What is sustainable food?

Sustain, a founding partner of the Sustainable Food Cities Network, offers this working definition:

Sustainable food should be produced, processed and traded in ways that:

  • Contribute to thriving local economies and sustainable livelihoods – both in the UK and, in the case of imported products, in producer countries;
  • Protect the diversity of both plants and animals (and the welfare of farmed and wild species), and avoid damaging natural resources and contributing to climate change;
  • Provide social benefits, such as good quality food, safe and healthy products, and educational opportunities.

The national Sustainable Food Cities Network, to which Cambridge Sustainable Food belongs, has found that six issues are crucial to the effective development of a local sustainable food plan:

If you want to know how you can eat more sustainably, see this short list of actions that make the greatest difference.


For a clear and engaging presentation of the issues, watch Tara Garnett from the the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) speaking at a recent conference in Oxford (start watching the video at 16min20s).

The FCRN has also published the online booklet foodsource, which consists of 10 fully referenced, comprehensive chapters that describe why and how food has become a focal point for interconnected social, environmental and ethical concerns.