Food Systems

Dec 2019 | Master's Projects

Food Systems

Lukas Loschner  2019



EAT is a non-profit startup dedicated to transforming our global food system through sound science, impatient disruption and novel partnerships.Our global food system is failing both people and planet. While 800 million people worldwide suffer from undernutrition, one third of all food produce goes to waste.Public health issues, such as overweight and obesity are now affecting more than tow billion children and adults.

Unhealthy diets have become a leading risk factor for disease globally and the main driver of epidemic chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart diseases; putting an enormous and rapidly growing burden on healthcare systems.

To change a system one must first understand it holistically, by identifying all actors within the system, the interlinkages and interdependenciesamong them and the variety of contexts in which they co-exist.How we grow, process, transport, consume and waste food significantly contributes to our global environmental crisis.

Thus food systems include all processes and infrastructure involved in feeding a population: growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consumption and disposal of food as well as food related items. It also includes the inputs and outputs generated at each of these steps. A food system is influenced by social,political, economic and environmental contexts and requires human resources that provide labor, research and education.

In current discussion the focus has mainly been on systemic interventions around food production, processing and transportation.Fossil fuels used for mechanized agriculture, chemical fertilizers and genetic modification are being discussed on a daily basis and change is already visible, as alternate food systems are growing.

Local food systems are networks of food production and consumption, that aim to be geographically and economically accessible and direct. Examples include community-supported agriculture, farmers markets, Low-Carbon Diets and slow food movements amon others.

Organic food systems are characterized by a reduced dependence on chemical inputs and increased concern for transparency and information. Produce is grown without chemical pesticides, fertilizer and hormones of industrial food systems.

Fair trade has emerged in global food systems to create a greater balance between the price of food and the cost of producing it. Political intervenion driven through growing public awareness and open discussion is slowly changing industrial food systems.Change from above however, is difficult especially concerning the highly emotional associations with food and consumption thereof.

For that reason EAT has proposed the planetary health diet, a guideline to consume healthy and sustainable, to bring about change from within.

In an experiment, I tried the propsed diet for seven days, with the help of a handy menu plan on the eat website. It seemed to me like a rather complicated, due to its numeric approach to nutritional value and food in general, but otherwise doable life choice.After a week however I went back to my usual eating habits, which conseqeuntly drew my focus on choice and decision making. Why did I choose not to continue the diet, being fully aware of its benefits. Why do we choose to eat a product A over an alternate B?

The following report is concerned with human decision making in general and then in relation to food.Different stimuli are identified and linked to our perception thereof.Cognitive structures and processes are examined and connected to human biases, leading to a decision and following consistent or inconsistent action.Influences thereof are highlighted and further examind to suggest possible interventions.

Change, if occured can be expected neither from government action, nor from business initiatives and innovations led by ordinary people have limited impact. Only by connecting these different pathways can lasting food system reform be achieved.

To disrupt everyday life and its essential convenience and to spark a conversation between political, economic and public actors, the concept of an inconvenience store is introduced as a symbol of our consumption and the crass influences thereupon.