Knowledge for better food systems

Fodder: The FCRN food sustainability newsletter

The FCRN’s weekly newsletter on food sustainability, Fodder, rounds up the latest journal papers, reports, books, jobs, events and more. Sign up to receive it here.

Network updates

From the FCRN: 24 June 2020

In Fodder this week

FCRN member Susannah Fleiss finds that setting aside areas of forest within oil palm plantations can store carbon and encourage plant biodiversity; the journal Agriculture and Human Values has put together a special collection of articles on food and COVID-19; and the European Commission’s Science for Environment Policy sets out the importance of monitoring pollinator populations and suggests some methods for doing so.

Featured FCRN publication

This Foodsource chapter, written in 2016, provides an accessible primer on life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology. It addresses the following:

  • What is life cycle assessment?
  • How can an LCA approach be applied to measure the impact of a food product or related process?
  • What are the complexities and uncertainties involved in performing LCA for food products and in interpreting their results?
  • What are the benefits and limitations of the LCA approach, including its role in assessing sustainability?

Read the full chapter here


Research library

Image: sarangib, Oil Palm Tree Plantation, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence

FCRN member Susannah Fleiss is the lead author of this paper, which finds that setting aside areas of forest (conservation set-asides) within oil palm plantations plays a vital role in storing carbon and boosting rainforest biodiversity within plantations.

The journal Agriculture and Human Values has put together a topical collection of 70 articles relating to agriculture, food and the COVID-19 pandemic.

This explanatory note from the UK’s Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology defines food system resilience, gives examples of threats to the food system, outlines some questions to consider when visualising a more resilient food system, and describes recent policy developments on food system resilience.

This report from the international non-profit Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy examines the climate impacts of large dairy corporations. It finds that greenhouse gas emissions from the 13 largest dairy companies have increased by 11% over the last two years, alongside an 8% increase in milk production, and that none of these corporations has published plans to cut total emissions in their dairy supply chains. 

This report from the European Commission’s Science for Environment Policy describes the importance of pollinators (such as bees, flies and moths) for food production and for nature. It identifies several drivers of pollinator loss and sets out methods of monitoring pollinator populations.

This report from the Food System Impact Valuation Initiative (FoodSIVI) at the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute examines how the social impacts of food systems can be reported in monetary terms. It suggests that calculating the costs and benefits of food system interventions could help direct spending towards the most effective measures.

This handbook by US think tank Brighter Green is a guide for chefs on how to promote change towards a “plant-forward” food system. It includes sections on key concepts in food systems, the social, economic and environmental implications of the food system, how chefs can help to change the food system, examples of sustainable food initiatives, and practical tips on using plant-based ingredients.

This three-volume set offers an interdisciplinary review of agriculture and the environment, covering the history of agriculture, soils, irrigation, nutrient management, crop production, livestock and agricultural innovation.

This book examines the social and cultural aspects of the concept of a “good farmer”. It discusses the origins of the concept, symbolism, morality, gender issues and future challenges.

This podcast by The Institute for Government, a UK think tank, explores how expert advice shapes decisions in government. It uses the COVID-19 pandemic as an example and also refers to other topics such as climate change.



This survey is gathering information about food purchase behaviour during and after the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. It is open to consumers who are currently living in the UK and are 18 years old or over.

Take the survey here. The deadline is 16 July 2020.


UK NGO Sustain is hiring a Sustainable Farming Officer to help manage campaigns, research and policy activities on sustainable farming, fair supply chains and related issues. The key policy areas that the role covers are sustainable farming policy, better food trading, sustainable land use policy, climate and nature policy and green economic recovery.

Candidates should have demonstrable experience and interest in ethical and sustainable models and the economics of farming, experience of working effectively to influence policy and exceptional oral and written communication skills in fluent spoken and written English.

Read more here. The deadline is 1 July 2020.


UK NGO Sustain is hiring a Public Affairs Officer to assist with and lead on research, policy and data analysis, engage with stakeholders, write briefs for the Sustain team and external contacts and respond to requests on Sustain’s parliamentary work from parliamentarians.

Candidates should have knowledge of politics, policy making and government, excellent verbal and written communication skills and excellent relationship building and team working skills.

Read more here. The deadline is 2 July 2020.


UK charity the Sustainable Food Trust is hiring a communications assistant to support digital communications, including website, social media and newsletter, as well as media engagement and campaigns.

Candidates should have excellent written and verbal communication skills, some knowledge and experience in the food and farming sector and an ability to keep up to date with urgent tasks. Training will be provided.

Read more here. The deadline is 3 July 2020.


The Stanford University Centre for Innovation in Global Health and Woods Institute for the Environment and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have announced an interdisciplinary Planetary Health Post-Doctoral Fellowship. The Fellowship will focus on planetary health, defined as “the health of human civilisation and the state of the natural systems on which it depends”.

Fellows will spend time in both Stanford University and LSHTM. The programme is open to researchers from anywhere in the world who will be within three years (full time) of having been awarded their doctoral degree by 15 July 2020. Demonstrated interest and prior research output in planetary health, global health, or the intersection of health and environmental science is a prerequisite.

Read more here or here. The deadline for applications is 15 July 2020.


The Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM) at the University of Oslo is advertising a three-year PhD position on the project “Food for Security: evidence from Cauca, Colombia (SEGURA)". The PhD candidate will conduct 6 months fieldwork in Cauca, Colombia to study households’ food provisioning and consumption strategies and practices in depth.

Candidates should have a relevant degree, research experience related to food security and sufficient knowledge of Spanish to be able to conduct fieldwork in Colombia.

Read more here. The deadline is 1 August 2020.


This online course, developed by EIT Food, will cover the complexity of the global food supply chain, the vulnerability of the food industry to emerging threats and the solutions to stopping these threats early. 

Read more here. The course runs from 15 June until 5 October 2020.


The journal Sustainability is inviting papers for a special issue, “Animal Welfare and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals”. 

Papers should focus on the extent to which the sustainable development goals (SDGs) are compatible, or not, with improving animal welfare. Studies can, for example, relate to the animal welfare consequences of reducing the sector’s impact on natural resources and biodiversity, or the effects of more animal-friendly housing and management conditions on SDGs or defining sustainable development options that include good animal welfare. Papers may also address underlying structural, organisational, market, and trade aspects that affect the interaction between SDGs and animal welfare.

Read more here. The deadline is 30 November 2020.


The Global Forest Coalition will hold a webinar on 25 June 2020 on livestock and feedstock production globally, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recovery from it. The webinar aims to reflect on the question: “How can consumers, producers, policy-makers and NGOs (both in the Global South and North), support resilient alternatives to unsustainable livestock farming?”

Read more here


This online event on 25 June 2020, part of A new era for food and climate: Driving transformative actions, will focus on meat and dairy consumption and meat alternatives. 

Panelists will include individuals from Impossible Foods, the Meatless Monday Movement science advisors at Johns Hopkins and a representative from the Service for Environment and Climate in the City of Ghent, Belgium.

Panelists will discuss the future of the global food system in the face of climate change and what actions are being taken to shift global diets towards sustainability and health-minded. Audience members will have the chance to drive the conversation through polled questions, which the panelists will then debate. They will focus on the implications of audience poll results for food security and climate, and what more needs to be done.

Read more here


On 26 June 2020, the World Obesity Federation will run a webinar exploring how underlying inequities - both within and between countries - are being played out in the interactions of obesity and COVID-19 epidemics.

Register here.


The Global Food Security Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge will hold a webinar on 29 June 2020, which will discuss what a resilient food system is, how to maintain it, and how industry needs to adapt to make it happen.

Register here.