Showing results for: Consumption and diets
The type, quantity and formats of foods we eat vary considerably over time and space. A person’s consumption of food is rarely a matter solely (or even largely) of personal conscious choice. Instead, it is affected by such wide-ranging factors as cultural identity and taboos, food availability and price, genetics, legislation, technological innovation and marketing campaigns. Governments and civil society organisations have long been promoting healthy diets to reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases both at a global and national scale and the concept of ‘sustainable healthy diets’ – diets that have lower environmental impacts but fulfil nutritional requirements – is very slowly gaining ground.
FCRN member David Freudberg, host of the National Public Radio series “Humankind,” has written a blog for The Huffington Post arguing that diet is rarely discussed as a way to mitigate climate change. He notes that the recommendations being made by climate scientists on how to lessen our carbon footprint are also the same as those being made by health experts – diets higher in fruits, vegetables, and grains, and lower in meat.
You may be interested in this study co-authored by FCRN network member Toni Meier on diets and environmental impacts, published in the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology.
A study regarding the efficiency of beetle larvae (mealworms) as a potential protein source was published in the journal PLOS ONE by researchers at the University of Wageningen in Netherlands. The researchers compared the environmental impact of meat production on a mealworm farm to traditional animal farms using three parameters: land usage, energy needs, and greenhouse gas emissions. From the start of the process to the point that the meat left the farm, they found that mealworms scored better than the other foods. Per unit of edible protein produced, mealworm farms required less land and similar amounts of energy.
An article in Insights, the magazine of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), explores the complex issues of increasing livestock production and consumption. As consumption is flattening in the developed world, over the next several decades demand for meat will continue to increase in the developing world. The article also explores the need for raising livestock sustainably in order to mitigate negative impacts on human health and the environment.
This study by CE DELFT, a Dutch independent research and consultancy organisation , examines how food consumption patterns might be influenced in order to reduce food related GHG emissions. Its stated objective is to identify and analyse policy options which offer potential for achieving this goal.
Defra has published the results of a study which looked at the environmental impact of consuming foods that are produced locally in season. One of Defra’s current high level environmental behaviour goals is for consumers to eat more food that is locally in season.
FCRN mailing list member Kurt Schmidinger has recently been awarded his thesis on the following subject: "Worldwide Alternatives to Animal Derived Foods – Overview and Evaluation Models", subtitle "Solutions to Global Problems caused by Livestock".
This report presents findings based on an interdisciplinary systems level scenario approach designed specifically to address complex societal problems. The project was funded by the Sustainable Consumption Institute to explore how the UK food system may develop and change in response to futures bounded by more or less extreme climate impacts and emission cuts. The UK is taken as a case study to explore suites of possible futures that address adaptation, mitigation and demand.
This article in the British Medical Journal argues that taxes on unhealthy foods could result in significant health gains. The article highlights a range of trials, studies and natural experiments (ie. observational studies) that examine the effect of price changes on behaviour.
The findings of this study are unlikely to surprise anyone – the research is based on experiments carried out in the US and the UK and finds that there is a strong connection in people’s minds between eating meat—especially muscle meat, like steak—and masculinity.
This World Health Organisation ppt provides an overview of the causes, trends and impacts of chronic diseases worldwide, and points out very strongly that it’s increasingly a problem affecting poor people in the developing world. You can download the presentation here.
The Royal Society has published a new report arguing that the most developed and the emerging economies must stabilise consumption levels, then reduce them, to help the poorest 1.3 billion people to escape absolute poverty through increased consumption. Alongside this, education and voluntary family planning programmes must be supported internationally to stabilise global population.
FCRN member Chris Foster has recently co-authored this paper, which argues that a focus on ‘greening’ individual products without changing the wider socio-economic context within which products are produced, marketed and consumed is likely to achieve very little.
An interesting paper confirming what intuition might suggest – that men’s diets have a higher GHG burden than women’s because, (even allowing for the fact that men generally need to eat more) they tend to eat more meat; women’s diets are more water demanding due to their greater consumption of fruit and vegetables (the study looks at irrigation water rather than overall water).