Knowledge for better food systems

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.

11 June 2018

The FCRN’s Tara Garnett was interviewed for a piece on the difficulties of eating ethically by UK newspaper the Evening Standard. The piece, which discusses meat replacements, lab-grown meat and trade standards, also features Dan Crossley of the Food Ethics Council and Kath Dalmeny of Sustain.

11 June 2018

600 million people could be affected as climate change decreases the levels of several nutrients in rice, according to a new paper. The paper estimated changes in rice nutrient content using experiments where rice (of several different cultivars) was grown under conditions of enriched CO2. At the higher CO2 levels, the following average decreases in nutrient levels were found compared to rice grown under ambient CO2: 10% for protein; 8% for iron; 5% for zinc; 17% for vitamin B1; 17% for vitamin B2; 13% for vitamin B5; 30% for vitamin B9. In contrast, vitamin E levels were 14% higher under elevated CO2 levels.

5 June 2018

A new study published in Science has consolidated data on five environmental impact categories (land use, freshwater withdrawals weighted by local water scarcity, climate change, acidification and eutrophication) for 40 agricultural goods from over 38,000 farms. It finds that the environmental impacts of producing the same food are highly variable between different farms. It also finds that the environmental impacts of animal products are generally higher than plant-based products.

4 June 2018

The FCRN was a collaborator in the workshop “Supporting Healthy and Sustainable Diets: how do we get there?”, held in September 2017 as part of Land Economy for Sustainability Strategic Dialogue Series hosted by the Hoffmann Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy at Chatham House and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. This summary of the workshop outlines the actions that governments, businesses and civil society can take to make diets more sustainable and healthy.

26 May 2018

A recent paper examines the connections between food system changes and diet and nutrition changes in Latin America and the Caribbean. It finds that food systems are changing to include more processed food, more and more easily available meat, dairy and out-of-season foods, cheaper food and a rise in supermarkets. It concludes that, while some Latin American countries are leaders on interventions to change demand (such as by introducing taxes on sugary beverages or regulating the advertising of unhealthy food), there is a long way to go, and that a change towards healthier food systems will require introducing incentives for companies to market healthy foods, driven by consumer demand.

21 May 2018

Structural changes in the food system such as replacing half of animal proteins with plant-based proteins could significantly marine eutrophication in the North-East Atlantic, according to a recent paper. The authors addressed the question of whether Western Europe can reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff to coastal areas without endangering food security.

15 May 2018

Taxes to increase the price of sweet snacks such as chocolate, confectionary, cakes and biscuits could have greater health benefits than similar increases in the prices of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), according to a recent paper. 

9 May 2018

Helen Adams of the Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP) project, to which the FCRN is linked, has written about LEAP’s first public engagement project. The team ran a stall at Super Science Saturday at Oxford’s Museum of Natural History. Members of the public tasted samples of vegetarian sausages and vegan cheese and were asked to sort different food types according to their greenhouse gas emissions.

30 April 2018

The authors of this paper calculate the carbon footprint of various recommended healthy diets around the world and find that most recommendations are inconsistent with the 1.5°C climate target, and are probably also inconsistent with the 2.0°C target unless non-food sectors almost completely cut their carbon emissions by 2050. Annual per capita diet-related carbon footprints vary from 687 kg CO2 eq. for Indian vegetarian dietary guidelines to 1579 kg CO2 eq. for US dietary guidelines.

24 April 2018

This book, by Sirpa Sarlio, explores various aspects of the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the global food system, discusses health and sustainability aspects of specific foods including insects and meat substitutes and sets out options for promoting healthy and sustainable diets.

23 April 2018

This paper used a survey to explore consumer views of burgers made from beef, plant-based or cultured meat. The survey participants were asked to choose, hypothetically, between the varieties of burger and were told that all burgers tasted the same (the participants did not actually get to try any burgers during the experiment). The results predict that, if prices were equal, 65% of consumers would buy the beef burger, 21% the plant-based burger, 11% the cultured meat burger and 4% would not buy any.

23 April 2018

This paper is the first to provide US data about what people eat when they reduce their meat consumption without becoming vegetarian or vegan. The objective of the research was to understand what is eaten in meatless meals and Americans’ attitudes to and perceptions of meat reduction.

10 April 2018

FCRN member Corné van Dooren defended his PhD thesis at VU University Amsterdam on 20 March 2018 on the topic of optimising both nutritional quality and environmental sustainability of diets.

26 March 2018

This book, edited by Fabricio Chicca, Brenda Vale and Robert Vale, calculates the environmental impacts of lifestyles around the world. FCRN readers may be particularly interested in Chapter 10, which looks at food.

26 March 2018

In this paper, the authors conducted a review of numerous studies to examine the content, advantages and limitations of a frame-based approach to assist consumers in reducing their intake of conventional meat (e.g. eating less meat or different meat, such as organic or certified for animal welfare or environmental impact). Particularly, they want to evaluate whether behaviour can be shifted by creating new frames and to identify frames that can bridge a transition by highlighting ‘push’ factors away from routine meat eating, or ‘pull’ factors towards encouraging the consumption of alternatives.

19 March 2018

Social scientist and co-founder of the Sentience Institute Jacy Reese discusses public attitudes to diets and the potential of lab-cultured meat to end animal farming, as well as possible pitfalls.

19 March 2018

This report from Foodservice Footprint discusses the need for more sustainable diets, outlines the business case for introducing them and provides a framework to help food service businesses offer sustainable food options.

12 March 2018

Greenpeace is calling for global meat and dairy consumption to be halved by 2050, citing climate change, the health benefits of plant-based foods and the association of animal farming with antimicrobial resistance.

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