Food systems

The food systems program aims to contribute to the development of a healthy, just and sustainable food system. The way a society produces, distributes and consumes food has a significant impact on people’s health, on social relations and on the environment. These dimensions interact and reinforce one another, contributing to cultivating a healthy environment, on the one hand, and to the rapid deterioration of conditions for life on the planet, on the other. Food systems also produce culture and economic value. They have the potential to positively transform society’s relationship to traditional cultures and to alter the ways wealth is distributed through the food chain, preventing the erosion of local food patterns. The program will support initiatives in three main areas:


Today, Brazil is the highest consumer of pesticides in the world, with legislation allowing for the use of substances that are prohibited in other countries. Scientific research has evidenced the harmful impacts of nitrogenous fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other chemical additives on the natural environment, including climate, water, soil and biodiversity, and on human health. The constant introduction of new substances and the interaction among different chemical elements in the environment make it challenging to implement appropriate environmental and health controls. Brazilian public authorities have not only neglected to adopt adequate precautionary measures, but have been dismantling the existing system for pesticide’s control. It is important that the already existing knowledge of the impact of pesticides inform regulatory measures on the commercialization and use of these substances.

The program supports research, communication and actions that seek to amplify knowledge and public debate on the effects of the use of pesticides and to improve the regulations that control and restrict their usage.


Ultra-processed foods are industrial formulas made usually from soy, corn or wheat combined with additives that do not belong in domestic kitchens, such as emulsifying and thickening agents and artificial colors and aromas. These products tend to be highly palatable, to have a high caloric concentration and to stimulate unhealthy food habits. They are also associated with the spread of chronic, noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension and cancer. They are a significant threat to public health. Currently, 25% of the calories that Brazilians consume come from ultra-processed products. This is a growing percentage, which has also led to a decrease in the consumption of fresh foods like fruits and vegetables.

Ibirapitanga aims to stimulate the communication of evidence about the effects of these products, support regulatory and normative measures that deter their consumption, and inform public debate and foment initiatives that contribute to the public’s understanding of adequate and healthy eating habits.


The current patterns of production, distribution and consumption of foods have put pressure on the regenerative capacity of food systems. The transformation of these patterns must include the incorporation of agroecological approaches, which seek to produce healthful, accessible foods while also contributing to renovating ecosystems. In recent years, policies concerning family agriculture, such as the Food Acquisition Program (Programa de Aquisição de Alimentos – PAA) and the National School Food Program (Programa Nacional de Alimentação Escolar – PNAE), as well as incentives and technical assistance, have caused agroecology to advance in Brazil. A transition to agroecology is the main vehicle for transforming the current food system towards greater control on the impacts of food production and consumption on the environment and human health.

Ibirapitanga supports organizations and associations that research and communicate about agroecology, articulating movements and the development of new narratives based on agroecological principles.