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      Local Challenges and Successes Associated with Transitioning to Sustainable Food System Practices for a West Australian Context: Multi-Sector Stakeholder Perceptions

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          Large-scale food system practices have diminished soil and water quality and negatively impacted climate change. Yet, numerous opportunities exist to harness food system practices that will ensure better outcomes for human health and ecosystems. The objective of this study was to consider food Production, Processing, Access and Consumption domains, and for each determine the challenges and successes associated with progressing towards a sustainable food system. A workshop engaging 122 participants including producers, consultants, consumers, educators, funders, scientists, media, government and industry representatives, was conducted in Perth, Western Australia. A thematic analysis of statements (Successes ( n = 170) or Challenges ( n = 360)) captured, revealed issues of scale, knowledge and education, economics, consumerism, big food, environmental/sustainability, communication, policies and legislation, and technology and innovations. Policy recommendations included greater investment into research in sustainable agriculture (particularly the evidentiary basis for regenerative agriculture), land preservation, and supporting farmers to overcome high infrastructure costs and absorb labour costs. Policy, practice and research recommendations included focusing on an integrated food systems approach with multiple goals, food system actors working collaboratively to reduce challenges and undertaking more research to further the regenerative agriculture evidence.

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          Most cited references 30

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          Soil health in agricultural systems.

          Soil health is presented as an integrative property that reflects the capacity of soil to respond to agricultural intervention, so that it continues to support both the agricultural production and the provision of other ecosystem services. The major challenge within sustainable soil management is to conserve ecosystem service delivery while optimizing agricultural yields. It is proposed that soil health is dependent on the maintenance of four major functions: carbon transformations; nutrient cycles; soil structure maintenance; and the regulation of pests and diseases. Each of these functions is manifested as an aggregate of a variety of biological processes provided by a diversity of interacting soil organisms under the influence of the abiotic soil environment. Analysis of current models of the soil community under the impact of agricultural interventions (particularly those entailing substitution of biological processes with fossil fuel-derived energy or inputs) confirms the highly integrative pattern of interactions within each of these functions and leads to the conclusion that measurement of individual groups of organisms, processes or soil properties does not suffice to indicate the state of the soil health. A further conclusion is that quantifying the flow of energy and carbon between functions is an essential but non-trivial task for the assessment and management of soil health.
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            Understanding the Impacts of Food Consumer Choice and Food Policy Outcomes

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              Geographic factors as determinants of food security: a Western Australian food pricing and quality study.

              Food affordability and quality can influence food choice. This research explores the impact of geographic factors on food pricing and quality in Western Australia (WA). A Healthy Food Access Basket (HFAB) was cost and a visual and descriptive quality assessment of 13 commonly consumed fresh produce items was conducted in-store on a representative sample of 144 food grocery stores. The WA retail environment in 2010 had 447 grocery stores servicing 2.9 million people: 38% of stores the two major chains (Coles® Supermarkets Australia and Woolworths ® Limited) in population dense areas, 50% were smaller independently owned stores (Independent Grocers Association®) in regional areas as well, and 12% Indigenous community stores in very remote areas. The HFAB cost 24% (p<0.0001) more in very remote areas than the major city with fruit (32%, p<0.0001), vegetables (26.1%, p<0.0005) and dairy (40%, p<0.0001) higher. Higher price did not correlate with higher quality with only 80% of very remote stores meeting all criteria for fresh produce compared with 93% in Perth. About 30% of very remote stores did not meet quality criteria for bananas, green beans, lettuce, and tomatoes. With increasing geographic isolation, most foods cost more and the quality of fresh produce was lower. Food affordability and quality may deter healthier food choice in geographically isolated communities. Improving affordability and quality of nutritious foods in remote communities may positively impact food choices, improve food security and prevent diet-sensitive chronic disease. Policy makers should consider influencing agriculture, trade, commerce, transport, freight, and modifying local food economies.

                Author and article information

                Int J Environ Res Public Health
                Int J Environ Res Public Health
                International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
                10 June 2019
                June 2019
                : 16
                : 11
                [1 ]School of Medical and Health Science, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup 6027, Australia; l.andrew@ (L.A.); s.godrich@ (S.G.); a.devine@ (A.D.)
                [2 ]Perth Natural Resource Management, Perth 6104, Australia; justin.wolfgang@
                [3 ]Commonland, 103 Amsterdam, The Netherlands; dieter.vandenbroeck@
                [4 ]Centre for Social Impact, University of Western Australia, Crawley 6009, Australia; kathryn.dobb@
                [5 ]Faculty of Higher Education, William Angliss Institute, Melbourne 3000, Australia; nick@
                [6 ]Sustain, The Australian Food Network, Melbourne 3000, Australia
                [7 ]Geography and Environment, University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, BC V2S 7M8, Canada; Lenore.Newman@
                [8 ]Centre for Ecosystem Management, School of Science, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup 6027, Australia; p.horwitz@
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: r.sambell@ ; Tel.: +61-08-6304-5424
                © 2019 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



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