Reports, Systems Thinking

True Value: Revealing the Positive Impacts of Food Systems Transformation

14 October 2021

This new report True Value: Revealing the Positive Impacts of Food Systems Transformation presents powerful and compelling evidence that food systems transformation is possible and having an impact now. Conducted by TMG Think Tank for Sustainability, an inclusive and true cost evaluation approach is applied to six food systems initiatives featured in the Beacons of Hope series to understand the breadth and depth of their positive impacts. True Cost Accounting (TCA) is an innovative tool that provides a holistic understanding of the relationships between agriculture, food, the environment, and human well-being.

Using TCA enables us to see the significant monetary and non-monetary benefits sustainable food systems have on issues like public health, biodiversity conservation, climate, workers’ rights, cultural diversity, and gender empowerment. It also demonstrates how TCA can be used for a variety of organizations — from businesses, farmer cooperatives, food banks, research facilities, and more — as a systemic approach to assess, measure, and value the positive and negative impacts of food systems. 

The analysis is grounded in multiple capitals-based approaches, accounting for food systems impacts on the environment (natural capital), society (social capital), people (human capital), and the economy (produced capital), for example:

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Natural capital

COMACO is a social enterprise in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia, that focuses on turning poachers of wildlife into farmers who protect biodiversity. By supporting the adoption of agroforestry and working to end wildlife poaching and deforestation, COMACO protects ecosystems, mitigates climate challenges, tackles food insecurity, and builds the resilience of natural systems.

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Social capital

MASIPAG, the “Farmer–Scientist Partnership for Development,” is a decentralized farmer-led network of 50,000 small growers in the Philippines who farm ecologically for subsistence and local market sale. MASIPAG partnerships ensure that access and control of resources — namely seeds, technology, and land — rest with the farmers. As a result, farmers have greater economic independence.

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Human capital

Community Managed Natural Farming (CMNF) is a non-profit government initiative to scale a farmer-led agroecological model in Andhra Pradesh, India. Currently working in 3,780 villages and with 700,000 farmers, CMNF’s approach is grounded in a recognition of the links between soil health, plant health, and animal health. By eliminating synthetic pesticide use and improving crop and consumption diversity, CMNF is improving community health and driving down health costs.

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Produced capital

The Common Market in the US aggregates and distributes wholesale fruits, vegetables, animal products, and artisanal goods from small farms, giving them access to large regional vendor markets, mostly public and private institutions. Through its model, interdependent urban and rural communities thrive through relationships that build the health and wealth of all people.

READ THE REPORT

True Value: Revealing the Positive Impacts of Food Systems Transformation

This report provides a True Cost Accounting assessment of 6 initiatives drawn from the Beacons of Hope initiative.
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