Assessing the sustainability of Food Hubs: why do it and what tools are available?

Assessing the sustainability of Food Hubs: why do it and what tools are available?

Bella Driessen

Our food system needs to be sustainable: this is well understood and hard to deny. How we get there is a trickier question. Our research suggests that ‘sustainable food hubs’ (SFHs) could be part of the solution, but we need to better understand SFHs’ sustainability, and the ways they can be most impactful, before we can state their case to policymakers.

Understanding the sustainability of a food hub requires a way of assessing or measuring its impacts: what it uses up, what it emits, what it gives back, and what value it brings to lives and the local economy. This report considers what sustainability is and why we need to measure it, and discusses some of the factors that can limit the uptake and effectiveness of assessment tools. The report then provides an overview of some scale-appropriate assessments which already exist to measure different dimensions of sustainability.

This will provide valuable context for the Food Research Collaboration’s ongoing work with SFHs on sustainability assessment and reporting.

About the author


Bella Driessen

Bella Driessen trained as an agroecological market gardener, having graduated with a Physics degree from UCL. This time spent working the soil alongside campaigners and activists led her back to academia to look more deeply into the food system’s structural issues. In 2019 she undertook an MSc in Environmental Change and Management at the University of Oxford, where she wrote her thesis on the neoliberalisation of the UK’s food system in the context of post-Brexit agricultural policy. Since then, she has worked with civil society, carrying out research into local food supply chains.

As the Food Research Collaboration’s Research Officer in 2021, Bella focused on the role of food hubs in sustainable food systems. She currently works for the food campaign group Sustain as a Local Action Officer.

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