Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Food security and nutrition

In 1996, the World Food Summit stated that food security ‘exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.’ This definition encompasses four key elements: 1) the physical availability of food, 2) the legal, political, economic and social arrangements which assure access to food, 3) the ability to utilise food through adequate diet, clean water, sanitation and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being, and 4) the stability of all these factors across time. Today, just under 800 million people are undernourished. Compounding this problem, changing dietary patterns (sometimes referred to as the ‘nutrition transition’) brought on by the processes of globalisation mean that, obesity is also now a growing problem, and many developing and emerging countries now find themselves presented with a ‘double burden’ of poor nutrition. Over 2 billion people worldwide are now overweight or obese and most of these are to be found in middle and low income countries simply because their populations are so great. Overlapping with these numbers some 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies (most commonly of iron, vitamin A and iodine) which causes physical and cognitive problems, particularly in children and women of childbearing age.

15 October 2020

UK-based regenerative farming podcast Farmerama Radio has produced a new podcast series called “Who Feeds Us?”, dedicated to the stories of food producers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The first episode in the series, “The hungry gap”, covers localised food provision in the early stages of the pandemic.

15 October 2020

Members of the UK’s parliament have rejected amendments to the Agriculture Bill that were intended to ensure that food imported to the UK after 1 January 2021 meets domestic standards. Ministers are concerned that the amendments could prevent post-Brexit trade deals from being negotiated. Campaigners are concerned that, without the amendments, food imports could be lower quality and be linked to poorer animal welfare.

15 October 2020

In this book (published 21 October 2020), farmer and social scientist Chris Smaje argues that a localised food system built around small-scale farming offers a sustainable, resilient solution to climate change and ecological crises.

15 October 2020

This paper argues that the COVID-19 pandemic requires a policy response that significantly reforms the structure of the food system. It examines how policy responses to past food crises have shaped the present system, how COVID-19 is different to past food crises and which policy responses could build a more resilient future food system.

6 October 2020

The UK’s Food, Farming and Countryside Commission has launched a new website called Trade Unwrapped, which aims to host conversations about “decisions being made about the UK’s new trading relationships and the impact they’ll have on our everyday lives.”

6 October 2020

This report from the UK charity the Food Foundation sets out ten metrics which could be used to gauge the health of the UK’s food system. Compared to 2019, the report finds improvement in the following metrics: wages in the food industry, products with too much sugar, and products with not enough vegetables. Deterioration has been seen in food prices (note that figures are only available until the first quarter of 2020 and thus do not capture the full impacts of COVID-19) and in places to buy healthy food.

27 August 2020

According to this article from POLITICO, dairy farmers in West Africa are being undercut by exports of “fat-filled milk powder” from the European Union. This product is a blend of dairy whey left over from processes such as butter manufacture and vegetable fats such as palm oil. 

27 August 2020

This book uses case studies from across the world to examine the history of food insecurity and the role that food sovereignty could play in mitigating hunger.

21 July 2020

FCRN member Allison Gacad has written this article on how epigenetic modification of plants could enhance food security by enabling crops to activate or deactivate certain genes depending on environmental conditions.

21 July 2020

This paper by FCRN member Eric Toensmeier argues that perennial vegetables (those grown on plants that live for more than two years) are underappreciated as a source of nutrients, as a means of sequestering carbon and as beneficial to biodiversity.

14 July 2020

This book uses case studies from Africa, Asia and Latin America to argue that, in the right circumstances, home gardens can help to supply people with food and income. It explores how home gardening relates to gender, food security, resilience and poverty alleviation.

14 July 2020

This discussion paper by the international Food and Land Use Coalition sets out a framework for understanding the impacts of COVID-19 on food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It finds that the cost of a basic food basket has increased during the first quarter of 2020 by over 10% in nine SSA countries and by 5-10% in eight other SSA countries.

14 July 2020

In this paper, FCRN member David Willer argues that bivalve shellfish aquaculture could provide a nutritious and low-impact source of protein to nearly one billion people, particularly in the tropics.  

23 June 2020

This explanatory note from the UK’s Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology defines food system resilience, gives examples of threats to the food system, outlines some questions to consider when visualising a more resilient food system, and describes recent policy developments on food system resilience.

17 June 2020

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. 

17 June 2020

This report by UK charity the Soil Association argues that COVID-19 has highlighted the fragility of long supply chains, and that supporting shorter supply chains will make the food system more resilient and sustainable. It also gives examples of localised food supply initiatives in the UK.

17 June 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic, mitigation measures and the emerging global recession could cause food disruption on a scale not seen for more than half a century, according to this policy brief from the United Nations. The UN calls for large-scale coordinated action to protect health and nutrition.

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