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Innovating Global Fruit and Vegetable Food Systems to Help Bring Sustainable Nutrition Security

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Session Description: 

Several independent research projects have recently launched to identify climate adaptation and environmental mitigation strategies in fruit and vegetable (F&V) food systems, as F&V play an essential role in nutrition and health. Most people need to eat significantly more F&V to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. Moving towards more plant-based diets would also be expected to reduce GHG emissions. However, meeting increased demand for these highly nutritious but increasingly expensive foods will be challenging for many production regions, some of which are in climate- and water-stressed areas (e.g. California, Chile, Egypt, Israel, Mexico, Spain, S Africa), and which could also be impacted by disrupted trade patterns (e.g. post-Brexit, -TPP, etc.). In certain regions, growers of these crops also produce staple crops, meaning those supply chains must also be explicitly considered. But production is only one aspect of overall food system performance and the achievement of sustainable nutrition security. Access to such foods is urgently needed among the poor in lower & middle income mega-cities. Before reaching consumers, F&V pass through many steps that consume energy, water, and other resources as well as emitting the very GHGs that contribute to climate change. In addition, high amounts (>50%) of F&V are either lost (pre-consumer) or wasted (post-consumer), at high cost to producers, consumers, and the environment. The nutrient content of these crops may degrade over time due to global change, as already shown in certain staple crops. In addition to these scientific issues, public policy (e.g. subsidies) and consumer behavior (diets, trust) are critical components of the food system that must evolve. More diversified global trade networks could contribute to resilience. Progress is urgently needed on all of these topics in order for human nutrition needs to be met in more sustainable ways. The primary goal of the workshop is to assemble these team leaders to exchange early findings and accelerate global progress on sustainably increasing F&V consumption, while also identifying ways to implement the best adaptation and mitigation ideas. Workshop participants will also explore opportunities to initiate a new, integrated global effort on this critical aspect of achieving sustainable nutrition security for all people.