I think it is so important to know where your food comes from. That is why I take every opportunity I can to learn more about growing, processing and food manufacturing. I had a wonderful opportunity earlier this year to attend a sustainable diets talk at the Nutritional Solutions CNE and tour two dairy farms. I so enjoyed learning more about dairy farming from Tsitsikamma dairy farmer Nigel Lok. Like so many things in life Nigel highlighted that processes evolve by gradual improvement and not radical change. The level of monitoring and evaluation that goes into every step in the farming process is truly impressive. After chatting to Nigel we got to tour two farms here in Gauteng – Belnori Boutique Cheesery and Legemaat Melkery. All in all, a day well spent learning so much about sustainability and dairy farming.
Sustainable diets are those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources.
– FAO, 2010, Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity.
There are four broad pillars of a sustainable diet: nutrition, affordability, social acceptability and environment. Planning a sustainable diet is challenging and may require compromises. Looking at dairy, it meets at least three of the four criteria defined for sustainable diets and may prove a useful tool in designing a sustainable diet:
Visit ReDiscover Diary, the consumer education project for Milk SA, site for more information the value of dairy in planning a sustainable diet along with a wide variety of resources and information on dairy.
Evidence-Based Principles for Sustainable, Healthy Diets: (from Dietitians of Canada)
- Consuming a primarily plant-based diet
- Reducing meat consumption (especially ruminant meat)
- Consuming seasonal, field grown fruit and vegetables
- Reducing waste
- Choosing certified food e.g. sustainable seafood – check out the SASSI List
- Avoiding overconsumption or reducing consumption of “discretionary” low nutrient/high energy
Grab some deliteful resources to help get you started:
- Sign up for email updates and receive our seasonal produce guide.
- Delicious meat-free recipes
- For my tips for a lower carbon diet check out my Eating Green post.
- My top 8 breastfeeding essentials that helped on our breastfeeding journey
Remember: Your small sustainable food choices every single day add up to make a very big impact.
There are also exciting developments to look forward to in this area:
- Some countries including Sweden, Brazil and Germany have started to incorporate environmental sustainability into their national dietary guidelines.
- The BDA are developing a sustainable diets toolkit which it is hoped will be published in 2018.
- The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health report will be published by The Lancet in late 2018, investigating: What is a healthy diet? What is a sustainable food system? What are the trends shaping diets today? Can we achieve healthy diets from sustainable food systems? How? What are the solutions and policies we can apply?