New Tools for Sustainable Sourcing of Agricultural Raw Materials
AUTHORS: TP Tomich, R Musker, C Riggle, M Lange, A Hollander, P Huber, J Siegel, B German, J Quinn
ABSTRACT: Abundant data on health, nutrition, and sustainability are not adequately informing decision-making within the food system. This hampers food companies, policy makers, and other stakeholders in efforts to develop workable strategies that encompass positive health and environmental outcomes. Too much time has been spent laboriously “reinventing the wheel,” generating idiosyncratic lists of issues and opportunistically matching those issues to data. This ad hoc approach fails to build understanding of key relationships linking social, economic, and environmental sustainability with food security and human nutrition. Food Systems Informatics efforts at UC Davis aim to create an open access platform bringing coherence to a comprehensive array of food system information on sustainable, balanced, and healthy diets, thereby elucidating interconnections between human nutrition and food system sustainability. Our platform will help food companies identify opportunities to create innovative products and processes that will lead to healthier, better-informed consumers, while also improving the environment and social conditions for workers and farmers across our planet. This requires strategic choices and fundamental changes in business models of the food sector. By extending our existing scientifically-validated platform for sustainable sourcing of global agricultural commodities, which draws on corporate social responsibility, global ecosystem assessments, and academic literature, creation of a comprehensive approach to sustainable food security (incorporating human nutrition, non-communicable food-related diseases, food safety, food availability, and consumer choice) is within our grasp. The unfolding revolution in data analytics and informatics are keys to creation of this broader platform to support a variety of decision makers across the food system.