Exploring a ‘Healthy Foodshed’: Land Use Associated with the UK Fruit and Vegetables Supply

Heine Richard De Ruiter, Jennifer Isabel Macdiarmid, Robin Matthews, Peter Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


With an agricultural system that is approaching its natural limits and a global rise in obesity and associated diseases, it is vital to consider human health as a primary driver for future food production. Foodshed analysis is used to analyze the origins of food for a particular region and to assess the implications for environmental sustainability. This case study uses the concept of a foodshed to analyze the land area needed to supply the UK with fruit and vegetables, critical components of a healthy diet, over the period 1986–2009, and incites a critical reflection on how to achieve healthy and environmentally sustainable food. The results show that the ‘Fruit and Veg’ foodshed of the UK has increased over the studied period and that particularly vegetables are increasingly sourced from abroad, suggesting that the UK is increasingly reliant on other countries to satisfy its recommended nutritional needs. Most important ‘external’ cropland suppliers are Spain, China, and Italy, together contributing over 30 % of total land area for fruit and vegetables abroad. To better understand trade-offs and synergies between land use, health, and food consumption, it is imperative to include land use as indicator in the context of sustainable diets. A major challenge will be how to achieve a shift in consumption toward less land-intensive patterns, without neglecting socioeconomic issues such as social justice. The alignment of nutritional and agricultural policies is urgently needed as it has the potential of tackling several global challenges simultaneously.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLand Use Competition
Subtitle of host publicationEcological, Economic and Social Perspectives
EditorsJörg Niewöhner, Antje Bruns, Patrick Hostert, Tobias Krueger, Jonas Ø. Nielsen, Helmut Haberl, Christian Lauk, Juliana Lutz, Daniel Müller
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-33628-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-33626-8
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2016

Publication series

NameHuman-Environment Interactions
PublisherSpringer International Publishing


  • food security
  • trade-offs
  • consumption
  • social justice
  • governance


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