The sustainable production of a sufficient amount of safe and nutritious food is of vital and increasing importance. Yet our food systems also play important roles in other areas besides supplying healthy foods – such as the provision of ecosystem services, employment opportunities, or the delivery of biogenic resources for other material use or energy supply.
Our prevailing food systems, however, need to be adapted and transformed in order to ensure and enhance such functionality in the long run. Currently, unsustainable production practices contribute to the global challenges such as climate change, the decline of biodiversity and threaten future usability of agricultural lands. To be able to tackle such and other challenges in our food systems, e.g. under-, mal-, and overnutrition, transformation processes need to occur at all levels: from local to global, and addressing environmental, social, and economic aspects. Efforts in these areas also offer numerous possibilities for innovation – besides increasing the resilience and circularity within our food systems and helping to safeguard our living environment for future generations.
To do ‘our part’ in this matter, different researchers at Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences have come together to form a research group and combine forces to foster applied inter-disciplinary research on sustainable food systems. Topics range from sustainable primary production and utilisation of biogenic raw materials, the protection and conservation of natural resources as well as securing human nutrition and health at the interface of life, engineering and social sciences. We anticipate that the role of farms and food systems in future will become even more complex and address further areas besides the sole provision of food – in this sense we would like to move from farm to function.