Advertisement

Development

, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 240–256 | Cite as

Sustainable Diets: Hairshirts or a better food future?

  • T I M Lang
Dialogue

Abstract

The notion of sustainable diets has emerged forcibly onto the food policy agenda in recent years, but has also met resistance. The article reviews the case for sustainable diets. It counterbalances the current dominant policy emphasis on raising food output as the best route to a sustainable food future. The article suggests that a process of democratic experimentation is underway. Some official guidelines have emerged alongside a mix of civil society and academic formulations. More coherence of data, principles and purpose is needed at the global and regional policy-making levels for these to become effective in the common task of reducing the food system’s negative impact on health, environment and economies.

Keywords

sustainable diet food-based dietary guidelines environment public health food policy 

References

  1. Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (2010) Double Pyramid: Health food for people, sustainable food for the planet. Parma: Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition.Google Scholar
  2. Barsac Declaration Group (2009) ‘The Barsac Declaration: Environmental sustainability and the demitarian diet’. Barsac: European Science Foundation Nitrogen in Europe (NinE) research networking programme, Biodiversity in European Grasslands: Impacts of Nitrogen deposition (BEGIN) research programme of the European Science Foundation, Task Force on Reactive Nitrogen (TFRN) of the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, International Nitrogen Initiative (INI), COST Action 729 on Assessing and Managing Nitrogen in the Atmosphere Biosphere System in Europe, and NitroEurope Integrated Project, http://www.nine-esf.org/sites/nine-esf.org/files/Barsac%20Declaration%20V5.pdf.
  3. Beddington, John, Mohammed Asaduzzaman, Megan Clark, Adrian Fernandez, Marion Guillou, Molly Jahn, Lin Erda, Tekalign Mamo, Nguyen Van Bo, Carlos A. Nobre, Robert Scholes, Rita Sharma and Judi Wakhungu (2012) ‘Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change: Final report from the commission on sustainable agriculture and climate change’, Copenhagen, Denmark: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).Google Scholar
  4. Blake, Laura, and Zero Carbon Britain (2014) People, Plate and Planet: The impact of dietary choices on health, greenhouse gas emissions and land use. Machynlleth: Centre for Alternative Technology.Google Scholar
  5. Bloom, D.E., E.T. Cafiero, E. Jané-Llopis, S. Abrahams-Gessel, L.R. Bloom, S. Fathima, A.B. Feigl, T. Gaziano, M. Mowafi, A. Pandya, K. Prettner, L. Rosenberg, B. Seligman, A.Z. Stein and C. Weinstein (2011) The Global Economic Burden of Noncommunicable Diseases. Geneva: World Economic Forum & Harvard School of Public Health.Google Scholar
  6. Boyle, Eleanor (2012) High Steaks: Why and how to eat less meat. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.Google Scholar
  7. Brundtland, Gro Harlem (1987) ‘Our Common Future: Report of the world commission on environment and development (WCED)’, chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Burlingame, Barbara and Sandro Dernini (2012) ‘Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity: Directions and solutions for policy, research and action’, Proceedings of the International Scientific Symposium ‘Biodiversity and Sustainable Diets United against Hunger’, 3–5 November 2010, FAO Headquarters, Rome. Rome: FAO and Bioversity International.Google Scholar
  9. Carbon Trust (2007) ‘Carbon Trust Launches Carbon Reduction Label’. Press launch, London, 15 March, London: The Carbon Trust, http://www.carbontrust.co.uk/about/presscentre/160307_carbon_label.htm, accessed 18 March 2007.
  10. Carbon Trust (2008) ‘Tesco and Carbon Trust Join Forces to Put Carbon Label on 20 Products’ London: Carbon Trust, http://www.carbontrust.co.uk/News/presscentre/29_04_08_Carbon_Label_Launch.htm, accessed 3 June 2008.
  11. Carbon Trust and Coca-Cola (2012) ‘Personal Carbon Allowances White Paper: How to help consumer make informed choices’, London: Carbon Trust Advisory & Coca-Cola plc.Google Scholar
  12. Carlsson-Kanyama, Annika (1998) ‘Climate Change and Dietary Choices – How can emissions of greenhouse gases from food consumption be reduced?’ Food Policy 23 (3/4): 277–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Carlsson-Kanyama, Annika, Marianne Pipping Ekström and Helena Shanahan (2003) ‘Food and Life Cycle Energy Inputs: Consequences of diet and ways to increase efficiency’, Ecological Economics 44 (2–3): 293–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Carlsson-Kanyama, Annika and Alejandro Gonzalez (2009) ‘Potential Contributions of Food Consumption Patterns to Climate Change’, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 89 (supplement): 1S–6S.Google Scholar
  15. Cassidy, Emily S., Paul C. West, James S. Gerber and Jonathan A. Foley (2013) ‘Redefining Agricultural Yields: From tonnes to people nourished per hectare’, Environmental Research Letters 8: 8–034015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chapagain, Ashok and Hoekstra Arjen (2006) ‘Water Footprints of Nations’, Vols. 1 and 2. UNESCO-IHE Value of Water Research Report Series No. 16. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  17. Conway, Gordon (2012) One Billion Hungry: Can we feed the world?. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Culinary Institute of America and Harvard School of Public Health (2013) ‘Menus of Change Initiative’, Hyde Park, NY: Culinary Institute of America and Harvard School of Public Health Department of Nutrition, http://www.menusofchange.org/.
  19. Defra (2007) Public Understanding of Sustainable Food. London: Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.Google Scholar
  20. Defra (2012) ‘Green Food Project’. London: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, http://engage.defra.gov.uk/green-food/.
  21. De Schutter, Olivier (2014) ‘Final Report: The transformative potential of the right to food’, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter. Report to Human Rights Council Twenty-fifth session, Agenda item 3. Geneva: Human Rights Council.Google Scholar
  22. Dietz, Simon and Nicholas Stern (2008) ‘Why Economic Analysis Supports Strong Action on Climate Change: A response to the Stern review’s critics’, Review of Environmental Economics and Policy 2: 94–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dixon, Jane and Bronwyn Isaacs (2013) ‘Why Sustainable and “Nutritionally Correct” Food is Not on the Agenda: Western Sydney, the moral arts of everyday life and public policy’, Food Policy 43 (Dec): 67–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Eating Better (2013) ‘For a Fair Green Healthy Future’. Brighton: Eating Better, http://www.eating-better.org/.
  25. Ellen Macarthur Foundation and McKinsey (2013) Towards the Circular Economy. Cowes, Isle of Wight: Ellen Macarthur Foundation.Google Scholar
  26. European Commission (2014) The Circular Economy: Communication ‘towards a circular economy: A zero waste programme for Europe’. Brussels: European Commission, http://ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/index_en.htm.
  27. FAO (1995) Dimensions of Need: An atlas of food and agriculture. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization.Google Scholar
  28. FAO (1998) Women: Users, preservers, and managers of agro-biodiversity. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization.Google Scholar
  29. FAO (2007) The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2006. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization.Google Scholar
  30. FAO and Bioversity International (2010) Final Document: International scientific symposium: Biodiversity and sustainable diets – United against hunger, 3–5 November, FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization.Google Scholar
  31. Foresight (2011) ‘The Future of Food and Farming: Challenges and choices for global sustainability’, Final Report. London: Government Office for Science.Google Scholar
  32. Gabriel, Yiannis and Tim Lang (2006) The Unmanageable Consumer. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  33. Garnett, Tara (2013) ‘Food Sustainability: Problems, perspectives and solutions’, Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 72 (1): 29–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Garnett, Tara (2014) ‘What is a Sustainable Healthy Diet?’, A Discussion Paper. Oxford: Food & Climate Research Network.Google Scholar
  35. German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE) (2014) ‘The Sustainable Shopping Basket – A guide to better shopping’. Berlin: Rat für Nachhaltige Entwicklung/German Council for Sustainable Development, http://www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de/en/projects/projects-of-the-council/nachhaltiger-warenkorb/.
  36. Goodman, David and Michael J. Watts (1997) Globalising Food: Agrarian questions and global restructuring. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Gussow, Joan Dye (1995) ‘Mediterranean Diets: Are they environmentally responsible?’ American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 61 (6Suppl): 1383S–1389S.Google Scholar
  38. Gussow, Joan Dye and Katherine L. Clancy (1986) ‘Dietary Guidelines for Sustainability’, Journal of Nutrition Education 18 (1): 1–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Gustavsson, Jenny, Christel Cederberg and Ulf Sonnesson (2011) Global Food Losses and Food Waste: Extent, causes and prevention. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization.Google Scholar
  40. Health Council of the Netherlands (2011) Guidelines for a Healthy Diet: The ecological perspective. The Hague: Health Council of the Netherlands.Google Scholar
  41. Herrin, Marcia and Joan Dye Gussow (1989) ‘Designing a Sustainable Regional Diet’, Journal of Nutrition Education 21 (6): 270–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. House of Lords EU Committee (2014) ‘Counting the Cost of Food Waste: EU food waste prevention’, 10th Report of Session 2013–14. London: The Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  43. Khoury, Colin K., Anne D. Bjorkman, Hannes Dempewolf, Julian Ramirez-Villegas, Luigi Guarino, Andy Jarvis, Loren H. Rieseberg and Paul C. Struik (2014) ‘Increasing Homogeneity in Global Food Supplies and the Implications for Food Security’, Proceedings of the National Academies of Science. Washington DC :National Academies of Science.Google Scholar
  44. Kinross, Elly, Karen Small and Mike Small (2012) ‘The Fife Diet: About us’. Burntisland (Fife): The Fife Diet, http://www.fifediet.co.uk/about-us/.
  45. Lang, Tim (2007) ‘Choice, Power and Food: Nutrition in an ecological public health era’, paper to the Australian Public Health Nutrition Academic Collaboration (APHNAC) Conference ‘Public Health Nutrition in Australia: New Directions, New Priorities’, held at Emmanuel College, University of Queensland, Brisbane, 29–30 November. London: Centre for Food Policy City University London.Google Scholar
  46. Lang, Tim (2012) ‘Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity: The challenge for policy, evidence and behaviour change’, in Barbara Burlingame and Sandro Dernini (eds.) International Scientific Symposium: Biodiversity and sustainable diets united against hunger pp 20–27 FAO Headquarters Rome: FAO & Bioversity International.Google Scholar
  47. Lang, Tim and David Barling (2012) ‘Food Security and Food Sustainability: Reformulating the debate’, The Geographical Journal 178 (4): 313–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lang, Tim and David Barling (2013) ‘Nutrition and Sustainability: An emerging food policy discourse’, Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 72 (1): 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lang, Tim, David Barling and Martin Caraher (2009) Food Policy: Integrating health, environment and society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Lang, Tim and Michael Heasman (2004) Food Wars: The global battle for mouths, minds and markets. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  51. Lang, Tim and Geof Rayner (2007) ‘Overcoming Policy Cacophony on Obesity: An ecological public health framework for policymakers’, Obesity Reviews 8: 165–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Lappé, Frances Moore (1971) Diet for a Small Planet. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  53. Lymbery, Philip and Isabel Oakeshott (2014) Farmageddon: The true cost of cheap meat. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  54. Macdiarmid, Jennie (2012) ‘Is a Healthy Diet an Environmentally Sustainable Diet?’, Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, London: Nutrition Society.Google Scholar
  55. Malthus, Thomas Robert (1798) An Essay on the Principle of Population, As it Affects the Future Improvement of Society with Remarks on the Speculations of Mr. Godwin, M. Condorcet and Other Writers, London: J. Johnson.Google Scholar
  56. Marks & Spencer plc (2009) ‘About Plan A: Plan A is our five year, 100 point plan’. London: Marks & Spencer plc, http://plana.marksandspencer.com/about.
  57. McMichael, Philip (1994) The Global Restructuring of Agro-Food Systems. Ithaca; London: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  58. McMichael, Tony (2001) Human Frontiers, Environment and Disease. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Synthesis. Washington DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  60. Millward, D Joe and Tara Garnett (2009) ‘Food and the Planet: Nutritional dilemmas of greenhouse gas emission reductions through reduced intakes of meat and dairy foods’, Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 69: 1–16.Google Scholar
  61. Ministry of Health (Brazil) (2014) Guia Alimentar para a População Brasileira. Brasilia: Ministério da Saúde.Google Scholar
  62. Monteiro, Carlos A. (2009) ‘Nutrition and Health. The Issue is Not Food, not Nutrients, so Much as Processing’, Public Health Nutrition 12 (5): 729–731.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Monteiro, Carlos Augusto, Renata Bertazzi Levy, Rafael Moreira Claro, Ines Rugani Ribeiro de Castro and Geoffrey Cannon (2011) ‘Increasing Consumption of Ultra-Processed Foods and Likely Impact on Human Health: Evidence from Brazil’, Public Health Nutrition 14 (1): 5–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Moodie, Rob, David Stuckler, Carlos Monteiro, Nick Sheron, Bruce Neal, Thaksaphon Thamarangsi, Paul Lincoln and Sally Casswell (2013) ‘Profits and Pandemics: Prevention of harmful effects of tobacco, alcohol, and ultra-processed food and drink industries’, The Lancet 381 (9867): 670–679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. National Consumer Council and Sustainable Development Commission (2006) Looking Back Looking Forward: Lessons in choice editing for sustainability: 19 case studies into drivers and barriers to mainstreaming more sustainable products. London: Sustainable Development Commission.Google Scholar
  66. National Food Administration and Environment Agency (2008) Environmentally Effective Food Choices: Proposal notified to the EU. Stockholm: National Food Administration.Google Scholar
  67. National Food Administration and Sweden’s Environmental Protection Agency (2009) Environmentally Effective Food Choices: Proposal notified to the EU 15 May. Stockholm: National Food Administration and Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.Google Scholar
  68. Nordic Council of Ministers (2014) Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2012: Integrating nutrition and physical activity. Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers.Google Scholar
  69. OPUS (2009) ‘Developing the New Nordic Diet’. Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen Research Center OPUS, http://foodoflife.ku.dk/opus/english/wp/nordic_diet/.
  70. Paillard, Sandrine, Sebastien Treyer and Bruno Dorin (eds.) (2011) Agrimonde: Scenarios and challenges for feeding the world in 2050. Paris: Editions Quae.Google Scholar
  71. PMSEIC (Australia) (2010) Australia and Food Security in a Changing World. Canberra: Science, Engineering and Innovation Council of Australia.Google Scholar
  72. Popkin, Barry (2009) The World is Fat: The fads, trends, policies and products that are fattening the human race. New York: Avery/Penguin.Google Scholar
  73. Popkin, Barry M. (2002) ‘An Overview on the Nutrition Transition and its Health Implications: The Bellagio meeting’, Public Health Nutrition 5 (1A): 93–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Rockström, Johan, Will Steffen, Kevin Noone, Åsa Persson, F. Stuart Chapin III, Eric Lambin, Timothy M. Lenton, Marten Scheffer, Carl Folke, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Björn Nykvist, Cynthia A. de Wit, Terry Hughes, Sander van der Leeuw, Henning Rodhe, Sverker Sörlin, Peter K. Snyder, Robert Costanza, Uno Svedin, Malin Falkenmark, Louise Karlberg, Robert W. Corell, Victoria J. Fabry, James Hansen, Brian Walker, Diana Liverman, Katherine Richardson, Paul Crutzen and Jonathan Foley (2009a) ‘Planetary Boundaries:Exploring the safe operating space for humanity’, Ecology and Society 14 (2): 32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Rockström, Johan, Will Steffen, Kevin Noone, Åsa Persson, F. Stuart Chapin III, Eric F. Lambin, Timothy M. Lenton, Marten Scheffer, Carl Folke, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Björn Nykvist, Cynthia A. de Wit, Terry Hughes, Sander van der Leeuw, Henning Rodhe, Sverker Sörlin, Peter K. Snyder, Robert Costanza, Uno Svedin, Malin Falkenmark, Louise Karlberg, Robert W. Corell, Victoria J. Fabry, James Hansen, Brian Walker, Diana Liverman, Katherine Richardson, Paul Crutzen and Jonathan A. Foley (2009b) ‘A Safe Operating Space for Humanity’, Nature 461 (7263): 472–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Royal Society (2012) People and the Planet. London: Royal Society.Google Scholar
  77. Scott, Alison, Chinwe Stella Ejikeme, Emmanuel Nii Clottey and Joy Goens Thomas (2013) ‘Obesity in Sub-Saharan Africa: Development of an ecological theoretical framework’, Health Promotion International 28 (1): 4–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Smith, Alisa and J.B. Mackinnon (2007) The 100-Mile Diet: A year of local eating. London: Random House.Google Scholar
  79. Smith, Pete (2012) ‘Delivering Food Security Without Increasing Pressure on Land’, Global Food Security 19 (8): 2285–2302.Google Scholar
  80. Smith, Pete, Helmut Haberl, Alexander Popp, Karl-heinz Erb, Christian Lauk, Richard Harper, Francesco N. Tubiello, Alexandre de Siqueira Pinto, Mostafa Jafari, Saran Sohi, Omar Masera, Hannes Böttcher, Göran Berndes, Mercedes Bustamante, Helal Ahammad, Harry Clark, Hongmin Dong, Elnour A. Elsiddig, Cheikh Mbow, Nijavalli H. Ravindranath, Charles W. Rice, Carmenza Robledo Abad, Anna Romanovskaya, Frank Sperling, Mario Herrero, Joanna I. House and Steven Rose (2013) ‘How Much Land Based Greenhouse Gas Mitigation can be Achieved without Compromising Food Security and Environmental Goals?’ Global Change Biology 19 (8): 2285–2302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Steinfeld, Henning, Pierre Gerber, Tom Wassenaar, Vincent Castel, Mauricio Rosales and Cees de Haan (2006) Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental issues and options. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization.Google Scholar
  82. Stern, Nicholas (2006) ‘The Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change’, Final Report. London: H M Treasury.Google Scholar
  83. Sustainable Development Commission (2009) Setting the Table: Advice to government on priority elements of sustainable diets. London: Sustainable Development Commission.Google Scholar
  84. Sustainable Development Commission (2011) ‘Looking Forward, Looking Back: Sustainability and UK food policy 2000–2011’. London: Susainable Development Commission, http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/publications.php?id=1187.
  85. Tukker, Arnold, Sandra Bausch-Goldbohm, Marieke Verheijde, Arjan de Koning, René Kleijn, Oliver Wolf and Ignacio Pérez Domínguez (2009) Environmental Impacts of Diet Changes in the EU. Seville: European Commission Joint Research Centre Institute for Prospective Technological Studies.Google Scholar
  86. Tukker, Arnold, Gjalt Huppes, Jeroen Guinée, Reinout Heijungs, Arjan de Koning, Lauran van Oers, Sangwon Suh, Theo Geerken, Mirja Van Holderbeke, Bart Jansen and Per Nielsen (2006) Environmental Impact of Products (EIPRO): Analysis of the life cycle environmental impacts related to the final consumption of the EU-25 EUR 22284EN Brussels: European Commission Joint Research Centre.Google Scholar
  87. UNCTAD (2013) ‘Wake Up Before it is Too Late. Trade and Environment Review 2013’, Geneva: UN Conference on Trade and Development.Google Scholar
  88. UNEP Nellemann, Christian, Monika MacDevette, Ton Manders, Bas Eickhout, Birger Svihus, Anne Gerdien Prins and Bjørn P. Kaltenborn (2009) The Environmental Food Crisis: The environment’s role in averting future food crises A UNEP rapid response assessment Arendal, Norway: United Nations Environment Programme/GRID-Arendal.Google Scholar
  89. United Nations (2011) ‘World Economic and Social Survey 2011: The great green technological transformation’. New York: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/policy/wess/wess_current/2011wess.pdf.
  90. United Nations (2014) Sustainable Development Goals. New York: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development.Google Scholar
  91. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (2014) ‘Assessing Global Land Use: Balancing consumption with sustainable supply’, A Report of the Working Group on Land and Soils of the International Resource Panel (Stefan Bringezu, Helmut Schütz, Walter Pengue, Meghan O’Brien, Fernando Garcia, Ralph Sims, Robert W. Howarth, Lea Kauppi, Mark Swilling and Jeffrey Herrick). Nairobi: UN Environment Programme.Google Scholar
  92. van Dooren, Corné, Mari Marinussen, Hans Blonk, Harry Aiking and Pier Vellinga (2014) ‘Exploring Dietary Guidelines based on Ecological and Nutritional Values: A comparison of six dietary patterns’, Food Policy 44: 36–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. WHO (1998) ‘Preparation and Use of Food-Based Dietary Guidelines’, Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Consultation. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  94. WHO (2002) World Health Report 2002: Reducing risks, promoting healthy life. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  95. WHO (2009) Global Health Risks: Mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  96. WHO (2011) Global Status Report on Noncommunicable Diseases 2010. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  97. WHO (2013) Obesity and Overweight: Factsheet 311. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  98. WRAP (2014) WRAP and the Circular Economy. Swindon: Waste Resources Action Programme, http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/wrap-and-circular-economy.
  99. WRAP Product Sustainability Forum (2013) An Initial Assessment of the Environmental Impact of Grocery Products: Latest review of evidence on resource use and environmental impacts across grocery sector products in the United Kingdom. Banbury: WRAP.Google Scholar
  100. WWF (2006) Thirsty Crops: Our food and clothes: Eating up nature and wearing out the environment?. Zeist, the Netherlands: WWF.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for International Development 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • T I M Lang

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations