Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Food security and nutrition

In 1996, the World Food Summit stated that food security ‘exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.’ This definition encompasses four key elements: 1) the physical availability of food, 2) the legal, political, economic and social arrangements which assure access to food, 3) the ability to utilise food through adequate diet, clean water, sanitation and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being, and 4) the stability of all these factors across time. Today, just under 800 million people are undernourished. Compounding this problem, changing dietary patterns (sometimes referred to as the ‘nutrition transition’) brought on by the processes of globalisation mean that, obesity is also now a growing problem, and many developing and emerging countries now find themselves presented with a ‘double burden’ of poor nutrition. Over 2 billion people worldwide are now overweight or obese and most of these are to be found in middle and low income countries simply because their populations are so great. Overlapping with these numbers some 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies (most commonly of iron, vitamin A and iodine) which causes physical and cognitive problems, particularly in children and women of childbearing age.

23 June 2020

This explanatory note from the UK’s Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology defines food system resilience, gives examples of threats to the food system, outlines some questions to consider when visualising a more resilient food system, and describes recent policy developments on food system resilience.

17 June 2020

The UK’s Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) reports that its members have distributed 175% more emergency food parcels during April 2020 than during April 2019. The data covers 112 organisations operating 213 independent food banks across the UK. The number of people supported by or referred to these food banks was 132% greater when comparing across the same time periods. 

17 June 2020

This report by UK charity the Soil Association argues that COVID-19 has highlighted the fragility of long supply chains, and that supporting shorter supply chains will make the food system more resilient and sustainable. It also gives examples of localised food supply initiatives in the UK.

17 June 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic, mitigation measures and the emerging global recession could cause food disruption on a scale not seen for more than half a century, according to this policy brief from the United Nations. The UN calls for large-scale coordinated action to protect health and nutrition.

9 June 2020

This book uses case studies from Europe and North America to explore how relocalised food supply chains could respond to challenges to the food system. It argues that shorter food supply chains could in principle perform better socially, economically and environmentally than more geographically dispersed supply chains.

9 June 2020

This report by wildlife charity WWF gives the results of a survey of people in Hong Kong, Japan, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Respondents were asked about their sentiments on the COVID-19 outbreak in their respective country and their opinions on illegal and unregulated markets selling wildlife.

26 May 2020

The international initiative Foresight4Food is offering several online resources on COVID-19, food systems and rural poverty.

20 May 2020

FCRN member Mark Driscoll has written this blog post, which argues that sustainable, healthy diets are key to building back better food systems after the COVID-19 pandemic. Driscoll points to three opportunities for rebuilding resilience in the food system: shorter supply chains and the decentralisation of food production; introducing more diversity of “visions, approaches, actors, crops, and culinary diversity” into the food system; and schemes that give citizens more agency over food systems.

20 May 2020

According to this article by Civil Eats, some farmers in the Great Plains of the United States are sowing “chaos gardens” - fields of mixed fruit and vegetable plants such as peas, squash, radish, okra, melons and sweet corn - as cover crops between the soy and corn that are the dominant crops in the area. The produce is harvested by volunteers and donated to food banks or other community groups. 

19 May 2020

The 2020 edition of the Global Nutrition Report uses the concept of nutrition equity to examine multiple forms of malnutrition, including undernutrition and obesity. The report stresses that poor diets and malnutrition are not simply the result of personal choices - rather, the problem is systemic, with the vast majority of people being unable to access or afford a healthy diet. It calls for coordinated action between stakeholders to build equitable, resilient and sustainable food and health systems.

12 May 2020

This piece from nonprofit food media outlet The Counter explains why some farmers in the US have been dumping surplus food during the COVID-19 pandemic, at the same time that food banks are struggling to source enough food.

12 May 2020

This report from the UK’s Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) documents how NFFN farmers are changing how they supply and market food to the public in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

12 May 2020

The UK’s Food Research Collaboration has published a guidance note and a report on how food policy is currently made in England. It calls for more coordination between different decision-making bodies in the response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food system.

5 May 2020

The UK’s Food Ethics Council has published a write-up of its event “#FoodTalks: From emergency to recovery”, which was held on 28 April 2020. The event discussed how the UK’s food system can move towards resilience and fairness during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

5 May 2020

FCRN member Damian Maye of the University of Gloucestershire has put together a list of academic and non-academic resources on COVID-19 and sustainable food systems. It is organised into categories including agricultural labour, food access and security, local food networks, food waste and food system commentaries.

5 May 2020

The 2020 edition of the Global Food Policy Report from the International Food Policy Research Institute looks at how to make food systems inclusive of smallholders, women, and people affected by poverty or conflict.

29 April 2020

This podcast by the Green Alliance (a UK charity) is an interview with Professor Tim Lang about his new book Feeding Britain. The book was written before the coronavirus crisis, but the interview explores how the crisis is affecting the UK’s food system. The podcast also discusses food rationing, inequality and the links between food policy and the economy, defence, risk, nature and biodiversity.

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