A lot of people, including myself, love to cook, and there are even those who consider it a hobby. So, have you ever thought about the foods we use while making these dishes that directly concern our health? Do you have any information about the production process of the foods you use? Are they even sustainable? In this article, we can talk about sustainable food by taking the example of "Szatyorbolt", one of the organizations where I worked voluntarily for 10 months and that has been active for many years before me and gained a reputation in the field of sustainable food in Hungary.
But let is first figure out what is the definition of sustainable food. Sustainable food is food that is safe, healthy, seasonal and produced locally. It's produced without hazardous pesticides, chemicals, non-essential antibiotics, or growth promotion supplements.
Sustainable food is food produced in a way that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It involves practices that are environmentally sound, socially responsible, and economically viable. Sustainable food production aims to minimize the negative impact of food production on the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving natural resources, and protecting biodiversity. This can involve using methods such as organic farming, agroforestry, regenerative agriculture, and reducing food waste. Social responsibility is also a crucial element of sustainable food production. This means treating workers fairly, ensuring that food is accessible and affordable for all, and supporting local food systems. Economically, sustainable food production involves practices that are profitable and financially sustainable over the long term, supporting farmers and other food producers to continue producing food in a way that is good for the environment and society. Overall, sustainable food is food that is produced in a way that is healthy for people and the planet, and that can be maintained for generations to come. Sustainable food isn’t only about the food itself. It’s a combination of factors including how the food is produced, how it’s distributed, how it’s packaged, and how it’s consumed.
At a time when it is so difficult to find healthy and organic food today, Hungary is actually one of the countries that face this problem and there are very few places where you can access organic and natural products. One of these places, Szatyorbolt, was one of the organizations that made an important mark in this field in Hungary. And working there as a volunteer, even for a short time, contributed a lot. To be honest, at the beginning of the process I was working as a volunteer I could not understand the concept of sustainable food. I couldn't find it strange that people would pay more than normal prices for certain foods and get these foods. So how did I come to realize its importance as time went on? In fact, over time, I realized how important these foods are for health. The foods we normally buy may taste a little better, but the chemicals used during the production of these foods reduce the quality of these foods and make them harmful to our health. Later I realized that one of the other reasons was community. Ninety percent of the customers of the store I work for have been shopping here for years, and contributing to local production makes them very happy and they become like a family. And at the end, doing something for the environment, even if it's small, makes you happy when you sleep at night.
So to summarize sustainable food is important for several reasons:
Environmental sustainability: Sustainable food production helps to reduce the negative impact of food production on the environment. This can include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving water and soil resources, and protecting biodiversity. By adopting sustainable farming practices, we can help to mitigate the effects of climate change and protect our planet's natural resources for future generations.
Health and nutrition: Sustainable food is often healthier and more nutritious than conventionally produced food. Organic and regeneratively grown crops tend to have higher levels of nutrients and fewer harmful chemicals. Sustainable farming practices can also improve soil health, leading to healthier plants and better food.
Social justice: Sustainable food production can promote social justice by supporting local communities and creating fair labor practices. Sustainable farming practices can provide jobs and support local economies, especially in rural areas. Additionally, sustainable food production can help to ensure that everyone has access to healthy, nutritious food, regardless of their income level.
Economic sustainability: Sustainable food production can be financially sustainable for farmers and food producers over the long term. By reducing reliance on expensive inputs like pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, sustainable farming practices can help farmers to save money and improve their bottom line.
Unfortunately, we are not very sustainable in food in Azerbaijan. However, at a food event where I volunteered with my flatmate recently, I realized how many people in Hungary are actually sensitive to this issue. An incredible number of people showed interest in the event, and I was astounded by their responsiveness. And the majority of the attendees were young families. Homemade foods have been in incredible demand by Fermerler, and frankly, I shouldn't be surprised that they are in such demand because they are really handmade foods with no additives. It made me happy to be a part of such an event and I hope people will become more aware of food in my country and all over the world.
By supporting sustainable food systems, we can help to mitigate the negative impact of food production on the environment, promote social justice, and create a more equitable and sustainable future for everyone. By making small changes to our food consumption habits, we can all play a role in supporting a more sustainable and equitable food system.