Thought for Food Blog

Are Seed Vaults the Key to Food Security?

Posted by Tom Payne

17-Nov-2015 12:00:00

The Doomsday Seed Vaults

The idea of an impending Doomsday has existed in our collective conscious for centuries.

Whether approached from a religious or cultural bent (for example, 2012’s misunderstood Mayan calendar) or a more ‘worldly’ perspective (for instance, concerns over biotechnologies or nuclear warfare), the notion is by no means uncommon.

While the possibility of a global catastrophic event today appears distant, climate change and food insecurity – both imminent causes for concern – already have contingency plans in place. For over a decade, agricultural and food scientists worldwide have been establishing what many call the Doomsday Seed Vaults.

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Topics: genetic modification (GM), food security, cereals, protein, wheat, agriculture, food production, environment and sustainability

Reducing Meat Consumption for Sustainability

Posted by Naomi McGrath

05-May-2015 16:30:00

What changes could we make to “meat” the need for more sustainable food choices?

Meat often dominates the dinner plate. Whether it’s a juicy steak, a roast on a Sunday, or some sizzling sausages served up with a mountain of mash, meat regularly forms the central part of the meal, and for many people it is something they would certainly not want to go without. Unfortunately, though, while our enthusiasm for digging into meat-filled meals might leave our stomachs satisfied, it is having rather less positive consequences for the environment.

Meat production and the environment

Meat production is one of the main sources of human pressure on the environment, and its consumption accounts for a significant proportion of the ecological footprint of those who eat it. As well as being a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (it is claimed that the global livestock industry generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, trains, ships and planes put together), raising animals for food is inefficient. It requires vast areas of land – not just for grazing, but for growing crops for feeds too, as well as large amounts of energy and water, all to produce only a relatively small amount of meat.

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Topics: food security, cancer, animal welfare, protein, diabetes, grains, obesity, agriculture, meat, cardiovascular health, food production, environment and sustainability, consumer behaviour, plant-based diets

Heavy Metals in the Food Chain: Could They Be Harming Your Health?

Posted by Naomi McGrath

14-Nov-2014 15:59:00

Heavy metals are natural components of the earth’s crust; however, certain activities of mankind, such as mining and smelting, have led to them becoming concentrated in the environment, in some areas reaching potentially harmful levels. Other sources such as vehicle emissions, industrial waste and fertilizers also contribute to the accumulation of heavy metals in the soil, atmosphere and surface water.

Heavy metals can be severely detrimental to the human body, having toxic and carcinogenic effects and causing the oxidative deterioration of biological macromolecules. The various metals have been implicated in the development of many diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and several forms of cancer.

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Topics: omega-3, rice, fish, copper, cancer, arsenic, cereals, seafood, diabetes, vegetables, pregnancy, agriculture, toxins, regulations and guidance, contaminants, water, cognitive function, central nervous system

Do Organic Food Consumers Really Know What They’re Buying?

Posted by Naomi McGrath

01-Jul-2014 13:10:00

Organic foods often come at a higher cost than their non-organic counterparts. Yet, some consumers consistently choose to buy them above conventionally-produced foods. Evidence suggests that there is often some discrepancy between what consumers believe organic foods offer and the reality. So what exactly are organic foods, and what motivates consumers to buy them?

Organic food: a definition

Organic foods are those produced by organic farming methods, which aim to reduce negative impacts on the environment. The exact standards producers must meet vary slightly between countries, which set their own guidelines, but there are a few core principles that are shared by all of the various regulatory bodies.

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Topics: zinc, food safety, food quality, organic, cancer, animal welfare, nutrition, flavour, pesticides, agriculture, meat, regulations and guidance, retail and marketing, environment and sustainability, consumer behaviour

Almost Half of the World's Food is Thrown Away...

Posted by Dave Howard

18-Nov-2013 10:24:00

Figures from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) show as much as 2bn tonnes of food never makes it on to a plate.

The UK's IMechE blames the 'staggering' figures in its analysis on unnecessarily strict sell-by dates, buy-one-get-one free and Western consumer demand for cosmetically perfect food, along with 'poor engineering and agricultural practices', inadequate infrastructure and poor storage facilities.

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Topics: food quality, food security, nutrition, agriculture, water, retail and marketing, environment and sustainability

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