Food 21, an interdisciplinary research program encompassing the whole agro-food chain, was conducted in Sweden during 1997–2004. The challenges undertaken were to come up with environmental tools and solutions to existing nonsustainable practices along the entire food chain. This required close collaboration between the scientists and the food chain stakeholders. A set of goals characterizing sustainable food production is presented in this paper. Synthesis and systems analysis were the main tools used to analyze the sustainability of proposed changes. In this introduction we give an overview of the Food 21 concept and highlight some results. For example, we found that organic farming and organic products were not in general superior to conventional products and practices with respect to environmental impact and product quality. We also summarize the management experiences in this article, since we consider them to be rather unique and since they contributed to the overall success of the program.
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Vol. 34 • No. 4