Alternative food networks & food security

by Pedro Cerrada Serra

Our food system has become increasingly global. The industrialised mainstream model dominates in in the Global North and its high productivity often comes with a well-known heavy burden in terms of environmental and socio-economic negative externalities (biodiversity loss, resource depletion, large-scale exodus of farmers, price volatility…). This “corporate food regime” (in McMichael (2004) terms), has led to a privatization of food security, a “shift in the ‘site’ of food security from the nation-state to the world market” that has proved unable to ensure food and nutrition security (FNS) for all (undernurished people accounts for 11% of total population while overweight and obesity are on the rise everywhere, according to the last State of Food Security and Nutrition report).

Food insecurity is not a distant issue. It also affects fully developed economies as we have witnessed in Europe, particularly associated with the rising unemployment and falling wages hitting hard during the recent economic crisis (some TRANSMANGO case studies go deeper with the issue: food assistance in Tuscany, Dutch food banks, BIA food initiative in Ireland or new-agricultural initiatives in peri-urban Valencia). Continue reading “Alternative food networks & food security”

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Harnessing the power of public money for FNS

By Brídín Carroll

As the project TRANSMANGO is coming to an end, we now focus on lessons learned. Public procurement had been selected as one of five key areas of concern and for a deeper analysis in work package 5. As public procurement relates to all goods and services purchased with public money, it is a subject particularly important for food governance (for a detailed look at this analysis see D5.2).

Public procurement accounts for a significant proportion of GDP (17% in the EU) and this has led to the recognition of public procurement’s power to affect changes towards greater sustainability. In addition, it inhabits a unique position whereby it can affect demand-side and supply-side change. It addresses the former by targeting groups which are most vulnerable to food poverty by providing nutritious food. It impacts the latter by creating new markets for smaller and often more sustainable producers Continue reading “Harnessing the power of public money for FNS”

Public catering as an effective food policy measure in Finland

By: Ville Tikka & Tiina Silvasti, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

It is surprising, how small and occasional attention public catering as a modern food policy practice ensuring food and nutrition security in Finland has attracted. After all, it is estimated that one in three Finns of working age belongs to the clientele of public or subsidized catering and, when explored from the life course perspective, everyone in Finland enjoys public meals in some phase of her/his life.

It is estimated that a third of the Finnish population use public catering services on a daily basis: Coverage of free school lunch is 100 per cent in the age group of 7-16 years and approximately half of the children below the age of seven eat for free – or to be precise, at taxpayers’ expense – in day care, kindergarten or preschool. Also upper secondary schools and vocational institutions serve free school lunches. Continue reading “Public catering as an effective food policy measure in Finland”

Zooming in on ‘Food poverty’

By Brídín Carroll

Food poverty has been identified by TRANSMANGO as a key area of concern for food and nutrition security (FNS) in Europe (see D5.2). But what exactly is ‘food poverty’? 

Food poverty is defined as existing when one cannot access or avail of a safe and healthy diet, often because of financial restrictions. A key element of food poverty is uncertainty of supply and understandings of this concept therefore also tend to incorporate considerations of social or cultural norms, standards, customs or acceptability with regard to food (Nikolic et al, 2014; Dowler and O’Connor, 2012; Burns et al, 2010; Balanda et al, 2008; Dowler et al, 2007). Continue reading “Zooming in on ‘Food poverty’”

TRANSMANGO: The project that is *not* about mangoes

Four years into the project, roughly 30 country level food systems reports and about 18 deliverables later… And many of us will have had a question about mangoes at some point in time while at a conference or a local meeting. To clear the air and clarify what TRANSMANGO is all about; I’ll give a brief (as possible) overview of the project’s interdisciplinary, multi-layered and multi-sited work and some of the key deliverables and interesting reports produced throughout these years. Sad to say, this will not involve any mangoes… 🙂

As we set out on this ambitious project, our aims were to firstly, reformulate the debate on FNS. A second, more methodological objective, was to develop new ways of system modelling by combing quantitive and qualitative approaches. And lastly, through his new methodological approach we aimed to connect EU-level dynamics and local-level dynamics regarding food systems. The idea behind all these objectives was to connect the work on quantitative and indicator-based assessments of food systems to the vast empirical diversity regarding the securities, vulnerabilities and sovereignties around food, and as such build a comprehensive picture of EU food systems.

Continue reading “TRANSMANGO: The project that is *not* about mangoes”

TRANSMANGO @School

TRANSMANGO is a research project, so it is obvious that we spread the message of our research to our colleagues in the academic world. However, TRANSMANGO is about food and security in Europe and vulnerability of European citizens, today and in the future.

One group of citizens we therefore can’t ignore in the project is youngsters. How do they think about food security, about healthy food and sustainable food systems? What kind of future food system do they dream of, and what kind of food system do they fear? Continue reading “TRANSMANGO @School”

FOOD 2030

Roberta Sonnino (Cardiff University) will be the Vice-Chair of FOOD 2030 Expert Group and act as rapporteur for the conference on “Harnessing Research and Innovation for FOOD 2030: A science-policy dialogue” that will take place in Brussels in 16th October. In this role, she will be in charge of writing a short report on the main EU R&I achievements in the area of “climate and environmental sustainability”.

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The full program and the registration tool is available on the website of the European Commission

TRANSMANGO final conference

INVITATION FINAL TRANSMANGO CONFERENCE  

We kindly invite you for the final TRANSMANGO conference, which will take place on the 28th and 29th of November in Leuven. Registration is now open and the full program of the conference is published.

28 November 2017 : Stakeholder meeting

Meeting with local and European stakeholders that were involved in TRANSMANGO. TRANSMANGO has built heavily on close cooperation with various actors in the food system, both at the local level and at the European level. At this pre-conference, we provide a space for our stakeholders to meet each other in an organised setting. Registration is by invitation only

29 November 2017 : Final conference

The program includes presentations of TRANSMANGO researchers, contributions from key stakeholders of the project including representatives of local initiatives, dialogue with EU stakeholders and policy makers, and award of TRANSMANGO game jam competition
Confirmed keynote speakers: Jessica Duncan (Wageningen University), Alexandre Meybeck (FAO) and Inge Van Oost (EIP AGRI)
Location: Promotiezaal KU Leuven, Naamsestraat 22, Leuven

Development of Organic Farming in Europe at the Crossroads: Looking for the Way Forward through System Archetypes Lenses

Recently a TRANSMANGO article has been published in Sustainability. It has been written by our colleagues Natalia Brzezina and Erik Mathijs together with Katharina Biely, Birgit Kopainsky, Joost Vervoort and Ariella Helfgott.

Over the last several decades, policymakers and stakeholders in the European Union (EU) have put considerable effort into increasing the adoption of organic farming, with the overall objective of its sustainable development. However, the growth of the organic sector has come with many challenges that jeopardize its sustainability. The question then is how to move organic farming in Europe forward and at the same time capitalize on its potential contribution to sustainability? Organic farming in the EU is a highly complex and dynamic food system and as such this question cannot be answered in isolation using a one-dimensional mind-set and tools of the past.

systems-archetypes

In this paper, we use three system archetypes—Limits to Growth, Shifting the Burden and Eroding Goals—to sharpen our ability: (1) to analyze and anticipate difficulties in the development of organic farming in the EU under the current policy measures; and (2) to find effective ways to address these difficulties. A system archetype consists of a generic system structure that leads to unintended behavior over time and effective strategies for changing the structure into one that generates desirable behavior. The analysis reveals that in order to move forward, policymakers and stakeholders should reemphasize fundamental solutions rather than quick fixes that often generate unintended consequences. Specifically, Limits to Growth shows us that the leverage for moving organic farming out of the niche does not necessarily lie in increasing subsidies that push engines of growth, but rather in anticipating and managing its limits arising from, for instance, market dynamics or intrinsic environmental motivation. In turn, Shifting the Burden brings to attention how easily and unnoticeably the EU’s organic farming system can become dependent on third countries thereby undermining its own sustainability. Finally, Eroding Goals highlights that is it important to continuously improve regulatory standards based on an external frame of reference, as otherwise organic farming in the EU will continue on its trajectory towards conventionalization.

More details ? Please follow this link.