5 Ways That Local Food Systems Build Resilience

Food and Trees for Africa

Have you considered the many steps between the food you buy at the shops and the farmers who produce it? These food systems play an essential role in food security.

If you’re like most consumers in the global economy, you’re used to buying what you want, whenever you want it. But did you realise the food in your supermarket comes from many different countries? For example, in season, South Africa exports avocados. These are sent to Europe and North America. Out of season, South Africa imports avocados from Spain to feed local demand.

This extended food chain links producers and consumers thousands of kilometres apart (and lets us enjoy guacamole out of season). However, it comes at a cost. When food is shipped across the world, pollution (especially CO2) rises along with transportation costs.

It’s wonderful to be able to enjoy avocados from Spain, kiwis from New Zealand and mushrooms from China. However, we’ve grown so used to eating a variety of products from all over the world that we’re no longer connected to where our food comes from and what this means for the planet. Our globalised economy and supply chain have created a lack of resilience – the ability to “withstand damage and recover from disasters or crises in a timely, efficient and sustainable manner.”

With rising concerns about climate change, price fluctuations and our inability to adapt to shocks such as the Covid-19 pandemic, food systems must become agile. We need a decentralised food supply chain where local farmers produce and deliver food directly to the consumer (or with minimal steps from farm to table). This would mean less opportunity for disrupted supply and greater ability for the system to adapt to shocks.

Read the full article on the Food and Trees for Africa website here.