Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: North America

North America is the northern subcontinent of the Americas covering about 16.5% of the Earth's land area. This large continent has a range of climates spanning Greenland’s permanent ice sheet and the dry deserts of Arizona. Both Canada and the USA are major food producers and some of the largest food exporters in the world. Industrial farms are the norm in North America, with high yields relative to other regions and only 2% of the population involved in agriculture.

24 March 2020

FCRN member Nicole Tichenor Blackstone has co-authored this paper, which compares the diets recommended by the EAT-Lancet Commission and by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). It finds areas of similarity as well as areas of divergence.

16 March 2020

The Florida-based Cellular Agriculture Society has just relaunched its website with the aim of building a home for cellular agriculture on the internet. The website sets out a vision of what a future with cellular agriculture could look like, and explains how the processes of tissue culture and protein fermentation work. 

16 March 2020

This paper finds that downplaying explicit statements of environmental benefits can be a more effective advertising strategy than prioritising the environmental aspects in product categories that are not normally seen as “green”. This is because consumers often perceive green products as performing less well than conventional products, according to the paper. 

10 March 2020

This article from Civil Eats examines how the rise of both plant-based diets and regenerative agriculture practices have encouraged more farmers in the United States to grow pulses such as lentils, peas and chickpeas. As pulses become more popular with US consumers, a smaller fraction of the US pulse harvest is exported to other countries.

10 March 2020

The Cultivated Meat Modeling Consortium, an interdisciplinary group applying computing techniques to the cultivated meat sector, has released a white paper based on the Consortium’s first meeting. The paper sets out ways in which modelling might be able to optimise cultivated meat manufacturing, including assessing different bioreactor designs, designing experiments with different growth media, and generating databases of the characteristics of the cell types (e.g. animal species) that are most likely to be used in cultivated meat.

3 March 2020

This article in the San Francisco Chronicle discusses three synthetic (or “molecular”) alcoholic drinks produced by US startup Endless West: wine, whiskey and sake. The drinks are produced by mixing plain alcohol (from corn) with natural flavourings (e.g. from plants or yeasts) rather than traditional distillation methods (e.g. fermenting grapes to make wine). 

24 February 2020

This report from the John Hopkins Centre for a Livable Future reviews the most prominent publications on True Cost Accounting, i.e. assessment of the externalities caused by an industry. It looks at how various True Cost Accounting frameworks can be applied to the food system.

10 February 2020

This blog post, by Caroline Grunewald and Dan Blaustein-Rejto of the Breakthrough Institute (a US think tank), argues that the large scale of much American farming does not mean it is necessarily unsustainable - rather, when looking at the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions, land use and water use per unit of output, dramatic improvements have been seen since 1961.

10 February 2020

This book uses a range of case studies to explore how food and immigration influence each other in North America, focusing on borders (e.g. geopolitical or cultural), labour and identities (including changing diets).

3 February 2020

This paper used satellites to observe the effect on yield of conservation tillage practices, such as reducing soil disturbance and leaving crop residues in the field, in the United States Corn Belt. The researchers found that long-term conservation tillage (i.e. from 2008 to 2017) was associated with a 3.3% increase in maize yields and a 0.74% yield increase for soybeans.

28 January 2020

This Guardian article discusses farms that are growing crops organically without using animal manure or blood and bone meal, in contrast to most organic farms. This approach is not yet widespread, with only around 50 such farms in the United States. Relevant organisations include the Biocyclic Vegan Standard and the Vegan Organic Network.

20 January 2020

This article by Caroline Grunewald and Dan Blaustein-Rejto, both of of the US Breakthrough Institute think-tank, argues that the environmental movement fails to appreciate the environmental benefits that can result from free trade, by enabling producer countries with lower environmental impacts per unit of food to displace products from countries with higher environmental impacts.

20 January 2020

This report from Canada’s National Farmers Union examines how climate change is likely to affect agriculture in Canada, and sets out a strategy for the food system to contribute to mitigating the climate crisis. It argues that low-input, low-emission styles of agriculture should be incentivised.

20 January 2020

This paper reviews the ingredients and nutrient contents of several plant-based meat alternatives (made from soy, other legumes, mycoprotein and cereals) and compares them to traditional meat products. It finds that no broad conclusions can be drawn about whether meat analogues or traditional meat products are healthier, with their composition varying between products.

13 January 2020

This report from FoodPrint, part of the GRACE Communications Foundation, describes the problems associated with plastic, metal and paper/fibre food packaging. It also sets out potential solutions, including reusable food containers, plastics that can be more easily recycled, compostable packaging materials, and bans on certain types of packaging (e.g. plastic straws).

13 January 2020

This review paper argues that obesity and mortality in the United States could be reduced by limiting consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and processed foods and meats, because of the tendency of processed foods to encourage people to eat more food (based on trials in people), and the inflammatory effect of emulsifiers such as carboxymethylcellulose and polysorbate-80 (based on mouse and in vitro studies, not studies in people).

7 January 2020

This report from the US nonprofit Centre for Biological Diversity quantifies the environmental impacts (climate, habitat loss and water use) of caterers or events planners switching from a “conventional American dining menu” (including dairy, beef and other meats) to a mostly plant-based alternative menu. 

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