In the latest FCRN blog post, our founder Tara Garnett examines why the word "veganism" has become a difficult, uncomfortable or dirty word to some environmentalists. She traces how perceptions of veganism have changed over the past couple of decades, noting that veganism's recent surge in popularity has given rise to a backlash whereby veganism is seen (by some) to be linked to intensive arable monocultures, an industrialised food system and alienation from nature. Read the blog post here.
In Fodder this week: A paper models several diets and finds that vegan, two-thirds vegan or “low food chain” diets would, in most countries, lead to greater reductions in carbon and water footprints than lacto-ovo-vegetarian or low red meat diets. Meanwhile, ending hunger without further endangering the environment will probably require tackling overconsumption and food waste in addition to increasing agricultural yields.
The IPCC report on oceans and frozen landscapes shows that ocean warming could increase human exposure to health hazards from seafood, while Feedback has ranked UK supermarkets on their efforts to promote “less and better” meat.
In Fodder this week: The UK’s National Farmers Union has set out its plans for making agriculture in England and Wales net zero by 2040 via approaches that include improved production efficiency, carbon capture through land management, and bioenergy. Meanwhile, the Food Research Collaboration has published two new Brexit briefing papers: one on the impact of a no-deal Brexit on food flows across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; and one on whether food standards in the UK are likely to be lowered as a result of post-Brexit trade deals.
In Fodder this week: FCRN member Peter Alexander was inspired by the British cycling team to apply the approach of multiple marginal gains to the food system, finding that a set of 29 incremental improvements across the supply chain could reduce agricultural land use by between 21% and 37%. The FAO reports that the number of undernourished people is rising, Eating Better makes policy recommendations for halving UK meat and dairy consumption, and the UK’s Food, Farming and Countryside Commission sets out 15 recommendations to policymakers, business and communities.
In Fodder this week: Two papers examine replacements for animal products, with one focusing on developments in the field of cellular agriculture and the other examining both plant-based and cellular products using a “food tech justice” approach - the carbon footprint of food packaging tends to be lower per serving when each package contains multiple servings - and could Brexit enable more small-scale farming and food production on allotments?
In Fodder this week: Scenario analyses could help to envisage future possibilities for food, despite the non-linear and hard-to-predict nature of the food system - converting Irish agriculture to an organic vegan system could produce three times as many calories on 38% of currently used land, argues a report - Feedback investigates the use of wild fish and land by the Scottish farmed salmon sector - and global forest cover could be increased by a quarter without using any current urban or cropland areas.
In Fodder this week: The UK government has launched a year-long review of the food system. Consultation with experts, people throughout the supply chain and a randomly-selected Citizen’s Assembly (a form of sortition), will lead to a new National Food Strategy for England.
Meanwhile, taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages are found to reduce their consumption, a report from the Centre for Food Policy underlines the importance of policymakers considering food as a whole system, and Lancaster University has launched a new research project, Rurban Revolution, on the potential of urban greening and food growing.
In Fodder this week: Food waste in Dutch households has declined between 2010 and 2016 - images of food on children’s clothing often depict unhealthy food types - Sainsbury’s supermarket makes predictions for the food system of 2169 - and a new open-source system uses aerial imagery and deep learning to automatically count and size lettuces in fields, potentially helping farmers to optimise their harvesting times.
In Fodder this week: Emissions of methane from ammonia fertiliser plants in the United States could be one hundred times higher than previously reported - farmland bird abundance in Finland is positively associated with the nearby presence of organic animal farms - a new game for food system stakeholders aims to develop and refine policy ideas - and Greenpeace finds that none of the companies it assessed have been able to demonstrate significant action on eliminating deforestation from their supply chains.
Blog post: Our latest blog post, by Elise Birkett and Anna Davidsen Davies, outlines progress that has been made since the introduction of the latest Brazilian dietary guidelines, which advocate reducing ultra-processed food intakes, increasing plant-based food consumption, and paying attention to the implications of diet, nutrition and food advertising. The post also discusses the policy implications of the current political environment in Brazil.
In Fodder this week: Climate change has probably already impacted food production, finds a modelling paper, which estimates the yield increases and decreases seen across different crop types due to climate change - cultivating edible microorganismscould provide food and feed with lower land use than conventional crop production - a report calls for comprehensive land reform in the UK - and another report calls for the UK to use rewilding to capture carbon and promote biodiversity.
New Building Block: What is environmental efficiency? And is it sustainable? Last week, we published a new Building Block, which introduces the concept of efficiency and explores its relation to food system sustainability. The concept of efficiency and its relation to food sustainability is defined and valued in different ways. Among those who argue that improved efficiency will lead to greater sustainability, there are different interpretations of what improved efficiency actually means. Others still view the quest for efficiency itself to be problematic and its relationship with sustainability potentially oxymoronic.
In Fodder this week: A randomised controlled trial finds that people eat more and gain weight when they are offered diets heavy in ultra-processed foods, compared to diets based on unprocessed foods. Note that the FCRN will shortly publish a new Building Block on ultra-processed foods.
Meanwhile, the Soil Association calls for state schools in the UK to introduce one meat-free day a week in their canteens, while another paper documents difficulties encountered when the Norwegian Armed Forces attempted to introduce Meatless Mondays, and Eating Better calls for sandwich retailers to offer more vegetarian options and improve the labelling of meat-based sandwiches.