16 May 2024

Marion Banide

Farmer Protests: When sustainability collides with economic reality- Part 2 

Empowering consumers to make sustainable food choices  

In today’s market, price remains the primary driver of consumer purchasing decisions. As previously mentioned, the increased costs associated with sustainability should logically result in higher prices for consumers. However, these elevated prices can pose barriers for low-income individuals seeking access to healthier and more environmentally friendly food options, although the dynamic between sustainable and affordable food is not always straightforward. 

But it is not just about the money. Many consumers still lack awareness or understanding of sustainable food choices and their broader implications for health, the environment, and social justice. Governments, recognizing the importance of education in combating issues like obesity, have begun to emphasize nutrition education to help consumers make more informed dietary choices. 

Both policymakers and private stakeholders are working towards greater transparency in food information, aiming to improve access to and comprehension of information about food products, their production methods, and their nutritional value. A variety of tools and indicators, including standards, labels, certificates, and digital apps such as Yuka, have been developed to educate consumers about the benefits of sustainable food and provide practical tips for integrating sustainable practices into daily life. 

Despite these efforts, confusion persists regarding terms such as sustainable versus organic, locally sourced versus organic, and organic versus respectful of animal welfare. When it comes to buying local, it is important to recognize that it does not always mean purchasing directly from a nearby farmer. Clarifying denominations can offer consumers a more accurate understanding of the origin and sustainability of their food choices. 

Empowering consumers extends beyond promoting healthy options; it also involves enabling informed decisions about the social conditions under which products are produced. Labels such as Max Havelaar, Fair Trade, or “C’est qui le patron” in France aim to provide customers with insights into the conditions of food production and reassure them that their purchases support a sustainable system. 

Through collective action, we can bridge the awareness gap, empower consumers, and pave the way for a more sustainable and equitable food system. It is essential to prioritize access to information and elevate consumer awareness, ensuring that every purchase contributes to a healthier planet and society.

This blog series contains 3 parts. The next part will be available to read on Tuesday, 21 May.

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16 May 2024

Marion Banide

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