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.

Photo: Neil Palmer CIAT, Flickr, creative commons licence 2.0
5 September 2013

Achieving food system sustainability is a global priority but there are different views on how it might be achieved. Broadly three perspectives are emerging, defined here as: efficiency oriented, demand restraint and food system transformation. These reflect different conceptualisations on what is practically achievable, and what is desirable, underpinned by different values and ideologies about the role of technology, our relationship with nature and fundamentally what is meant by a ‘good life.’ 

24 July 2013

The workshop was carried out as part of an Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food project on consumer engagements with food governance. The Oxford Food Governance Group project aims to elucidate the emerging forms, roles, and uses of food-related information and communication technologies (ICT) at the consumer level, and how they might shape the EU food governance landscape in years to come.

16 July 2013

This book by Michael I. Brown presents a major critique of the aims and policies of REDD as currently structured, particularly in terms of their social feasibility. With deforestation being a key source of greenhouse gas emissions and of climate change, and forests representing major sinks for carbon initiatives such as REDD, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, have however been widely endorsed by policy-makers.

16 July 2013

This evidence review, commissioned by DEFRA and undertaken by the consultancy Best Foot Forward, critically assesses and summarises data around two key objectives:

  • What are the ‘hotspots’ (i.e. points of greatest environmental impact) along the food consumer journey?
  • What mechanisms are available and most effective for influencing consumer behaviour at those hotspots?
24 June 2013

This study presents different ways of presenting information on food calories and assesses how useful consumers find them. It showed participants of 3 groups the calorie content of a ham sandwich, displaying this information in different formats as shown in the diagram below.

18 June 2013

This article in the Guardian highlights the potential of ICT (e.g. mobile phones, videos, radio) in providing agricultural knowledge and advice to farmers in low income countries.  The article concludes by saying:

18 June 2013

This paper focuses on how countries can take practical steps to adapt their agriculture to climate change even in the face of considerable uncertainties in the climate models as to how change will play out on the ground for farmers. Amid fears of wasted investments and imprecise science (which themselves become politically motivated excuses for inaction), it shows how countries can adopt a  ‘regret-free’ approach to adapting agriculture to climate change – actions that will benefit farmers and society regardless of specifically how and when climate change plays out on the ground. The paper notes that this very uncertainty often becomes an excuse for inaction.

21 May 2013

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has recently finalized a review of the its Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Palm Oil Production (P&Cs),  and agreed a new set of standards. RSPO founder member WWF is signing up to the standards but cautions that they are not good enough.  It says that using palm oil certified as  sustainable under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is no longer enough to ensure companies are acting responsibly.

21 May 2013

Scientists at Lancaster, Virginia and Oxford universities have produced a web-based tool that allows anyone living in the UK to see their own ‘nitrogen footprint’. 

13 May 2013

Details as follows: According to many authorities the impact of humanity on the earth is already overshooting the earth’s capacity to supply humanity’s needs. This is an unsustainable position. This book does not focus on the problem but on the solution, by showing what it is like to live within a fair earth share ecological footprint.

8 May 2013

Audit and tax advisory company KPMG has reported on the findings of its first Green Tax Index.  This was created by KPMG to increase awareness of the complex, fragmented and rapidly evolving green tax landscape worldwide. It aims to encourage companies to explore the opportunities of green tax incentives, and to reduce exposure to green tax penalties. The tool analyses green tax incentives and penalties in 21 major economies, focusing on key policy areas such as energy efficiency, water efficiency, carbon emissions, green innovation and green buildings.

7 May 2013

According to a recent report by Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative, led by EcoAgriculture Partners, the food and beverage sectors are at the highest risk from “sustainability megaforces” – such as water scarcity and population growth among others—but are least prepared to manage that risk. This report argues that when sourcing areas are threatened by a constellation of risks that cannot be mitigated solely on-farm or via supply chain programs, landscape approaches offer solutions.

22 April 2013

A company wishing to market its product as green in several Member State markets faces a confusing range of choices of methods and initiatives, and might find it needs to apply several of them in order to prove the product's green credentials. This is turning into a barrier for the circulation of green products in the Single Market.

15 April 2013

Water is not only used in the domestic context, but also in agriculture and industry in the production of commercial goods, from food to paper. The water footprint is an indicator of freshwater use that looks at both direct and indirect use of water by a consumer or producer.

25 March 2013

One FCRN network member has kindly responded to the request for info on more footprinting tools.

She highlights the Fieldprint calculator (on-farm only) developed by The Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. The tool calculates not only carbon but also incorporates soil and water use indicators. Reference values are included to enable the user to establish how his/her farm compares, but as the tool was developed in the US that aspect of the tool may not apply in other regions.

25 March 2013

FCRN network member Hannah Tuomisto has co-authored a life cycle analysis of (hypothetical) in-vitro meat production here: Tuomisto H L, Teixeira de Mattos M J (2011) Environmental Impacts of Cultured Meat Production. Environ. Sci. Technol. dx.doi.org/10.1021/es200130u 

25 March 2013

This paper finds that the water footprint of agricultural products (a definition that presumably includes non-food products) accounts for 91% of the EU’s production-related water footprint and 89% of its consumption related footpint. It argues that much more water can be saved by modifying diets and reducing food waste than through the traditional water-saving routes highlighted in mainstream awareness raising campaigns. The paper echoes others that find animal products to be particularly water intensive.

18 March 2013

For those interested in or working on life cycle analysis type approaches you may be interested in a free carbon footprinting tool Ccalc. The tool can be used for the following:

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