Visit any of America’s best restaurants and you’ll most likely come across ingredients being sourced with an eye toward sustainability. But what does that mean, exactly? What makes food sustainable?
Sustainable food doesn’t actually have an official definition. However, in the 1990 Farm Bill, the term “sustainable agriculture” is defined as “an integrated system of plant and animal production practices that will, over the long term do the following: satisfy human food and fiber needs, enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base, make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources, sustain the economic viability of farm operations and enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.”
This can be a little confusing, so to help us unpack it all, we spoke to Marion Nestle, a former professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University and a noted writer on the politics of food. We also consulted with Andrew Walmsley, director of congressional relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation, for insight into sustainable agriculture and what sustainable food really means.