Food Environment Typology: Advancing an Expanded Definition, Framework, and Methodological Approach for Improved Characterization of Wild, Cultivated, and Built Food Environments toward Sustainable Diets
Downs, Shauna M.
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The food environment is a critical place in the food system to implement interventions to support sustainable diets and address the global syndemic of obesity, undernutrition, and climate change, because it contains the total scope of options within which consumers make decisions about which foods to acquire and consume. In this paper, we build on existing definitions of the food environment, and provide an expanded definition that includes the parameter of sustainability properties of foods and beverages, in order to integrate linkages between food environments and sustainable diets. We further provide a graphical representation of the food environment using a socio-ecological framework. Next, we provide a typology with descriptions of the different types of food environments that consumers have access to in low-, middle-, and high-income countries including wild, cultivated, and built food environments. We characterize the availability, affordability, convenience, promotion and quality (previously termed desirability), and sustainability properties of food and beverages for each food environment type. Lastly, we identify a methodological approach with potential objective and subjective tools and metrics for measuring the different properties of various types of food environments. The definition, framework, typology, and methodological toolbox presented here are intended to facilitate scholars and practitioners to identify entry points in the food environment for implementing and evaluating interventions that support sustainable diets for enhancing human and planetary health.
Downs, Shauna M., Selena Ahmed, Jessica Fanzo, and Anna Herforth. “Food Environment Typology: Advancing an Expanded Definition, Framework, and Methodological Approach for Improved Characterization of Wild, Cultivated, and Built Food Environments Toward Sustainable Diets.” Foods 9, no. 4 (April 22, 2020): 532. doi:10.3390/foods9040532.