Research project Leverage points for organic and sustainable food systems


General introduction

In existing innovative, organic and sustainable food systems, what are the starting points that can ensure further development and scale-up? That is what FOODLEVERS wants to find out. Where in such systems is the more efficient use of scarce resources? Where are the inefficiencies? What elements in decision-making processes have led to the current configuration of food systems? What makes configurations work, and what offers opportunity for successful scale-up? A transition to greater sustainability has become one of the key societal challenges. The how-to question is answered in this project.

Research approach

To explore potential leverage in food systems, FOODLEVERS takes a systems viewpoint, focusing on products, production technologies, marketing practices and actors. It uses a so-called re-connect, re-structure, re-think framework. In it, it conceptualizes the behavior of actors and the structure of food systems holistically toward sustainability. Re-connecting refers to people and nature, to encourage sustainable behavior while shortening feedbacks and improving well-being. Restructuring strikes at institutions and institutional dynamics that can create an enabling environment for sustainability. Re-thinking focuses on knowledge creation, use, sharing and validation.


From the analysis of innovative organic food systems and from the simulations, we expect to extract good practice processes identified from multiple perspectives. Those processes increase resource efficiency and reduce trade-offs between production and distribution phases. We obtain a list of clearly articulated levers that can successfully connect, structure and rethink food systems.