In collaboration with our partner, Soil and More Impacts, the True Cost Accounting (TCA) research group at TMG-Think Tank for Sustainability has contributed to several chapters of the edited volume, True Cost Accounting for Food - Balancing the Scale, which provides a systematic analysis of how integrated accounting methodologies can provide a framework for transforming the food sector.
Bringing together true cost analyses of diverse food sectors, as well as the use of water and soil resources in food production, the authors argue that the persistence of hunger and malnutrition can be traced to unsustainable policy choices that include:
- A focus on increased agricultural production, “intensification” and technical innovation, without paying sufficient attention to access, equity, and social entitlement imperatives.
- Perverse economic incentives that promote unsustainable “western” meat-based diets and divert food grains to livestock feed and biofuel production.
- A failure to link food production and consumption policies, which leads to continued food loss and waste, even as segments of the population continue to go hungry.
- Insufficient attention to the nutritional value of food.
- Policy reliance on (fundamentally inaccurate) predictions of global food supply and demand, rather than on the social, economic, and ecosystems capacities at local and regional scales.
Noting that “the world is not fed in aggregate” the publication underscores the need to refocus efforts on what is needed to ensure healthy diets for all, and to develop more holistic metrics to evaluate the impacts and dependencies of all four capitals [natural, social, economic and human] that underpin our food systems. This, the authors note, not only calls for integrated valuations of food systems, but also re-examining our relationship with food in order to build systems “that are more human-centred than profit-centred” and that promote a more respectful relationship to the planet.
The closing chapter analyses prevailing gaps in applying TCA approaches at different scales. The authors note that there is not only a need to advance integrated measurement methodologies that account for all four capitals, but also broad social mobilisation to push for political consensus on the need to transition towards healthier, more equitable, and sustainable food systems.
Originally published at Routledge
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