agricultural landscape with remnant native vegetation

Is food, ecology and diet the way to achieve sustainability?

There are times when it is important to reassert some fundamentals, the reasons for doing what you do. Here at sustainably FED, we had one of those moments a few weeks ago and it was reassuring…

A yarn with my sustainably FED colleagues the other day generated a skirmish or two around the global food challenge and two pointy questions. 

Do we truly believe in this whole sustainably FED idea? 

Did we have enough evidence to say that ecology is the engine between food production and diet making FED the way to achieve genuine sustainability? 

I qualified the pregnant pause with something along the line that everyone must pay attention to food, ecology and diet, each and in combination. Delve deep into the connections for feeding everyone. This is essential to move humanity beyond the 2%for30 year food production conundrum into the hundred-year demographic transition. 

We all thought for a moment then said, “yes, and yes” to both questions.

An unequivocal yes. 

Our experiences observing nature, our research over the decades, and the practicalities we have dealt with or seen others overcome in the real world of food production and conservation have convinced us. 

We believe that ecological thinking, soil management, and innovations for food, ecology, and diet are essential for sustainability.

sustainably FED

Thinking ecologically is the best option we have.

This does not mean we reject intensification or technology solutions but that they are embedded in process thinking and a reverence for natural capital.

And the solutions already exist.

All around the world, there are farmers, supply chains and consumers getting FED right.  Already there is sustainably FED in practice only the scale is small. There is plenty of room for expansion, new ideas and innovation everywhere. 

We believe it.

close up picture of honey bees in a hive
Photo by S N Pattenden on Unsplash

But beliefs are unscientific 

Beliefs and opinions are unscientific. 

After all, a belief is ‘an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof’ or ‘trust, faith, or confidence in (someone or something)’. Not exactly what to expect from healthy sceptics peddling eCourses in the scientific method.

Except that all sceptics are also human. Therefore there is a brain that can’t help itself from forming an opinion and an emotional engine that drives our conviction. 

So no apologies. 

Our opinion is founded on our reading of the scientific literature, our own research and lived experience. We arrived at this thinking from being bombarded with the evidence over decades.

We believe sustainably FED can help our readers and students generate solutions for a sustainable future for humanity and not just because the idea gives us purpose and massages our ageing egos.

We are not the only ones either. 

Check this recent quote from researchers around the world

Business as usual is not an option if the world is to equitably, ethically and nutritiously feed its human population while meeting its sustainable development aspirations in a climate resilient way with minimal emissions (IPCC, 2019). A seismic shift in both production and consumption sides of the global food system is necessary (Davis et al., 2016; KC et al., 2018) and where appropriate, efforts to scale up and out better practices need to be rapidly deployed

Stringer, L. C., Fraser, E. D., Harris, D., Lyon, C., Pereira, L., Ward, C. F., & Simelton, E. (2020). Adaptation and development pathways for different types of farmers. Environmental Science & Policy, 104, 174-189.

And here is another one

There is consensus that the global food system is not delivering good nutrition for all and is causing environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity, such that a profound transformation is needed to meet the challenges of persistent malnutrition and rural poverty, aggravated by the growing consequences of climate change.

Wezel, A., Herren, B. G., Kerr, R. B., Barrios, E., Gonçalves, A. L. R., & Sinclair, F. (2020). Agroecological principles and elements and their implications for transitioning to sustainable food systems. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 40(6), 1-13

We are keen for you to think ecologically too — the ‘E’ in FED.

If you do already then sustainably FED can help you apply your ideas to feeding a hungry planet without destroying its essence.

If you would like to learn more about food, ecology and diet we have heaps of free material and some structured online courses to enrol in

sustainably FED

Hero image modified from a photo by Max Hermansson on Unsplash


Mark is an ecology nerd who was cursed with an entrepreneurial gene and a big picture view making him a rare beast, uncomfortable in the ivory towers and the disconnected silos of the public service. Despite this he has made it through a 40+ year career as a scientist and for some unknown reason still likes to read scientific papers.

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