Topical Collection "Designing More Diverse and Resilient Food Systems for the Future"

A topical collection in Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This collection belongs to the section "Sustainable Food".

Editors

Prof. Dr. Francesco Caracciolo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, 80055 Naples, Italy
Interests: development economics; food economics; ecosystem services; rural development; sustainable consumption
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Elisabetta Gotor
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Head Development Impact Unit, Bioversity International
Interests: Agricultural development problems and policies; Impact Assessment; Agrobiodiversity conservation and use

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

Current food systems rooted in input intensive farming and specialization and in socio-economic inequities along the supply chain have large detrimental effects on both society and the environment, resulting in the loss of ecosystem services and decreasing livelihood opportunities in rural areas. The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food systems identified the increasing lack of diversity in farming and food systems as one of the greatest threats to their long-term sustainability. Designing more diverse and resilient agri-food system for the future is one of the crucial and global themes that has emerged from the growing awareness of the unsustainable nature of existing patterns of food production and consumption.

Diversity in all its dimensions characterizes environmental sustainability, ecosystem resilience and a nutritionally adequate diet. For instance, agricultural biological diversity provides a wide range of ecosystem services to society by sustaining crop evolution that generates the broad genetic variation necessary for crops to adapt to agro-ecological changes, thus assuring the resilience of food systems in the face of climate change. Moreover, resilient food systems need to be designed taking into consideration farmers’ and consumers’ preferences, market incentives, institutions and social organizations.

The Special Issue aims to include both empirical research articles and conceptual pieces covering (but not limited to) all stages of the agri-food system, from production to distribution, marketing and consumption, that may contribute to the transition towards a more diverse and resilient food system.

Prof. Francesco Caracciolo
Dr. Elisabetta Gotor
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • food system
  • supply chain
  • agrobiodiversity
  • sustainable consumption
  • ecosystem services
  • circular economy
  • bioeconomy

Published Papers (10 papers)

2021

Jump to: 2020, 2019

Article
Social Finance Investing for a Resilient Food Future
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6512; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126512 - 08 Jun 2021
Viewed by 357
Abstract
The converging climate, biodiversity, public health and nutrition emergencies highlight the need for more regenerative food systems. Despite the recognition that regenerative food systems enhance resilience, resource efficiency, and equity, they continue to be dwarfed by extractive industrial approaches. One factor that is [...] Read more.
The converging climate, biodiversity, public health and nutrition emergencies highlight the need for more regenerative food systems. Despite the recognition that regenerative food systems enhance resilience, resource efficiency, and equity, they continue to be dwarfed by extractive industrial approaches. One factor that is holding back regenerative food systems is their lack of access to financial capital. In response to this financing gap, social financiers have turned their attention to regenerative food systems. To date, the scholarship exploring the role of social financing in supporting regenerative food systems is limited. Yet, this is an important area of study for understanding the tools that could support pathways towards greater social and ecological resilience in our food systems. This paper develops propositions on the links between social financing and regenerative food systems, with qualitative insights used as illustrations. Six semi-structured interviews were conducted with key stakeholders related to social finance and regenerative food systems in the United States. Additionally, this paper draws on information gathered through presentations from the Regenerative Food System Investment (RSFI) forum. The analysis identified five observations that enrich the social finance and food systems literatures: (1) those who get funded are not necessarily the best placed to advance the goals of regenerative agriculture; (2) tensions exist between the way that scholars and practitioners view social finance; (3) impact metrics are in flux and must be approached thoughtfully; (4) the middle of the food value chain remains severely underfunded; (5) early steps are being taken to maintain diversity that is core to the resilience of regenerative food systems. Topics for further research in this emerging area are identified in the conclusion. Full article
Article
Wheat Varietal Diversification Increases Ethiopian Smallholders’ Food Security: Evidence from a Participatory Development Initiative
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1029; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031029 - 20 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 892
Abstract
This study assesses the impact of a participatory development program called Seeds For Needs, carried out in Ethiopia to support smallholders in addressing climate change and its consequences through the introduction, selection, use, and management of suitable crop varieties. More specifically, it analyzes [...] Read more.
This study assesses the impact of a participatory development program called Seeds For Needs, carried out in Ethiopia to support smallholders in addressing climate change and its consequences through the introduction, selection, use, and management of suitable crop varieties. More specifically, it analyzes the program’s role of boosting durum wheat varietal diversification and agrobiodiversity to support higher crop productivity and strengthen smallholder food security. The study is based on a survey of 1008 households across three major wheat-growing regional states: Amhara, Oromia, and Tigray. A doubly robust estimator was employed to properly estimate the impact of Seeds For Needs interventions. The results show that program activities have significantly enhanced wheat crop productivity and smallholders’ food security by increasing wheat varietal diversification. This paper provides further empirical evidence for the effective role that varietal diversity can play in improving food security in marginal environments, and also provides clear indications for development agencies regarding the importance of improving smallholders’ access to crop genetic resources. Full article
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2020

Jump to: 2021, 2019

Article
Sustainable Land-Use Pathway Ranking and Selection
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 7881; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197881 - 23 Sep 2020
Viewed by 583
Abstract
The desire for refining status quo cost–benefit protocols to fully encompass econometric model uncertainty motivates the search for improved technology. Availability of unique Ethiopian highlands milk-market livestock data provides an ideal laboratory for investigation of alternative land-use pathway designs. In these contexts, we [...] Read more.
The desire for refining status quo cost–benefit protocols to fully encompass econometric model uncertainty motivates the search for improved technology. Availability of unique Ethiopian highlands milk-market livestock data provides an ideal laboratory for investigation of alternative land-use pathway designs. In these contexts, we present novel methodology for ranking and selecting sustainable ‘land-use pathways,’ arguing that the methodology is central to sustainable-land-use-policy prescriptions, providing essential innovation to assessments hitherto devoid of probabilistic foundation. Demonstrating routine implementation of Markov-Chain, Monte-Carlo procedure, ranking-and-selection enactment is widely disseminable and potentially valuable to land-use policy prescription. Application to a sample of Ethiopian-highlands, land-dependent households highlights empirical gains compared to conventional methodology. Applications and extensions that profit future land-use sustainability within the Ethiopian highlands and, also, more generally, are discussed. Full article
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Article
How Zoomers’ Eating Habits Should be Considered in Shaping the Food System for 2030—A Case Study on the Young Generation from Romania
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7390; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187390 - 09 Sep 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 930
Abstract
Is the Food System prepared for 2030? Considering that Zoomers (Generation Z) will be the largest global cohort in the world at that time, the purpose of the study is to identify what can be learned now from their eating habits to diversify [...] Read more.
Is the Food System prepared for 2030? Considering that Zoomers (Generation Z) will be the largest global cohort in the world at that time, the purpose of the study is to identify what can be learned now from their eating habits to diversify and create a more resilient Food System prepared for the future. Researchers have discovered that the Food System should encourage sustainable and healthier food production by empowering a resilient local production. These changes are aligned with Zoomer preferences for local and organic food, considering their moral, ethical, and economic implications. To gather data, a quantitative investigation was performed among university students from Romania using an online survey in which 343 responses were recorded. A direct logistic regression was performed, similar to the one presented by Wilson and Lorenz (2015), to assess the impact of factors on the changing eating habits of Zoomers. The results showed significant changes in the diet of Zoomers who are facing an increased internationalization of the food consumption; they seek convenience but are also more eager to consume healthy food. For a more resilient Food System, special importance should be given to these preferences, through local and organic production, improving delivery methods, and enhancing the food experience in a responsible and ethical manner in order to prepare it for the next majoritarian cohort. These findings can be further developed by adapting the current Food System to emerging food eating habits and also by addressing how Zoomers’ food choices can improve the environmental impact of the Food System. Full article
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Article
Characteristics and Motivations of Consumers of Direct Purchasing Channels and the Perceived Barriers to Alternative Food Purchase: A Cross-Sectional Study in the Ecuadorian Andes
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 6923; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12176923 - 26 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 841
Abstract
Modern food systems generate social inequalities in the access to healthy food, but some families maintain behaviors that provide an alternative to these systems. Agroecological consumers (ACs) and non-agroecological direct market consumers (DMCs) are key actors in alternative food systems. We assessed the [...] Read more.
Modern food systems generate social inequalities in the access to healthy food, but some families maintain behaviors that provide an alternative to these systems. Agroecological consumers (ACs) and non-agroecological direct market consumers (DMCs) are key actors in alternative food systems. We assessed the characteristics of ACs and DMCs using data from a representative sample of households in Ibarra, Quito and Riobamba (n = 2914). We also deepened the exploration of motivations for adopting these practices through mini-ethnographies with families who were identified as ACs or DMCs (n = 15). We found motivations related to personal health problems, food quality (e.g., taste, freshness), and safety (e.g., avoiding pesticides) to be key. Other motivations were price and community solidarity with farmers. Barriers included inconvenience, lack of awareness, and insecurity of market location. Using Chi-square tests, we found differences between ACs and DMCs on place of residence, education, employment, health, and diet. Controlling for socioeconomic and health variables using logistic regressions, we found DMC dietary habits to be similar to the remainder of the study population, except that they were less likely to eat processed foods less frequently (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 0.6, 95% confidence interval 0.4–0.9). In contrast, ACs were more likely than the remainder of the study population to control their salt intake (3.2, 1.9–5.2) and have greater knowledge of nutrition labels (2.8, 1.7–4.6). They were more likely to eat traditional foods frequently (1.9, 1.1–3.3), fruit and vegetables daily (1.6, 1.0–2.8), and processed foods less frequently (2.7, 1.5–4.8). Hence, these two types of alternative food provisioning practices (AC and DMC) were adopted by different types of consumers, with heterogenous motivations and food consumption practices. These findings have implications for public health initiatives aiming to scale up the nutrition and ecological potential of alternative food systems. Full article
Article
Predictive Insights for Improving the Resilience of Global Food Security Using Artificial Intelligence
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6272; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156272 - 04 Aug 2020
Viewed by 1139
Abstract
Unabated pressures on food systems affect food security on a global scale. A human-centric artificial intelligence-based probabilistic approach is used in this paper to perform a unified analysis of data from the Global Food Security Index (GFSI). The significance of this intuitive probabilistic [...] Read more.
Unabated pressures on food systems affect food security on a global scale. A human-centric artificial intelligence-based probabilistic approach is used in this paper to perform a unified analysis of data from the Global Food Security Index (GFSI). The significance of this intuitive probabilistic reasoning approach for predictive forecasting lies in its simplicity and user-friendliness to people who may not be trained in classical computer science or in software programming. In this approach, predictive modeling using a counterfactual probabilistic reasoning analysis of the GFSI dataset can be utilized to reveal the interplay and tensions between the variables that underlie food affordability, food availability, food quality and safety, and the resilience of natural resources. Exemplars are provided in this paper to illustrate how computational simulations can be used to produce forecasts of good and bad conditions in food security using multi-variant optimizations. The forecast of these future scenarios is useful for informing policy makers and stakeholders across domain verticals, so they can make decisions that are favorable to global food security. Full article
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Article
Fields of Action for Designing Measures to Avoid Food Losses in Logistics Networks
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6093; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156093 - 29 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 626
Abstract
The literature contains many analyses of measures against food loss. However, there exists no structured analysis of the objective of these measures. This study employs a systematic literature analysis and open expert interviews, combining the perspectives of science and practice. For each analyzed [...] Read more.
The literature contains many analyses of measures against food loss. However, there exists no structured analysis of the objective of these measures. This study employs a systematic literature analysis and open expert interviews, combining the perspectives of science and practice. For each analyzed case, we identified the objectives behind the implemented measures. Using qualitative clustering, we categorized the located objectives into fields of action. The identified 13 fields of action provide an overview of the objectives of food loss prevention measures. The results indicate that different levels of importance can be assigned to these fields of action. In particular, the results show the relevance of increased network cooperation and transparency within a company and along the entire value chain. Furthermore, the study indicates that the creation of transparency provides the greatest overall added value in terms of reducing food losses. Full article
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2019

Jump to: 2021, 2020

Article
Lock-ins and Agency: Towards an Embedded Approach of Individual Pathways in the Walloon Dairy Sector
Sustainability 2019, 11(16), 4405; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11164405 - 14 Aug 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1118
Abstract
As the 2009 dairy crisis drew attention to the situation of dairy farmers in Europe, the extent of strategical power left to farmers in dairy cooperatives of increasing size is a frequently raised issue. Four dairy cooperatives collect 97% of the milk in [...] Read more.
As the 2009 dairy crisis drew attention to the situation of dairy farmers in Europe, the extent of strategical power left to farmers in dairy cooperatives of increasing size is a frequently raised issue. Four dairy cooperatives collect 97% of the milk in the Walloon Region (in the southern part of Belgium). Two of them integrated agro-food multinationals. We decided to analyze the trajectories of Walloon dairy farmers exploring alternatives to the delivery of milk to these mainstream dairy cooperatives. We focused on the territories situated to the east of the Walloon Region, where dairy farming represents 75% of farming revenues. Alternatives consist either of processing milk on farm or in concluding a contract with a cheese processor collecting milk directly from farmers. Our objective was to understand the issues faced in these alternative trajectories and the reason why these alternatives remained marginal. We designed a qualitative case study based on interviews with farmers and local cheese processors. We mobilized evolutionary approaches on the stability and transitions of systems and approaches of change at the farmer level. It appears that the alternative trajectories remain embedded in a broader dairy context. The lock-ins emerging from this context determine the evolution of the farming model towards intensification and the individual identity and capabilities of farmers. We present a model of interconnected and embedded lock-ins, from the organizational frame of the regime to the individual frame. This model illustrates how the agency articulates with structural dynamics. We propose structural measures in the organization of agricultural education and in terms of support to alternative supply chains that will enhance agency in favor of a change. Full article
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Article
Impacts of Caregivers’ Nutrition Knowledge and Food Market Accessibility on Preschool Children’s Dietary Diversity in Remote Communities in Southeast Nigeria
Sustainability 2019, 11(6), 1688; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061688 - 20 Mar 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1267
Abstract
Empirical evidence is scanty on the nexus between caregivers’ nutrition knowledge, market accessibility, and preschool children’s dietary diversity in remote communities of Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria. To fill this gap, this study evaluated the effects of caregivers’ nutrition knowledge and access to [...] Read more.
Empirical evidence is scanty on the nexus between caregivers’ nutrition knowledge, market accessibility, and preschool children’s dietary diversity in remote communities of Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria. To fill this gap, this study evaluated the effects of caregivers’ nutrition knowledge and access to food market on dietary diversity of preschool children. We used cross-sectional data from four hundred households selected from twenty remote communities in Southeast Nigeria. The study adopted instrumental variable regression to estimate the impacts of nutrition knowledge and food market access on preschool children’s dietary diversity. The findings show that in remote communities, caregivers’ nutrition knowledge and households’ closeness to the market improved preschool children’s dietary diversity. The study demonstrates the potential of improving preschool children’s nutrition outcomes through enhancing access to food market and the nutrition knowledge of the caregivers. Full article
Article
Assessment of Resilience of Pistachio Agroecosystems in Rafsanjan Plain in Iran
Sustainability 2019, 11(6), 1656; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061656 - 19 Mar 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1037
Abstract
This study assessed the resilience of pistachio production systems in the Rafsanjan plain in Iran using an index of behavior-based indicators. One-hundred fifty pistachio orchards located in five major production areas were studied in 2016. The data was subjected to three-step multi-criteria analysis, [...] Read more.
This study assessed the resilience of pistachio production systems in the Rafsanjan plain in Iran using an index of behavior-based indicators. One-hundred fifty pistachio orchards located in five major production areas were studied in 2016. The data was subjected to three-step multi-criteria analysis, including (i) normalization and aggregation; (ii) determination of the weights representing the priorities for each criterion and evaluation of the performance of each indicator; and (iii) comparison. The results showed that the study areas had problematic statuses regarding the indicators of membership in grassroots organizations, innate abilities, water sources, production stability, and insurance. They had critical or moderate statuses concerning the indicators of use of organic fertilizers, use of pesticides, soil fertility index, water-use efficiency (kg/m3), trust in government, access to advisor services (extension), on-the-job training, and diversity of marketing. They had positive levels for the indicators of productivity, diversity of cultivars, diversity of on-farm practices, and exchange of information. We recommend the enhancement of the transformability capacity in PPSs by changing the focus from optimal states and the determinants of maximum sustainable yield (MSY paradigm) to adaptive resource management that includes developing participatory platforms for collaboration of usage of water resources. Full article
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