Socio-economic aspects of plant-based foods

The three dimension of sustainability

Picture from Strategic Guide. Short Food Supply Chains (SFSCs). STRENGTH 2 FOOD. January 2021.

  • Diets represent a way of life that forms and is formed by local social, cultural and economic contexts. These aspects are important pillars of the sustainability concept
  • Achieving diets that deliver better health and sustainability outcomes will require building on the sociocultural appropriation of diets while taking into consideration economic variables (e.g., food cost and affordability, competitiveness and viability of food chains and their actors).

Territorial diets are diets that have become linked to specific geographies, such as the Japanese Diet, the Mediterranean Diet (MD) and the New Nordic Diet (NND), and are usually based on plant-based foods. Especially the MD and the NND are plant-based diets with little to moderate amounts of animal-sourced foods. 

Territorial diets have gradually integrated influences through the movement of people and cultural and material goods, including foods. These diets maintain a certain degree of constancy harmonious with the cultural, social, economic and environmental local contexts. They are related not only to the biophysical resources (e.g., soils, microclimates) that characterise agriculture and the economy, but also to particular ecologies, and cultural and social resources including institutions, organizations, folkways and traditional practices. 

Mediterranean Diet: The intended lower environmental impact based on aspects like increased seasonal consumption of fresh and local products, or the diversity of local food products, together with other aspects such as traditional dishes and conviviality, are the cornerstone of Mediterranean Diet heritage conservation, as acknowledged by UNESCO in 2010.

Τhe ‘‘localness’’ of food has been identified as a priority worldwide in order to:

  • strengthen rural economies along with agricultural producers and markets
  • improve environmental health
  • facilitate food access and better nutrition.