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10 things you need to know about sustainability, including food security

The meaning of 'decent work', food terrorism, animals' five freedoms and food poverty or security. Here are 10 answers to common questions
Image with FAQ to represent Frequently Asked Questions
© QUB

The meaning of ‘decent work’, food terrorism, animals’ five freedoms and food poverty or security. Here are the answers to 10 frequently asked questions about ethical and sustainability considerations.

1. What is decent work?

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has formulated the concept of decent work to tackle the global challenge of quality employment and developed a decent work agenda. This agenda focuses on four pillars: (1) employment creation and enterprise development; (2) social protection; (3) standards and rights at work; and (4) governance and social dialogue.

The definition of decent work involves opportunities for productive work for both men and woman, where the conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity are guaranteed. It should also provide a fair income, along with security in the workplace and social protection for the workers’ families.

2. What is food terrorism?

Criminality or food terrorism in the food chain involves the deliberate and intentional acts of contamination of tampering of the nation’s food supply.

3. What are the Five Freedoms?

Animal welfare is an important issue that has gained increasing importance. The Brambell Report is one of the first scientific and official documents to be redacted in regards to animal welfare. The report presented the famous Five Freedoms, one way to ensure that animals are in a positive state of welfare and properly cared for. These freedoms include:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
  2. Freedom from discomfort
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour
  5. Freedom from fear and distress

4. What is food security?

Food security, at individual, household, national, regional, and global levels, is achieved when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs, and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

5. What are the three pillars of food security?

There are three pillars of food security:

  1. Food availability: the supply of food through, production, distribution and exchange. Sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis.
  2. Food access: having sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet. Food access refers to the affordability and allocation of food, as well as the preferences of individuals and households.
  3. Food use: appropriate use based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care, as well as adequate water and sanitation. Food must be safe and meet the physiological requirements of individuals.

6. What is food waste?

Food waste can be defined as the surplus food that is not recovered to feed people, to feed animals, to produce new food products, new materials or energy (Garrone et al., 2014). Food waste is produced in every stage of the food supply chain.

7. What is food poverty?

Food poverty is defined as being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 820 million people across the globe are under nourished and suffering from hunger, while more than 151 million children under five are stunted because of lack of proper nutrition.

8. Why does food poverty exist?

According to the World Food Programme, there are six reasons why food poverty exists:

  1. Poverty trap, whereby people living in poverty cannot afford nutrition foods, often condemning them to a life of poverty and hunger.
  2. Lack of investment in key agricultural infrastructure, such as roads, warehouses and irrigation, which limits agricultural yields and access to food.
  3. Climate, weather and natural disasters, e.g. floods and droughts, are on the increase with detrimental effects to food production and the hungry-poor in developing countries.
  4. War and displacement can substantially affect farming and food production due to adverse effects on labour supply, access to land, and access to credit and/or direct effects on capital such as theft and destruction. In addition, fighting also forces millions of people to flee their homes, leading to hunger emergencies.
  5. Unstable markets and price spikes make it difficult for the poorest people to access nutritious food consistently and forces people to shift to cheaper, less nutritious food.
  6. One third of all food produced is wasted and never consumed. This represents a missed opportunity to improve food security.

9. What is a community-based food system?

Gail Feenstra describes a community food system as a collaborative effort to build more locally based, self-reliant food economies, one in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution and consumption is integrated to enhance the economic, environmental and social health of a particular place (Feenstra, 2002, p.100).

10. What is food citizenship?

Food citizenship can be described as a series of engaging practices and food-related behaviours that support, instead of undermining, the development of an environmentally-sustainable food system that is also economically and socially just, as well as democratic.

© QUB
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Introduction to Food Science

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