Land Use for Nutritious Diets

Connecting a sustainable, healthy diet to land use in Aotearoa

Project Details Ngā taipitopito

Project Status:
Challenge funding:
Research duration:
July 2021 – March 2022

Collaborators Ngā haumi

AgResearch | Healthier Lives National Science Challenge | Manaaki Whenua | Plant & Food Research

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What are we doing?E aha ana mātou?

The foods we eat are vitally important to our health, but the way they are produced has a major impact on the earth’s resources, environment and climate.  Population-wide changes are needed to achieve healthy and nutritious diets sourced from sustainable food systems.

This project involves collaboration with a Healthier Lives study which aims to identify an optimal diet that meets the nutritional needs of New Zealand’s population while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, at minimal additional cost to individuals.

Our Land and Water will determine whether the raw ingredients for this optimal diet can be grown in New Zealand, in an affordable way that meets targets for reducing water contaminants and greenhouse gas emissions.

The aim is to provide policymakers and health practitioners with information on how best to provide healthy and sustainable diets for New Zealanders.

How can the research be used? Ka pēhea e whai take ai te rangahau?

  • The Healthier Lives research will identify an optimal New Zealand diet that has co-benefits for both health and climate.
  • The research contributed by Our Land and Water will identify suitable land to produce ingredients for this diet. Land-use opportunities will be identified in catchments that are unlikely to meet water quality targets without land-use change, plus other suitable land areas if necessary. This will test the validity and ease with which we can meet targets for water quality and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Healthier Lives will identify a range of feasible and acceptable policies that could help New Zealanders move towards a diet that maximises health and environmental co-benefits.
  • This research also aims to identify the potential change in societal costs of moving to an optimal diet, including the costs of changes in land use and health outcomes.

Related research updates Ngā pānui mō te rangahau nei

Research team Te hunga i whai wāhi mai

Healthier Lives Science Lead
Cristina Cleghorn
University of Otago
Our Land and Water Science Lead
Richard McDowell
Alexander Herzig
Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research
Tony van der Weerden
Rogerio Cichota
Plant and Food Research
Emmanuel Chakwizira
Plant and Food Research
Edith Khaembah
Plant and Food Research

Tools & resources Ngā utauta me ngā rauemi


Growing for Good: A ‘Win-Win-Win’ Plan for Future Food Production

Changing what we farm, and where, could provide all New Zealanders with a healthy diet with benefits to our water, climate, and the national economy,…
View Summary
Journal Article

Growing for good: Producing a healthy, low greenhouse gas and water quality footprint diet in Aotearoa

Food production plays a central role in the health of humanity and our environment. New Zealand produces a large amount of food, but it is…
View Journal Article

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