Knowledge for better food systems

Sustainable healthy diets: Guiding principles

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have published this set of guiding principles for sustainable healthy diets, aimed at policymakers.

The principles include:

  • Promote breastfeeding until two years of age, where possible.
  • Consume a variety of unprocessed and minimally processed foods, including wholegrains, legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and (optionally) moderate amounts of eggs, dairy, poultry and fish, and small amounts of red meat.
  • Limit the greenhouse gas emissions, water, land use and other environmental impacts of food production.
  • Preserve biodiversity of crops, livestock and foods from forests.
  • Limit overfishing and overhunting.
  • Minimise the use of antibiotics and hormones in food production.
  • Limit plastic food packaging.
  • Reduce food loss and waste.

Read the full report, Sustainable healthy diets: Guiding principles, here. See also the Foodsource chapter What is a healthy sustainable eating pattern?

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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