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Food, farming and the circular economy

  • by JW

“Regenerative farming and upcycled ingredients are both on the menu for a resilient food system that’s better for humans and nature alike.” [Ellen MacArthur Foundation]


The idea and practice of the ‘circular economy’ is gaining ground – as outlined by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation:

A circular economy is a systemic approach to economic development designed to benefit businesses, society, and the environment. In contrast to the ‘take-make-waste’ linear model, a circular economy is regenerative by design and aims to gradually decouple growth from the consumption of finite resources. The circular economy in detail

With a few current examples here: Creating a circular economy is vital to deal with our plastic and food waste challenges – edie and From offshore wind to vertical farms: Looking back at 25 years of green innovation with Springwise – edie and Towards Zero Waste: The Circular Economy Action Sessions – edie

It’s getting particularly interesting when it comes to food, farming and agriculture…

Here’s more from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation:

Changing our food system is one of the most impactful things we can do to address climate change, create healthy cities, and rebuild biodiversity. The current food system has fuelled urbanisation, economic development, and supported a fast-growing population. However, this has come at an enormous cost to society and the environment. This learning path begins by examining the true cost of the current approach to food production. It then explores the catalytic role of cities and how they can seize the opportunity to change the global food system through three ambitions: 1: Sourcing food grown regeneratively, and locally where appropriate 2: Designing and marketing healthier food products 3: Making the most of food Food and the circular economy

The ‘true costs of the current approach to food production’ are very high – but are being addressed: Circular systems in agriculture Part 1: Livestock production sustainability | Farming Connect and Circular systems in agriculture part 2: Energy and Agriculture | Farming Connect

The ‘catalytic role of cities’ seems to be key – and could provide lessons for East Devon: Birmingham Food System Strategy (Short Version)

Circular Economy and Producing Locally | Deloitte Global

The practice of ‘regenerative farming’, the determination to eat local and eat healthy and the push to eliminate food waste are all contributing to a ‘circular economy’ around food – as this piece from Ellen MacArthur from earlier in the year shows:

The Food Chain Should Be a Food Circle

Regenerative farming and upcycled ingredients are both on the menu for a resilient food system that’s better for humans and nature alike.

In 2020, during the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, concerns around food supply were high. This prompted big changes to the way some food is produced: There was a rise in the use of regenerative farming principles—methods of growing food that also support nature by, for instance, keeping soils healthy and stable, improving water and air quality, and improving local biodiversity—and an expansion of food production in and close to cities, leading to less waste. 

In 2021, PepsiCo, Danone, Nestlé, and Unilever—vast, multinational, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies—announced they were adopting regenerative agricultural practices across millions of acres of farmland. This has been complemented by growth in urban farming, with vertical farming business Infarm recently opening the largest urban farm in Europe, covering 10,000 square meters. These are significant steps toward a food system that is resilient and better for people and for nature. 

Today we know that building food systems that are resilient to shocks such as the pandemic is no longer enough. In 2023, we will be redesigning food to also help us solve pressing global challenges including climate change and biodiversity loss...

The Food Chain Should Be a Food Circle | WIRED UK