What are the 4 elements of the food system?

The food system is a complex network of activities involving production, processing, transportation and consumption. Issues related to the food system include the governance and economics of food production, its sustainability, the degree to which we waste food, how food production affects the natural environment, and the impact of food on individual and population health. These individual factors influence how people interact with their food environment and, ultimately, what they choose to buy and eat. It contrasts with industrial food systems by operating with reduced food transportation and more direct marketing, leading to fewer people between the farmer and the consumer.

A greater proportion of countries with this type of food system have adopted policies that prohibit the use of industrial trans fats and encourage the reformulation of processed foods to reduce salt intake. Global food production uses approximately 50% of habitable land (Tilman, 26% Clark, 201) and accounts for 19 to 29% of total greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating climate change. Convenience stores, grocery stores and fast food restaurants in the United States offer customers an almost dizzying variety of food selections, from packaged snacks to fresh produce, fresh foods, canned goods and complete ready meals. Despite continued widespread support for the values that underpin fair trade, food buyers and importers are not legally required to obtain third-party verified fair trade certifications, allowing them to continue the historical power dynamic that generates poverty, environmental degradation and violations of human rights.

Trade can also lead to greater investment in the food industry and the technology sector, creating new jobs. Consumer behavior includes people's decisions about the types of food they choose to eat, as well as how people prepare, store, eat, and share food with others in their household. However, most consumers continue to obtain most of their food in informal markets, especially animal foods, fruits and vegetables. Once the crops have been harvested or the animals have been slaughtered, the resulting food products are sold to processors who transform them into finished products.

In large urban environments, food supply chains can be longer and more complex, usually food is produced further away and more people are involved in its production, processing, packaging and retail. Because organic production is about practices rather than size, organic food systems can have a local or even international reach. As a result, a food systems approach has been widely adopted to identify, analyze and evaluate the impact and feedback of the different actors, activities and outcomes of the system in order to help identify points of intervention to improve food security. Fair trade has emerged in global food systems to create a more excellent balance between the price of food and the cost of its production.

Sales to local retailers or direct sales to end consumers also suppress some of the intermediate steps in the supply chain, where large food companies tend to capture profits, leaving more wealth in the hands of farmers. Food systems play an important role in the well-being of society, helping to ensure that all members of society can be as healthy as possible. .

Ismael Slagter
Ismael Slagter

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