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.

10 March 2020

This book describes Lume, a method for analysing the economic and ecological impacts of agroecological farming systems. It includes a case study of family farms in a region of Brazil affected by droughts.

10 March 2020

French non-profit Solagro has released an English version of this report, which presents the Afterres2050 scenario: a bottom-up assessment of the future of the French food system. The scenario was developed in consultation with farmers, foresters, nutritionists, community representatives, etc. as well as a multidisciplinary scientific council. 

10 March 2020

This report sets out the results of the European Union-funded REFRESH Project: Resource Efficient Food and dRink for the Entire Supply cHain. The project aimed to reduce food waste in the EU by developing an evidence base on consumer and business behaviour, assessing the environmental benefits of avoiding food waste, and designing technology to add value to food waste streams.

10 March 2020

This report from the Dutch non-profit Access to Nutrition Foundation and UK charity ShareAction analyses the extent to which the 10 largest supermarket chains are reporting their progress on diet, nutrition and health. It finds that current levels of disclosure are sparse and varied between stores, with no store reporting on more than 35% of the indicators assessed in this report. Sainsbury’s supermarket has the greatest extent of reporting.

10 March 2020

According to this meta-analysis of 60 studies, cover crops on agricultural land can increase soil microbial abundance, activity, and diversity relative to land left bare between crops, with the effect varying with climate and how the farm is managed (e.g. tilling). The paper does not discuss the extent to which this change in soil microbiome affects crop yields.

10 March 2020

This paper sets out how far different sources of methane (both agricultural and non-agricultural) can be reduced by 2050, via technical changes. It argues that since methane accounts for about 40% of the warming effect of all greenhouse gases in the short term (because of its high Global Warming Potential but short atmospheric lifetime), reducing methane emissions is therefore useful for mitigating climate change between now and 2050.

10 March 2020

This paper reviews initiatives for conserving insects and argues that they must be expanded globally to protect insect populations. It also argues that the value of insects to society must be better communicated to people, e.g. through focusing on the benefits of iconic insect species or particular landscapes. 

3 March 2020

This article in the San Francisco Chronicle discusses three synthetic (or “molecular”) alcoholic drinks produced by US startup Endless West: wine, whiskey and sake. The drinks are produced by mixing plain alcohol (from corn) with natural flavourings (e.g. from plants or yeasts) rather than traditional distillation methods (e.g. fermenting grapes to make wine). 

3 March 2020

This book takes a philosophical approach to the “raw vegan” diet. It discusses the ethics of eating animal products, including laboratory-grown meat, and further argues that cooking food encourages people to eat foods that are not healthy.

3 March 2020

This book examines a variety of regenerative farming systems, including agroecology, indigenous food systems, small-scale fisheries, food sharing, coffee micro-mills, foraging and reuse of food waste.

3 March 2020

This policy update from the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs sets out a timeline for planned agricultural policy changes for England over the next few years. Policies are likely to be shaped by the recommendations of the National Food Strategy review, to be released in winter 2020. This policy update discusses measures for protecting food security as the UK adjusts to leaving the European Union, and sets out the proposed Environmental Land Management scheme to replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.

3 March 2020

This report by Hong Kong media platform Green Queen gives an overview of alternative protein startups in Asia, in the categories of cultivated protein (e.g. laboratory-grown meat), modern processed plant-based products, and whole-food alternatives (such as jackfruit or lion’s mane mushrooms, which are sometimes used to mimic the texture of meat despite not having the same protein content). The authors argue that Asia’s alternative protein industry is likely to overtake US and European brands because of demand from Asia’s growing middle class, relatively low production costs and products that are tailored to local tastes.

3 March 2020

This report from the UK’s RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission examines four key areas of Devon’s food system: grassland and livestock production, environment and biodiversity, health and thriving communities, and new entrants to farming.

3 March 2020

This report from the UK’s Eating Better alliance argues that replacing red meat with chicken is not a sustainable solution, and that growing consumption of poultry meat comes with costs to health, the environment, animal welfare and rural livelihoods. The report calls for reduced chicken consumption in the UK (to be replaced with plant proteins such as beans and nuts), and shifting away from intensive chicken farming towards “mixed and regenerative farming systems”.

3 March 2020

Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic formed as larger pieces break down in the environment, or else intentionally manufactured (e.g. as microbeads for cleaning products or pellets for industrial use). This paper reviews the current state of knowledge on their human health implications and effects on ecosystems. 

26 February 2020

This paper by Verma et al., with FCRN member Thom Achterbosch as co-author, estimates that consumers across the world are probably wasting over twice as much food as previously believed. The study is based on the FAOSTAT Food Balance Sheets, but goes further than the Food and Agriculture Organisation in that it factors in how consumer affluence affects food waste. It finds that once people spend more than $6.70 per day (in total, not just on food), food waste starts to rise - suggesting that consumer food waste is an issue even in lower-middle income countries, not only in wealthier countries.

24 February 2020

This book addresses food waste from a variety of perspectives, including agriculture, food science, industrial ecology, history, economics, consumer behaviour, geography, theology, planning, sociology, and environmental policy.

24 February 2020

This paper finds that, as climate change causes the geographical shift of areas suitable for growing certain crops, the potential changes in land use could have impacts on biodiversity, water resources and soil carbon storage. So-called “agriculture frontiers” - areas of land not currently suitable for producing crops but that might become suitable in future due to shifts in temperature or rainfall - cover an area nearly one-third as big as current agricultural land area.

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