Definitions for food policy


Food policy is the area of public policy which is concerned with how food is produced, processed, distributed, and purchased. Food policy helps determine the health of a population.

Food and Agricultural Policy

Agricultural Policy is about making decisions regarding farming. Food Policy is about public decision-making concerning food consumption.

Agricultural Economics is the use of economics to deliver food production. Trade Policy is about the laws which control the import and export of food to and from overseas countries.

Food Economics is about economics and food consumption. Household food consumption is the total amount of food available for consumption in the household, which excludes food consumed outside, unless it is prepared at home.

Food Supply Chains

A food supply chain is about the process which takes food from a farm to the final consumer. It is a similar concept to a food system.

There is an increasing interest in shorter food supply chains where there is a short distance between producer and consumer. A short food supply chain is also where there are few intermediaries between producers and consumers.

Transport and logistics are vital to the functioning of international food supply chains.

Food Manufacturing and Food Retail

Food manufacturing is about taking edible raw materials and turning them into food products which can be traded commercially. These goods are often sold through food retailers which are also known as grocery stores. A broad definition of food retailing covers restaurants, fast food outlets as well as supermarkets.

Food Politics

Food Democracy is about the fulfilment of the human right to safe, nutritious food that has been equitably produced. It means ordinary citizens establishing rules to safeguard food and the environment.

Food Governance: “the rules and formal and informal processes, through which public and private actors articulate their positions and interests for decision-making and implementation” (page 3).

Food Security “exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.

Food Sovereignty “is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems”. Self-sufficiency, or food security, is not food sovereignty. For example, some who has full or sufficient access to food in a prison does not have food sovereignty.

Food and Health Policy

Nutrition is about providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.

Sustenance: this is food and drink which is regarded as a source of strength or nourishment.

Food Poverty

Food poverty is the inability to obtain enough food which is affordable and healthy. An individual will have limited access to fresh food, a poorer diet, and worse health due to having a lower income. Poorer individuals have to spend a higher percentage of their income on food and will have to choose from a more restricted range of products. The main concern is that poorer people consume lower levels of fruit and vegetables due to having lower incomes.

Food poverty has also been defined as Food poverty defined as the inability to acquire or consume an adequate quality or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so.

Food insecurity can be defined as having a disrupted food intake or eating pattern because of a lack of money or other resources. Other resources could include a cooker, to cook food, and other equipment such as saucepans to produce food.

Social Policy

Food Banks: a place where there are stocks of food. These are normally basic provisions and non-perishable items. These foods are provided free of charge to people in need and who are often in receipt of social security.

Food Desert: an area that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food.

Food Swamps: are districts with a high-density of outlets which sell high-calorie fast food and junk food. Healthier food options are not readily available. There would be many poor-quality takeaways or cafes in a food swamp. Arguably, food swamps predict obesity rates better than food deserts, although the two concepts are linked.

A café is a small restaurant that sells light meals and drinks.

Food Safety: hazards and risks

Risk is about the probability of a harmful occurrence, such as a disease. Therefore, safety is the opposite. It is about the probability of not suffering from a harmful outcome. Hazard is the potential to cause harm.

Food Safety and Food Hygiene

Food safety refers to the conditions and practices that preserve the quality of food to prevent contamination and foodborne illness. Food safety includes quality and safety through the whole food chain and the quality of the food not to cause harm to the consumer.

Food hygiene is about the safety of food regarding the cooking, handling, preparation and storage of food.

Food and the Environment

The concept of Food Miles is the distance food is transported from its making until it reaches the consumer.

Types of Food

Genetically Modified Food is when food is produced from organisms which have had changes introduced into them.

Irradiated Food is the process of exposing food to ionising radiation, such as from gamma rays or x-rays. Radiation can be targeted at food.

Organic Food is from a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides, growth promoters and livestock feed additives.