Based on a literature review on low-income people (defined here as the poorest 40% in terms of standard of living) food diets, this Issue Brief presents key elements on the practices and the relationship that this category of population has with sustainable food. The objective is to better qualify their food behaviors and aspirations, particularly with respect to the rest of the population, in order to characterize the participation of this social group in the transition to sustainable food. Finally, it is a question of identifying the conditions for a true co-construction of sustainable food paradigms, in a food justice perspective.

Key Messages

  • Regarding the main objectives of sustainability (reduction in animal product consumption, sustainable food production), food consumption among the poorest 40% does not differ from the rest of the population.
  • Less affluent people aspire to more sustainable diets that borrow from the dominant food standards while showing certain particularities. This means that the current discourse on sustainable food may be ineffective at mobilizing these populations, and may even be guilt-inducing.
  • Beyond the price issue, less affluent people have specific constraints (economic, cultural and those related to their food environment) that limit their ability to be receptive and to follow the “eating better” recommendations.
  • An ambitious food transition is possible if it takes into account the capacities of each social group. Thus, less affluent people should no longer be considered as an obstacle to the transition, but as actors. It is possible to define sustainable diets that include their representations, aspirations and capacities. In parallel, the capacity of public action to exploit the potential desire and the economic capacity of more affluent classes to be drivers of the transition is a question to be addressed.
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