Knowledge for better food systems

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.

9 October 2019

In an open letter, the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission urges the Secretaries of State in several UK government departments (including Defra, International Trade, Health, Business, and International Development) to consider the environmental implications of any future trade deals, in particular to avoid “offshoring” impacts to countries with weaker environmental standards.

9 October 2019

This discussion paper from the Food Research Collaboration examines “food hubs”, which it defines as “entities that sit between people who produce food and people who use it”, and asks what they are, what they are for and why we need them.

9 October 2019

The Food Ethics Council has published a report on food citizenship, which it defines as a growing movement of people acting as interdependent participants in our food systems, not just as producers or consumers in linear supply chains. 

Image: Marco Verch, Menu in the canteen consisting of mixed salad with carrots, cucumber, rocket, beetroot, feta cheese and egg, with a wholemeal and tea, arranged with cutlery on a beige tray, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
8 October 2019

This paper by FCRN member Emma Garnett finds that doubling the availability of vegetarian lunchtime meal options (from one-in-four to two-in-four) in university cafeterias increases vegetarian sales by 40-80%, with little change to overall sales and no detectable rebound effects (such as lower vegetarian meal sales at other meal times such as evening meals). 

2 October 2019

This book by Julian Cribb examines the links between food, conflict, hunger and ecological collapse, and develops recommendations for how to build a sustainable global food system that defuses tensions and avoids the mass displacement of people.

Image: USDA NRCS Montana, Soil moisture meter is used to measure soil moisture, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
2 October 2019

FCRN member Susanne Freidberg of Dartmouth College has written this paper about the difficulties that companies such as food manufacturers face in gathering data about their food supply chains and using that data to promote sustainability. The paper is based on over fifty semi-structured interviews with companies and analysis of their data collection tools.

Image: Max Pixel, Agriculture Tractor Arable, CC0 Public Domain
2 October 2019

This paper explores ways of ending hunger without causing excessive environmental damage. It finds that ending hunger through economic growth alone (an approach that would try to increase overall food availability without addressing food consumption inequality) would require 20% more food production by 2030 than in business-as-usual, as well as generating higher carbon emissions and using more agricultural land.

18 September 2019

FoodPrint, a project run by GRACE Communications Foundation, has produced an overview of the laws and regulations affecting food in the United States, including details of how food policy is made at different levels of government (federal, state and local). 

18 September 2019

Michelle Cain, Myles Allen and John Lynch of the University of Oxford have published a plain-language briefing note that explains how different ways of measuring the climate impact of methane (GWP100 versus GWP*) affect definitions of net zero emissions targets.

22 July 2019

The book Sustainability of the Food System: Sovereignty, Waste, and Nutrients Bioavailability addresses food sustainability through the lens of food sovereignty, environmentally friendly food processes, and food technologies that increase the bioavailability of bioactive compounds.

22 July 2019

This report from the US non-profit Croatan Institute quantifies the current US landscape of investments in regenerative agriculture, including in-depth analyses across asset classes (such as farmland and venture capital), and presents a series of recommendations for investors and stakeholders to build soil health and community wealth through regenerative agriculture.

Image: Pxhere, Grass bird field, CC0 Public Domain
16 July 2019

This article in AgFunderNews explores how the “pasture-raised” label is used in poultry retail in the US. The label, which has not yet been officially defined by the USDA or the FDA, has attracted controversy from some food industry actors and animal welfare advocates, who say that some producers using the label do not have welfare standards as high as customers expect.

16 July 2019

New York public policy action tank Brighter Green has published this policy paper, which gives an overview of the state of the plant-based and cellular meat and dairy industries as well as a critique of the criticisms and an effort to reconcile competing concerns and values.

Image: Marco Verch, A glass of fresh orange juice with fruit oranges, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
16 July 2019

FCRN member Ujué Fresán has co-authored this paper, which calculates the environmental impacts associated with the packaging of several breakfast foods (including orange juice, cereals and peanut butter). For each food product, significant differences in carbon footprint were found, depending on packaging size, packaging materials and brand. Packaging consistently accounted for a lower carbon footprint than production of the food item itself.

9 July 2019

The Plating up Progress? project, run jointly by the FCRN and the Food Foundation, has released a new investor briefing, Plating Up Progress Part 1, which looks at the sustainability risks and opportunities that exist for food retailers, caterers and restaurants. 

Image: Max Pixel, Canopy spring beech, CC0 Public Domain
9 July 2019

This paper maps the potential for restoring forests across the world, finding that there is room for a 25% increase in forested area without interfering with existing forests or urban and cropland areas. This could store 205 Gt of carbon after several decades (for comparison, current emissions from fossil fuels and cement production are roughly 10 Gt of carbon each year).

Image: Pxhere, Harvest carrot hand, CC0 Public Domain
9 July 2019

This paper describes four scenarios that reflect ways in which the food system might change in the near future, based on two main factors: dietary shifts and degree of globalisation. The paper suggests that such scenario analyses can be helpful in envisaging future paths beyond “business as usual”, even when the future of the food system is non-linear and hard to predict.

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