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Global and Local Food and Nutrition Security

This thematic area aims to develop climate-smart strategies to improve the level, efficiency, and sustainability of nutrient-rich food production and consumption.

A sustainable food system is one that delivers food and nutrition security for all peoples at all times in a manner that the social, economic, and environmental structures that sustain its ability to benefit future generations are not compromised. Thus, food systems are inherently complex and link social and environmental elements at both local and global scales. Nutritional security is ultimately an outcome of the global food system layered on local constraints to production, distribution, and regulatory policy.

Food and nutrition security for a given population rely on the local capacity for production and importation of those commodities not available due to limitations of the location. In grappling with food and nutrition security it is critical to move beyond simply maximizing yields and production. Addressing nutrition security, we need to look beyond calories and see our food with a nutritional lens to enhance health and well-being. Whereas grain and oilseed production are amenable to a more stable global supply chain, the production and consumption of nutrient-rich foods are often subject to significantly higher barriers to availability and access.

This shift in focus challenges both researchers and citizens to consider nutrient-dense foods such as animal-source foods (livestock and fish), legumes, nuts, and fruits/vegetables and the value chains that make them accessible to some and unattainable for others. Production, access, and consumption patterns are vital components to study to understand where barriers to access exist. New models and metrics are required to assess and compare these new systems with current systems to find novel approaches to improve access and resilience.

Activities to pursue initially within this focus area include:   

  1. Integration of cropping and livestock systems and value chains for nutritional resilience. Studying how food systems can move beyond efficiency of staple crop commodities back to integrated livestock-cropping, and agroforestry systems, will provide information on the nutritional output, costs-benefits, and resilience of such systems. Understanding how integration of production systems affects access to more nutrient-rich foods at the local, regional and national scales is critical to effectively advise policy to improve nutrition.
  2. Linking farms to schools. Local farms, particularly small-scale farms, often have difficulties finding stable markets for their produce, linking them to schools can improve the supply of safe, nutritious foods to schools while creating opportunities for stable and predictable markets for local farmers.
  3. Climate change, food security, and nutrient-rich foods. Climate change, including increases in variability and intensity of storms, temperature fluctuations, and frequency of droughts, have impacts on global food supply but also on local production by low-resource, food insecure farmers. These impacts, in turn, affect yields, incomes, cost of foods, and the overall supply, accessibility, and utilization of food, particularly nutrient-rich foods. Exploring local adaption strategies for food and nutrition security under different climate threats will help inform local and global policies.

Other activities to explore:

  • Environmentally friendly, food processing/packaging for affordable, nutrient-rich foods, including the products of biofortification.
  • Ingredient science including food nanotechnology to improve desirability, access, and bioavailability of nutrients in processed foods.
  • ASSURED type tools for monitoring the safety and quality of foods and nutrient status of populations.

GFSI Lead for the Global and Local Food and Nutrition Security Thematic Area is Juan Andrade