Knowledge for better food systems

Fodder: The FCRN Newsletter

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In Fodder this week

Research library

Image: Gabelglesia, Solar array in the Antioch College South Campus, near the farm. Sheep included, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

This paper compared soil moisture and biomass growth between pasture both with and without photovoltaic solar panel arrays. While average soil moisture was similar across the fields with and without solar panels, the field with the solar panels had more variable soil moisture: directly underneath the solar panels, persistent stores of soil water were available throughout the growing season. Without solar panels, the pasture experienced water stress in the middle of summer.

Image: lubasi, Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

6.5–15.4 million hectares of private land in Brazil could become legally available for deforestation, because expansion in the land area designated as conservation units or indigenous reserves could trigger a legal mechanism whereby the area of legal reserves for native vegetation may be decreased.

Image: Stefan Walkowski, Antibiogram of Pseudomonas aeruginosa on Mueller-Hinton agar, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

This paper describes the susceptibility of organisms such as bacteria to biocides such as antibiotics, insecticides and herbicide as a beneficial ecosystem service, since susceptible organisms can prevent the spread of biocide resistance by outcompeting resistant organisms (that is, in biocide-free environments). This framing is distinct from many other viewpoints, which focus on the negative costs of biocide resistance.

Current land use patterns in the UK are not sustainable, according to this report from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change. The report claims that, if current farming trends continue, there will not be enough land in the UK to both meet future settlement needs and maintain current levels of per capita food production. The report also predicts significant negative effects of climate change on soils, water, vegetation and wildlife.

This book, edited by John Dixon et al., sets out different farming systems used across Africa and their relationships to food security.

Image: Takeaway, Chingrit thot (Thai script: จิ้งหรีดทอด) are deep-fried crickets. The crickets used in Thailand can be either Gryllus bimaculatus or, as shown in the image, Acheta domesticus, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

UK supermarket Sainsbury’s has started selling edible insects in 250 of its stores, becoming the first UK supermarket to do so. The barbecue-flavour roasted crickets are made by Eat Grub and contain 68 grams of protein per 100 grams of dried crickets. Eat Grub founder Shami Radia told Sky News, “We're on a mission to show the West that as well as having very strong sustainability and environmental credentials, they are also seriously tasty and shouldn't be overlooked as a great snack or recipe ingredient.”

Image: Richard Croft, Tesco Extra, Geograph, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

UK supermarket Tesco and wildlife NGO WWF have set up a four-year partnership to work on reducing the environmental impacts of food. They aim to halve the environmental impact of the average UK shopping basket, according to a metric that they will develop.

This lecture from the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health at the Oxford Martin School addresses emerging methods of measuring natural capital and assessing ecological services in the context of economic analysis.

Image: Shpernik088, The chicken meat industry 14, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Chicken processing plants in the United States will be allowed to apply for a waiver to increase their processing speed from 140 to 175 birds per minute, in response to a petition from the National Chicken Council. Civil Eats reports that workers in meat processing plants are already injured five times more frequently than all other private workers, and that both animal welfare and labour welfare advocates have previously sought to block increases in processing speed.

Image: adege, Garbage Plastic Waste, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons

This feature in the Guardian explores the reasons for the rapid growth of the anti-plastic movement. It also describes historical lobbying campaigns that painted plastic packaging as being the responsibility of the consumer rather than manufacturers, and outlines some of the issues associated with recycling plastic (in comparison to recycling, say, glass or metals).


City, University of London’s Centre for Food Policy has a vacancy for a postdoctoral researcher to establish and lead new, interdisciplinary projects on public policy solutions for healthy diets. Responsibilities will include developing new research ideas, developing collaborations, conducting research and fundraising.

Candidates should have a relevant PhD, proven experience of coordinating or managing projects, experience of grant writing and excellent writing skills.

For more details, see here. The deadline is 2 December 2018.

The Animal Production Systems group at Wageningen University is seeking a postdoctoral researcher to lead work on 'the role of farm animals in a circular food system'. Responsibilities will include developing a bio-physical optimisation model, modelling ecological impacts such as climate change and land use, supervising students and publishing journal articles.

Candidates should have a PhD, experience in modelling bio-physical and agro-ecological systems, proven performance in scientific writing, and proficiency in English communication.

For more details, see here. The deadline is 5 December 2018. The vacancy is advertised by FCRN member Hannah van Zanten. See her blog post A role for livestock in a sustainable food system.

The Good Food Institute is hiring a managing director to support the institute’s expansion to Europe. Responsibilities will include establishing the appropriate legal entities, oversee the drafting of a memorandum on local legal frameworks regulating plant-based food and cell-based meat, develop databases of key players in the field, and establish a variety of relevant business relationships.

Candidates should have residency in Europe, exceptional interpersonal skills, experience of developing communications programmes and firsthand knowledge of European cultural, business and legal norms.

For more details, see here. The application deadline is 9 December 2018.

Food startups with a concept focused on sustainability or social impact can apply to pitch at FoodBytes! San Francisco 2019. Successful applicants will be able to meet and pitch to investors, industry and media, be in the running for business development prizes and awards, and join an alumni network of startups.

For more details, see here. The application deadline is 16 December 2018.

The Kindling Trust is hiring a community engagement coordinator, with experience of community engagement and project development, for its Woodbank Community Food Hub.

For more details, see here. The deadline is 18 December 2018.

The Department of Energy and Technology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and SLU Future Food are hiring a postdoc to develop a model to evaluate different dietary patterns aimed at lowering the environmental impact of diets while meeting nutritional recommendations. The model will then be used to evaluate current Swedish and French diets at the individual level as well as diets where dairy products are replaced by plant-based options.

Applicants should have a relevant PhD, experience of modelling, programming and statistical methods, and an interest in environmental issues, food production or human nutrition.

For more details, see here. The application deadline is 31 December 2018.


This webinar, facilitated by Maria Nuutinen of the FAO and Natalia Krasnodebska of the WWF Landscape Finance Lab, will feature the following speakers:

Register to attend here. The webinar will run for 1.5 hours on 28 November 2018, 10:00 CET (09:00 GMT).

The Centre for Food Policy will host a launch event on 5 December 2018 for the 2018 Global Nutrition Report, focusing specifically on the impact of unhealthy diets as a cause of ill health around the world.

Guest speakers will include:

  • The Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State for International Development
  • Dr Jessica Fanzo, Senior Nutrition and Food Systems Officer in the Nutrition and Food Systems Division (ESN) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and GNR Co-Chair
  • Professor Corinna Hawkes, Director, Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London and GNR Co-Chair
  • Dr Johanna Ralston, CEO, World Obesity Federation
  • Gwen Hines, Executive Director for Global Programmes at Save the Children

For more details, see here.