Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Theory, methods and tools

There are different ways to analyse and evaluate impacts from food production and consumption. This section highlights papers that introduce specific methodologies, tools and theories that can be used as a guide or reference when developing a research or policy approach.

Image: Eric Jones, An enclave of grazing land south of Tyddyn Du, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
21 May 2018

Data visualisations by Max Roser and Hannah Ritchie, published at Our World In Data, show global land use types, changes over time and land use in agriculture. For example, a graph shows that half of the Earth’s habitable land surface is used for agriculture, of which 77% is used for livestock (including both grazing land and land for feed production). For comparison, livestock accounts for 17% of global calorie supply and 33% of global protein supply.​

Image: Detmold, FIshing boat, Pixabay, Creative Commons CC0
21 May 2018

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) hopes to use blockchain technology to make the entire seafood supply chain traceable. Working with tech startup TraSeable, fishing company Sea Quest and blockchain company Viant, WWF is running a pilot project to trace tuna through the supply chain by tagging catches with radio-frequency identification chips and QR codes - which can be scanned by a mobile phone.

21 May 2018

This book, edited by Anne Barnhill, Tyler Doggett, and Mark Budolfson, provides an overview of the philosophy of food ethics across a range of subject matter. Topics include genetically modified food, animal sentience, vegan and omnivorous diets, body image, global markets and activism.

Image: George Hodan, Brexit Referendum UK, Public Domain Pictures, Creative Commons CC0
21 May 2018

The report “Brexit: food prices and availability” from the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee of the UK House of Lords examines the potential impacts of Brexit on the UK food supply. 30% of the UK food supply is currently imported from the EU and a further 11% from non-EU countries under terms set by EU trade deals.

Image: USDA, Man shopping in supermarket, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
21 May 2018

Shoppers do not notice sustainability rating logos on packaging, according to a report by QuadPackaging and Package Insight. In the study, 60 participants had their eye movements tracked while “shopping” in a retail laboratory. The products they were presented with were fictional brands with logos claiming different levels of sustainability. The logos did not represent a real sustainability standard. While 40% of the participants said that sustainability affects their purchasing decisions, the eye-tracking technology showed that 92% of the participants did not notice the sustainability logos.

Image: Craig, Oil palms in Malaysia, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
21 May 2018

This paper outlines the difficulties of governing the complex global palm oil supply chain, examines the narratives around the environmental and social sustainability of palm oil and analyses how power dynamics create a fragmented governance structure for palm oil. The author concludes that the palm oil industry has created a narrative in which only “unsustainable” palm oil production is to blame for negative environmental and social effects, and in which “sustainable” palm oil - and an increase in its production - is presented as being beneficial for conservation and local communities.​

Image: United Soybean Board, Soybean harvest, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
21 May 2018

The paper presents land use scenarios that provide enough food for 9 billion people, biodiversity protection and terrestrial carbon storage while staying inside the planetary boundaries for land and water use. The main features of these scenarios are improved agricultural productivity (through reducing the gap between current and maximum potential crop yields, and replacing some ruminant meat production with pork and poultry) and redistribution of agricultural production to areas with relatively high productivity and water supplies but low existing levels of biodiversity.

15 May 2018

The Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) has launched a weekly review of food sustainability news, as well as fortnightly in-depth analyses of specific themes such as women farmers and global water management.

Image: European Space Agency, Central-eastern Brazil, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
15 May 2018

Better models are needed to assess and manage conflicting requirements for ecosystems services from land, a recent paper argues. These “uber integrated assessment models”, as the paper calls them, would help decision-makers to better understand the links between local and global land use policies.

Image: William Warby, Monopoly, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
15 May 2018

Large, powerful companies control much of the US food supply chain, with detrimental effects on consumer choice, food safety and food system resilience, according to a recent paper by researchers from NGO Food & Water Watch. The paper discusses the current “nearly unprecedented wave of food megamergers”, impacts on consumers of grocery consolidation and different types of mergers throughout the food supply chain.

Image: Stacy Spensley, Apple cores, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
9 May 2018

FCRN member Ramy Salemdeeb of Ricardo Energy & Environment used Life Cycle Assessment to calculate 14 different categories of environmental impacts of three food waste management options: incineration, composting and anaerobic digestion. Composting had the lowest impacts in 7 out of the 14 impact categories.

Image: FreeUsePhotos, John Deere 6830, Flickr, Public domain
9 May 2018

This paper looks at how trade liberalisation could impact the effectiveness of climate mitigation policies for non-CO2 emissions in the EU agricultural sector. Three scenarios are modelled: free trade agreements (FTA) alone; an EU carbon tax; and the combination of both.

30 April 2018

The Oxford Long-Term Ecology Lab has published a map of studies published between 1990 and October 2017 that report evidence on the effects of adopting one or more sustainability standards. You can filter the map by several criteria including country, name of standard, commodity covered and research method. Topics covered include agriculture, fishing, forestry and textiles.

24 April 2018

The Nordic Food Policy Lab, which collects and curates Nordic food policy solutions responding to the UN Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, has launched a new email newsletter, Frontiers of Food. The newsletter will contain the latest updates, thoughts and case studies on innovative food policy around the world.

24 April 2018

The World Resources Institute has launched Resource Watch, an online tool for accessing and visualising data about resource use and sustainability issues around the world.

24 April 2018

A report from the WWF examines the environmental impacts, including carbon footprint, associated with four classic British dishes, and identifies twenty risks that climate change poses to the production of these dishes.

Image: Magnascan, Flame, Pixabay, Public Domain
10 April 2018

A recording of the webinar “Methane and global warming in the 21st century” by Bob Howarth of Cornell University is available here.

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