Sustainable Diets

The nutrition transition in South Africa is more evident than ever and a greater focus on healthy and sustainable diets are necessary. High levels of food insecurity as well as under- and malnutrition co-exist with rising levels of obesity and related diseases, burdening the public health system. At the same time, highly industrialized and commercialized food systems generate large greenhouse gas emissions and alter ecosystems towards biodiversity loss, deforestation, soil erosion, chemical contaminations and water shortage. The recently introduced concept of sustainable diets (FAO & Bioversity International, 2012) defines diets with regard to the complete food chain, from production to consumption, and its economic, environmental and social impacts on present and future generations.

The Sustainable Diets Project is a transdisciplinary research project, which encourages the fusion of knowledge and methodologies of different disciplines, in particular nutrition, agricultural economics, environmental science, law and social anthropology. It aims to explore the sustainability of diets in rural resource-poor communities in South Africa, revealing the complex interplay of household’s food and nutrition security with the local food system. Research will highlight the food security and nutrition situation of rural households and in which ways it is framed by the local food system, considering environmental sustainability, economic efficiency, local governance as well as socio-cultural perceptions. Moreover, the project will contribute to the international debate on the concept of sustainable diets and will provide recommendations and guidelines for more consideration of sustainable diets in rural households in South Africa.


For further information regarding research about sustainable diets, contact Dr Nicole Claasen.