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Our Food Future glossary

Circular food economy: Inspired by the planet’s natural cycles, a circular food economy reimagines and regenerates the systems that feed us, eliminating waste, sharing economic prosperity and nourishing our communities. Or simply put, a circular food economy eliminates waste from the system that feeds us.

Circular food solutions: A for-profit, not-for-profit, or social enterprise that contributes to or creates solutions within the circular food economy through the development of new business models, technologies, products or services that design waste out of our food system, reduce emissions, expand access to affordable and nutritious food, and regenerate natural systems.

Circular food collaboration: A symbiotic interaction between two or more individuals, businesses, and organizations that contributes to the circular food economy through a new business model, technology, product, or service.

Smart(er) city: A resilient, inclusive and collaboratively built community where citizens, businesses, public sector utilize data and technology to further a vision of a democratic, equitable and sustainable future.

Nutritious foods

Food affordability

  • Absolute affordability: how much it costs for a person to eat a nutritious diet in a given community compared to their household income (usually measured via the Nutritious Food Basket method)
  • Relative affordability: cost of a food product relative to a healthier alternative (e.g. whole grain bread versus white bread) (Health Canada, unpublished draft)

Food availability: availability of nutritious foods within a given food retail outlet. Often measured by inventory-type measures and shelf-space measures. (Health Canada, unpublished draft)

Food environment: the physical, social, economic, cultural and political factors that impact the accessibility, availability and adequacy of food within a community or region. Food environments include the following dimensions:

  1. Community food environment: the geographic location and accessibility of food outlets. Accessibility includes features like physical location, hours of operation, whether there is a drive-through option, etc.
  2. Consumer food environment: aspects of food outlets and restaurants that influence food purchasing such as food availability, food affordability and food quality
  3. Organizational food environment: food access in public settings such as workplaces and schools
  4. Information food environment: food marketing, media and advertising (from Health Canada, unpublished draft)

Food insecurity (economic access): the inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints. (from PROOF

Food literacy: a set of interconnected attributes organized into the categories of food and nutrition knowledge, skills, self-efficacy/confidence, food decisions, and other ecologic (external) factors.

  • Food and nutrition knowledge: relate to facts and information acquired through experience or education related to foods and nutrition, including the capacity to distinguish between “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods.
  • Food skills: focus on techniques related to food purchasing, preparation, handling, and storage throughout the life stages.
  • Self-efficacy and confidence: relate to one’s capacity to perform food skills in varied contexts and situations.
  • Food decisions: include dietary behaviour which pertains to the application of knowledge, information, and skills to make food choices.
  • Ecologic (external) factors: capture factors operating beyond the individual (e.g., sociocultural influences, socio-economic status) and their interactions with food decisions and behaviours (from Ontario Dietitians in Public Health).

Food security: a state where when all people always have physical and economic access to adequate amounts of nutritious, safe and culturally appropriate food to maintain a healthy and active life (from Health Canada, unpublished draft)

Geographic/physical access: the number and kinds of food retail outlets where people live, work, play, or go to school. Often measured by proximity, intensity and retail food environment index (from Health Canada, unpublished draft).

Healthy food environment: a food environment that facilitates nutritious food choices, where the better choice is the default choice (adapted from Health Canada, unpublished draft).

Healthy eating: eating patterns that focus on the foods we eat but also on where, when, why and how we eat (adapted from Canada’s Food Guide).

Nutrition: the intake of food, considered in relation to the body’s dietary needs. Good nutrition – an adequate, well-balanced diet combined with regular physical activity – is a cornerstone of good health. Poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired physical and mental development and reduced productivity (from the World Health Organization).

Circular business and collaboration

Rural-urban living lab: A user-centered, open-innovation ecosystem that fosters the development of new businesses and collaborations that support a regional tech-enabled circular food economy. The Lab:

  • Transcends boundaries by establishing interaction and integration between rural and urban stakeholders,
  • Implements shared governance structures and builds on existing programs and resources,
  • Engages in co-creation with stakeholders to develop business outcomes that address people, planet, prosperity and purpose, and
  • Includes end users in discovery, challenge and solution processes.

Social finance: Investments intended to create a measurable social or environmental impact as well as to generate financial returns (from Government of Canada, Recommendations of the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy Co-Creation Steering Group)

Waste as a resource

Food loss and waste: The food and/or associated inedible parts removed from the food supply chain. (from the Food Loss + Waste Protocol’s Food Loss + Waste Standard)

Food: Any substance—whether processed, semi-processed or raw—that is intended for human consumption. “Food” includes drink and any substance that has been used in the manufacture, preparation or treatment of food. “Food” also includes material that has spoiled and is therefore no longer fit for human consumption. It does not include cosmetics, tobacco or substances used only as drugs. It does not include processing agents used along the food supply chain: for example, water to clean or cook raw materials in factories or at home. (from the Food Loss + Waste Protocol’s Food Loss + Waste Standard)

Inedible parts: Components associated with a food that, in a particular food supply chain, are not indented to be consumed by humans. Examples of inedible parts associated with food could include bones, rinds and pits/stones. “Inedible parts” do not include packaging. What is considered inedible varies among users (e.g., chicken feet are consumed in some food supply chains but not others), changes over time and is influenced by a range of variables including culture, socio-economic factors, availability, price, technological advances, international trade and geography. (from the Food Loss + Waste Protocol’s Food Loss + Waste Standard)

Food recovery hierarchy: The actions organizations can take to prevent and divert food waste, in order of most to least preferred (adapted from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

Food recovery hierarchy image

Food from Home = Food for Home

Right food: Healthy, ecologically produced and locally grown food that is also affordable, accessible and culturally desired or valuable.