Monthly Archives: February 2015

Local Realities of the Global Food Nexus

Earlier this month BSUFN hosted an international conversation between farmers and researchers in the UK and Ghana. The conversation was held during the session on the local realities of the global food nexus at the BSUFN Symposium: The Diversity of Food Research.

Via an internet link, farmers, practitioners, and researchers in the UK and Ghana were able to discuss the similarities and differences in the local realities of farming at a local scale. The conversation addressed the food-water-energy-land nexus and how this global concept manifests itself at a local scale.

UK and Ghana-Based Participants

The conversation had two participants in the UK, Mikey Tomkins and Collette Haynes, and eight small-holder farmers who are partnered with NGO Trax Ghana. The farmers in Northern Ghana were able to participate in the conversation through translation provided by Trax Ghana’s field staff.

Farmers partnered with Trax Ghana – Trax Ghana is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working with rural communities in Northern Ghana. They are working to reduce poverty and increase food security through sustainable agricultural and livelihood interventions. Trax Ghana work through a philosophy of community participation.

Mikey Tomkins – Hunt Institute, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas – Mikey Tomkins recently graduated from the school of Arts and Architect, University of Brighton, with a PhD that explored the everyday life of community food gardening in London. Since 2014 he has worked as a consultant and project director at the Hunt Institute, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX. The main aim of the project is to developing the capacity for urban agriculture amongst refugee communities, both in Dallas, and Uganda.

Collette Haynes Ashurst Organics, UK – Collette Haynes and her husband Peter have been running Ashurst Organics vegetable box scheme from Ashurst Farm in Plumpton, East Sussex, UK, since 1994. Ashurst farm is an 81 acre farm, with 15 acres devoted to organic vegetable production. She is a member of the Organic Growers Alliance (OGA) and the newly established Land workers Alliance UK and has written articles for both the OGA and the Soil Association on the realities of farming, growing and supplying local food.

Food-Water-Energy-Land Nexus

The conversation identified several areas of similarities in the experiences of small-holder farmers in Ghana, small-scale farming in the UK, and urban agriculture in the UK.

Both the farmers in Ghana and Collette Haynes commented on changes in the rainfall pattern over the past seven years. However, in Ghana this had led to more frequent drought and in the UK this had led to increased flooding. Discussion showed that in both countries there are limited options for irrigation. As such, a reliance on red-fed agriculture leaves farmers exposed to the risks of extreme weather events and climate change.

Mikey Tomkins outlined the challenges of poor access to soil which urban farmers face. This again resonated with the farmers in Northern Ghana who cited land degradation as a factor which is compounding poor soil quality. Likewise, access to water was a common challenge faced by urban community gardens and small-holders in Northern Ghana.

The conversation raised issues of economic influences on farming activities. Collette Haynes explained that as a small-scale organic farmer in the UK there are challenges in competing with bigger farms in national markets. In Ghana, the farmers stated that they face challenges accessing market chains and value addition.

The conversation closed on a discussion of food sovereignty in which participants raised issues of the cost of labour, inequality, justice, and the demand for affordable food. All participants noted the need to access good quality seeds can present challenges.

The Global at a Local Scale

This session highlighted how the realities of the global food-water-energy-land nexus are experienced at the local level by food producers. Despite engaging in agriculture in very different contexts the participants in the conversation identified several topics which are common concerns across contexts. At the local scale there are shared challenges which farmers experience and these can manifest themselves in different ways.

This short conversation brought up many issues and there is much opportunity for further discussion and investigation. It is hoped that this insightful and engaging conversation will continue through future collaboration and ongoing discussion of the global food nexus, food sovereignty, and global food commons.

Although the global food nexus is often considered conceptually, the interaction between food production, water, energy and land is a reality at the local level.

Crowdfeeding the world with meaningful food: food as a commons

This is a guest article written by Jose Luis Vivero Pol, Université catholique de Louvain. It is a summarized version of a working paper that can be downloaded here. BSUFN are grateful to Jose for his contribution to the discussions in several of the special interest groups supported by our network. More information about Jose’s research interests and publications is available here.

Crowdfeeding the world with meaningful food: food as a commons

Our human society has a troublesome relationship with food. Although we produce enough food to adequately feed all, both obesity and under-nutrition affect an estimated 2.3 billion people globally causing 6 million deaths annually. Nowadays, many eat poorly to enable others to eat badly and cheaply and food production has become a major driving force in pushing the environment beyond the planetary boundaries. Growing water and food needs due to population growth, climate change, consumption shift towards meat-based diets and biofuel development will exacerbate the already critical challenges to planet boundaries and food security and nutrition. If we extrapolate current food consumption and production trends, humanity will need three Earths by 2050 to meet demand. Within that scenario, how feasible is to eradicate chronic malnutrition while keep considering food as a commodity? Wouldn’t it be wiser, fairer and more sustainable to consider food as a commons, or a semi-private good that shall be governed as a commons, and food and nutrition security as a global public good?

The global food landscape and its systemic fault lines

Food has evolved into a private, transnational, mono-dimensional commodity in a global market of mass consumption (Fischler, 2011). The mechanisms of enclosure, or restriction and privatisation of common resources through legislation, excessive pricing and patents, have obviously played a major role in limiting access to food as a commons, while the social construct of food as a commodity denies its non-economic attributes in favour of its tradable features, namely durability, external beauty and the standardisation of naturally-diverse food products, leading to a neglect of nutrition-related properties of food, alongside an emphasis on cheap calories.

One has to admit that the industrialisation and commodification of food brought humanity some positive outcomes in the form of increased food production and food access for millions but it also yielded many negative externalities, namely inequality, inefficiency and unsustainability within the planetary boundaries, with the mono-dimensional valuation of food as a commodity as the fourth one. The transnational corporations that dominate the industrialised food system are major drivers of malnutrition and environmental degradation by operating to accumulate and under-price calorie-based food resources (Monteiro et al., 2011) and maximise the profit of food enterprises instead of maximising the nutrition and health benefits of food to all. Governed by self-interest, private markets will not provide an adequate quantity of public goods, such as health, nutrition and hunger eradication, which have enormous benefits to human beings but are non-monetised, as the positive externalities cannot be captured by private actors. And, rather crucially, these fault lines will not be reversed or corrected by simply applying a sustainable intensification lip service (Godfray & Garnett, 2014) that mostly addresses the technological challenges and obscures the social and power imbalances

Multi-dimensional food is crowded out by commodification

The development of food as a pure commodity radically opposes the other dimensions, rather important for our survival, self-identity and community life: food as a basic human need to keep its vital functions (the nutritional dimension, Maslow, 1943); food as a pillar of every national culture (Montanori, 2006); food as a fundamental human right that should be guaranteed to every citizen (United Nations, 1966) and food as a part of a wider ecological context involving sustainable production. All those dimensions enrich the consideration of food as a commons. Instead, these multiple dimensions are combined with and superseded by its tradable features, thus conflating value and price (understanding the former in terms of the latter). Under capitalism, the value in use (a biological necessity) is highly dissociated from its value in exchange (price in the market) (Timmer, Falcon & Pearson, 1983), giving primacy to the latter over the former (McMichael, 2009). Food as a pure commodity can be speculated in by investors, modified genetically and patented by corporations, or diverted from human consumption just to maximise profit. Nutrition is overshadowed by uses with higher returns to investment although recent narratives are trying to demonstrate how financially profitable is reducing hunger (IFPRI, 2014).

Image credit: Francesco Baiocchi, with permission via Jose Luis Vivero Pol

Image credit: Francesco Baiocchi, with permission via Jose Luis Vivero Pol

The corporate (neoliberal) food regime defines a set of rules institutionalising corporate power in the world food system deepening the commodification of food by radically undermining its non-monetary dimensions (Pechlaner & Otero, 2010). Market rules not only put prices to foodstuff but in doing so markets corrupt their original nature (Sandel, 2012). This reduction of the food dimensions to one of a commodity explains the roots of the failure of the global food system (Magdoff & Tokar, 2010; Zerbe, 2009) and therefore the most revolutionary and structural mind shift is to re-value the multiple dimensions of food for human beings, beyond its artificially low price in the market.

Nevertheless, none of the major analyses produced in the last decades on the fault lines of the global food system and the very existence of hunger has ever questioned the nature of food as a private good (FAO, 2012; UK Government, 2011; United Nations, 2012; World Bank, 2008; WEF, 2013), and recent post2015 debates and feeding documents maintain the same narrative frame. Despite previous efforts within the UN system (Kaul et al., 2003), neither food and nutrition security is considered as a Global Public Good nor food a commons.

The re-commonification of food: innovative approaches to historical developments

The re-commonification of food implies a shift in the economic and political narratives around food production, consumption and ethical considerations. Excludability and rivalry, the features used by the economic school to define private/public/common goods, are not ontological properties of goods (absolute) but social constructs created by human beings. In fact, goods often become private or public as a result of deliberate policy choices. The degree of excludability and rivalry depends upon variables related to the nature of the good, the consumption/utilisation rate, technological developments and the definition and enforcement of property rights defined by entitlements, regulations and sanctions. Both properties are attributes that human society assigns to different types of good, largely based on a dominant ideology, particular economic thinking and historical considerations; consequently, they can be modified. Although none of the major analyses produced in the last decades on the fault lines of the global food system and the very existence of hunger has ever questioned this nature of food as a private good, we recommend the economic consideration of food as a private good to be revisited, and more impure or fluid categories to be developed.

Actually, food has not always been regarded as a pure commodity devoid of other important dimensions and food commons are not new. Many societies have considered, and still consider, food as a commons, as well as the land and water and its forests and fisheries; and the consideration different civilisations have assigned to food-producing commons is rather diverse and certainly evolving. Well-documented examples of live and functional food-producing commons can be found at both ends of the developmental scale (Vivero, 2014). The agricultural and related utility of commons to human societies has enabled them to survive up to the present day, despite the waves of enclosure, misappropriations and legal privatisations.

Crowdsourcing the transition to food as a commons

Over the last 20 years, there have been two streams of civic collective actions for food running in parallel: the food sovereignty movement and the Alternative Food Networks (AFN) exploding in urban and peri-urban areas and presently the corporate food regime is coming under increasing scrutiny by those two innovative counter-hegemonic streams as the major fault lines of inequality, inefficiency, unsustainability and commodification become ever more evident. Although the food sovereignty movement has not yet fine-tuned with legitimate concerns for healthy and local food, return to nature and less-polluting forms of food consumption by urban consumers, it is now becoming appreciative of their strategic importance. Food is a powerful weapon for social transformation and the convergence of these two movements is expected to mark a great tectonic movement in the global and national food system governance in the years to come as they are organisational drivers of change in the transition towards what could be more appropriately termed a food commons regime

The food commons regime would fundamentally rest on the idea of food as a commons, which means revalorising the different food dimensions that are relevant to human beings and thus, of course, reducing the tradable dimension that has rendered it a mere commodity. In fact, food-related elements are being considered as global or national commons, and an evolving governance of the food system is being constructed from bottom-up grassroots urban and rural initiatives. Amongst the food-related elements being considered as global or national commons, we can mention: (a) material and non-material food-related elements already considered as commons, (b) edible plants and animals produced by nature, (c) genetic resources for food and agriculture, (d) traditional agricultural knowledge, (e) modern, science-based agricultural knowledge produced by public institutions, (f) cuisine, recipes and national gastronomy, (g) food safety, (h) nutrition, including hunger and obesity imbalances, and (i) food price stability.

Image credit: Francesco Baiottli, with permission via Jose Luis Vivero Pol

Image credit: Francesco Baiocchi, with permission via Jose Luis Vivero Pol

The food commons regime would inform an essentially democratic food system based on sustainable agricultural practices (agro-ecology) and open-source knowledge (creative commons licenses) through the assumption of relevant knowledge (cuisine recipes, agrarian practices, public research, etc.), material items (seeds, fish stocks, etc.) and abstract entities (transboundary food safety regulations, public nutrition, etc.) as global commons. Departing from our current regime, this transition entails a move from a state-private sector duopoly to a collective, polycentric and reflexive governance of food, where the third pillar would be the self-regulated, civic, collective actions for food that are emerging all over the world. In short, a food commons regime would be governed in a polycentric manner by food citizens (Gomez-Benito & Lozano, 2014) that develop food democracies (Lang, 2003; De Schutter, 2014) which value the different dimensions of food (Vivero, 2013).

Quite relevant for the post2015 debates and final agreement, the transition towards a food commons regime and a Zero Hunger scenario will need a different kind of state, a partner state, with different duties and skills to steer that transition. The desirable functions are shaped by partnering and innovation rather than command-and-control. Public authorities will need to play a leading role in support of existing rural and urban commons and the creation of new commons for their societal value. The challenge for the private sector within this new paradigm is to be driven by a different ethos while making profit: keeping indeed an entrepreneurial spirit but focused on social aims and satisfying needs. Agro-ecology, family farming and more socially-embedded forms of production such as co-operatives and social enterprises are examples of this. In that sense, by limiting the influence of market provision and encouraging (politically and financially) the development of other modes of food provision (state or communal), we can re-build a more balanced tricentric food system.

Food Commons as a transformational narrative

Unlike the market, the food commons are about equity, collectiveness, embeddedness and direct democracy from local to global. This invokes a radical paradigm shift from individual competitiveness as the engine of progress via endless growth towards collective cooperation as the driver of happiness and the common good. We need to develop a food system that first, provides for sustainable nutrition for all and second, provides meaning and not just utility, to food production, trading and consumption. The re-commoning of food will open up the transition towards a new food regime in which primacy rests in its absolute needs of human beings (nutrition + culture + community) and the different dimensions of food are properly valued.

But re-commoning is just an idea; an alternative narrative that will have to fight the epic battle of ideas is currently taking place in our world. Changes in societies are driven by culture wars, ideological paradigms and constant renewal of dominant social constructs and value frames. Let’s make “food is a commons” a meme to substantiate the transformational narrative to confront the dominant mainstream discourse of “food as a commodity”. Let’s make commons food common. Let’s commonify the commodity, to eradicate hunger in the post2015 scenario.


References

De Schutter, O. (2014). The transformative potential of the right to food. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food to the UN Human Rights Council, A/HRC/25/57.

FAO (2012). The future we want. End hunger and make the transition to sustainable agricultural and food systems. Rome: FAO.

Fischler, C. (2011). L’alimentation, une consommation pas comme les autres. Comment la consommation a envahi nos vies. Grands Dossiers n° 22.

Godfray H.C.J. and T. Garnett (2014). Food security and sustainable intensification. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 369: 20120273.

Gomez-Benito, C. and C. Lozano (2014). Constructing food citizenship: theoretical premises and social practices. Italian Sociological Review 4 (2): 135-156.

IFPRI (2014). Global Nutrition Report 2014: Actions and Accountability to Accelerate the World’s Progress on Nutrition. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute, 2014.

Kaul, I., P. Conceição, K. Le Goulven and R.U. Mendoza, eds. (2003). Providing Global public goods: managing globalization. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lang, T. (2003). Towards a food democracy. In S. Griffiths and J. Wallace, eds. Consuming passions: food in the age of anxiety. Pp. 13-24. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Magdoff, F. and B. Tokar, eds. (2010). Agriculture and food in crisis. Conflict, resistance, and renewal. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Maslow, A. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review 50 (4): 370-96.

McMichael, P. (2009). A food regime genealogy. Journal of Peasant Studies 36 (1): 139-169.

Montanori, M. (2006). Food is culture. Arts and traditions on the table. New York: Columbia University Press.

Monteiro C.A., R.B. Levy, R.M. Claro, I.R. de Castro and G. Cannon (2011). Increasing consumption of ultra-processed foods and likely impact on human health: evidence from Brazil. Public Health Nutr. 14 (1): 5-13.

Pechlaner, G. and G. Otero (2010). The neoliberal food regime: neoregulation and the new division of labor in North America. Rural Sociology 75 (2): 179-208.

Sandel, M.J. (2012). What isn’t for sale? The Atlantic, Feb. 2012.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/04/what-isnt-for-sale/308902/

Timmer, P., W.P. Falcon and S.R. Pearson (1983). Food policy analysis. Washington, D.C.: Johns Hopkins University Press.

United Nations (1966). International covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, adopted on 16 December 1966, General Assembly Resolution 2200(XXII), UN. GAOR, 21st sess., Supp. No. 16, U.S. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 993 UNTS 3.

United Nations (2012). The Future we want. A/RES/66/288. United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio de Janeiro, June 2012. September 2012. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/futurewewant.html

UK Government (2011). The future of food and farming: challenges and choices for global sustainability. Final project report. London: Foresight, Department for Business Innovation and Skills. The Government Office for Science.

Vivero, J.L. (2013). Food as a commons: reframing the narrative of the food system. SSRN Working paper series http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2255447

Vivero, J.L. (2014). Transition Towards a Food Commons Regime: Re-Commoning Food to Crowd-Feed the World. SSRN Working paper. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2548928

WEF (2013). Achieving the new vision for agriculture. New models for action. Davos: The World Economic Forum.

World Bank (2008). World development report 2008: agriculture for development. Washington, DC: World Bank.

Zerbe, N. (2009). Setting the global dinner table. Exploring the limits of the marketization of food security. In: J. Clapp and M.J. Cohen, eds. The global food crisis. Governance challenges and opportunities. Ontario: The Centre for International Governance Innovation & Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Functional Food and Food Functionalisation

On Wednesday the 4th of February 2015 we held the BSUFN Symposium titled The Diversity of Food Research. The symposium presented research from across Brighton and Sussex Universities, displaying a wide variety of disciplines and topics of food-related research.

During the symposium Dipak Sarker presented his research in Functional Food and Food Functionalisation.

Dipak Sarker is a senior lecturer in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Brighton. More details about his research can be found here.

During the symposium, Dipak’s presentation discussed how certain foods have a functional use in human health and also how some foods are adapted to make them functional. The slides from his presentation are available via the link below.

Functional Food and Food Functionalisation

A Summary of the Evolution of Food Research and Policy Agendas

The Diversity of Food Research Symposium was held yesterday, Wednesday the 4th of February 2015. To begin the day we heard a keynote speech given by Professor Erik Millstone of SPRU (Science Policy Research Unit), University of Sussex.

Professor Millstone gave an overview of the Evolution of Food Research and Policy Agendas during the past 60 years.

Following the keynote speech there was a high demand for the presentation to be made available to the audience. Selected extracts from Erik’s presentation notes are given below.

More information about Professor Erik Millstone’s research can be found here.

The Evolution of Food Research and Policy Agendas

Research orthodoxy has long been dominated by single disciplinary and reductionist perspectives, in both the natural and social sciences. Scholars and public officials have tried/pretended to remain within silos and tunnel-vision.

Public policy perspectives have been dominated by ‘productionist’ and ‘technocratic’ paradigms combined with individual framings of consumers and their responsibilities and choices.

In contrast, not a single topic, abstract or presentation included in today’s programme is ‘orthodox’ in that sense.  All contributors are participating in a splendidly sophisticated new wave of scholarly research, which starts with problems in the world and draws on the concepts and methods of a diverse range of disciplines and approaches to illuminate the relevant phenomena and their interactions. ‘Edible maps’ are not the traditional products of cartography.
Agricultural Production

Agriculture production has long been a focus for both policy and research, especially in the post-WWII context in which scarcity was initially frequently real and problematic.  Focus of ag R&D was on ‘yield’ in terms of eg Kgs/hectar or ‘conversion efficiency’ qua output/input eg feed into weight gain or milk yields, or more generally ‘return on capital’.  Public policies in the industrialised countries focussed on subsidies for agriculture in all industrialised countries, to increase and stabilise, supplies and prices eg EC/EU CAP and US Farm Bills.

But those policies generated surpluses, and redefined/inverted the policy challenges. Key policy responses included using public resources to buy and hold surplus production as ‘buffer stocks’, but in the 1990s (eg 1992 McSharry reforms to the CAP) the policy extended to off-loading surpluses to the food processing industry at considerable subsidised discounts, which lead the growth of the junk food industry and the resultant pathologies.

Large food processors and retailers have built vast corporations by buying cheap, plentiful and nutritious ingredients, and turning them into scare, expensive and nutritionally impoverished/hazardous and heavily advertised products.  Most scholars and policy-makers have been ignored or neglected the growth and concentration of power in processors (eg Coca Cola, General Foods, Nestle etc), retailers and global commodity traders (A,B,C & D)   Those corporations either escaped regulation entirely (eg food flavourings) or captured regulators cf MAFF, US FDA, and DG Internal Market; in part via capturing the ‘expert scientific’ advisory bodies.

But there have been, and remain, important debates about the future of food, given that the unsustainability of the prevailing regime is hard to avoid. There are fascinating arguments, within policy, research and commercial circles about how far change will be required, and which kinds of changes. One contemporary orthodoxy is coagulating around the concept of ‘sustainable intensification’, but its meaning is contested.

Nutrition Research

Nutrition research has predominantly been reductionist, in the sense of focussing on single ‘nutrients’ and estimates of minimum or maximum required intakes; seeking to estimate either ‘too little’ or ‘too much’.  eg minimum Vit C required to prevent scurvy. The maximalist tactic emerged in studies on the nutritional requirements to maximise performance of eg athletes, race horses or dairy-cow milk-yields. With very poor research studies and homeopathic data sets.

From the early-1960s to the late 1970s US food safety policy was far more precautionary than that in the UK or Europe, eg amaranth, cyclamates, and saccharin, but once Reagan came into power the USA became progressively less precautionary (except in relation to supposed ‘security’ threats eg Iraqi WMD) while the consequences of the BSE saga/crises were that policy in the EU has become slightly more precautionary than was previously the case eg in relation to GM.- and most certainly much more subject to scrutiny, and deservedly so.

The policy debates about ‘nutritional public health’ and obesity have been intense since the early years of this century in the UK and EU, but also in the USA and elsewhere. A fascinating feature of responses has been the slow responses of national governments, but the far more pro-active policies of local governments.  As Olivier de Schutter recently pointed out, it is far harder for large corporations to lobby and influence local policy-makers than national or international ones.

Until 10 years ago, there were very few ‘local food policies’, now they are proliferating and increasingly influential; and correspondingly a fascinating topic for policy-relevant research.

Food Safety Policy

‘Safety’ as a policy issue was almost universally delegated to ostensibly ‘scientific bodies’ eg CoT, FACC, FAC, ACP, ACNFP, SCF, JECFA, JMPR, FSA & EFSA.  (Though the FSA is resolutely hybrid, while pretending to be purely ‘scientific’.)  In their early days they were all secretive and accepted and worked with unpublished studies (purporting themselves to deliver ‘peer review’).  They also included individuals with undeclared conflicts of interest.

Their dominant focus started with microbiological risks and imported products, and then only slowly and reluctantly widened to deal with toxicological considerations.  Expert bodies invoke pseudo-scientific thresholds.

There are fascinating and complex struggles under way over the existence, functioning and future of eg the UK FSA and EFSA, and they deserve careful study.
Hot issues today remain in part toxicological, but have extended to eg:
⦁    Nutritional public health
⦁    GM crops, foods and livestock
⦁    Nano-technological products and processes
⦁    Synthetic biology, and especially
⦁    Ecological Public Health
⦁    The Politics of Food Policy.

Malthusian, Citizen and Contemporary Paradigms

Despite the wave of criticisms of ‘productionism’ and Neo-Malthusianism (even within some CGIAR centres and the World Bank and UN FAO), and repeated refutations, those narratives remain extraordinarily resilient and prevalent in incumbent authorities and orthodox commentators.

In recent years, while policies have shifted at glacial rates, scholarship has developed rapidly and promisingly, especially in the UK and EU.  Firstly, there has been increasing contestation of single-disciplinary and reductionist perspectives in both scholarship and policy.

Research has become increasingly multi-disciplinary and problem focussed.  There has been a widespread recognition amongst (mainly social science) scholars that people do not eat ‘nutrients’ but ‘foods’ and ‘diets’, and so efforts have been directly towards understanding the factors influencing changing patterns of food consumption.

Other scholars have come to recognise that people should not be conceptualised simply as ‘consumers’ but rather/also as ‘citizens’, and study active citizenship.

Another key set of issues relate to the environmental and socio-cultural impacts of the evolution of food chains.  Issues of the carbon footprint of (all or parts of) the food system are very important, as if the relationship between food and water use.

More generally, I believe that Tim Lang and Geof Rayner are right to emphasise that the policy and research agendas should have moved on and should now be focusing on Ecological Public Health: Reshaping the Conditions for Good Health 2012, and ‘sustainable consumption’ which couples together the perspectives of production and consumption.

So, we are participants in an important wave of scholarly research, which starts with problems in the world and draws on the concepts and methods of a diverse range of disciplines and approaches to illuminate the relevant phenomena and their interactions.