient, hemp
The debate over the future role that livestock plays within our food system has become more polarised and acrimonious over the last few years, resulting in entrenched positioning which does little to address the human and ecological crisis
Trees and Planetary Health: Tree Planting needs to be underpinned by behavioural change and political support.
Trees and Planetary Health: Tree Planting needs to be underpinned by behavioural change and political support.
As we enter a new decade, there is excitement in the air (or should it be within our soils), with a new and exciting field of science and enquiry emerging which explores the link between the microbiome within soils and the human gut. Whilst the science is in its infancy, there are early tentative signs that the health of our soils has a significant influence our own health and well-being.
Ten Sustainable Food Trends which will impact on on our food system as we enter 2020 and a new decade.
Community Supported Agriculture in China: An exciting approach that aims to restore soil and human health.
Until recently, China’s agricultural history and traditions have been embedded in approaches and systems in which soil health and human health were at the heart of their farming traditions. This changed as a result of the cultural revolution and rapid urbanisation resulting in industrial farming systems that degrade both soil and human health
Last week, the UK government announced a year-long review of the food system, which will lead to a new National Food Strategy for England.
The Impossible Burger: Industrialisation Food Sustainability – A Paradox? The controversies surrounding the Impossible Burger and Plant-based eating
Soil is key to good health – Over the last few years there has been a noticeable and welcome upsurge in research, evidence and policy exploring the importance of soil and its links to improving food security and reducing climate change emissions.
Regenerative agriculture is an agricultural system that puts more back into the environment and society than it takes out. It is a powerful concept which is key to restoring not just our soils, but society, our health and our natural world. It represents a unique opportunity to re-frame the prevailing productivist narrative, predicated on maximising agricultural output, with minimum impacts, which dominates agricultural policy and practice today.
The EAT-Lancet Commission Report on sustainable diets is a welcome contribution towards the debate on healthy and sustainable food systems. This is the easy part. The real challenge comes in addressing the research-action gap, turning evidence into action which really benefits the poorest in society.
The Global Alliance for the Future of Food and Tasting the Future invite you to share your experiences and views on the critical opportunities for and barriers to creating a healthy food system. A team of researchers from Tasting the Future is working with the Global Alliance to explore ‘Systemic Solutions for Healthy Food Systems: The positive health benefits and impacts of sustainable food systems’.
As discussed in a previous blog , we are beginning to witness a revolution in human plant-based eating but the evidence suggests that there is now an urgency to sow the seeds of an equivalent revolution within the animal feed industry. A ‘less but better’ approach to...
The Palm Oil debate illustrates that complex issues can be hijacked by over simplified messages, tugging at consumer heartstrings, which in the end could do more harm than good.
Six Plant based innovation trends for 2019.
We have all heard or seen the overwhelming volume of evidence relating to the significant environmental and health footprints of livestock production. We know that in order to meet the ambitions and targets and ambitions of the Paris Climate Change Commitment and Sustainable Development Goals we have to put more plant-based proteins back in our diets.
Thoughts on the impacts of the recent wave or mergers across the food and agricultural sectors on sustainability and food choices
Forgotten crops (sometimes referred to as underutilised or orphan crops) comprise the multitude of species that are currently largely neglected by major research, funding bodies and global food manufacturers/retailers. They have largely been ignored or neglected by advances in technology, policy, advocacy or marketing.
In order to thrive, both today and in the future, we have to radically change the way we grow, eat and value food. We need to move beyond the traditional productivist approach to a food system that optimises health and nutritional outcomes from available resources, whilst restoring ecosystems and improving farmer livelihoods.
Many of us working towards a sustainable food system, whether working for a business, government or an NGO, will have been frustrated by the disconnect between ambition and action and the difficulties confronted when trying to turn good ideas into action.