Language is of the utmost importance when it comes to describing the reality we are facing and the reality we want to create. A key source of confusion is when people are not clear on the definition of a term they are both referring to or when they have different definitions of the same term. Furthermore, it is common for the meaning of a word to evolve over time as it is used more and more and as it is used in different contexts.
To avoid confusion within the FEAST Consortium and to have a common understanding of some key concepts in the food system, we have created a glossary of terms which we will continue to evolve over the course of the project. To be clear, we are not suggesting that the definitions below are 'right', but only that this is what our FEAST consortium partners mean when we are referring to these key terms. All words included in the FEAST glossary will come from existing sources, for which the reference will be provided below the word.
All parts of the Earth where life exists including the lithosphere (solid surface layer), hydrosphere (water) and atmosphere (air). The biosphere plays an important part in regulating the Earth system by driving energy and nutrient flow between components.
Thresholds set at the low end of the scientific uncertainty range that serve as guides for decisionmakers on acceptable levels of risk. Boundaries are baselines, unchanging and not time-bound.
Earth’s interacting physical, chemical and biological processes consisting of land, oceans, atmosphere and poles, and include Earth’s natural cycles— i.e. carbon, water, nitrogen, phosphorus and other cycles. Life, including human society, is an integral part of the Earth system and affects these natural cycles.
Food environment refers to the physical, economic, political and socio-cultural context in which consumers engage with the food system to make their decisions about acquiring, preparing and consuming food.
The terms “food loss” and “food waste” have distinct meanings as they occur at different stages of the food value chain. “Food loss” occurs before the food reaches the consumer as an unintended result of agricultural processes or technical limitations in the production, storage, processing and distribution phases. On the other hand, “food waste” refers to good quality food fit for consumption that is consciously discarded at the retail and consumption stages.
Food poverty is the inability of individuals and households to obtain an adequate and nutritious diet, often because they cannot afford healthy food or there is a lack of shops in their area that are easy to reach.Synonymous with Food Insecurity.
The food supply chain consists of the activities and actors that take food from production to consumption and to the disposal of its waste. The steps of the food supply chain include: production; storage and distribution; processing and packaging; retail and markets. At each step, food supply chains involve many large- to small-scale actors, both public and private, that are influenced by biophysical and environmental; innovation, technology and infrastructure; political and economic; socio-cultural; and demographic drivers drivers. The decisions made by one group of actors at one stage of the chain have implications for the others.
All elements and activities that relate to production, processing, distribution, preparation and consumption of food. This Commission focuses on two end-points of the global food system; final consumption (healthy diets) and production (sustainable food production).
The food system is understood to include all relevant actors, resources in a broad sense, and activities relevant for the production and consumption of food and beverages and their associated wastes, and their impact on the economy, environment and society (including health). It considers the processes, infrastructures and interactions involved in feeding a population.
A food system gathers all the elements (environment, people, inputs, processes, infrastructures, institutions, etc.) and activities that relate to the production, processing, distribution, preparation and consumption of food, and the outputs of these activities, including socio-economic and environmental outcomes.
Living Labs are practice-driven organisations that facilitate and foster open, collaborative innovation and real-life environments or arenas where both open innovation and user innovation processes can be studied and subject to experiments and where new solutions are developed.
Consistencies, in the form and content of lower-order systems (micro-, meso-, exo-) that exist, or could exist, at the level of the subculture or the culture as a whole, along with any belief systems or ideology underlying such consistencies.
Interrelations among two or more settings in which the developing person actively participates (such as, for a child, the relations among home, school, or neighborhood peer group; for an adult, among family, work, or social life).
A pattern of activities, roles, or interpersonal relations experienced by the developing person in a given setting with particular physical or material characteristics.
It is broadly defined as a process in which different levels of the government from local to global, as well as policy departments and stakeholders groups including private sector and civil society are included in decision-making processes, which as a result foster interconnected rather than silos policies.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental or behaviours factors.
Nine boundaries, each representing a system or process that is important for regulating and maintaining stability of the planet. They define global biophysical limits that humanity should operate within to ensure a stable and resilient Earth system—i.e. conditions that are necessary to foster prosperity for future generations.
Sustainable diets are those with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources.
It is a food system that delivers food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised. (FAO, 2018)
An indicative definition of sustainable food system could be considered the following: “A sustainable food system for the EU is one that: provides and promotes safe, nutritious and healthy food of low environmental impact for all current and future EU population in a manner that itself also protects and restores the natural environment and its ecosystem services, is robust and resilient, economically dynamic, just and fair, and socially acceptable and inclusive. It does so without compromising the availability of nutritious and healthy food for people living outside the EU, nor impairing their natural environment.
Dependent on the context these groups may include children, pregnant or lactating women, indigenous communities, elderly population, farmers, people living in remote areas and people with lower socio-economic status based on education levels and/or income. Conceptually, vulnerable groups can be characterized as those with high risk and low resilience.
With regard to food, vulnerable groups can be divided in three groups:
- People that don't have access to food (both, no access to food at all and no access to healthy food)
- People that do have access to food, but not enough knowledge or skills to eat healthy and sustainable food
- People that do have access to food and enough knowledge and skills but don't make healthy choices
In this definition, vulnerability is more open and it is not only related to pay (except the first group).