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This podcast by The Institute for Government, a UK think tank, explores how expert advice shapes decisions in government. It uses the COVID-19 pandemic as an example and also refers to other topics such as climate change.
The UK’s Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) reports that its members have distributed 175% more emergency food parcels during April 2020 than during April 2019. The data covers 112 organisations operating 213 independent food banks across the UK. The number of people supported by or referred to these food banks was 132% greater when comparing across the same time periods.
This blog post from US think tank The Breakthrough Institute examines uncertainties around the environmental impacts of cultured meat. It points out that estimates of the carbon footprint of cultured meat are highly variable, and that the impacts of switching to cultured meat depend on what it is replacing in the diet (e.g. beef, poultry, plant-based meats or tofu).
The Global Alliance for the Future of Food held the Salzburg Process on the Climate Emergency and the Future of Food in May 2020. In this blog post, Ruth Richardson (Executive Director of the Global Alliance) reflects on lessons learned from holding the event virtually because of COVID-19, rather than physically as originally planned.
This opinion piece on The Poultry Site by FCRN member Laura Higham of FAI Farms considers the nature and food systems dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the steps we must take to redefine our relationship with animals and the natural world.
In this episode of the Futuremakers podcast, Dr Monika Zurek and Dr Jim Woodhill of the Food Systems Group at the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute discuss the future of food in the light of population growth, dietary choices and technologies such as lab-grown meat.
Local authorities in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the COVID-19 virus is thought to have originally started spreading to humans, have announced a ban on eating wild animals along with a ban on hunting wild animals except for scientific research or population regulation. The city will also buy out wild animal breeders.
An amendment to guarantee that post-Brexit food imports meet the same standards required of British food producers has been dropped from the UK’s agriculture bill, to the dismay of several food, farming and nature organisations.
According to this article in the Guardian, slaughterhouses in several countries are being badly affected by COVID-19 outbreaks, with the US being particularly affected. The factors behind the outbreaks are thought to include crowded working conditions, a workforce who often live in shared houses, people working despite being ill because of economic insecurity, and the slaughterhouses not being shut down during the pandemic.
FCRN member Mark Driscoll has written this blog post, which argues that sustainable, healthy diets are key to building back better food systems after the COVID-19 pandemic. Driscoll points to three opportunities for rebuilding resilience in the food system: shorter supply chains and the decentralisation of food production; introducing more diversity of “visions, approaches, actors, crops, and culinary diversity” into the food system; and schemes that give citizens more agency over food systems.
According to this article by Civil Eats, some farmers in the Great Plains of the United States are sowing “chaos gardens” - fields of mixed fruit and vegetable plants such as peas, squash, radish, okra, melons and sweet corn - as cover crops between the soy and corn that are the dominant crops in the area. The produce is harvested by volunteers and donated to food banks or other community groups.
This blog post John Lynch of Oxford’s Livestock, Environment and People programme asks whether we can keep farming cows and sheep without dangerously warming the planet. He points out that it is possible to maintain stable temperatures without eliminating methane emissions entirely (in contrast to CO2 where emissions have to fall to net zero to tackle climate change). However, ruminant methane emissions are currently increasing. Furthermore, ruminants use a lot of land, some of which could be used for other purposes that might sequester more carbon.
This piece from nonprofit food media outlet The Counter explains why some farmers in the US have been dumping surplus food during the COVID-19 pandemic, at the same time that food banks are struggling to source enough food.
This blog post by Caroline Grunewald of US think tank The Breakthrough Institute argues that a global food system offers greater resilience against local production failures than a local food system, contrary to narratives that the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the fragile nature of the global food system and that local food systems are more resilient.
The UK’s Food Ethics Council has published a write-up of its event “#FoodTalks: From emergency to recovery”, which was held on 28 April 2020. The event discussed how the UK’s food system can move towards resilience and fairness during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This opinion piece by Liz Specht of the US Good Food Institute argues that taking animals out of the global food system - for example by replacing animal products with plant-based or cultivated meat products - can reduce the risk of future pandemics. Specht notes that zoonotic diseases usually pass to humans during the hunting or slaughter of wild animals or livestock.
This podcast by the Green Alliance (a UK charity) is an interview with Professor Tim Lang about his new book Feeding Britain. The book was written before the coronavirus crisis, but the interview explores how the crisis is affecting the UK’s food system. The podcast also discusses food rationing, inequality and the links between food policy and the economy, defence, risk, nature and biodiversity.