Showing results for: Fruit and nuts
In everyday use, a fruit is mostly referred to as any soft, sweet-tasting part of a plant containing seeds. They are considered healthy foods, and dietary guidelines often recommend increased daily intake of this food source, alongside vegetables. The GHG impacts of producing fruit very much depend on the production and distribution methods – for example highly perishable produce such as soft berries may be transported by air at great GHG cost. The production of certain fruits, such as bananas and raspberries, typically entails high pesticide use and because of their high sugar content, may spoil easily. Therefore much fruit is lost and wasted on its way to the consumer, at environmental cost. Commercial almond, walnut and pistachio production are notably water intensive. Some express concern about the socio-economic impact of horticultural exports from developing countries to developed countries; while this can bring much needed cash to poor economies, shortages of nutritious food locally may be exacerbated by the export culture. Other issues relate to exploitation of workers and low wages.
FCRN member Sara Middleton has been involved in producing the documentary Bananageddon, which looks at the socio-economic and environmental issues of current banana production methods and what the future holds for the world’s favourite fruit.
This report from The Climate Coalition (a UK-based association of organisations with an interest in climate change) outlines how production of fruit and vegetables in the UK is threatened by extreme weather events made more likely by climate change.
These two books, edited by Debashis Mandal, Amritesh C. Shukla and Mohammed Wasim Siddiqui, outline current trends in research on sustainable horticulture. Volume 1 covers diversity, production, and crop improvement while Volume 2 covers food, health, and nutrition.
Some avocado plantation owners in Chile are illegally diverting water from rivers and leaving local villagers without enough water, according to a feature in the Guardian. Demand for avocados has increased by 27% in the UK in the last year. Activist Veronica Vilches claimed that local people are getting sick because of the lack of water, while activist Rodrigo Mundaca says that the water provided to resident by trucks is of poor quality.
In this article researchers argue that even just 2.5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily can lower the chance of heart disease, stroke, cancer and premature death. If the amount is further increased to 10 a day this could prevent up to 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide every year.
The DNA of Pseudocercospora fijiensis, the fungus that causes the black Sigatoka disease in bananas, has been sequenced and assembled in an attempt to find means of disease control. The black Sigatoka disease occurs across the tropics and is responsible for huge banana yield losses. In addition, it can cause the fruit to ripen prematurely, which stops exports of the crop. The Cavendish banana, the clonal type of bananas most consumers in the west eat is especially vulnerable to the black Sigatoka fungi.
This report produced by Food Research Collaboration (FRC) outlines the horticulture sector’s potential to create a shift towards healthier diets in the UK by contributing to overall fruit and vegetable consumption.
The EU parliament has now approved a law which will merge the separate EU school milk and fruit schemes and boost their combined annual budget from €20m to €250m a year.
This paper published in Nature shows that neonicotinoids, a commonly used insecticide seed coating can have serious consequences for wild bees. The paper is based on a study of 16 rapeseed fields in the southern part of Sweden; it finds that there are only half as many bees in fields that have been treated with the insecticide as in untreated ones. Insecticides that include neonicotinoid make up a fifth of the whole insecticide market.
This commentary from Confectionary news argues that suppliers of ingredients should set targets to achieve fully sustainable cocoa and it states that standardisation is crucial since more than 80% of the produced cocoa in the world is now unaccounted for. The article states that the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) will be introducing a voluntary joint standard for traceable and sustainable cocoa in 2016.
A new policy report from the Fairtrade foundation, Britain’s Bruising Banana Wars: Why cheap bananas threaten farmers’ futures looks at how price pressures in many banana producing countries have led to job losses, the casualisation of labour and the marginalising of smallholder producers. These in turn negatively affects wages, access to services and the environmental sustainability of banana production.