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5 ways our food system is failing us

Our relationship with food is shaped by our childhood, culture and even personal aspirations. But as the ways we produce and consume food have changed over time, so we’ve lost our sense of connection to our food. The reality is that our food system is failing us and we need holistic solutions to solve these challenges. Let’s take a look at the problems.

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Our food system has been failing us. Join us at the table at the Living Planet Conference where we explore how to nourish the nation.

Our lives are marked by a speed and urgency that has meant ever-increasing pressure to squeeze in time to enjoy wholesome, home cooked meals together. This has led to an over reliance on pre-packaged and processed foods.

The knock-on effect of this is already revealing itself. These are five facts about our collective food failings:

​1. Eating the Earth

Our food system has done more damage to the natural environment than any other human enterprise. It accounts for just under a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, is escalating biodiversity loss, deforestation, soil degradation and water scarcity and causing declining water quality and damage to marine ecosystems.

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The shrinking amount of valuable, arable land has been compromised by the way we produce our food.
2. A non-ideal meal combo: Poverty and hunger

Food access is a daily struggle for between seven and 13 million South Africans and malnutrition in its various forms is a major health challenge. This serious and growing health problem has obvious impacts on our children, our health system and the economy.

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Due to high levels of poverty in South Africa, many people cannot even consider the planetary impact, let alone prioritise their personal health.
3. Hair-raising health implications

In South Africa, about 40% of deaths are caused by lifestyle and diet-related diseases such as diabetes and strokes. This in turn is impacted by food choices – we eat more meat and dairy and many people over-rely on packaged and processed convenience foods that are often high in sugar, salt and bad fats.

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As more South Africans move to the cities, and our income increases, so our diets change.
4. The high cost of healthy choices

In a country where more than half of South Africa’s population is unable to afford a sustainable healthy diet, local research has shown that a healthy food basket can cost 65% more than an unhealthy food basket and there are knock-on factors such as a need for refrigeration to keep such foods fresh.

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Skyrocketing food costs make it almost impossible for most people to afford a diverse, fresh and healthy food basket.
5. The shocking level of food waste

A third of all edible food in South Africa is wasted each year, either rotting on farms or ending up in landfill, adding further pressure to an already over-extended waste-disposal system. Together, fruits, vegetables and cereals account for 70% of the wastage and loss – yet so many South Africans go hungry.

Is it too late to change the course we’re on? Not if we start now. But we will need to take long-term, holistic and collective action if we hope to reverse this global crisis. Join us at the table at #LPC2019 on 25 July 2019 when we explore these realities and consider solutions on how to nourish the nation.

Melissa du Preez Photo
Melissa du Preez, Communications Officer

Melissa is all about bringing good lifestyle habits that are good for people and good for nature to life.

Nourish the nation

Learn more about the Living Planet Conference.