Production refers to the planting, growing, raising and harvesting of food. Farmers, ranchers, gardeners and growers of all sorts contribute to this phase of the system.
Processing is the phase in which fruits, vegetables, meats, fish and other natural food products are prepared for distribution, access and consumption. Undesirable and inedible parts are removed and the food is frozen, dehydrated, canned or otherwise prepared or packaged for distribution. In the industrial food system, chemical preservatives are often added to extend the life of the product.
Distribution refers to the way or ways in which food reaches the consumer. By land, sea or air, processed food is distributed in refrigerated or non-refrigerated containers.
Access is the phase in which food reaches the wholesaler or retailer who then makes it accessible to consumers.
Consumption is the phase in which food is consumed by people or animals in homes and restaurants or on farms.
Food waste recovery makes use of any food products that aren’t consumed. Composting, gleaning and repurposing are all ways in which food is recovered.