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 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.

18 February 2020

This article in the Guardian, by food writer Bee Wilson, author of The Way We Eat Now, describes the debate around so-called ultra-processed foods. Wilson describes the classification system for processed foods developed by researcher Carlos Monteiro and the research being done on the health impacts of ultra-processed foods.

18 February 2020

This blog post by Shefali Sharma of the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy says that agriculture and the people whose livelihoods depend on it must be core considerations in international climate negotiations. Sharma argues that proposed solutions such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and carbon credits simply allow existing industries to continue increasing their emissions.

18 February 2020

UK waste charity WRAP has published guidance on compostable plastic packaging, aimed at retailers and manufacturers. The guidance covers what compostable plastics are, how they might contaminate conventional plastic recycling processes, how to label them appropriately to help people dispose of them, and six applications where compostable plastic packaging is likely to be beneficial within the UK’s current waste management infrastructure.

18 February 2020

FCRN member ffinlo Costain has published a response to the paper Climate change: ‘no get out of jail free card’ (summarised on the FCRN website here). Costain argues that biological methane emissions - such as those from grazing livestock - can be “warming neutral” as long as they fall by 10% by 2050. Citing Oxford climate scientist Myles Allen, Costain argues that sharply cutting ruminant numbers would only deliver a warming reduction of 0.1ºC at most, which would be outweighed within a few years by continuing carbon dioxide emissions.

18 February 2020

This review paper examines how people are increasingly using the ocean - even previously inaccessible areas - for seafood, animal feed, nutraceuticals (such as omega-3 fatty acids), fuels and minerals, shipping, waste disposal and many other purposes. It argues that the view of the ocean as being too big to be affected by humans is now outdated, and that effective governance is required to manage the ocean’s ecological health while allowing sustainable use of its resources.

10 February 2020

This blog post, by Caroline Grunewald and Dan Blaustein-Rejto of the Breakthrough Institute (a US think tank), argues that the large scale of much American farming does not mean it is necessarily unsustainable - rather, when looking at the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions, land use and water use per unit of output, dramatic improvements have been seen since 1961.

10 February 2020

This book outlines the latest information on how food supply chains in cities can be managed sustainably, focusing on circular economy models. 

10 February 2020

Dairy company Arla has commissioned this report by the Institute for European Environmental Policy, which sets out a vision for how the European dairy sector can become more sustainable in the future, balancing environmental, economic and social considerations.

10 February 2020

This paper assesses the rate of soil erosion in different countries, aiming to separate the effect of varying landscapes from the effect of different national territories, e.g. through different agricultural policies or management patterns. As an example of a sharp discontinuity in soil erosion between neighbouring countries, visible on satellite images, the paper shows the difference between Haiti (with a high soil erosion rate) and the Dominican Republic (with greater forest cover and a lower soil erosion rate) - two countries that would have similar natural soil erosion rates in the absence of human activity. 

3 February 2020

This podcast from global food community Food Matters Live discusses the effect that veganism has recently had on the food industry, how plant-based food and drink is likely to develop throughout 2020, and how the media and food companies talk about plant-based foods.

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