Promising insights into local pathways to food and nutrition security

A major part of the TRANSMANGO project, was the interrogation of locally enacted pathways to address food system vulnerabilities and ensure food and nutrition security. Although food system vulnerabilities have been subject to a variety of global and national interventions, programmes and policies, these have not been able to fully address these challenges.

The starting point for WP6 was the assumption that food systems cannot be understood as uniform. ‘Local’ actors too attempt to address food system vulnerabilities within their locality and in doing so may offer promising and resilient practices. The recently published local food and nutrition security (FNS) pathways reports showcase a rich diversity of practices found at the local level and can serve as insights for policy-makers at EU and local level. The cases have been synthesised in D6.4.

Continue reading “Promising insights into local pathways to food and nutrition security”

A food dystopia: Is Britain sleepwalking into a crisis?

Terry Marsden and Kevin Morgan, Cardiff University

Back to the future?

The historical ability for the UK state to periodically create self-inflicted harm upon its own food system seems to be raising its head again as the country triggers Article 50 to remove itself from the European Union. We should remember that the repeal of the Corn Laws in the 1840s, opening up the UK to cheap food imports (based indeed on subsidised imperial preferences to its colonies), in exchange for colonial penetration of its financial and manufacturing interests and sectors, created the conditions for a long- running agricultural and rural depression in the UK, lasting well into the 1930s. That Imperial regime of ‘free trade’ created much harm to the British food system, its rural areas, and indeed shaped a dependent food diet based upon imports from colonies and other Logo_brexit_new_size2.pngEuropean nations (like Danish  Bacon and Dutch eggs and pork). What is ironically labelled as the ‘full English’ breakfast up and down the land derives from the successful import penetration of its component parts from overseas. The decline in our food-based infrastructure was so bad that, by the onset of the 1st World War, Lloyd George had to go ‘cap in hand’ to the likes of Henry Ford to plead concessions on building his tractors on these shores in order to resolve food and rural labour shortages. Even by 1941 the national farm survey found the agricultural situation in a parlous state, even before the U-boat campaign further disrupted food supplies and led to a  period of prolonged public food rationing until 1954. Continue reading “A food dystopia: Is Britain sleepwalking into a crisis?”

Brexit: Towards building a new consensus for an Integrated Food and Rural Development Policy?

TransmangoJust as increasing calls and debates occur regarding the need for a more integrated and comprehensive Food and Agricultural policy across Europe we now have the Brexit result, which  whilst not changing the urgency for the need  to debate the shape of European policy beyond 2020, certainly adds another dimension and potential ‘opportunity space’ for such developments. Whilst specific instruments and policy programmes might indeed increasingly vary across Europe, this result does not quell the need to debate what sort of founding and common principles upon which such policies should be based.

Here I would like to set out some of the issues and reactions to the Brexit vote for the agri-food policy arena, some of which I presented and discussed at the recent UK Food Research Consortium held at City University, London in July. I also draw upon the recent policy paper we have written, entitled ‘Food Policy and Public Policy’ for the Welsh Minister for Farming and Food [1]. In addition these arguments here draw upon the research and discussions associated with the ongoing (and increasingly policy relevant) EU funded research project, TRANSMANGO [2] . Continue reading “Brexit: Towards building a new consensus for an Integrated Food and Rural Development Policy?”

The TRANSMANGO Vulnerability Matrix: a conceptual & communicative tool

Food security is a complex domain; in Europe, it may appear less relevant and evident, while it’s more insidious nature reveals several symptoms. How to translate this opaque intricacy into an intelligible and logical synthesis? The Vulnerability Matrix which is part of WP2 is a conceptual and communicative tool to condense these complex phenomena into a visual summary that flags possible areas for policy action. The TRANSMANGO Matrix is inspired by the outcomes of the media content analyses carried out at national level in WP2 (found here).

The aim of the matrix is to give a synthetic representation of the main areas of food and nutrition vulnerability in the EU, in relation to the factors those areas are vulnerable to. The goal is to give policy-makers, experts and stakeholders a map for food and nutrition vulnerability mitigation where the main sensitive issues (priority mitigation areas) can be visualised. The Matrix is intended to support prompt identification of critical and emerging vulnerability elements. The use of icons is aimed at giving the reader an easy and immediate visual appreciation of the contents of each cell and of the Matrix general contents. Continue reading “The TRANSMANGO Vulnerability Matrix: a conceptual & communicative tool”

Syria and Sustainability: Bombs, bullets and bio-diversity, let’s move beyond ‘precision’ warfare and ‘precision’ farming.

In light of current debates on climate change negotiations, but also on warfare in Syria, Terry Marsden wrote an opinion paper on moving beyond a technological ‘fix’.


The current debate about bombing again is really so tiresome. At the same time the Climate talks are starting. The overwhelming evidence shows (for well over a century), that bombing never works and creates far more problems than it resolves. It just creates an elitist movement of memorials; and it generally pleases and satisfies the politicians. But it is old-fashioned ‘fordist’ technology relying upon old -fashioned nation states. We don’t need to rehearse the arguments again here; but I would like to suggest a way of progressing a far better link between war, terror and bio-diversity. In fact reversing the order of these three words would really help.  Continue reading “Syria and Sustainability: Bombs, bullets and bio-diversity, let’s move beyond ‘precision’ warfare and ‘precision’ farming.”

Embracing and exploring diversity in sustainable transition pathways to food and nutrition security

Through the project TRANSMANGO we hope to contribute to a better understanding of sustainable transition pathways to changing food systems. Especially in WP6 we put focus on the diverse food practices performed on the local level all over Europe and their contribution to food and nutrition security[1]. The European ‘fragmented foodscape’[2] is constituted by a range of various and often contrasting social practices that co-exist and interact with another. Hence we have selected a diverse range of food practices all over Europe in order to explore whether and if so how they enhance food security. These practices range from urban food (policy) initiatives in the UK to food assistance in Italy.

The 18 diverse case-studies that have been selected for WP6 illustrate the European[3]  heterogeneity in Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) practices and transition pathways. The selection covers predominantly ‘counter movements’ and more radical FNS transition pathways of which most have a focus on ‘bottom up’ initiatives around the consumption of food (rather than the production) as this field is still underrepresented when it comes to food system transition research. As can be seen in the figure, all of our partners have selected two case-studies. This was done based on the requirement that these social practices cover entitlement- and/or self-reliance issues. Using this divide amongst the cases allows us to zoom in on the contradictions in European food governance. Foremost, it provides us with a good insight into the complexity and heterogeneity of food practices, but also shows the need for ‘macro-level’ actors (e.g. the EU) to embrace these diverse interactions on a ‘micro-level’. Continue reading “Embracing and exploring diversity in sustainable transition pathways to food and nutrition security”

Identifying main vulnerabilities and policy priorities to deliver FNS: Results from a Delphi survey with experts

What are vulnerabilities and transitions in the European food system at EU level according to international experts? This is one of the things we aim to explore in WP5 of TRANSMANGO. As part of this WP, we conducted a Delphi method, where 45 international experts participated to identify global drivers of the food system affecting EU food and nutrition security.
This method consisted of three rounds. The first round contained open-ended questions to gather as much diversity as possible. The analysis of the answers to these questions led to identify a set of drivers, vulnerabilities and policy priorities that participants ranked throughout the second round. The results of the second round were shared in the third and final round asking for reactions, comments or suggestions if any. You can read the full report here. To help us gather more information on how to prioritise drivers, vulnerabilities & policy priorities for FNS, fill in the form found at the bottom of this post. Continue reading “Identifying main vulnerabilities and policy priorities to deliver FNS: Results from a Delphi survey with experts”

Reflections on the 2nd Global Food Security Conference

global food security conference

The Second International Conference on Global Food Security aimed to deliver state-of-the-art analysis, inspiring visions and innovative methods arising from research in a wide range of disciplines. TRANSMANGO was well represented at the conference: John Ingram was part of the scientific committee of the conference; Dionisio Ortiz Miranda attended the conference as member of the International Sustainable Food Systems and Diets Scientific Committee of the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation; and Tessa Avermaete presented ongoing work in TRANSMANGO. Continue reading “Reflections on the 2nd Global Food Security Conference”

Building a Common Food and Nutrition Policy: asking the new structures question

Terry Marsden revisits the opinion paper he wrote earlier this month on a common food policy and reflects on the ‘new structures question’. If you would like to comment on this please join us in our discussion on #commonfoodpolicy on Twitter or Facebook.

Since my first intervention calling for a radical reorganisation of the CAP, both in terms of individual responses and further reading, I am increasingly struck by the significant weight of evidence calling for more policy integration around food. This includes various EU Foresight reports. In debating these proposed changes and policy needs it is perhaps important not to rush into concerns about changes in actual policy instruments and structures, but first to more fundamentally consider and debate some of the principles which lie behind a ‘new deal for food’ in Europe. One key area is to re-position rural development concerns right at the heart of the debate. Talking to colleagues this week at the ‘kick off’ meeting of the new EU ITN Network (SUSPLACE) in Wageningen, and visiting a multi-functional ‘care farm’ in the process, made me reflect upon the renewed need to establish and embody a firm EU policy regime around multifunctional rural development, very much along the lines of the ‘new rural paradigm’ thinking coming out of the OECD, and various academic writings over the past decade[1]. Continue reading “Building a Common Food and Nutrition Policy: asking the new structures question”

A Common Food and Nutrition Policy for Europe?

TransmangoThe EU-project TRANSMANGO is focussed at sustainable pathways to changing the food system. This project aims to combine and integrate different theoretical approaches to gain insight into Food and Nutrition Security (FNS). In light of that, TRANSMANGO’s Terry Marsden has written an opinion paper about transitioning from the CAP to a Common Food and Nutrition Policy to start the debate. Join us on twitter and Facebook by using #commonfoodpolicy.

Having been fortunate enough to have attended and participated in several international conferences and working groups over the spring and summer of this year, and had a change to explore and discuss the current ‘state of play’ in what seems to be the increasingly dysfunctional global food system, I have recently begun to seriously reflect on European policy, and the questions of radically changing the current EU CAP into a Common Food and Nutrition Policy. This was mentioned by Damien Canare, from Montpellier at a meeting of the FLEDGE research programme in Waterloo in September this year, and in my preparation and discussions for a presentation on the TRANSMANGO EU project at the Agriculture and Urbanising Society Conference in Rome thereafter.
Continue reading “A Common Food and Nutrition Policy for Europe?”