Many regional public procurement strategies are now being developed and are actively seeking to meet wider sustainability aims.
Creativity in defining the procurement need may be one of the strongest lines of opportunity for realizing sustainable development objectives. If the objective is to provide healthy meals for schoolchildren, for example, there may be several ways in which this can be done. For example, through setting up separate supply and delivery contracts, linked to initiatives that support opportunities for local trading such as ‘meet the buyer’ events and more proactive approaches to inviting interest by local producers.
Our food system has become increasingly globalized over the past few decades. Whereas a century ago most food was consumed in a relatively short distance from where it was produced, our diets today consist of foods from all corners of the globe.
The trend toward increasing distances between producers and consumers has prompted many to question the environmental and social sustainability of our food choices. Local farms are struggling to compete with larger, more industrialized farms in warmer climates. Products from California, for example, are dependent on publicly funded roads and transportation networks, and on vast subsidized irrigation networks that are not factored into the cost of food. This food is sent all over the continent, supplanting local production, because the price of the food is not reflecting the real costs associated with its production. The real costs of food production include environmental costs, such as the effects of climate change due to increased CO2 emissions from increased food transportation, as well as social degradation due to the loss of farms and rural communities, to name a few.