Knowledge for better food systems

Fodder: The FCRN Newsletter

We send out a weekly newsletter which provides an essential round-up of food sustainability-relevant publications, articles, jobs and events. Sign up to receive it, or better still join as an FCRN member and connect with our diverse network of members.


Research library

Journals and Journal Articles

Photo: harmishhk, "éolienne", Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.

This study presents estimates of how changes in climate might affect the value of European farmland. Based on data for over 41 000 farms, the results suggest that their economic value could drop by up to 32%, depending on the climate scenario considered. The models represent severe, moderate and mild outcomes, respectively.  Farms in southern Europe are particularly sensitive to climate change and could suffer value losses of up to 9% per 1 °C rise.

Photo: United Soybean Board, "Corn field", Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.

This article examines how big food companies contend with some of the issues involved in efforts to improve the sustainability of their raw material supply chains. It argues that these large companies often operate in long, complex, and traditionally non-transparent supply chains that make it difficult for them to exert real influence over producers. ‘Big food’ is the description given to the world’s largest and most influential companies in the food and beverages markets.

Reports

This report from the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) looks at how cities are finding innovative ways to implement food policies. It focuses on five case studies of cities that have developed concerted urban food policies − to either ensure access to decent, nutritious food for all, to support farm livelihoods or to mitigate climate change. 

Member research

FCRN member ffinlo Costain has alerted us to this report produced by Farmwel. Farmwel is an NGO working to generate momentum towards sustainable and accountable mainstream agriculture, focussing on the environment, people's livelihoods, and farm animal welfare. This blueprint report was produced with the additional support of the Conservative Environment Network, and the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation.

Photo: Jason Jacobs, “Fields of green”, Flickr, Creative commons licence 2.0

This paper discusses EU climate and agriculture policy instruments and analyses how these can motivate farmers to adopt soil carbon sequestration projects. 

News

Photo: Loco Steve, Flickr, Creative commons licence 2.0

This master thesis study from the London School of Economics shows how consumers are 56% less likely to order a plant-based dish when it is labelled vegetarian and categorised in a separate section on menus

Resources

Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Flickr, Creative commons licence 2.0

A new resource has been created by the Carbon Brief, which brings together data from a number of indicators that show the effects of climate change, showing trends in our climate, atmosphere, oceans, and the cryosphere (ice) 

Opportunities

The Good Food Institute’s work centres around how to use food technology to solve some of the world’s biggest problems, from climate change and global hunger to antibiotic efficacy and the exploitation of billions of animals annually. GFI is focused on using markets and food technology to transform our food system away from factory farmed animal products and toward clean meat and plant-based alternatives.

The Institute’s Environmental Health Scientist will play a critical role in ensuring that a good food future develops as quickly and efficiently as possible. At GFI, you will be a compelling voice highlighting the inherent unsustainability and environmental harms of conventional animal agriculture and an advocate for people whose lives are devastated by factory farming. By humanizing the urgent need to move beyond animal agriculture, you will spur individuals and institutions to promote and develop healthy, sustainable, and humane plant-based and “clean meat” products.

As the Environmental Health Scientist you will be the expert on the detrimental impacts of factory farming on the environment and also on the significant environmental benefits of plant-based and clean meat products.

NB. The Good Food Institute can only consider applicants who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States, or who already possess a United States Worker Visa. All applicants must live in the United States.

Note that GFI is accepting applications on a rolling basis.

See the full job description here and other job roles available at GFI here.

Present efforts to reduce the rate of loss of UK farmland biodiversity are by and large failing. A new approach is needed. This interdisciplinary PhD uses Positive Deviance (PD) to identify the social and environmental factors associated with higher levels of farmland biodiversity than would be expected, based on the characteristics of the farm (e.g. which part of the country it is in, or whether the farmer is a member of a higher level stewardship scheme). Through understanding why some farms seem to exceed expectations, you will identify 1) the land management strategies implemented by PD farmers and 2) the social and behavioural factors that underlie these strategies. A country-wide assessment of PD in existing large-scale datasets will lead to a more detailed analysis of PD within a region based on existing data and field assessments, and then to a more qualitative understanding of the factors underlying PD in individual cases. This hierarchical approach will give a nuanced understanding of the factors underpinning PD at a range of scales.

The PD approach has not been previously used in ecology, and is just starting to be applied in conservation (e.g. Cinner et al., 2016 Nature). Hence this is an exciting early application of a methodology that takes a positive approach to understanding and scaling up conservation success.

This project will give the student skills which are highly applicable to a wide range of interdisciplinary questions in conservation (including ecological and social fieldwork, statistical modelling, GIS and analysis of big datasets) and will produce a novel and high profile study with relevance to policymakers in the UK and worldwide.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to communicate with potential supervisors prior to submitting an application to explain why you want to work in your chosen field of study, to answer any questions on research projects and to refine your application, especially if applying for competitive scholarships.

The projects available for prospective D.Phil students beginning October 2017 can be found using the link below.

Read more here.

Events

To achieve nutrition for all, food and nutrition professionals need an understanding of ecological sustainability issues such as biodiversity, soil health, loss of farmland, climate change, and pollution and how these impact what, where, when, and how we grow food, and achieve nutrition security.

This webinar examines: “What is dietary guidance for ecological sustainability?” and “Why is it important for nutrition professionals?” Using the attention sustainability received during the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a launching point, this session explores how ecological sustainable issues can be incorporated into nutrition education, and local, state and Federal nutrition policy.

Speakers include:

Pamela A. Koch, EdD, RD, Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Columbia University; Miriam E. Nelson, PhD, University of New Hampshire, Tufts University; Angela M. Tagtow, MS, RD, LD, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, University of Minnesota College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Services

The recording is available here.

We would like to highlight FCRN’s open online learning resource on food systems and sustainability here as well. You can browse through its current 10 chapters, including two on sustainable healthy diets and policy here.

This event on the topic ‘Insects for feed or food’ will be organised in Belgium in November 2017 and is an initiative of Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Liège.

Questions to be explored are:

  • Should we eat insects or feed our animals?
  • Could insects be useful in (veterinary) medicine?
  • What can we learn from Southern countries?
  • Are insect-derived products safe?

Take a look at the conference website for more details.