Food Losses and Waste in the context of sustainable food systems

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1. Shortening the food supply chain
Slow Food promotes and practices local food supply, purchase and procurement. Local food and short supply chains help consumers to understand and learn about origin, production, distribution and value of food. Recognising the value of food is a significant factor for avoiding food waste. Strengthening the short food supply chains, even with financial incentives seems paramount if the aim of consumer education is to be met. Short food supply chain seems to be the most effective aspect of reducing food waste. Everything that has been produced for human consumption by agriculture should be locally made available to consumer. Therefore the retailers should be selling much more local food, including ‘misfits’.

To bring local products onto the tables of schools, nurseries, hospitals, kindergartens and alike would provide excellent food value in terms of nutritional value, the short supply chain would help to save transport costs, CO2.

Civil society can encourage and educate consumers to buy directly however governments have to encourage the retailers to make these products available and to sell them. In order to save food waste consumers have to get access to this kind of products more easily.
On the producers side, Slow Food offers technical support to the Presidia, namely groups of small scale producers who safeguard native breeds and local plant varieties, engage in quality production at risk of extinction, protect unique regions and ecosystems, recover traditional processing methods. There are more than 250 Slow Food Presidia in Europe involving more than 1600 small-scale producers: fishers, butchers, shepherds, cheesemakers, bakers and pastry chefs. Slow Food technical support to Presidia aims to address issues relating to food processing, also to minimise production and post-production losses.

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Through the Alliance Between Chefs and Small-Scale Producer, Slow Food helps link the Presidia and local small-scale producers to local restaurants, so as to facilitate the timely delivery of products and thereby avoid post-production losses.

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Presidium products are also sold at Slow Food Earth Markets, community-run markets where local producers offer healthy, quality food directly to consumers at fair prices and guarantee environmentally sustainable methods. Earth Markets are run so as to minimise environmental impact, for instance with waste reduction, biodegradable consumables, recycling, and energy-saving measures. Workshops are also organised at the markets to raise consumer awareness on the importance of eating local seasonal products and reduce food waste.

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In 2012, Slow Food launched the first edition of the SlowPack prize 2012, held as part of Salone del Gusto 2012, open exclusively to the food producers both from Italy and the rest of the world who exhibit their products at the event. This contest aims to encourage producers to reflect on the impact that non-eco-friendly packaging has on the environment and on the flavor, aroma, and safety of their products, while awarding those who use environmentally friendly packaging.
Slow Food launched the idea of a label that goes beyond the detailing the legally required information, and tells the story behind the product. Slow Food first talked about the narrative label at Cheese 2011, and in 2012 the first 70 labels for Italian and international Presidia were created. A narrative label does not replace mandatory labels, but supplements it by providing additional information regarding varieties and breeds, cultivation and processing methods, areas of origin, animal welfare, and advice on storage and use.

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