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.

31 August 2016

Future demand for food and for land is set to grow. A key question is therefore: how can we most productively use land for food, in order balance the multiple competing demands for the ecosystem services it provides? One way this has been investigated previously is by looking at crop yields and how to increase them. Another way, focussing instead on the consumption side, has looked at the metric of dietary land footprint.

16 August 2016

In this PhD thesis, Leah M. Ashe from Cardiff University School of Planning and Geography, examines how narratives of “food security” are constructed in New York city and Bogotá and how they are influenced by different development ideologies and discourses.

16 August 2016

This paper provides a detailed case study of the history and controversy surrounding the proposed inclusion of sustainability information in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) – a body composed of nutritionists, physicians, and public health experts, tasked with reviewing the evidence base for the guidelines every 5 years.

16 August 2016

This study, which analyses data from two long-term epidemiologic research studies in the US, found that specific food sources of protein in the diet affected health outcomes in differing ways. Taking into account a number of other dietary and lifestyle factors, the authors showed that animal protein intake was weakly associated with a higher risk for mortality.

20 April 2016

This study looks into how residential landscapes in Chicago, USA, which constitute the largest single urban land use, benefit ecosystems. It argues that even though we often don’t associate modern urban areas with healthy ecosystems, home gardens in urban landscapes can contribute to important ecosystem services.

16 February 2016

This report by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) represents a consensus of more than 30 authors from 19 institutions across four countries. The report brings together modelling and forecasting research on climate change to the year 2100, and explores how these changes will affect food and agricultural systems worldwide, and in particular in the US.

18 January 2016

The FCRN has previously reported on the controversy over the development of the 2015 US dietary guidelines, and in particular the vociferous debate as to whether they should include sustainability considerations.

17 December 2015

This paper quantifies what the environmental impacts would be if the typical US diet were to shift in line with the USDA dietary recommendations. The paper has created a lot of interest and debate since it shows that shifting towards healthier diets in some cases can increase the energy, emission and water intensity of the diet. This is why we wanted to provide a more extensive summary and some commentary below. Please do read, share and add your own comments.

For a comment by the study's lead author Michelle Tom see here and for another comment by Professor Michael Hamm see here

17 December 2015

This article in Science Magazine discusses how a genetically modified (GM) salmon has become the first animal to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  

2 December 2015

Over 75 top nutrition scientists and medical experts gathered in Boston in October 2015 at the Finding Common Ground Conference, convened by the non-profit Oldways to try to agree on principles for a healthy diet (primarily aimed at a U.S. audience). Oldways is a food and nutrition education organization aiming to inspire healthy eating through cultural food traditions and lifestyles. The meeting was attended by a diverse range of experts, many vocal proponents of particular types of diets (vegan, paleo, low-fat, Mediterranean etc.) and is described to have led to some heated debates.

16 November 2015

This paper presents an overview of policies and interventions aimed at addressing food loss and waste. It argues that to curtail food waste in higher income countries, measures such as clarifying food date labels could go a long way. Consumers are often confused by "use by," "best by" and "sell by" dates on food packaging and throw out perfectly edible food. Improving date labelling policy can also improve food safety.

16 November 2015

In this paper researchers recommend taking a broader "systems" approach to food policy in order to tackle public health issues as far-ranging as climate change and antibiotic use in food animal production. Three examples are given of a food systems approach to food policy: farm-to-school programs, incorporating sustainability into the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and antibiotic use in food animal production.

16 October 2015

The average U.S. family spends $2,225 every year on food they don't eat.  American consumers are collectively responsible for more wasted food than farmers, grocery stores, or any other part of the food-supply chain.

This  new book, entitled Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook provides accessible information about the state of the problem as well as a set of tips and techniques to eanble people to reduce the amount of waste they produce.

16 October 2015

Voters in Berkeley approved the first excise tax in the U.S. on sugar-sweetened beverages in 2014. This study analyses the effect it has had in its first year on retail prices.

Sales tax and excise duty tax are two different taxes that are levied by the government.  A sales tax is imposed at the point of sale. It is payable by the consumer, and is collected by the retailer who then passes it onto the state.

9 October 2015

This paper by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) suggests that as much as 47 percent of the edible U.S. seafood supply is lost each year.  The paper shows that the majority of the waste is produced mainly at the consumer stage. The waste issue adds another layer of pressure on fish stocks and the global seafood supply that are already seriously threatened by overfishing, climate change, pollution, habitat destruction and the use of fish for other purposes besides human consumption.

9 October 2015

It has been announced that the U.S. will not be incorporating sustainability into the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans (which are updated every five years). According to a blog-post written by Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services  (HHS Secretary) and Tom Vilsack, Department of Agriculture USDA Secretary, the US government does “not believe that the 2015 DGAs are the appropriate vehicle for this important policy conversation about sustainability.” The two argue that although the final recommendations are still being drafted, the final guidelines should remain within the mandate in the 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act (NNMRRA);  to provide “nutritional and dietary information and guidelines”… “based on the preponderance of the scientific and medical knowledge.”

31 July 2015

This Bloomberg article and video interview discusses the new recommendations published to inform the development of the 2015 US dietary guidelines.

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