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Sustainable food systems are often defined by greenhouse gases, land use, effects on biodiversity, and water use. However, this approach does not recognize the reason food is produced-the provision of nutrients. Recently, the relationship between diets and sustainability has been recognized. Most accepted models of 'sustainable diets' focus on four domains: public health, the environment, food affordability, and cultural relevance. Aligned with the FAO's perspective, truly sustainable diets comprise foods that are affordable, nutritious, developed with ingredients produced in an environmentally friendly manner, and consumer preferred. Identifying solutions to address all four domains simultaneously remains a challenge. Furthermore, the recent pandemic exposed the fragility of the food supply when food accessibility and affordability became primary concerns. There have been increasing calls for more nutrient-dense and sustainable foods, but scant recognition of the consumer's role in adopting and integrating these foods into their diet. Dietary recommendations promoting sustainable themes often overlook how and why people eat what they do. Taste, cost, and health motivate consumer food purchase and the food system must address those considerations. Sustainable foods are perceived to be expensive, thus marginalizing acceptance by the people, which is needed for broad adoption into diets for impactful change. Transformational change is needed in food systems and supply chains to address the complex issues related to sustainability, taste, and cost. An emerging movement called regenerative agriculture (a holistic, nature-based approach to farming) provides a pathway to delivering sustainable foods at an affordable cost to consumers. A broad coalition among academia, government, and the food industry can help to ensure that the food supply concurrently prioritizes sustainability and nutrient density in the framework of consumer-preferred foods. The coalition can also help to ensure sustainable diets are broadly adopted by consumers. This commentary will focus on the challenges and opportunities for the food industry and partners to deliver a sustainable supply of nutrient-dense foods while meeting consumer expectations.
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Miller, Kevin B.; Eckberg, James O.; Decker, Eric A.; and Marinangeli, Christopher P. F., "Role of Food Industry in Promoting Healthy and Sustainable Diets" (2021). Nutrients. 61.