Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Food chain stage

The food chain describes the physical flow of goods from agriculture through processing and distribution, to retailing to eventual consumption and waste disposal. The papers and reports in this category highlight the different issues and impacts associated with each particular stage of the food chain.

3 December 2018

The Food Ethics Council has created a new website about food citizenship, aimed at changemakers in the food and farming system, arguing that it is easier to influence the food system when people think of themselves as citizens rather than consumers.

Image: Free-Photos, Pig animal snout, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
3 December 2018

Facial recognition could be used on pig farms in China to provide individualised feeding plans. The artificial intelligence system, created by a subsidiary of Chinese e-commerce company JD, can also track a pig’s growth, physical condition and vaccinations over its lifespan.

Image: Vladimir Kirakosyan, SAS Supermarket - interior, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
3 December 2018

The global supermarket sector's commitments to protect public health are “generally disappointing”, finds FCRN member Claire Pulker of Curtin University. However, some progress is being made address food waste, assure food safety and quality, and support selection of healthy foods.

28 November 2018

The upcoming book In Defence of Farmers: The Future of Agriculture in the Shadow of Corporate Power, edited by Jane W. Gibson and Sara E. Alexander, uses case studies of farmers to explore the tensions between conflicting views of the role of industrial agriculture.

Image: MaxPixel, Lamb eating, CC0 Public Domain
26 November 2018

A new method for monitoring nutrient concentrations in pasture in real time - using a small near-infrared spectroscopy device - could allow farmers to improve productivity by adjusting livestock grazing patterns, according to this paper.

Image: adege, Garbage Plastic Waste, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
19 November 2018

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).

Image: Shpernik088, The chicken meat industry 14, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
19 November 2018

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: Richard Croft, Tesco Extra, Geograph, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
19 November 2018

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.

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
19 November 2018

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.”

19 November 2018

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

Image: Stefan Walkowski, Antibiogram of Pseudomonas aeruginosa on Mueller-Hinton agar, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
19 November 2018

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.

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
19 November 2018

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: Solar Foods Pic 1, Solar Foods produces an entirely new kind of nutrient-rich protein using only air and electricity, https://solarfoods.fi/about/
12 November 2018

In a column for the Guardian, George Monbiot writes about the potential to create food without plants, animals or soil, using instead bacteria that feed on hydrogen (generated by solar-powered electrolysis of water) and carbon dioxide from the air. Monbiot argues that this form of food production could eventually drastically reduce the amount of land needed for the global food supply chain, and suggests that the new foodstuff could be used as an ingredient in processed foods.

Image: Maia Valenzuela, translucent squid, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
12 November 2018

This paper assesses the possibility that cephalopods, such as squid, octopus and cuttlefish, could become a more important source of food in the future. In contrast to many fish population, cephalopod populations have been rising over the last few decades, possibly due to warmer ocean temperatures. The paper gives an overviews of the nutrients provided by cephalopods and the ways that they can be used as food. The authors also note that some cephalopods, including the octopus, are intelligent and possibly sentient, raising ethical issues over their use as food.

Image: Marco Schmidt, Guiera senegalensis, inflorescence and leaves, SW Burkina Faso, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
12 November 2018

Growing millet next to a woody shrub native to West Africa could increase biomass by over 900% compared to growing millet alone, according to this paper. The shrub, Guiera senegalensis J.F. Gmel, has tap roots that can reach water deep in the soil. The study traced the movement of water from the shrub’s deep roots to the millet stems in a simulated drought.

Image: Pxhere, Organic beef, CC0 Public Domain
12 November 2018

In a paper by FCRN member Johan Karlsson of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, researchers worked together with NGOs to iteratively develop a vision for the future of food production in the Nordic countries. The final vision is based on organic farming and lower meat consumption with livestock fed only on pasture and by-products from food production.

6 November 2018

In this piece for The Conversation, researcher Elise Wach discusses the consolidation of farmland in the UK and rising farmland prices. According to Wach, there were nine times more small farms in England 15 years ago than there are today, and the number of high-intensity large farms is rising swiftly.

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