Knowledge for better food systems

Fodder: The FCRN food sustainability newsletter

The FCRN’s weekly newsletter on food sustainability, Fodder, rounds up the latest journal papers, reports, books, jobs, events and more. Sign up to receive it here.

Network updates

In Fodder this week

Feeding shrimp with plants instead of fishmeal could reduce pressure on marine resources, but the trade-off is greater consumption of freshwater, land and fertiliser - new European Union food labelling regulations could ban vegetarian foods from being described as burgers or steaks - a report calls for the right to food to be integrated into Scottish law - and researchers call for policymakers to support both organic agriculture and improvements in conventional agriculture.

Greenhouse Gas and Dietary choices Open source Toolkit hack events

FCRN members Ximena Schmidt, Sarah Bridle and Christian Reynolds are hosting a series of hack events where participants can explore datasets on eating patterns and carbon footprint. The first of three events will be held at Brunel University, London on 2 May 2019.

Research library

Image: Max Pixel, Produce Grocery Farm, CC0 Public Domain

FCRN members Verena Seufert and Adrian Müller have contributed to this commentary, which outlines a set of policy measures for changing agricultural practices to be in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. The proposed policy measures include supporting organic agriculture.

Image: Sander van der Wel, Full shopping cart (seen from above), Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

This paper by FCRN member Claire Pulker of Curtin University analyses the presence and quality of supermarket corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies related to all attributes of public health nutrition, including sustainability. The paper audited Australian supermarket own brand foods to establish the extent to which CSR policies are translated into practice.

Image: Eric, Cooked shrimp, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

This paper quantifies the resource use implications of replacing fishmeal with plant-based ingredients in the feed used to farm shrimp. It finds that increasing the proportion of plant-based ingredients in shrimp feed could reduce pressure on marine resources, at the cost of increased use of freshwater, land and fertiliser.

This report from the US-based campaigning organisation Changing Markets Foundation examines the impacts of catching wild fish to feed to farmed fish in aquaculture operations, i.e. reduction fisheries.

This report from the Scottish Human Rights Commission (an independent public body) to the Scottish Government argues that people should have a legal right to food, and that public authorities should solve inequalities in access to adequate food.

This book by David McClements discusses scientific and technological advances (such as gene editing, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence) in the food system, and outlines both potential benefits to people and the environment and concerns over how the technologies might be used.

This book gives an overview of aquaponics systems, i.e. combined production of fish and crops, and their social, economic and environmental implications.

According to the BMJ (British Medical Journal), the World Health Organisation pulled out of sponsoring a launch event for the EAT-Lancet report on healthy and sustainable diets after Gian Lorenzo Cornado, Italy’s ambassador to the United Nations, questioned the health and economic impacts of the report’s largely plant-based diet recommendations.

Image: Shpernik088, Vegan burger, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

The European parliament’s agriculture committee has approved a ban on using words such as ‘burger’, ‘sausage’, ‘steak’ or ‘escalope’ to name vegetarian food products. The proposal will not become law unless approved by the full parliament, which will not vote on the issue until after May 2019’s elections.

The Swedish EAT Forum has produced a series of podcasts that examine how the findings of the EAT-Lancet report on healthy diets from sustainable food systems can be translated into action.


The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has produced an online course, “The national greenhouse gas inventory for land use”, which shows how to assess greenhouse gas emissions and removals from the land use sector. It focuses on the biological and physical processes that produce greenhouse gas fluxes.

The course is aimed at staff in relevant national agencies tasked with the preparation of the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory for the land use sector.

Find out more here. There is no deadline to join the course.

The Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (established by the World Wide Fund for Nature) would like to set up an African Sustainable Seafood Information Hub. The purpose of the hub will be to create a central information hub for work/programmes being undertaken, insights and collaborations on sustainable seafood, consumer guides and awareness campaigns, retailer programmes, etc.

If the proposed hub is of interest to you, complete a short survey to indicate your preferred method of communication. The communication portal will be managed and administered by the WWF-SA SASSI team.

Take the survey here. There is no deadline.

Sustainability consultancy 3Keel is seeking to hire a consultant or senior consultant with an understanding of the social and environmental issues in the production and supply chains of key soft commodities including soy, palm oil, timber, pulp and paper, cocoa and cotton.

Candidates should be able to rapidly research and distill complex topics, write in a clear and engaging style, have excellent verbal communication, and be proficient in Excel.

Read more here (PDF link). The deadline is 6 May 2019.

East London social enterprise Growing Communities is hiring a senior manager to staff running its outreach-focused work streams as well as holding responsibility for operations, human resources and organisational planning.

Candidates should have experience of running or helping to run a business, financial management experience, knowledge of Excel and Powerpoint, and preferably knowledge of the sustainable/local food sector.

For more details, see here. The deadline is 6 May 2019.


This free conference on 27 April will bring scientists and campaigners together to discuss the links between human population growth and loss of biodiversity, including demand for food, water, land, and other resources.

The conference, hosted by UK charity Population Matters, is open to the public.

Read more here.

The Food+Tech Meetup group in New York will host a talk on 30 April 2019 on the topic of “Rethinking protein”. The event will discuss alternative proteins such as plant-based food and cell-cultured meat.

The speakers will be:

  • Courtney Boyd Myers, Co-Founder & CEO of AKUA
  • Gavin McIntyre, Co-Founder & Director of Ecovative
  • Brian Rudolph, Co-Founder & CEO of Banza

Read more here.

The REFRESH Community of Experts on food waste will host a webinar on 2 May 2019 discussing how retailers can identify and measure food waste hotspots.

Read more here.

This webinar on 16 May 2019, hosted by independent Swiss development organisation Helvetas, will discuss how policy can drive changes in the Swiss and Indian food systems to help meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

Read more here and join the webinar using this link.

The Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food will host this talk on 16 May 2019, where researcher Nicolas Treich will set out an economic framework to examine the relationship between individuals’ consumption of meat and their perception of the well-being of animals raised for consumption.

Read more here.

The Greenhouse Gas and Dietary choices Open source Toolkit (GGDOT) project funded by N8 Agrifood is running a series of hack events to develop tools for estimating the contribution of food to greenhouse gas emissions. The first will be on 2 May 2019 at Brunel University, London.

The GGDOT hosts, including FCRN members Ximena Schmidt, Sarah Bridle and Christian Reynolds, have created a database and some Python tools, which show a breakdown of emissions and nutrition for a set of foods that participants can specify.

Data hackers could play with different foods to try to find a nutritious and tasty low carbon diet, work on improving the visualisation of this complex dataset, think of optimisation tools, work with nutrition and emissions experts to improve the content, and/or participate in the hack event competition to win £100 of Amazon vouchers.

Nutrition, emissions and psychology experts could offer input to improve the content of the toolkit including using other dietary databases, improving the matching with carbon footprint databases, improve the data visualisations, and/or to participate in the competition for Amazon vouchers.

The GGDOT hosts are also interested in receiving input for developing outreach activities on this topic, including games for the upcoming stand Take a Bite out of Climate Change at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2019.

There are three events in this series (all running from 14:00 – 17:00 BST):

Email to join the GGDOT mailing list for information about code releases and other events.