Special Issue "Addressing the Food–Health–Environmental Nexus for Agri-Food System Sustainability"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Oriana Gava
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Council for Agricultural Research and Agricultural Economics Analysis - Centre for Policies and Bioeconomy, Rome, Italy
Interests: agricultural economics; agricultural policy; food policy; life cycle assessment; social network analysis
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Giovanna Sacchi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Science and Technology, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano
Interests: food quality; rural development; organic agriculture; production; sustainable agriculture; food and nutrition; agriculture; customer satisfaction; production management; sustainability

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

The environmental impacts of mainstream agri-food systems are relatively well understood and include climate change and contamination, pollution, and degradation of natural resources, which generate effects on the biophysical system, via multiple and interconnected pathways. Those rooted interactions are associated with impacts on human health, i.e., the food–health–environment nexus, in the words of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES Food). Health risks are highly diverse and mutually reinforcing, including the exposure of farmers and farm workers to contaminants and pollutants in the workplace and of the public in the surrounding environment, as well as the consumption of unsafe and unhealthy food by whole populations. Poor living conditions and poverty can intensify the severity and prevalence of negative health impacts, by increasing people’s vulnerability, which makes the food­–health–environment nexus an area of growing attention and concern. Researchers are called to contribute to the existing knowledge about the food–health–environment nexus, to support the development of solutions to address the environmental and health impacts of agri-food systems simultaneously, with practical implications for strategic decision making by policy makers and in the agribusiness. This adds to the constant need of work to address the global food security challenge in the long term, which involves producing more food with fewer resources to feed a fast-growing population. The purpose of this Special Issue is to offer insights into how different practices, systems, technologies, and approaches to food production and consumption can create positive synergies in the food–health–environment nexus, by boosting the positive externalities on the environment and human health, while mitigating the negative ones. Qualitative and quantitative studies addressing the environmental and health aspects of food production and/or consumption will be considered for publication, including field experiments, case studies, theoretical, and literature review studies. Systems thinking and holistic approaches combining the environmental, economic, and social dimension of sustainability are encouraged, e.g., providing evidence from life cycle sustainability assessment or system dynamics models, among others.

Dr. Oriana Gava
Dr. Giovanna Sacchi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • systems thinking
  • agricultural sustainability
  • sustainable consumption
  • agricultural policy
  • food policy
  • environmental impacts
  • health impacts
  • food security
  • nutrition security
  • food safety
  • sustainability transitions
  • alternative food systems
  • consumer studies

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

Article
Does Circular Reuse of Chickpea Cooking Water to Produce Vegan Mayonnaise Reduce Environmental Impact Compared with Egg Mayonnaise?
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4726; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094726 - 23 Apr 2021
Viewed by 759
Abstract
Consumers are increasingly asking for foods that are healthier, more humane, and environmentally sustainable. Recently, chickpea cooking water—aquafaba—has gained popularity as a potential egg substitute that complies with these criteria. However, research on the environmental impact of this ingredient is lacking. We performed [...] Read more.
Consumers are increasingly asking for foods that are healthier, more humane, and environmentally sustainable. Recently, chickpea cooking water—aquafaba—has gained popularity as a potential egg substitute that complies with these criteria. However, research on the environmental impact of this ingredient is lacking. We performed a comparative attributional life cycle assessment (LCA) of mayonnaise made with aquafaba as the emulsifying agent, and traditional mayonnaise made with egg yolk. The vegan mayonnaise was found not to be as environmentally sustainable as the egg-based product. The vegan mayonnaise had a significantly (p < 0.05) lower impact across 4 categories, but a significantly higher impact across 8 categories out of 16, including climate change and resource-use-energy-carriers. The majority of categories under which vegan mayonnaise underperformed were related to the electricity needed for aquafaba processing. These impacts can be mitigated with a “cleaner” electricity grid, or onsite renewable electricity generation. Substituting the Mexican grid, where the aquafaba is currently processed, for the Canadian grid, where the mayonnaise is produced, reduced the carbon footprint of the vegan mayonnaise by 37%, making it similar to the egg-based product. As sunflower oil production was linked to extensive environmental burdens, we performed additional sensitivity analyses around oil processing, sunflower production, and other vegetable oils. Our study shows that substituting egg yolk with aquafaba could cause an increase in the environmental footprint of mayonnaise due to high processing costs, illustrating that vegan options do not always have a smaller environmental footprint, and can represent a trade-off in their comparatively more humane and healthier offer. Full article
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Article
Sustainability Indicators for Foods Benefiting Climate and Health
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3621; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13073621 - 24 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1195
Abstract
New methods for combined evaluation of nutritional and environmental aspects of food products are needed to enable a transformation of dietary guidelines integrating both health and environmental perspectives. We evaluated two sustainability aspects; nutrition and climate impact, of foods commonly consumed in Sweden [...] Read more.
New methods for combined evaluation of nutritional and environmental aspects of food products are needed to enable a transformation of dietary guidelines integrating both health and environmental perspectives. We evaluated two sustainability aspects; nutrition and climate impact, of foods commonly consumed in Sweden and the implications of using parallel or integrated assessments of these two aspects, also discussing the usability and suitability of these food sustainability indicators in relation to Swedish dietary guidelines, industry food product development, and consumer communication. There were large differences in both nutrient density and climate impact among the different foods. The parallel assessment easily visualized synergies and trade-offs between these two sustainability aspects for the different foods. Coherence with dietary guidelines was good, and suitability and usability deemed satisfying. The integrated indicator showed better coherence with dietary guidelines than indicators based solely on nutrient density or climate impact; however, the difficulty to interpret the score limits its usability in product development and consumer communication. With both methods, advantageous as well as less advantageous plant-based and animal-based food alternatives were suggested. The two alternative methods evaluated could serve as useful tools to drive individual and societal development towards more sustainable food production and consumption. Full article
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