- Understanding Sustainability
- Wholistic Approach
- Principles of Sustainable Foods
- Local Foods
- Authentic Foods
Principles of Sustainable Foods
Food is central to our lives, even if we choose to perceive its role as marginal. It’s vital to our growth and ability to function. The way our foods are obtained have a great impact on the collective challenges we face individually and as a whole society. Defining what makes food sustainable is a complex task that must address not only how foods are procured, but also whether will be able to produce them at the changed conditions they we may face in the future, and whether they can sustain our human health as well as principles of cultures that support the food supply.
We have defined 17 Principles of Sustainable Foods that will guide our contributions towards the development of a sustainable food system. They may also help to better understand elements of food sustainability. These are fundamental to our educational effort since everything we want to develop and demonstrate must be grounded in these principles.
The list of principles demonstrates our wholistic approach of building our organization and our projects. It covers how food is grown or raised, climate and water considerations, energy use in food production and processing,food and health connections , food economy and the links between food and culture. Seeing these issues in any lesser context would not allow us to fully appreciate or address the challenge.
Principles of Sustainable Foods
- Food comes directly or indirectly (livestock) from a sustainable, healthy soil that gives and receives its nutrients in a cycle and over time grows its food-producing capacity rather than losing it
- Food production is in sync with the natural environment and supports the biodiversity on which food production directly or indirectly depends
- Food can be produced at local climate conditions and with the amount of water available in the area
- Production of food at all parts of the supply chain strives to maximize use of sun energy and minimize use of fossil fuels
- Food can be obtained from the wild if it is done without damaging the natural ecosystems
- Livestock is an indispensable part of a healthy sustainable farm environment and its production is mutually beneficial to animals and the larger ecosystems of which they are a part
- Food production supports the diversity of both plants and livestock and also diversity within species (different breeds and varieties)
- Food is grown or raised and processed locally, avoiding the costs and environmental impact of transportation. Geographically, the closer it’s production is to the point of consumption, the better
- Food is processed without industrial ingredients, complex industrial equipment and facilities that require excessive amounts of energy to build and operate
- Food requires minimum levels of processing; the less processed it is the better
- Processing enhances food’s nutritional qualities and/or preserves foods for off-season consumption
- Food is best if eaten in season; if it is preserved, this should be done with minimal damage to its nutritional qualities and by using renewable energy
- Food sustains human health; first, it must not be harmful, but even more importantly, it has to provide nutrition that will allow people to stay healthy over generations
- All groups involved in food production; farmers, processors, workers, business people, traders, etc. can sustain their livelihoods at the level comparable to other sectors of the society
- Food is produced by a very diverse and large group of local farmers and food entrepreneurs; together they form a co-operating, resilient and sustainable web of food supply
- Food needs to be tasty, cherished and celebrated when eaten
- Food contributes to, builds and helps sustain cultures of which it is part
Strong commitment to these principles doesn't mean that ARSAN takes an idealistic approach of full and immediate adherence to them. We don’t expect that either from anyone else who may consider these principles as valid and fundamental. Building a new, sustainable way of life is a process. Making progress on the path guided by these principles is much more important than striving for instant perfection. Attempting to be strict about achieving ideals in the world that is far from perfect is unrealistic and can only lead to discouragement, burnout and abandonment. Progress on a chosen path guided by solid principles is what offers the best chance for success.
But accepting that we may not be perfect on the path towards a new, sustainable way of life doesn't mean selling out or looking for loopholes to escape the challenge. There should always be full awareness where we are missing the mark, why it may make sense to allow a concession and what can be done to make progress in the future. All tools available to people, including all modern tools such as machinery, technology and even chemicals may be used to help any progressive cause or undermine it. We believe that the problem doesn't lie with tools. Our strong commitment to ARSAN's purpose is what should give assurance that being practical rather than idealistic is the most effective approach to advance the cause.