Sustainable food is organic, local and fresh
In a debate with the EU’s Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, members of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) declared their support for an EU policy on sustainable food. A common and long-term vision is essential, as the EU is the world’s largest exporter of agricultural products and must ensure viable production whilst safeguarding the sustainable management of natural resources and balanced territorial development of EU rural areas and their communities.
Opening the debate, the CoR President Markku Markkula said “We need a shake-up of our food sector to reduce its environmental footprint, add to the millions already employed in the industry and sufficiently feed every citizen with healthy food well into the future. To create a truly sustainable EU food policy, we must make supply chains more innovative and digitally assisted, invest more to grow our agricultural sector locally and integrate every relevant policy area so it supports, not burdens, the livelihood of our regions and cities“.
With a rising global population, the question of how we can sustainably supply everyone with sufficient quantities of healthy food is becoming ever more pressing. Among the 17 measurable Sustainable Development Goals aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all, adopted by the United Nations in September 2015, nine are related to agriculture. Sustainable food is organic, local and fresh.
“We need a comprehensive, sustainable EU food policy that addresses food production and nutrition in a more comprehensive manner, promoting more sustainable production and consumption patterns; establishing a link across different policies areas, including among others food production, agriculture, environment, health, consumer policy, employment and rural development; bringing jobs and growth to Europe’s regions and cities” stressed Arno Kompatscher (IT/EPP), President of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano and Regional Councillor, rapporteur of the CoRs’ opinion adopted at its plenary session in Brussels today.
The EU’s Commissioner for Health and Food Safety , Vytenis Andriukaitis, remarks “To enable citizens to choose healthy diets they must be able to have easy and affordable access to safe and nutritious food. Regrettably, in many of our cities junk food is easier to reach or cheaper than fresh fruit or vegetables. We have to change this. I am glad to see our cities and regions making their way towards this change because they are not just places where we shop, eat or move. They are living economic and production centres and have a lot to offer and contribute to better and longer lives. I will continue following with great interest the work of the CoR as regards to the promotion of healthier lifestyles, and in particular food provision and food waste policies.”
The CoR – the EU’s assembly of local and regional elected representatives – also called to further stimulate and sustain the development of small-scale farming systems, especially those located in vulnerable areas and on the periphery of cities. They stressed the need to continue developing alternative food networks, including farmers’ markets, local foods, organic products where local producers offer healthy, high-quality food directly to consumers at fair prices. They further underlined the importance of strategic planning at their level which is crucial for reducing the overall environmental impact of the food systems. Green public procurement guidelines should be amended, in order to enable the promotion of local food, and support be given to more “city initiatives”.