Sustainable Food Systems

A food system is a process that aims to create a more direct link between the fiber: indigestible plant material which producers (farmers) of food and fiber and the consumers of the food. This aids digestion by providing bulk system consists of several components, including production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste disposal.

A food system can be characterized as being local, regional, national, or global. The word sustainable is often associated with the sustainable agriculture movement, which had its beginnings in North America in the 1980s. This period was characterized by a wave of bank foreclosures of farm oper-

ations, particularly small and family-owned farms. Many were unable to compete with the large national and international farming corporations and were forced to sell their farms and go out of business. Globalization, through international trade agreements, were also viewed by some in the agriculture community as another reason for the demise of many small and family-owned farms.

Misuse and overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides contributed heavily to the degradation of many farms and waterways throughout the United States, Canada, and other developing countries. Out of this "farm crisis" came national and international institutions and organizations of concerned citizens, producers, community organizations, and environmental groups. They agitated for the creation of policies and laws that supported new environmentally safe approaches to producing food and fiber and that would ensure the livelihood of farmers and vibrant rural communities. Thus, a sustainable food system is a system that sustains people as well as the land.

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