Honest Food Principles

Honest Food Principles

Embracing a more sustainable food system model

Author: Dr. Richard J. Hebda
University of Victoria, Adjunct Professor
Member, Canadian Climate Forum

Framework for Honest Food

Honest Food Framework

In November, 2015 I was a guest speaker at the Canadian Climate Forum’s (the Forum) excellent international Symposium entitled ‘Food Security in a Changing Climate’. At this event, I shared my a draft version of my Honest Food Principles (Principles) with the 150 delegates and invited their feedback. Their overwhelmingly positive support inspired me to formally publish formally the Principles that you see below.

Rooted in decades of work in ecological restoration, heritage crops, and my passion for food sustainability, I saw the need for guiding principles that spoke to universal values around food systems from seed, through landscape to plate and people.

Concern over food sustainability and security has been rising with an ever increasing population, intensive impacts on ecosystems and ecological processes, and declining yields from many agricultural lands. Climate change factors such as drought and extreme weather increase the threat and raise the prospect of inadequate food supply in many parts of the world.

On the positive side, improvements in the food system have the potential to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and even sequester carbon.

The complexity of our food system makes it all the more critical that decisions related to this system are guided by a set of principles that are universal in their moral and ecological goals. Put simply, honest food must contribute to improving the condition of human society and of the global ecosystem while mitigating and adapting to stresses such as climate change.

Honest Food Principles

Honest Food Principles – Download your PDF copy

Please feel free to adopt these Principles for your own purposes, and to share with your networks. I ask that no changes are made to the text, and that all ten Principles are always promoted collectively.

It is my hope that communities and organizations large and small, local and international embrace these Principles and apply them in the practice of achieving a safer, more sustainable food system. As we do so, may we share our successes and failures with others; we have no time to lose.

I thank the Forum for the opportunity to present the Principles and for the continued support of my work.

If you have any questions, please contact me directly at:



Framework for Honest Food
Honest Food Framework

Ten Principles For Honest Food

  1. Ensures a reliable and affordable supply to all people
  2. Mitigates and adapts to climate change
  3. Sustains and improves ecological integrity
  4. Sustains the diversity of life
  5. Sustains and contributes to local human communities
  6. Respects and rewards growers
  7. Improves and sustains people’s health
  8. Builds stable economies
  9. Meets measurable and objective standards
  10. Incorporates public education and awareness