Knowledge for better food systems

Fodder: The FCRN Newsletter

We send out a weekly newsletter which provides an essential round-up of food sustainability-relevant publications, articles, jobs and events. Sign up to receive it, or better still join as an FCRN member and connect with our diverse network of members.

Network updates

FCRN news 21 March

Last week, the FCRN launched a new online resource about the connection between infectious disease in humans and livestock, with a special focus on the connection between antibiotic resistance in livestock and humans.

The new chapter adds to Foodsource, the FCRN's open and expanding resource to support learning about sustainable food systems, and joins 10 other chapters on various topics that are already available online.

This week we would like to introduce a new type of resource: building blocks. These brief explainers provide accessible introductions to important concepts and ideas for food systems thinking. The first complete building block is on the topic What is food security?

As always, we would love to have your feedback on how we can make these as useful as possible, and what topics are most important to you. If you have any comments or ideas, please get in touch.

Research library

Journals and Journal Articles

Image: Travis Isaacs, Orangutan, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

This paper sets out principles of what the authors call “just conservation”, aiming to find a balance between the conservation of nature and social justice. The authors propose two principles to guide decision-making: the non-anthropocentric principle and the safeguard principle.

Image: USDA, k9515-1, flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

In this paper, researchers from the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission investigate the extent to which variation in nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions may offset or enhance the mitigation effects of carbon sequestration in arable European soils. They employ a biogeochemical model with input data from ~8000 soil sampling locations to quantify CO2 and N2O flux associated with different agricultural practices aimed at carbon (C) mitigation.


This report from Foodservice Footprint discusses the need for more sustainable diets, outlines the business case for introducing them and provides a framework to help food service businesses offer sustainable food options.

The 2017 Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare report analyses farm animal welfare management and performance of 110 global food companies, including retailers, wholesalers, food producers, restaurants and bars.


This book, edited by Cyndi Spindell Berck, Peter Berck and Salvatore Di Falco, examines how climate change may affect farming in Africa, adaptation practices that could help farmers thrive and the interface of adaptation with gender and development issues.

Author Barry Estabrook explores the American pork industry in search of more responsible production systems.


Image: Brian Boucheron, Fairyland Mesclun Mixed, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

The Carbon Underground, Green America and various food industry partners are developing a new standard for regenerative agriculture. It is claimed that the standard will encourage farmers to restore soil and improve crop resilience and nutrient density.

Image: USDA NRCS Montana, Irrigation31.tif, Flickr, Public domain

A wireless soil probe that measures soil conditions every 15 minutes could help farmers to apply fertilisers more efficiently and prevent overwatering. Each probe has 23 sensors and sends data to a software interface that summarises the information for farmers. Factors measured include levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, pH, moisture, temperature and aeration.

Image: Pete, The Cows…, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have sequenced the genomes of 913 types of microbes found inside cows’ digestive systems, hoping to discover more about the types of enzymes that the microbes use to break down the food.


Image: Memphis Meats Press Kit, Southern Fried Chicken

Social scientist and co-founder of the Sentience Institute Jacy Reese discusses public attitudes to diets and the potential of lab-cultured meat to end animal farming, as well as possible pitfalls.

A new online course developed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network deals with environmental and climate-related challenges in the Mediterranean and shows how sustainable food systems are being used. The course is aimed at students, current and future practitioners in the agricultural, food and beverage sectors, and policymakers and regional stakeholders.

Image: Steve Baker, No matter where you see litter it's still ugly, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

You can view the full video recording of the panel talk “Reinventing the plastic bottle” which was hosted by the Hoffmann Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy at Chatham House. Speakers discussed problems created by single-use plastic bottles and some possible solutions.


LESS provides practical support to help the residents of Lancashire live more sustainably. They want to hire a temporary researcher and project developer to research and write a FarmStart Feasibility Report for Lancaster by June 2018. For an example of a FarmStart project elsewhere, see here.

The work will include conducting market research, developing online surveys and questionnaires, desk based research, local resource mapping and interviews. Candidates should have interest in food sovereignty, alternative food models and economies; experience of conducting research; the ability to analyse quantitative and qualitative data; and experience of developing business models.

For more details and to apply, see here. The application deadline is noon on 23 March.

Recycling Technologies have created a process that can turn previously unrecyclable plastics (such as the black plastic trays from ready meals) into valuable industrial oils and waxes.

They are hiring for several positions, including:

  • Control & instrumentation engineer
  • Mechanical design engineer
  • CAD designer
  • Commercial leadership programme

For more details and to apply, see here.

The Open Philanthropy Project researches how to donate effectively: they identify outstanding giving opportunities, make grants, follow the results and publish the findings.

They are hiring several research analysts to estimate the cost-effectiveness of grants, research potential grants, assess the impact of past grants and review the literature to improve the organisation’s understanding of a range of key topics. FCRN members may be particularly interested in the Open Philanthropy Project’s work on farm animal welfare, global health and development and biosecurity and pandemic preparedness.

Candidates should be exceptional generalists who are comfortable working on open-ended questions, able to use quantitative frameworks, happy to take part in intense discussions and strongly self-motivated. Familiarity with effective altruism is a plus.

For more details and to apply, see here. The deadline for applications is 15 April. The Open Philanthropy Project may sponsor United States work authorisation for exceptional candidates.

The Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group SouthWest seeks an assistant farm conservation adviser to provide office-based reporting, administration and mapping support to their Farm Conservation Advisers, as well as some habitat surveying work and support of advisers on farm visits.

Candidates should have a degree or equivalent experience in agriculture or an environmental subject, have experience of customer-facing work, preferably know how to use geographical information systems software and Microsoft Excel and Office and have a driving license and the use of their own car.

For more details, see here. The deadline for applications is 3 April.

Proposals for conference presentations, posters and papers are invited for the conference Place-Based Food Systems 2018: Making the Case, Making It Happen. Place-based food systems are those that respond to the needs of and nurture the development of communities within the regions they serve. Submissions should fall within the following themes:

  • How can place-based food systems contribute to sustainable human economies?
  • How can place-based food systems foster environmental stewardship and ecological integrity?
  • What policy and governance structures are critical to the advancement of place- based food systems?
  • How can we increase the capacity of place-based food systems?

For more details, see here. The deadline for submissions is 31 March.


The University of Oslo will hold a seminar on 22 March discussing the status of current approaches to understanding hunger and food insecurity, the transformations needed to reach SDG2, and the role of strategic partnerships in fostering such change.

There will be speakers from a variety of organisations, including the EAT Foundation, Norfund, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norwegian Farmers' Union, AgriAnalyse and Section for Development Policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For more details and to register, see here.

This free taster workshop on 18 April is an introduction to a 5-day training course to be held in September 2018: Permaculture for Development Workers.

Participants can take part in discussions on how permaculture can contribute to international development and humanitarian initiatives, including constraints and opportunities. The workshop would suit people working in a range of fields, including climate-sensitive design of  agro-ecology, food security, education, sustainable livelihoods, nutrition, health, water, sanitation and hygiene programmes, through to disaster risk reduction, humanitarian response, and peace-building suited to fragile ecological and socio-political environments.

For more details, see here. The event is free but it is essential to book in advance due limited space.

This conference, organised by the Sustainable Food Trust and taking place on 27-28 April 2018, will set out and debate the opportunities and consequences for farmers in a post-Brexit environment. It will explore how to design food systems which are profitable for farmers, whilst at the same time enhancing the environment and public health. It will also discuss growing consumer demands for local, traceable food and how all farmers can adapt to keep up with this market.

Conference themes will include:

  • Public money for public goods
  • Measuring public goods
  • Building better soil through farming practice
  • Delivering high animal welfare and local meat through small abattoirs
  • New models for local food systems

For more details and to book tickets, see here. Concession prices are available for farmers, NGOs, students and young people (aged 25 and under). A number of assisted places are available - please contact Bonnie Welch at for more details.