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  • Environment

  • Jun 06, 2022

What does Food Sustainability mean to me?

I remember the first time I heard of “food sustainability”, thinking it was just about finishing the food on my plate. Yes, I was once ignorant. But as I read more about it, I realised it is so much more than food wastage. In fact, the very act of growing chilis or beansprouts at home is a positive contribution to food sustainability.

For the studious ones among us, the UN has defined food sustainability as an “idea that something (e.g. agriculture, fishing or even preparation of food) is done in a way that is not wasteful of our natural resources and can be continued into the future without being detrimental to our environment or health.”

But let’s take a look at what it means for Singapore. We all know the challenges Singapore faces when it comes to climate change but not nearly as many of us know about the challenges facing our future food industry. I for one do not know much about the food security in Singapore. That is why, it was even more shocking when I learnt that over 90% of our food is imported from countries all over the world. To put that into perspective, let’s recreate a plate of economical rice at your favourite local coffeeshop. Where do the various dishes come from? The meat probably comes from Brazil, the vegetables from Indonesia, the eggs from Malaysia and the rice from Thailand (fine, let’s take the accompanying spices and garnish as Singapore produce). Imagine going for a local meal but wind up eating global foods!

This is not sustainable, and we know it, so what exactly is being done?

What Singapore is doing to ensure food sustainability in the long run

In recent years, Singapore has brought food sustainability into the limelight, with the on-going COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating the need for swifter and greater actions.

The move to achieving food sustainability can be categorised into 2 main groups – the industry and society.


As you might already know, Singapore has some aims in place, such as reaching 30% of self-produced food products by 2030. And this requires space, but we can only carve out 1 whole percent of our tiny island to fulfil this ambitious goal. So, what can be done?

Technology has been at the forefront of improving space utilisation at local farms such as Citiponics. The government has also pledged extra funding through the 30x30 Express Grant to aid local farms in tech-adoption. You may also have noticed some multi-storey carparks being transformed into beautiful urban farms. These innovative methods will slowly but surely help us improve our food self-sufficiency!

Furthermore, Singapore has always diversified our baskets, ensuring that if one country fails to provide us goods, we will have 170 others who can. So, if your steaks are not coming from Brazil, you can probably still have some Japanese Wagyu.


Now, it may be difficult for us to see where we can fit in amidst all these complicated actions. There is absolutely no need for big actions, but just small changes and habits can make a difference.

Go local, truly local

The next time you visit the supermarket, buy the food items with the “SG Fresh Produce” logo. I am neither a chef nor a food connoisseur, but with a biased Singaporean heart, I dare say the local produce taste better than the imported ones.

Buy (cook) what you can finish

When buying or cooking food, do it with your brains and not with your hungry tummy. While your stomach may be crying out for lots of food, your brain should tell you the proper portion you require. If everyone overcooks, the current Singaporean wastage of 1.5 bowls worth per day will easily creep upwards and that is not sustainable at all.

One thing I do is meal preps – cook a whole bunch of foods at one go and split and store them for the next week. This saves you time, money, resources and your planet!

Use recyclable containers

Probably the easiest thing to do in this list! Everyone has containers at home, you just have to spare a little effort to bring it with you when purchasing food!

Yes, you are but one individual and our actions may appear small but if you can just influence another person to commit to some of the above actions, this wholesomeness will go a long way!

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