Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Life cycle analysis

Photo: Camy West, food, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
19 April 2017

In this letter to the editor in Nature, the authors challenge simplified dietary strategies used in lifecycle assessment (LCA) based studies. Citing a paper that presents the LCA of three dietary scenarios for a basket of food products (representative of EU consumption) they argue that “it is irresponsible to present environmentally motivated dietary strategies... that conflict with longstanding public health nutrition objectives.”. 

Photo: ishpikawa ken, school lunch, Root, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
12 April 2017

This summary has been provided by FCRN member Alessandro Cerutti from the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC).

Public administrations such as schools, hospitals and other sectors are well aware of the effort required to manage all the stages of the catering service, from menu selection through to waste management. Several strategies hold potential to reduce the environmental impacts throughout these stages, especially in the context of the Green Public Procurement (GPP). Unfortunately, despite the best of intentions, budget constraints are constantly forcing managers to make difficult trade-offs.

21 February 2017

This new 712 page book in 28 chapters is edited by Rajeev Bhat. It addresses a very wide range of topics on agriculture, food and sustainability.

8 February 2017

This article by T.C. Ponsioen of Wageningen University, and H.M.G. van der Werf of INRA, discusses the major sources of inconsistency in life cycle assessment (LCA) analyses of food and drink, and makes recommendations to address these inconsistencies. The article begins by describing the many attempts that have been made to standardise (or ‘harmonise’) environmental footprints of food and drink, and identifies five main areas which lack consensus.

10 January 2017

This paper by FCRN member Corné van Dooren and colleagues reports that higher greenhouse gas emissions tend to be generated in the production of energy dense foods and lower in nutrient dense foods, and that emissions show significant correlations with 15 nutrients, including saturated fat, animal protein and sodium. Using these finding, the authors propose a ‘Sustainable Nutrient Rich Foods’ (SNRF) index, which summarises both climate and nutritional impacts of individual foods.

Photo credit: Dean McCoy, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
15 December 2016

In this article co-written by FCRN member Erasmus zu Ermgassen, the authors use what they call a holistic approach (described below) to estimate the GHG emissions savings from preventing UK household food waste. In particular, they include the consideration of a potential rebound effect: the GHG emissions that result from money saved (because of reduced food waste) being spent elsewhere.

Photo: Susan Lucas Hoffman, Greek Salad, Flickr, creative commons licence 2.0)
24 October 2016

At a time when interest in the sustainability of food is increasing, the need for well-defined, interdisciplinary metrics of the sustainability of diets is evident. In this study, a group of researchers from Michigan performed a systematic literature review of empirical research studies on sustainable diets to identify the components of sustainability that were measured and the methods applied to do so.

18 October 2016

While insects have physiological and biological differences which make them more efficient than traditional livestock species, little information exists pertaining to the factors which influence the assessment of the environmental sustainability of insects and their subsequent production systems. 

Credit: wellunwell, soft drinks, Flickr, Creative Commons Licence 2.0
11 October 2016

This study estimates the environmental impacts of what it terms discretionary foods - foods and drinks that do not provide nutrients that the body particularly needs. It finds that these foods account for 33-39% of food-related footprints in Australia.

Photo: Joshua Rappeneker, Beef, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
11 October 2016

An academic debate on the controversial possibility of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions via increased beef production in the Brazilian Cerrado finds a new set of commentators, who have responded to an original paper by de Oliveira Silva et al. earlier in 2016 in the same journal, Nature Climate Change.

Photo: Jeff Kubina, French cooking class, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
6 September 2016

Performing full life cycle assessment on foods and diets is a data- and resource-intensive undertaking and as a result many studies tend to adopt a simplified approach, for example by limiting the number of food studied (in the case of diets), using proxy data, or limiting the system boundaries (cradle to farm gate; cradle to retailer – ie. not the full cradle to the consumer’s mouth).

Photo: USDA, People eating out at a fast food restaurant, Flickr, creative commons licence 2.0
16 August 2016

This paper provides a detailed case study of the history and controversy surrounding the proposed inclusion of sustainability information in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) – a body composed of nutritionists, physicians, and public health experts, tasked with reviewing the evidence base for the guidelines every 5 years.

28 June 2016

Nanotechnology – the designing of ultra-small particles – is part of the evolving science of precision agriculture, and could potentially solve some of the world’s most pressing problems at the food-energy-water nexus as it requires fewer natural resources and water, and enhances plant nutritional values. 

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