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.

Image: Solar Foods Pic 1, Solar Foods produces an entirely new kind of nutrient-rich protein using only air and electricity, https://solarfoods.fi/about/
12 November 2018

In a column for the Guardian, George Monbiot writes about the potential to create food without plants, animals or soil, using instead bacteria that feed on hydrogen (generated by solar-powered electrolysis of water) and carbon dioxide from the air. Monbiot argues that this form of food production could eventually drastically reduce the amount of land needed for the global food supply chain, and suggests that the new foodstuff could be used as an ingredient in processed foods.

Image: Maia Valenzuela, translucent squid, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
12 November 2018

This paper assesses the possibility that cephalopods, such as squid, octopus and cuttlefish, could become a more important source of food in the future. In contrast to many fish population, cephalopod populations have been rising over the last few decades, possibly due to warmer ocean temperatures. The paper gives an overviews of the nutrients provided by cephalopods and the ways that they can be used as food. The authors also note that some cephalopods, including the octopus, are intelligent and possibly sentient, raising ethical issues over their use as food.

Image: Marco Schmidt, Guiera senegalensis, inflorescence and leaves, SW Burkina Faso, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
12 November 2018

Growing millet next to a woody shrub native to West Africa could increase biomass by over 900% compared to growing millet alone, according to this paper. The shrub, Guiera senegalensis J.F. Gmel, has tap roots that can reach water deep in the soil. The study traced the movement of water from the shrub’s deep roots to the millet stems in a simulated drought.

Image: Pxhere, Organic beef, CC0 Public Domain
12 November 2018

In a paper by FCRN member Johan Karlsson of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, researchers worked together with NGOs to iteratively develop a vision for the future of food production in the Nordic countries. The final vision is based on organic farming and lower meat consumption with livestock fed only on pasture and by-products from food production.

6 November 2018

In this piece for The Conversation, researcher Elise Wach discusses the consolidation of farmland in the UK and rising farmland prices. According to Wach, there were nine times more small farms in England 15 years ago than there are today, and the number of high-intensity large farms is rising swiftly.

6 November 2018

This book, by David Lindenmayer, Damian Michael, Mason Crane, Daniel Florance and Emma Burns, describes best practice approaches for restoring Australian farm woodlands for birds, mammals and reptiles.

6 November 2018

Sustainable Manufacturing and Recycling Technologies (SMART), a research and development centre at Loughborough University, has produced a post-event report of its expert panel discussion on reducing the impact of food waste held on 12 October 2018. The topics discussed include the influence of multibuy offers on food waste, the links between single-use packaging and food waste, the impacts of “wonky veg” ranges in supermarkets, and smart fridges.

6 November 2018

13% of the UK population is now vegetarian or vegan, while a further 21% identify as “flexitarian”, according to the 2018-19 edition of the Food and Drink Report by supermarket chain Waitrose & Partners. Among other food trends, the report also discusses plastic packaging, claiming that 88% of survey participants who had watched the final episode of the wildlife documentary Blue Planet II have changed how they use plastic.

Image: Engin_Akyurt, Beer Alcohol The Drink, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
6 November 2018

According to a survey of US beer drinkers, 59% would be willing to pay more for beer that has been brewed using more sustainable processes, such as energy efficiency or carbon saving measures. On average, respondents were willing to pay $0.22 more per 12-ounce bottle than the price they already paid for their favourite beer ($1.69 per 12-ounce bottle).

Image: Akarsh Simha, Spraying pesticide, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
6 November 2018

Researchers have called for governments to phase out organophosphate pesticides in agriculture, ban their non-agricultural uses, and take steps to reduce human exposure to organophosphates. The researchers’ argument is based on systematic reviews that link foetal organophosphate exposure to adverse effects on the development of children’s brain and nervous system.

Image: Pxhere, Cow milk cow, CC0 Public Domain
29 October 2018

A case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as “mad cow disease”, has been confirmed on a farm in Aberdeenshire. The case was discovered before entering the human food chain, and Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon has said that all necessary measures have been taken to protect consumers.

Image: Elmastudio, jippi, our kale is growing beautifully in the garden, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
29 October 2018

Two commentary pieces question the findings of the study “Association of Frequency of Organic Food Consumption With Cancer Risk”, which claims that higher organic food consumption is associated with a lower risk of cancer. The pieces point out that only two cancer types showed a statistically significant reduction in risk, and that the reduction in cancer risk only appeared to hold true for older women, not men, younger adults or people with a high overall quality of diet.

29 October 2018

The book “Organic Food and Farming in China: Top-down and Bottom-up Ecological Initiatives”, by Steffanie Scott, Zhenzhong Si, Theresa Schumilas and Aijuan Chen, examines the development of the organic food sector in China and its influences from both the state and grassroots actors.

29 October 2018

This report from the UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board reviews how the behaviour of farmers might be influenced so that the recommendations of researchers and policymakers can be implemented on farms.

Image: Garry Knight, Fruit and veg, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
29 October 2018

The global agricultural system doesn’t produce enough fruit, vegetables and protein to meet the nutritional needs of the world’s population, according to this paper. Meanwhile, grains, fats and sugars are overproduced, relative to what is needed for a healthy diet (defined in this paper as a diet in accordance with the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate (HHEP)).

22 October 2018

The book “Feeding the world: Brazil’s transformation into a modern agricultural economy”, by Herbert S. Klein and Francisco Vidal Luna, examines the development of Brazil’s agricultural production, provides a historical understanding of the changes in Brazil’s economy, and explains Brazil’s impact on the world food system.

Image: ChriKo, Male Locusta migratoria migratorioides photographed in Katavi National Park, Tanzania, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
22 October 2018

Losses of wheat, rice and maize to insects could increase by 10 to 25% per degree Celsius of climate warming, according to this paper. This is due to two main factors: insects have faster metabolisms at higher temperatures and therefore need to eat more; and insect population growth rates will also change with temperature.

Image: Tony Atkin, Colourful Hedgerows, Geograph, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
22 October 2018

A paper reviews how “working lands” such as farms, forests and rangelands can be managed to protect biodiversity and ecosystems services. The paper points out that the management of working lands can be complementary to using protected areas to conserve biodiversity.

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