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Sustainable food: more than responsible choices by consumers

How to feed the world in a sustainable way is one of today’s great global challenges. Two of the seventeen Sustainable Development goals of the United Nations are related to this issue: ‘Zero hunger’ and ‘responsible consumption and production’.

When discussing this topic, though, very often there is a tendency to frame it in terms of making responsible choices by consumers. Buy seasonal, reduce the amount of red meat, go for packaging-free, support local farmers, etcetera. Another way of framing the discussion is again in terms of choices by companies / supermarkets / governments: offer sustainable choices, discourage ‘bad’ foods, make healthy and sustainable choices more appealing financially by reducing VAT, etcetera.

These are all parts of the equation, but the real picture is much more complex: to make a lasting impact the whole food supply chain / food system  has to be taken into account: production, processing, distribution, consumption, disposal. At first sight this seems an almost impossible task: how to coordinate actions when different parts of the food system work in completely different ways? When some situations have to be tackled at the local level and others at the global one, with completely different actors bearing all kinds of different types of responsibilities?

And yet one cannot escape the reality that truly sustainable food can only be achieved by taking all these aspects into account. And so the question becomes: how to tackle the whole issue in a realistic way?

Client and assignment
This question is especially poignant for an institution like the Radboud University which has chosen to embrace sustainability as a core concept for action, as clearly stated in the strategic document ‘A Significant Impact’. This project has as main goal to analyze and assess the current strategy of the Radboud University from a food system perspective and to offer realistic improvements to it.

Weekly meetings
The weekly meetings will take place on Wednesdays from 18.30-20.30 unless the group decides otherwise in consultation with the supervisors.

Kick-off weekend
The kick-off weekend of this think tank will be on 28 and 29 October 2022. The kick-off weekend is a mandatory part of the think tank.

dr. Luca Consoli, associate professor Science and Society
dr. Floor Binkhorst, programme coordinator Radboud Honours Academy