Our current food system

Our individual and collective health and well-being depend on the health of the natural environment. And the health of the natural environment can be impacted in many ways by the choices we make as consumers.

The vast majority of food in the U.S. is produced using methods and inputs that are not environmentally sustainable.

Our current dominant food system focuses on increasing yields of a limited number of crops and animals, a system that is highly dependent on inputs to increase yields in the short term. This system, however, ignores biological realities, pollutes the environment, harms public health, and cannot be sustained in the long-term.

We advocate for a sustainable food system that maintains viability by using techniques that allow for the continuation of the system while minimizing harm to people and the environment.

Our vision for a sustainable food system

A sustainable food system is designed to provide healthy and safe food now and in the future. Such a system would protect the health and well-being of ecological and human communities, both on and off the farm, without compromising the health of future generations or their ability to produce safe and healthy foods.

Food production is rooted in biological and ecological realities, such as adaptation of living organisms, complexity, and interconnectedness.

The principles of a sustainable food system are backed by credible and sound science, which accepts the limits of human knowledge and aims to advance understanding by setting out to explore, not prove.

Technological and scientific advancements in a sustainable food system acknowledge biological and ecological realities and work with them, rather than attempting to control or overcome them.

Steps toward a sustainable food system reduce pollution and make responsible use of natural resources, such as air, water, and soil. The ultimate goal is to build a system that is biologically diverse, resilient, and healthy, using farming methods that can work in the long-term because they are informed by ecological realities.

The following practices, often used in today’s food production system, are not sustainable:

We envision a sustainable food system that:

How you can make Greener Choices when shopping for food

Producing food impacts the environment and, depending on the methods used, those effects can be positive or negative. Claims and seals on the labels of food packages can tell you the story behind the food: how crops were grown, how the animals were treated, whether pesticides were used, and more.

Knowing what various claims and seals mean and whether you can trust them is critical.

Our food labels guide helps you make more informed choices to support a safer, healthier, and more sustainable food system.

Read our evaluations of common terms, claims and seals you're likely to see on food labels.