Building blocks provide accessible introductions to the most important ideas for understanding food system sustainability. Each building block is reviewed by subject experts and includes key definitions, a clear explanation of the idea, and links to curated resources for further learning.

Building blocks

Image montage (clockwise from left): DFAT, A_Peach, Jon Aslund and USDA via Flickr

Being able to reliably obtain, consume and metabolise sufficient quantities of safe and nutritious and foods, is essential to human well-being.

This building block explains the meaning of the food security concept. 

Last update: 12 March, 2018

Chickens at Johnson Farms by Rick Obst via Flickr

The role of animals in food systems, and the degree to which their needs should be accounted for as compared to humans, are ethical issues about which there is both concern and disagreement. 

This building block explains what is meant by the concept of animal welfare.

Last update: 15 Dec, 2017

Amazon land use by CIAT via Flickr

Human use and alteration of land has profound effects on the environment, both locally where it takes place, and at the planetary scale via climate change and other mechanisms. 

This building block explains what is meant by land use and land use change, both direct and indirect.

Last update: 06 February, 2018

Many social, economic, moral, and environmental concerns are interconnected and interact with each other through food, and do so in complex ways. In order to understand this, we need to apply a 'systems thinking' approach to food.

This building block explains what is meant by the term 'food system' and provides a brief introduction to the food systems approach. 

Last update: 15 Dec, 2017