Photo: Jörg Böthling


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Food systems rely on intact ecosystems, clear regulations and legal frameworks from farm to fork. Linking producers with consumersfor healthy diets is the backbone of a sustainable and viable market system from local to global level. But what kinds of actors are involved and in what way? Our author depicts the challenges and requirements of their interaction in this context.

Reaching the target of zero hunger by 2030 seems to be more challenging today than it was in 2015, when the Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted. In fact, the number of people suffering from hunger has not declined but increased over the last four years. Whereas hunger is highly correlated with poverty, the problem is not limited to low-income countries; a significant proportion of households in middle- and high-income economies lack access to sufficient or healthy food. Poor diets are an increasing concern, too. They are responsible for one in five deaths among adults, more than any other risk factor, and they put a critical social and economic burden especially on vulnerable populations.

Food systems need to be clearly conceptualised

Food systems currently fail many people and ecologies. It is often neglected that a (food) “system” defined without its boundaries is just a fuzzy term without any conceptual meaning. To understand food systems and their failures, we first need to be clear about system boundaries and spatial dimensions – i.e.

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