The Economics of Sustainable Food: Smart Policies for Health and the Planet (Paperback)
Producing food industrially like we do today causes tremendous global economic losses in terms of malnutrition, diseases, and environmental degradation. But because the food industry does not bear those costs and the price tag for these losses does not show up at the grocery store, it is too often ignored by economists and policymakers.
The Economics of Sustainable Food details the true cost of food for people and the planet. It illustrates how to transform our broken system, alleviating its severe financial and human burden. The key is smart macroeconomic policy that moves us toward methods that protect the environment like regenerative land and sea farming, low-impact urban farming, and alternative protein farming, and toward healthy diets. The book’s multidisciplinary team of authors lay out detailed fiscal and trade policies, as well as structural reforms, to achieve those goals.
Chapters discuss strategies to make food production sustainable, nutritious, and fair, ranging from taxes and spending to education, labor market, health care, and pension reforms, alongside regulation in cases where market incentives are unlikely to work or to work fast enough. The authors carefully consider the different needs of more and less advanced economies, balancing economic development and sustainability goals. Case studies showcase successful strategies from around the world, such as taxing foods with a high carbon footprint, financing ecosystems mapping and conservation to meet scientific targets for healthy biomes permanency, subsidizing sustainable land and sea farming, reforming health systems to move away from sick care to preventive, nutrition-based care, and providing schools with matching funds to purchase local organic produce.
In the years ahead, few issues will be more important for individual prosperity and the global economy than the way we produce our food and what food we eat. This roadmap for reform is an invaluable resource to help global policymakers improve countless lives.
About the Author
Nicoletta Batini is a scholar of innovative monetary and fiscal policy and is a leading expert in the design of macroeconomic strategies to deal with the climate change/public health nexus. Prior to joining the International Monetary Fund’s Independent Evaluation Office, she was Advisor of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, Professor of Economics at the University of Surrey, and Director of the International Economics and Policy Office of the Treasury in Italy.
"This volume is a must-read for policy-makers and development practitioners in all parts of the world. Food system sustainability is key to protecting human health, ending poverty, fighting climate change, and protecting biodiversity. The essays, by global leaders in nutrition, agronomy, finance, and other disciplines, provide a comprehensive, cutting-edge, and policy-oriented roadmap for success."
— Jeffrey D. Sachs, University Professor, Columbia University, and President, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network
"There simply will be no sustainable future for humanity without a food and land use trajectory compatible with the conditions which nurtured the rise of human civilization. Written in clear and accessible language, The Economics of Sustainable Food should be required reading for national leaders, Ministers of Finance and Planning, and all involved in agriculture. A major contribution."
— Thomas E. Lovejoy, University Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University, and Senior Fellow, United Nations Foundation
"Modern food systems are destroying both human and planetary health, but sustainable alternatives that enhance wellbeing are possible. Batini's book vividly describes these challenges and calls on economists to forge this urgent transition; I deeply hope this is heard as the future of human civilization is at stake."
— Walter Willett, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
"At the IMF, we have supported carbon pricing and green investment as key tools to fight climate change. This valuable book highlights important issues macroeconomists often overlook—that reforming global food systems and land use can play a critical role in preserving the health of our planet, population, and economies."
— Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund