The forward from Sustainable Food Cities: Making the case for a place based approach healthy and sustainable food says:
“With poor diet a growing contributor towards the burden of ill health, there is little question on the urgent need for a coherent policy response towards food. Yet food has proven a fiendishly complex field for action. Some of this is due to the host of competing interests involved and the need for decisions at every level of governance, from the global to the neighbourhood. Through this thicket, many Public Health leaders in local government are clearing a pathway for change – often working with ingenuity and the sparsest of tools. Much of this work has been to shift the focus away from a narrow obsession with the dietary choices of individuals and towards the need for local market regulation and incentives, action across whole settings and appropriate services for groups facing unequal harms. The Sustainable Food Cities model was designed to further extend the scope for action, as well as to build and consolidate this work. By putting wider social, environmental and economic aspects of the food system into the frame, Sustainable Food Cities mirrors the new ‘ecological public health’.
Public Health strategies need to build in a long-term approach to protecting and enhancing the ecosystems on which food systems depend. From an ecological public health perspective attention should also be directed towards people employed in all elements of the food economy. This is a matter of promoting the health, wellbeing, working conditions and voice of those potentially well placed to shape change. The research in this report indicates that the Sustainable Food Cities model offers a route through which Public Health professionals can foster a place based systems approach to food and health. A key aspect of this is the opportunity to network with new public constituencies, exchange ideas and convene partnerships that go beyond diet-related aspects of health. The research also suggests that strategic action on the environmental, social and economic dimensions of food resonate with contemporary Public Health practice in local government and that the Sustainable Food Cities model can bring conceptual clarity and practical assistance for action on these issues.”
Mat Jones, Associate Professor of Public Health, University of the West of England