What is a better way?
We need to develop a holistic understanding of the relationships between food, farming and people: Agroecology. Agroecology is a farming system based on ecological, social and political principles to feed communities while respecting the environment. It is also a social movement of people fighting for food sovereignty, the livelihoods of small-scale food producers, indigenous knowledge and the right to nutritious food for all. A switch to agroecology across Europe would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector by 40%, increase biodiversity and protect natural resources.
One way to promote agroecological principles is the improvement of public food procurement. It is a process by which public authorities purchase food for distribution in settings such as schools, hospitals, food banks or in cases of emergency food aid. Access to healthy diets could increase if the procurement practices favour local, seasonal, plant-based food. We need approaches like these to address the interconnected problems in our food system. Governments and public authorities can set fair food prices, enable direct sales and use strategies such as accurate demand planning. Therefore, public procurement could help local farmers secure their income and reduce food waste at the same time.