Our current dietary pattern has a strong impact on the environment. Global food production releases more than 25 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, pollutes terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and uses about 40 percent of the earth’s terrestrial surface.
Modelling healthy diets is not an easy task. To do this, you first have to define the required consumer-based dietary intake data. This is one of the objectives of the SUSFANS project in Work package 2. In focus of this Work package are four European countries, namely Denmark, Czech Republic, Italy and France.
Jacqueline Bloemhof is full professor and chair of the Operations Research and Logistics Group at Wageningen University. Her main field of research is sustainable supply chain management, both in forward chains (food and other agricultural distribution networks) and closed loop supply chains (recycling and recovery of products, parts, materials or energy). She published on these topics in a large number of articles in ISI journals in the field of Operations Research and Environmental Science, Engineering and Environmental Sciences.
Volatile food prices have considerable impact on food security, sparkling riots and contributing to political instability, as past shows. Research so far has shown that volatility is caused by a combination of factors like trade restrictions, financial speculations or even an expanding population, biofuel-policies and weather effects.
Crop production is the most crucial primary agricultural production activity for both food and nutrition security. In 2011, around 70 percent of the calories per capita and per day came from plant-based products. Besides, its importance for the direct human consumption, crop production is also crucial for producing feed for livestock and, increasingly, for aquaculture.
Seafood is generally a healthy protein alternative in a diet. Official dietary advices often recommend to eating more seafood and vegetables and less beef. At present, seafood accounts for around 17 percent of the global population’s intake of animal protein and nearly 7 percent of all protein consumed. However, there are sustainability challenges remaining for a range of production systems that still need to be resolved.
Over the last decades, demand for animal-source food has increased in Europe. This food consumption pattern leads to health issues. Given current high consumption levels of animal-source food in Europe, two main strategies are suggested to come to healthy and sustainable diets:
What do European consumers think about the sustainability of their own food behavior? What are their perceptions of sustainability? Can we measure determinants of sustainable food behavior or find similarities across European countries?
Identifying determinants is important. With that knowledge, we can anticipate which behavior consumers are willing to change under which conditions, and translate this information into metrics and models for generating a sustainable and healthy diet.
Shifting towards a more sustainable food consumption pattern is an important strategy to mitigate climate change. In the past decade, various studies have optimised environmentally sustainable diets using different methodological approaches. The aim of the present review was to categorise and summarise the different approaches to operationalise the health aspects of environmentally sustainable diets.
Recent food price spikes and their potential link to an increased demand of biofuels and food, ongoing land use changes, such as conversion of tropical forest to agricultural land, and their relation to Green House Gas Emissions as well as discussions about the so called bio-economy – all these factors have renewed societal and scientific interest in better understanding how agricultural land use reacts to price and policy signals.
For scientists, especially economists, it is crucial to integrate these issues into models.
Crop production is the most crucial primary agricultural production activity for both food and nutrition security. Besides its importance for the direct human consumption, crop production is also crucial for producing feed for livestock and increasingly also for aquaculture.
Most generally, crop production is primarily determined by the interaction of land use and crop yields. Both land use and crop yields are affected by various drivers. The deliverable on drivers of crop production consists of two main parts.
Being the fastest growing food producing sector, aquaculture has the potential to provide high quality protein sources and meet increasing future food demand.
However, the raising concerns over competition for land - direct and through feed competition – and sustainability as well as restrictive regulations may limit the expansion of aquaculture. We are working on a thorough literature review of the complex interlinkages across aquaculture, land use and sustainability.
The role of seafood in healthy and sustainable diets is complex. It is the most traded food commodity, has vastly different environmental sustainability, is essential in countries with undernourishment but being exported to developed countries where it is being promoted as a healthy and environmentally sound choice. In a public report due in September we intend to illustrate this complexity for defining optimized diets for EU citizens.
Cardiovascular diseases and cancer constitute almost two-thirds of diseases in industrial countries. A large number of these (chronic) diseases are due to lifestyle-related risk factors, among them poor dietary habits such as excessive intakes of salt, carbohydrates, and fats, in addition to insufficient intakes of fruits and vegetables. According to the World Health Organization, preventing these diet-related risk factors in combination with actions reducing physical inactivity and tobacco use could lead to an increase in the average life expectancy by three to five years in high-income countries.
The aim of SUSFANS is to show how nutritional health and food production can be better aligned and to strengthen the existing computational models for key specifics of the EU food system. A core output of SUSFANS will thus be a Toolbox, integrating different agricultural, economic and biophysical models. It is developed within the Work package 9.
The overall aim of Work Package 7 is to define “SHARP diets” for European (EU) consumers based on individual-level data. Such diets are environmentally Sustainable, Healthy (nutritionally adequate), Affordable (accessible yet also supporting the EU agri-food sector), Reliable (safe and stable in their supply), and Preferable (consistent with cultural norms and preferences).
All SUSFANS work package and pillar leaders will meet in Oxford from March 7 to 9, 2016. Here, they will finalize the framework and metrics handled by Workpackage 1 to make it operational - an important step for the progress and success of the SUSFANS project.
Around 40 experts in the field of food and nutrition security met in Prague, Czech Republic on October 30, 2015, to discuss, review, refine and give feedback on the SUSFANS project. Read the summary and the report.
A new paper co-authored by SUSFANS project member Louis George-Solar (INRA) will be published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The article deals with the "assessment of the potential health impacts of food reformulation".
This first workshop will introduce the SUSFANS project with a special focus on the Work Package 1 ‘Conceptual framework and food and nutrition security (FNS) sustainability metrics’ and the Work Package 6 ‘Stakeholder interaction and scenario review’.
From May 20 - 22, scientists from europe will meet at The Hague for the SUSFANS Kickoff-Meeting. The overall aim of the meeting is to reconfirm the relevance of SUSFANS in its present research and policy environment and to build the SUSFANS community. The research ambitions call upon strong interconnections between the diverse sets of elements in the research and project plan.