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This presentation shows how we can consume food in a sustainable way while still enjoying a large variety of good and healthy food in the future.
Our present overconsumption of natural resources exceeds planetary boundaries in many ways. The global use of many raw-materials has grown by even hundreds of per cents during the recent decades. We have to dematerialize our Western lifestyles and societies if we want to reduce ecological impacts like biodiversity decline or climate change or social and economic impacts like peak oil and social conflicts around the world.
A sustainable resource use level for household consumption is an important guideline for directing human activities towards sustainability. It would range at 8 tonnes of material footprint per person in a year, which is roughly 20 per cent of the present level in Western countries. But the present material footprint of our nutrition cannot be reduced to the same extent because we cannot decrease food intake infinitely. Therefore, the share of nutrition will grow in a sustainable material footprint of household consumption.
A sustainable material footprint for nutrition of around 3 tonnes per person in a year is half of present in absolut terms but means an increase from 15 to nearly 40 per cent of the total material footprint of household consumption. Thus, the share of nutrition will increase considerably while diversity in food choice is still be necessary and possible. Increasing demand for and competition on natural resources will also rise prices. Then, it’s likely that also the trend of a declining share of nutrition in the expenditure of households will turn so that there will also be less money available for other fields of consumption.
As consumers, we could correct this development if we start consuming resource saving meals in time. This will also require action by companies on the supply side, e.g. by nudging consumers to less resource-intensive meals, and by politics and administration to develop framework conditions for resource-efficient food production and consumption. If we use the resource saving potentials of our nutrition, we will be able to decrease pressure on our planet and still will have left choices for our consumption.