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The Organic Food System Program (OFSP): Organic food systems as models and living laboratories for transformation processes towards sustainable food systems [CORE]

  • Published on March 24, 2017

The Organic Food System Program (OFSP) is conceived as a holistic global food system approach to production and consumption patterns. The scope is to identify, understand and describe transformation processes towards sustainable food systems and make lessons learned available in a globally systematized and contextually-applicable way.

The Organic Food System Programme (OFSP) further develops the organic food sector as a pilot model and living laboratory for sustainable food systems. We use the organic food system as a model to understand drivers of sustainable food consumption and to link this to real-world examples of sustainable production and consumption. The OFSP uses the organic food system as a kind of window for exploration and evolution but not as a static or exclusive solution. The scope of OFSP is to identify, understand and describe transformation processes towards sustainable food systems and make lessons learned available in a globally systematized and contextually applicable way. Organic food systems provide a set of unique experiences to learn from as they consist of well-defined principles and practice, as well as regulations and certifications, in different environments as well as providing abundant sets of data for modeling and testing in different geoclimatic and socio-economic regions around the world.

Decades of real experience in production and processing provide empirical data and indications of the strengths, weaknesses, and improvement potentials of organic value chains. Furthermore, the organic sector is actively evolving into manifestly encompassing a full spectrum of sustainability issues, beyond what is sometimes seen as a limited scope focused on certification requirements.

OFSP is an international program that combines theory and practical implementation. Ongoing activities include networking, research, training and capacity building, and practical implementation projects. Special events such as workshops, conferences, and round tables happen across the calendar. Outputs include publications, information brochures, websites, scientific papers, recommendations, and audio/visual media. OFSP engages a full spectrum of stakeholders and links them to each other through their common interests and respective activities. With access to a global network in more than 120 countries, the OFSP represents a unique opportunity for research, concept development and activities for practical implementation. We find the best examples so far of communities and societies that are demonstrating transformation toward sustainability, and support, recognize, and strengthen them. We facilitate their adoptability by more communities. These so-called Local Sustainable Food Societies often involve the establishment of Learning Centers that serve as a nexus for people to engage with each other in a co-creative process that animates the value chain from farm to table, involves civic activities and municipal agencies across a broad spectrum (eg public health, education, and commerce, as well as agriculture) and links them to research and scientific study across a local and global network.

The OFSP works with proven and innovative diet models and works on food production based on latest knowledge of best practices for regenerative agriculture and nutritional quality. Partners of the OFSP have detailed knowledge of various regional diets such as Mediterranean Diet and New Nordic Diet and are connected to a vast network of organic farming practitioners and research. Studies of the relationships between health and environment flow into a knowledge base that can be used to prove and improve production and consumption patterns. OFSP already publishes and intends to add to its library of guidelines, handbooks and recommendations on regenerative agriculture practices and sustainable diets. Peer reviewed scientific articles are published with recognizable frequency. Please see also

By practicing common values, taking a common approach and using common messaging, participating communities, organizations, and individuals simultaneously validate their own work and that of the global movement as a whole. They learn from each other and build the collective work, bringing benefits to themselves and others. Multiplication globally validates community action locally and enables shared learning and ongoing improvement. OFSP intends the following measurable impacts:

  • Increased numbers of local sustainable food systems and an impetus toward more widespread conversion to organic practices, with corresponding increases in quantity and diversity of organically produced raw and processed goods available to consumers;
  • More producers affected and improvements in operator (primary producer, processor, trader) performance across a spectrum of sustainability dimensions – ecological, human health, economic, cultural, and social.
  • Bigger population served and increased sustainable/organic food consumption, measurable by market data (percentage share), and/or the number of public institutions, restaurants, etc. that have their primary food service provision;
  • More researchers/research projects engaged to study and improve the sustainability and health of production-consumption loops, including: results and findings from global and regional research such as on Mediterranean Diet, New Nordic Diet, and Diet for a Green Planet; true cost accounting studies that include environmental, human health, and socioeconomic impacts; The Organic Food System Programme invites new partners, be they organizations or individuals.

Please visit and OFSP regularly holds events to engage and inform interested parties and stimulate activity. The next main event is at the Organic World Congress in India in November 2017, where a special pre-conference will occur. Please see

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