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This paper models the global land use change implications of three different dietary scenarios up to the year 2100: business as usual with a continued shift away from pulses and starchy roots and towards animal products; a 95% global reduction in consumption of ruminant products compared to business as usual, with ruminant products to be replaced by cereals, pulses, starchy roots and oilcrops but other meat types to be consumed as in business as usual; and a 95% reduction in consumption of both ruminant and monogastric products.
FCRN member Gesa Biermann of Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich has co-authored this paper, which analyses trends on a popular German recipe website, finding annual growth rates of 16% in vegetarian recipes and 3.5% in vegan recipes between 2005 and 2018.
FCRN member Peter Alexander has co-authored this paper, which finds that incremental improvements in several areas of the food system (including production efficiency, reducing food waste and changing diets) could reduce agricultural land use by between 21% and 37%, depending on adoption rates.
FCRN member Ujué Fresán has co-authored this paper, which calculates the environmental impacts associated with the packaging of several breakfast foods (including orange juice, cereals and peanut butter). For each food product, significant differences in carbon footprint were found, depending on packaging size, packaging materials and brand. Packaging consistently accounted for a lower carbon footprint than production of the food item itself.
This paper argues that animal product alternatives (including both plant-based products and cellular agriculture) are likely to be implemented within the current “corporate food regime” and may not be compatible with a food sovereignty perspective. However, it suggests that using a “food tech justice” lens could guide animal product alternatives towards a role in a food system that considers health, equity and sustainability.
This paper, co-authored by FCRN member Alexandra Sexton (who is part of Oxford’s Livestock, Environment and People project), identifies key moments in the field of cellular agriculture from the past two decades. The first wave of largely university-based research lasted until the 2013 presentation of the cultured burger created at Maastricht University, while the second wave has seen the emergence of a start-up culture.
This paper maps the potential for restoring forests across the world, finding that there is room for a 25% increase in forested area without interfering with existing forests or urban and cropland areas. This could store 205 Gt of carbon after several decades (for comparison, current emissions from fossil fuels and cement production are roughly 10 Gt of carbon each year).
This narrative review paper explores how understanding of nutrition and public health have changed over time, influenced by developments in science, social changes and policy-making. The paper identifies some major paradigm shifts, such as the identification of vitamins in the early 20th century, and the recognition of the link between dietary patterns and some chronic diseases in the late 20th century.
This paper describes four scenarios that reflect ways in which the food system might change in the near future, based on two main factors: dietary shifts and degree of globalisation. The paper suggests that such scenario analyses can be helpful in envisaging future paths beyond “business as usual”, even when the future of the food system is non-linear and hard to predict.
Two letters in the journal Cell Metabolism respond to the recent paper by Hall et al., Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake. See our Building Block on disagreements about ultra-processed foods here: What is ultra-processed food? And why do people disagree about its utility as a concept?
Fisheries often discard large quantities of unwanted catches at sea, but policies are being brought in to limit such discards. According to this paper, Northern gannets (seabirds) rely more on fishery discards in years when there are shortages in their natural prey (mainly mackerel) - shortages that may be due to pressure from fisheries. The paper argues that fishery discards are not an adequate substitute for natural prey.
This book chapter questions the validity of viewing food primarily as a tradable commodity, noting that doing so encouraging policies based on markets, corporate profit and the private enclosure of resources that were previously freely available to all. The authors propose, instead, that food should be viewed as a commons, i.e. a shared resource.
This systematic review of taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) finds that the taxes are associated with a decrease in the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages that are bought and consumed. A 10% tax lead to a 10% decrease in purchase and intake levels, on average, although there was considerable variation between results in different locations.
This paper presents a newly developed open-source system for precision agriculture in lettuce production. The system, known as AirSurf, uses a lightweight manned aircraft to gather images of lettuce fields, then a deep learning algorithm assesses the state of the lettuce crops on a number of characteristics, including lettuce size and number per field.
This paper analysed thousands of items of children’s clothing and found that many feature images of food - particularly on girls’ clothing - and that those images often depict unhealthy food types.
According to this paper, households in the Netherlands wasted 41kg of solid food per person in 2016 - a 15% decline since 2010. Furthermore, 57 litres per person of potable liquids such as coffee, tea and milk are disposed of via the sink or toilet each year. Rice, bread, pasta, vegetables and pastries are among the food types most likely to be wasted (as a percentage of purchased quantity).
This paper sets out a new method to account for nutrition in the functional unit of life cycle assessments of single foods. The method accounts for the wider dietary context of each food type, which is found to affect the results relative to using either mass as a functional unit, or another nutrient-based functional unit that does not consider the dietary context.