Adisa Azapagic unpacks the carbon footprint of her evening meal and reveals how you can too with a smartphone app.
You know the feeling – the end of a hard day at work, no time (and, in my case, no inclination) to cook. So you do what 30 per cent of Brits normally do: stop at a supermarket on your way home and buy a ready meal. Tonight I fancy lamb curry. Mmmm… looking forward to it!
But because of my research on environmental impacts of food, I know my lamb curry has the total carbon footprint from farm to plate of around 6 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq.) per person*. It may be tasty and convenient, but by choosing and eating this curry I will have contributed to climate change, through the greenhouse gases emitted on its journey to my plate.
Continue reading Fancy a curry?
Geoff Tansey unravels the rhetoric at a food security conference at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, Chatham House.
The meeting in London on 10-11 December 2012 was held under the Chatham House Rule, which forbids identification of speakers, so you may find this a rather frustrating blog.
One speaker asked participants the key question: why was the meeting talking about the sustainable intensification of agricultural production when the world already produces enough for everyone; when one third of all food produced ends up as waste; when an estimated 40% of corn in the US in 2013 is going to biofuel; and up to 90% of soya produced globally is used for animals not humans?
Continue reading Sustainable intensification – miracle or mirage?
Sir Gordon Conway is optimistic about feeding the world’s undernourished by 2050.
Decades after the Green Revolution, food shortages, high prices, poverty and hunger continue. It is estimated that there are presently just under one billion chronically hungry people in the world. We also face the probability of repeated food price spikes and a continuing upward trend in food prices, and the challenge of feeding a growing global population in the face of a wide range of adverse factors, including climate change. Our global food security challenges are daunting.
Continue reading Can we feed one billion hungry people?
The UK Government has published recommendations that will shape policy and decisions well into the future. The Minister of State for Agriculture and Food tells us more.
How might we produce more food and improve our environment in the future? Not an easy exam question!
Some say the answer is sustainable intensification, but there is a lot of disagreement about what that might mean (see this blog post for more), particularly when you start talking about what it might mean in England.
Continue reading The Green Food Project
Engineering innovation is a must for modern life – and the same goes for sustainable intensification, says Bill Day.
For agriculture, biological innovation will be of fundamental importance, but does not deliver in isolation. In the gap between Gregor Mendel and the frozen pea, many engineering advances have contributed to the realisation of a staple, high quality food.
So, escaping from damp and dismal England to the sunny climes of Valencia for the Agricultural Engineering International Conference gave every opportunity to feel warm about the future.
Continue reading Food production: what about engineering?
It’s time to rebalance the scales for African researchers in agriculture, says Jo Seed.
During the launch of the Montpellier Panel Report last year I was inspired by the talk on women in agriculture presented by Vicki Wilde. She is the Director of the CGIAR’s Gender and Diversity Programme and the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) project – a professional development program that strengthens the research and leadership skills of African women in agricultural science.
After Vicki’s speech, something inside me seemed to click and I decided from this point that I really wanted to help make a difference for women in African agriculture.
Continue reading Food, families, and women in science
The new Common Agricultural Policy can deliver food security, but not alongside wider benefits says Gareth Edward-Jones.
Just after Easter I gave my first public talk about the forthcoming reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that is due to be introduced in 2013.
Predicting and pontificating on the ideal form of future policies is every economist’s dream. You get to show how clever you are in your analysis, how balanced you in are in your appreciation of all relevant factors, and how much better the world would be if only the government would take your ideas on board.
Continue reading The politics of food
Iain Gordon reflects on a unique opportunity for Scottish science and enterprise as well as the challenges that lie ahead.
On 1 April 2011 Scotland became home to a brand new scientific research centre. The James Hutton Institute aims to be one of the world’s leading research institutes on land, crops, water and the environment and is the biggest, multi-disciplinary centre of its type in the UK.
Fittingly, its name has been taken from one of the leading figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, James Hutton (1726-97).
Continue reading A new institute to tackle food security challenges
Gambling on food prices was a driver of the 2007-08 crisis and it’s time to take action against this practice, says Julian Oram.
I don’t consider myself to be an especially intuitive person and I’m pretty sure I’d make a lousy detective. But a few years ago something happened on an international scale which roused my suspicions: the price of food was rising fast.
Between January 2007 and June 2008, maize prices shot up by 74%, wheat prices by 124%, and rice by 224%. In Britain, this led to grumblings about the rising cost of a loaf of bread. But across Asia, Africa and Latin America, riots erupted as the price of basic foodstuffs became unaffordable to poor households and millions went hungry. It was, without doubt, a major world crisis.
Continue reading The case of the great food bubble
When it comes to food and farming, Mother Nature does not always know best, says Ottoline Leyser.
© The University of York
No one says to their children, “Go into the woods and eat anything you can find. It is all natural, so it must be good for you.” But for some reason when we walk into the supermarket ‘natural’ is a key selling point for all kinds of foods.
My favourite example is a sweetcorn you can buy that claims to be ‘naturally sweet’. This is an absurd idea.
Continue reading What is ‘natural’ food?