Showing results for: Theory, methods and tools
There are different ways to analyse and evaluate impacts from food production and consumption. This section highlights papers that introduce specific methodologies, tools and theories that can be used as a guide or reference when developing a research or policy approach.
The book “Changing the food game: market transformation strategies for sustainable agriculture”, written by Lucas Simons, discusses how markets can be changed to support a sustainable food system. Chapter topics include how food production impacts the world, market failures, and phases of market transformation.
The UK’s Global Food Security programme has published a think piece that argues for a systemic approach to food sustainability and health by governments and businesses. The report argues that the whole food system must be examined to identify the root causes of problems before policies are designed.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has published guidelines for the assessment of nutrient flows and their associated environmental impacts in livestock supply chains. The guidelines are aimed at people and organisations who already have a good working knowledge of life cycle assessment of livestock systems, and are intended to promote consistency through defining calculation methods and data requirements.
Rice cultivation emits methane and nitrous oxide, which are both more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide. Policies to reduce methane emissions from rice farming generally recommend using intermittent (as opposed to continuous) flooding. However, intermittent flooding could produce much higher nitrous oxide emissions than continuous flooding, according to a recent paper.
FCRN member Eugene Mohareb of the University of Reading is the lead author on a paper that quantifies greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the US food supply chain. The paper argues that the majority of food system emissions could be best mitigated by urban areas and urban consumers (see below for definitions), rather by production side mitigation measures. The paper assesses how municipalities and urban dwellers might be able to contribute to deep, long-term emissions cuts along the food supply chain.
The cost-effectiveness of different methods of cutting agricultural greenhouse gas emissions is often calculated using marginal abatement cost curves (MACCs). FCRN member Dominic Moran of the University of Edinburgh has quantified the uncertainties in calculating MACCs for Scottish agricultural mitigation options, including improving land drainage, improving the timing of nitrogen application, and using controlled release fertilisers. The paper suggests that policymakers may wish to exclude options that have a high uncertainty, as they may not always be as cost-effective as the MACC suggests.
Relatively intensive, high-yield farming systems often have lower environmental impacts per unit of product, according to a new paper. The paper used a new framework to measure both land use and major environmental externalities (greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and nitrogen, phosphorus and soil losses) for several different farming systems.
An op-ed by Phat Beets Produce and Food First, both Californian food justice organisations, argues that commercial ventures buying and selling cheap “ugly” (e.g. misshapen) produce are undercutting food justice initiatives (such as Phat Beets Produce’s own community-supported agriculture scheme) and reducing the amount of surplus food available to be sent to food banks.
The UK’s Eating Better alliance has launched a new video exploring how to eat “Less and better” meat, where the alliance defines “better” as being better for the environment, health and food workers. The video explains several different labels that can be found on meat, including the Red Tractor, organic, free range, and RSPCA assured.
This report from the UK’s International Institute for Environment and Development explores the importance of generating evidence by and with low-income citizens when developing policies for food systems and diets. The report points out that the informal economy for food is important for food security and livelihoods in many low-income areas, but is often overlooked by policymakers.
A survey of Canadians finds that a high level of dedication to Christianity is negatively correlated with monetary donations to environmental causes, while being a believer without an affiliation to organised religion is positively correlated to such donations. However, being very religious was positively correlated with volunteering for environmental causes, while being strictly secular or nominally religious were negatively correlated with such volunteering.
The University of East Anglia’s Global Environmental Justice Group is running a five-week online course on “Environmental Justice”, hosted on the Future Learn website. Several food-relevant topics will be covered, including water justice, forest governance, biodiversity conservation, and climate justice.
The book “Food Safety Economics - Incentives for a Safer Food Supply”, edited by Tanya Roberts, explores how regulations have affected the economic incentives influencing food safety.
In the latest of its Food Brexit Briefings, the Food Research Collaboration examines how UK food standards may be affected by post-Brexit trade deals - specifically, the case of hormone-treated beef, which is currently permitted in the United States but not in the European Union. The report points out that at least one of the hormones routinely used in US beef production is a cancer risk, and that there is not enough evidence to show that five other hormones are safe to use.
In a write-up of a meeting of its Business Forum, the Food Ethics Council asks whether the concept of “ethical consumerism” is adequate for addressing food system sustainability issues. The report points out that “ethical” can have many different meanings, that businesses can lack a cohesive sustainability strategy if they are too responsive to current trends on consumer concern, that focusing on consumers can neglect systemic problem, and that not all people can afford to prioritise ethical concerns when buying food. The report also offers some recommendations to businesses.
FCRN member Nicole Tichenor Blackstone of Tufts University has recently authored a paper that compares the environmental impacts of three healthy eating patterns recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The vegetarian eating pattern had lower impacts than the US-style and Mediterranean-style eating patterns in all six impact categories considered.