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: 15 May 2019

Featured FCRN publications

The FCRN’s reports and publications cover a wide range of topics, from carbon sequestration and efficiency to dietary guidelines, food policy and explorations of alternative livestock futures. Since these reports are often buried on our website, from now on we will feature a different FCRN publication each week in Fodder. You can view all of our publications here.

This week’s featured publication is our 2014 discussion paper What is a sustainable healthy diet?

In Fodder this week

Agriculture is among the top drivers of accelerating species loss, according to the IPBES report on biodiversity and ecosystems services, which calls for a reformation of the global economy “away from the current limited paradigm of economic growth”. Meanwhile, a paper finds that Coca-Cola reserves the right to prevent publication of the studies it funds if the results are not favourable; and New Zealand introduces a net zero carbon bill with separate targets for reducing agricultural methane emissions.

No Fodder next week

Fodder will return on 29 May.

Featured FCRN publication

This 2014 FCRN discussion paper considers the question: ‘What is a sustainable healthy diet?’ The paper begins by highlighting the rationale for focusing on the diets question, and then moves on to discuss definitions of ‘good nutrition’ on the one hand, and ‘sustainability’ on the other. The main substance of the paper is organised according to the major food groups that constitute UK’s Eatwell plate, and it examines the health and sustainability issues that their consumption raises, before drawing some conclusions. A review of studies in this area is also included. An important limitation of the paper is that it focuses largely on developed country contexts.

Read the full paper here (PDF link). See also the Foodsource chapter What is a healthy sustainable eating pattern? and Tara Garnett’s paper Plating up solutions.

Research library

Image: Andy Farrington, Rotary Parlour at Broadwigg Farm, Geograph, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

This paper, written by researchers on the University of Oxford’s LEAP project and co-authored by the FCRN’s Tara Garnett, explores what drives the intensification of dairy farming, and the consequences for the environment, animal welfare, socio-economic wellbeing and human health. The paper also considers three potential approaches to addressing these consequences: sustainable intensification, multifunctionality, and agroecology.

Image: Atmospheric Research, CSIRO, Parched earth, typical of a drought., Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

Extreme climate events such as droughts and heat waves are better predictors of yield anomalies than indicators of climate averages in maize, rice and soybeans, according to this paper. Irrigation can mitigate the negative yield impacts of frequent warm days.

Image: elainemgs, Coca Cola Tin Soda, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence

This paper explores industrial influence over industry-funded studies, using Coca-Cola as an example. It finds that, despite Coca-Cola developing a set of principles to guide transparency in the research it funds, the terms of funding it provides for some projects theoretically allow Coca-Cola to terminate studies early without reason and demand the recall of all documents from the study. However, no evidence was found of Coca-Cola having actually suppressed the publication of studies with unfavourable results.

Agriculture is one of the leading drivers behind the loss of species and ecosystems, warns the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). An estimated one million animal and plant species (one in eight) are threatened with extinction. Species losses are happening tens or hundreds of times more rapidly today than over the last 10 million years, with the rate accelerating.

This free e-book, by Ahmed Khan of CellAgri, gives an overview of the field of cellular agriculture, including the basics of the concept, key terms, challenges in scaling up the technology, cellular agriculture products and regulatory aspects.

This book gives an overview of new developments in organic agriculture, with a focus on how organic farming can adapt to a changing climate.

The Fate of Food: What We'll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World, by Amanda Little, examines the innovations that are changing food production.

FCRN member Sara Middleton has been involved in producing the documentary Bananageddon, which looks at the socio-economic and environmental issues of current banana production methods and what the future holds for the world’s favourite fruit.

The UK’s Food Research Collaboration (FRC) has launched a new blog series, “Brexit Briefings Update”. The series aims to revisit policy areas already covered by the FRC’s Food Brexit Briefings series of papers (on food policy issues linked to the UK’s upcoming departure from the European Union), covering any updates that have occurred since publication. The first post in the series is “Farm animal welfare in the UK: setting the bar higher”.

Image: David Blaikie, New Zealand Cattle, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

New Zealand has introduced a new bill that aims to bring emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050. A separate target has been set for methane emissions from agriculture, with planned cuts of 10% by 2030 and 24% to 47% by 2050.


The Open Food Network UK, an open source platform co-operative connecting producers, food hubs and customers online, is running a survey to determine how to improve food distribution networks in the UK.

Take the survey here. It should take around 10 minutes to complete. There is no deadline to complete the survey.

The Future Food Awards 2019, run by Speciality Food Magazine and The FoodTalk Radio Show in partnership with Bread and Jam Food Festival, is accepting entries from UK-based food and drink businesses.

Categories include mission-driven businesses, packaging, farm-to-fork and technology.

Read about the awards here, apply here, and read competition guidelines here (PDF link). The deadline is 30 June 2019.

UK food waste NGO Feedback is hiring a campaign director and head of financial campaigns for its ‘The Steaks Are High’ campaign, which aims to research the banks and investors that are funding industrial meat and dairy corporations, and mobilise the public, civil society, students in calling for an end of finance to this industry.

Candidates should have 5-10 years work experience, some of which has been spent in finance, ethical finance or financial campaigning (such as fossil fuel divestment or shareholder activism); a deep understanding of how the financial system operates and its links to environmental damage; and experience of starting a new organisation, campaign or project from scratch.

For more details, see here. The deadline is 17 June 2019.

East London social enterprise Growing Communities is looking for a delivery worker and vegetable scheme packer to assist with its organic fruit and vegetable deliveries throughout Hackney. 

Candidates should have a full driving licence, be able to lift heavy items, be numerate, and be willing to work outside all year.

For more details, see here. The application deadline is 3 June 2019.


This event, run by FoodNiche, will discuss new technologies changing the food sector as consumers demand healthier and more sustainable food. Speakers will include Joshua Siegel of Rubicon Venture Capital, Marc Oshima of AeroFarms and Alon Chen of Tastewise.

Read more here and book tickets here. The event is on 17 May 2019.

This event on 21 May 2019, run by UK entrepreneurship network Forward Fooding, will bring together several speakers to consider the definition of “agri-foodtech”. The meetup is aimed at entrepreneurs, corporate executives, investors and techies and foodies.

Read more here.

Registration is open for the 2019 Planetary Health Alliance Annual Meeting, which will be held on 4 to 6 September 2019 at Stanford University. The conference’s overarching objective is to catalyse efforts towards resolving the great planetary health crises of our time.

For more details, see here.


The Internet of Food Things Network Plus, led by the University of Lincoln, will hold a conference on 17 September 2019.

The network was established to champion interdisciplinary research into the technologies and business models that will enable the digitalisation of the food production supply chain. This conference brings together the people and ideas that have been part of the first phase of the project.

Read more here.