The food we eat determines how healthy we are; yet the food available to us may do more harm than good—both to our health, and to the health of the land and oceans that provide it. At the same time, climate change contributes to extreme weather events that threaten a secure food supply. As individual consumers, and as employees in corporations, we make decisions every day about the food we buy, which gives us great power to reshape the way we produce, process, transport, and use food.
The Center’s Healthy and Sustainable Food program informs consumers and institutions about how our choices for diet and menus can promote healthier people, more secure food supplies, and thriving communities.
Fostering a system that nurtures sustainability
By doing our best to diversify what we eat, we not only better serve our bodies, but also the environment and oceans.
Today, supermarkets carry what consumers request and, by extension, food producers supply that food. But when, for example, consumers demand a wide selection of produce year-round—even when local growing seasons don’t support its availability—food must be imported from far away places, which increases the carbon footprint of our meals.
Similarly, in American fisheries alone, there are hundreds of available commercial species, yet Americans regularly eat only a select few. If consumers branched outside the preferred species and requested, instead, what the fish market could supply that day, we would be participating in a more sustainable relationship with the oceans—which would encourage fisheries, food distributors, and supermarkets alike to use what the oceans can sustainably supply.
Working together toward common goals
Many corporations are already taking steps to improve the environmental impacts of our food system, and environmental organizations are encouraging sustainable farming practices and working towards lowering the system’s carbon footprint. At the same time, physicians are helping patients understand the connection between our diets and health; and other groups are raising awareness of the social responsibility we bear for our food choices.
The Center’s Healthy and Sustainable Food program aims to advance improvements in our food system by providing multiple industries with a common framework for creating a positive impact on human communities and the environment.