Assessing farms’ sustainability just got a whole lot easier

By Louisa Dodd, SRA Project Manager

As HRH The Prince of Wales noted in his opening speech for the Global Farm Metric launch on Thursday April 29th, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”.

The farming system is under increasing pressure to measure its sustainability as we know much of our global environmental footprint, including global carbon emissions, biodiversity loss, degrading soil health and deforestation, derives from agricultural practices. But what defines sustainability on farm is as subjective as what defines a sustainable restaurant. Hence, we provide our Food Made Good framework to provide an industry measurement to allow restaurants to understand their shortcomings and successes, so they know what to celebrate and where to improve.

Wouldn’t it make things oh so much simpler if there was a uniform certification scheme for farms too, rather than the multitude of schemes which make it a real challenge to make a fair comparison between two potential producers? Enter the Global Farm Metric, led by the Sustainable Food Trust – and a holistic sustainability scorecard for farmers encompassing 11 categories of sustainability, from soil health to energy use, biodiversity in landscape and breeds, to social factors around financial output and employment.

What this could mean for hospitality?

If you’re sick of suppliers telling you something’s sustainable but not actually knowing what that means or you find it difficult to weigh up one producer against another based on sustainability because, quite frankly, you’re not an agricultural expert, this unified measurement really has the power to harmonise retail, hospitality, wholesalers, investors, food system stakeholders and crucially farmers, to align the understanding of what good agricultural practice actually looks like.

The initiative is still in its pilot stage, so restaurants are still a way off knowing where suppliers fall against these metrics, but we’re expecting more information at COP26 and the UN Food Systems Summit, so we’ll keep you posted in the coming months about this exciting and potentially game-changing innovation.

What you can do now

In the meantime, check out the proposed Global Farm Metric indicators, don’t be afraid to ask suppliers for as much information as possible on provenance (down to farm level) and standards and practices (social and environmental factors such as those outlined by the Global Farm Metrics), to build supply chain transparency. If you’d like help knowing what questions to ask your suppliers, do please contact us [email protected].

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