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.

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.

4 July 2019

This briefing paper from the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London examines what the food system is, how it can be defined, and why those definitions matter to the development of food policy.

4 July 2019

This book presents a complete introduction to the political and institutional aspects of agroecology, covering the whole food system. It sets out a new concept known as political agroecology.

4 July 2019

This report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and international humanitarian agency CARE provides advice, tools and successful examples on integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment into programmes on climate-smart agriculture.

Image: Max Pixel, Food Plant Wild Blueberries, CC0 Public Domain
3 July 2019

This book chapter questions the validity of viewing food primarily as a tradable commodity, noting that doing so encouraging policies based on markets, corporate profit and the private enclosure of resources that were previously freely available to all. The authors propose, instead, that food should be viewed as a commons, i.e. a shared resource. 

25 June 2019

The Oxford Martin School has helped to develop NaturEtrade, an online marketplace for ecosystems services. Landowners or managers can set a price that they would accept in return for keeping their land in its present ecological condition, rather than putting it to other uses that might degrade it. Buyers who want the land to remain unchanged, e.g. a business further downstream that wants to limit flooding, can enter into a contract with the landowner or manager.

25 June 2019

This report from the UK’s Triodos Bank calls for a radical overhaul of the food system with a focus on environmental sustainability, healthy diets, and fair pay for farmers.

Image: Michael, Green Plants Field, Pexels, Pexels license
25 June 2019

This paper presents a newly developed open-source system for precision agriculture in lettuce production. The system, known as AirSurf, uses a lightweight manned aircraft to gather images of lettuce fields, then a deep learning algorithm assesses the state of the lettuce crops on a number of characteristics, including lettuce size and number per field.

Image: Amber, Cupcakes rock onesie, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
25 June 2019

This paper analysed thousands of items of children’s clothing and found that many feature images of food - particularly on girls’ clothing - and that those images often depict unhealthy food types.

Image: Max Pixel, Red Tomato Horizontal, CC0 Public Domain
25 June 2019

This paper sets out a new method to account for nutrition in the functional unit of life cycle assessments of single foods. The method accounts for the wider dietary context of each food type, which is found to affect the results relative to using either mass as a functional unit, or another nutrient-based functional unit that does not consider the dietary context.

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