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.

Image: DanaTentis, Sardines fish lunch, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence
26 March 2019

FCRN member Christian Reynolds uses linear programming to calculate diets that meet both health and greenhouse gas emission criteria while being affordable for different income groups in the UK. Generally, the optimised diets are higher in plant-based foods than diets consumed in the UK in 2013, although seafood is higher in the optimised diet than in 2013 diets.

Image: Impossible Foods Media Kit, IF Impossible Burger 08
20 March 2019

FCRN member Alexandra Sexton describes the narratives and counter-narratives that have been used to talk about alternatives such as cultured meat and plant-based meat replacements.

Image: Max Pixel, Agriculture Cows Cow, CC0 Public Domain
20 March 2019

In this paper, FCRN member Nicholas Bowles of the University of Melbourne reviews existing data on the environmental impacts of the livestock sector and considers these impacts in the context of planetary boundaries. The paper reports that efficiency alone is unlikely to be adequate to shrink livestock’s impacts to a sustainable level, and that dietary shifts will also be necessary.

13 March 2019

Over half a million acres of irrigated farmland may have to be permanently taken out of agricultural use in the San Joaquin valley in California in order to conserve groundwater, according to this report by the non-profit Public Policy Institute of California. The report suggests using the land for generating solar energy, restoring ecosystems or managing flood risk by restoring floodplains.

13 March 2019

The UK Government has released a summary of the likely impacts on business and trade if the UK leaves the European Union without a withdrawal agreement on 29 March 2019 (i.e. a ‘no deal’ Brexit). Several items are relevant to the food system. See also the draft of temporary rates of customs duty on imports that will apply to different goods in the event of a no deal Brexit.

12 March 2019

In this latest instalment of the Food Brexit Briefings series by the UK’s Food Research Collaboration, the authors argue that the UK’s upcoming departure from the European Union presents an opportunity for Wales to reform its food and farming system, making use of both grassroots food initiatives and new legislation.

Image: dany13, DSC00234/Brasil/Pantanal/ Cowboys Herding Zebu Cattle on Miranda, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
12 March 2019

This paper analyses how different agriculture and forestry activities affect biodiversity and carbon sequestration. In 2011, the top driver of losses to bird species richness was cattle production, while the greatest driver of losses to net carbon sequestration (relative to sequestration if natural vegetation were allowed to grow) was forestry.

Image: Nacho Anazawa, Kadena Top 3 delivered donations to neighborhood friends, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
4 March 2019

The UK’s Department for Work and Pensions will introduce a new measure of food insecurity, reports the Guardian. The new measure will be based on ten questions about food purchase and consumption patterns in the annual Family Resources Survey, which surveys around 20,000 households each year.

4 March 2019

In this report, the UK think tank Green Alliance argues that land-based carbon credits could be incorporated into a ‘Natural Infrastructure Scheme’ (NIS), a scheme previously proposed by the Green Alliance.

Image: marissat1330, Italy vineyard grapes, Pixabay, Pixabay licence
4 March 2019

Research literature, policy indicators, and assessment tools use many different variables to assess sustainable agricultural land systems in Europe (for example soil loss, landscape diversity and food quality). Out of 239 of these variables identified in this paper, 32 have been covered by all three perspectives (i.e. research, policy and practice) while the remainder have only been considered by one or two perspectives.

Image: Joe Wolf, A 40,000 s.f. Rooftop Farm in NYC (Photo By Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times), Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
4 March 2019

This study analyses case studies of agri-food system innovation in different socio-economic, cultural, and political environments (Brazil, New York and Senegal) to determine common factors that help grassroots projects scale up successfully.

Image: USAF, AEHF (Advanced Extremely High Frequency) Satellite, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
26 February 2019

The 2019 Green Alliance Annual Debate discusses the ways in which earth observation and data science can improve our understanding of and ability to address environmental issues - for example, monitoring deforestation or water levels in reservoirs in real time through satellite images.

Image: Max Pixel, Genus Bananas Musaceae Musa, CC0 Public Domain
26 February 2019

This commentary from the US-based Breakthrough Institute argues that agroecology is not the best way of reforming agriculture in Africa, because most African agriculture already follows agroecological principles such as avoiding monocropping and not using much fertiliser or pesticide.

26 February 2019

The UK’s Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has published its 2018 environmental progress report. FDF members report a 53% reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions from energy use in manufacturing operations since 1990, and a 39% reduction in water consumption since 2008.

Image: Pxhere, Landscape grass horizon, CC0 Public Domain
26 February 2019

This paper, by John Lynch of the University of Oxford’s LEAP project, finds that carbon footprint studies of beef cattle typically do not report separate values for emissions of different greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. Instead, studies generally report only an aggregated figure in the form of the 100-year Global Warming Potential (GWP100) as CO2-equivalent.

Image: Max Pixel, Cows on pasture, CC0 Public Domain
26 February 2019

This paper, by researchers from the University of Oxford’s LEAP project, models the climate impacts of beef cattle and cultured meat over the next 1000 years using a climate model that treats carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide separately, instead of using the widespread Global Warming Potential, which assigns a CO2-equivalent value to each greenhouse gas according to warming caused over a specified timeframe.​

18 February 2019

This book, by William D. Schanbacher, addresses ethical issues around access to food, outlines how the global food system works, and offers suggestions on how people can engage their communities and learn more about the foods they eat.

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