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Topical Collection "Smart & Connected Regional Food Systems"

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

Editors

Prof. Dr. Thomas P. Tomich
E-Mail Website
Collection Editor
Department of Environmental Science&Policy, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
Interests: sustainability science; integrated ecosystem assessment; food system sustainability
Prof. Dr. Casey Hoy
E-Mail Website
Collection Editor
Agricultural Ecosystems Management; Faculty Director, Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation, The Ohio State University, Wooster, OH 44691, USA
Interests: agricultural ecosystems management; systems analysis in applied ecology, food system science

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

Focus, scope and purpose: Interest in where food comes from and how it is produced, processed, and distributed has increased over the last few decades in industrialized nations. Mounting evidence and experience point to profound disturbing weaknesses in our food systems’ abilities to support human livelihoods and wellbeing, and also to alarming long-term trends regarding both the environmental footprint of food systems and mounting vulnerabilities to shocks and stressors. Addressing these weaknesses in food systems could open key opportunities to leverage inclusive, equitable, sustainable, and resilient growth in economic, social and natural capitals. The focus of this Collection is a growing wave of innovations that hold the potential to address the underlying deficiencies in data and analytical capabilities that inhibit innovation in and sustainable transformation of our food systems. The scope of the SI spans computation, informatics, and data science innovations in network engagement, analytics, and translation to enable equitable access to better data and assessment capabilities for use by food system actors and advocates, and to facilitate co-creation of innovative solutions. Topics may include new conceptualizations and applied use cases employing innovative information exchange standards (including ontologies, controlled vocabularies, and data schemas), decentralized data infrastructures, knowledge graphs derived from use cases of food system challenges and opportunities, generalized workflows, legal frameworks and data governance standards, and user interfaces (UI/UX), as components of an intelligent food system. The overarching purpose is to enhance equity, sustainability, and resilience through collaborative, user-driven experimentation within complex food systems, supported by diverse agroecosystems, circular economies, and equity-based cultural norms.

Relationship to existing literature: There are studies that take a partial approach to these opportunities, covering some aspects (economic, environmental, or social) but missing others, thereby failing to provide a comprehensive framework for food system sustainability and resilience. Among these, some use top-down, static approaches, while those that are more innovative in data science tend to be proprietary, and hence exclusive (and unpublished). We emphasize articles that take an open approach to data, seek interoperability among linked data and tools, and strive for holistic, comprehensive, and dynamic approaches to challenges and opportunities to support food system sustainability. This encompasses tools for systems analysis as well as community engagement, incubation of entrepreneurship, and legal aspects of data sharing (IP, privacy, and data ethics).

Prof. Dr. Thomas Tomich
Prof. Dr. Casey Hoy
Collection 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 submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the collection 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 2000 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

  • food systems
  • informatics
  • controlled vocabularies
  • ontologies
  • semantic web of food
  • internet of food
  • linked open data
  • blockchain
  • FAIR data
  • knowledge graphs
  • social network analysis
  • activity analysis
  • value chains
  • value-based food systems
  • regional food systems
  • community engagement
  • social justice
  • food justice
  • food sovereignty
  • democratization
  • food access
  • food security
  • food as medicine
  • sustainable agriculture
  • resilience
  • agroecology
  • agroecosystems
  • working landscapes
  • logistics
  • supply chains
  • traceability
  • transparency
  • trust
  • food entrepreneurship
  • innovation
  • intellectual property rights
  • data privacy
  • data sovereignty

Published Papers (4 papers)

2022

Jump to: 2021

Article
PestOn: An Ontology to Make Pesticides Information Easily Accessible and Interoperable
Sustainability 2022, 14(11), 6673; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14116673 - 30 May 2022
Viewed by 581
Abstract
Globally, present regulations treat pesticide use with a light touch, leaving users with scarce reporting requirements in the field. However, numerous initiatives have been undertaken to reduce risks from pesticide product use and provide the public with sufficient information. Nevertheless, food chain actors [...] Read more.
Globally, present regulations treat pesticide use with a light touch, leaving users with scarce reporting requirements in the field. However, numerous initiatives have been undertaken to reduce risks from pesticide product use and provide the public with sufficient information. Nevertheless, food chain actors are not required to disclose much information on hazards, with many undervalued safety aspects. This situation has resulted in information gaps concerning the production, authorization, use, and impact of pesticide products for both consumers and regulatory stakeholders. Often, the public cannot directly access relevant information about pesticides with respect to retail products and their farm origins. National authorities have poor legal tools to efficiently carry out complete investigations and take action to mitigate pesticide externalities. We created the ontology PestOn to bridge these gaps and directly access pesticide product information, making existing data more useful and improving information flow in food value chains. This demonstration project shows how to integrate various existing ontologies to maximize interoperability with related information on the semantic web. As a semantic tool, it can help address food quality, food safety, and information disclosure challenges, opening up several opportunities for food value chain actors and the public. In its first version, the ontology PestOn accounts for more than 16,000 pesticide products that were authorized in Italy during the last 50 years and retrieved from the public pesticide register. The ontology includes information about active ingredients contained in pesticide products, roles, hazards, production companies, authorization status, and regulatory dates. These pieces of information can support agri-food stakeholders in classifying information in the domain of pesticide products and their active ingredients, while reducing unnecessary repetition in research. PestOn can support the addition of food attributes in the domains of human health, resource depletion, and eco-social impact, turning the spotlight on each possible improper use of pesticide products. Full article
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Article
Design and Implementation of a Workshop for Evaluation of the Role of Power in Shaping and Solving Challenges in a Smart Foodshed
Sustainability 2022, 14(5), 2642; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14052642 - 24 Feb 2022
Viewed by 835
Abstract
Current studies on data sharing via data commons or shared vocabularies using ontologies mainly focus on developing the infrastructure for data sharing yet little attention has been paid to the role of power in data sharing among food system stakeholders. Stakeholders within food [...] Read more.
Current studies on data sharing via data commons or shared vocabularies using ontologies mainly focus on developing the infrastructure for data sharing yet little attention has been paid to the role of power in data sharing among food system stakeholders. Stakeholders within food systems have different interpretations of the types and magnitudes of their own and other’s level of power to solve food system challenges. Politically neutral, yet scientifically/socioeconomically accurate power classification systems are yet to be developed, and must be capable of enumerating and characterizing what power means to each stakeholder, existing power dynamics within the food system, as well as alternative forms of power not currently utilized to their full capacity. This study describes the design and implementation of a workshop, which used methods from community-based participatory modeling, to examine the role of power relative to data sharing and equitable health outcomes. Workshop participants co-created several boundary objects that described the power relationships among food system stakeholders and the changes needed to current power relationships. Our results highlight current imbalances in power relationships among food system stakeholders. The information we collected on specific relationships among broad categories of stakeholders highlighted needs for initiatives and activities to increase the types and varieties of power especially across consumers, farmers, and labor stakeholder groups. Furthermore, by utilizing this workshop methodology, food system stakeholders may be able to envision new power relationships and bring about a fundamental re-orienting of current power relationships capable of valorizing food system sustainability/resiliency, especially the health of its workers and consumers. Full article
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2021

Jump to: 2022

Article
Early Ethical Assessment: An Application to the Sustainability of Swine Body Scanners
Sustainability 2021, 13(24), 14003; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132414003 - 18 Dec 2021
Viewed by 755
Abstract
An early ethics assessment method was used to evaluate sustainability goals and early findings from an automated body scanning technology for swine production. The project had twin goals of discovering potential pitfalls in the technology and exploring the applicability of the method, derived [...] Read more.
An early ethics assessment method was used to evaluate sustainability goals and early findings from an automated body scanning technology for swine production. The project had twin goals of discovering potential pitfalls in the technology and exploring the applicability of the method, derived from the Ethical Matrix, as a tool to aid researchers in product design at very early stages in the research and development (R&D) process. This paper reports results on the second objective. Results of the evaluation workshop were coded and qualitatively analyzed. These results are reported and compared; the exercise is compared to the findings of other researchers using more traditional methods for ethical assessment on similar technologies, as well as standard social science methods for ascertaining economic sustainability and social acceptability of technological innovations. We conclude that the method has promise, especially for its applicability at very early stages in R&D, but that it does not substitute for analyses that occur at a much later stage in product or procedural development. Full article
Article
Exploring Social Media Data to Understand How Stakeholders Value Local Food: A Canadian Study Using Twitter
Sustainability 2021, 13(24), 13920; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132413920 - 16 Dec 2021
Viewed by 1029
Abstract
The consumption of local food, a major trend in industrialized countries around the world has experienced an unprecedented craze in the pandemic context that we are experiencing. Since the beginning of the crisis and in various media, communication about local food seems inconsistent. [...] Read more.
The consumption of local food, a major trend in industrialized countries around the world has experienced an unprecedented craze in the pandemic context that we are experiencing. Since the beginning of the crisis and in various media, communication about local food seems inconsistent. However, companies would have every interest in better communicating the multifaceted areas of the locality that customers value or adopting the same language if they wish to collaborate with each other. This research aims to identify and evaluate the “fit” or the “gap” of the different local food’ meanings of Canadian agri-food stakeholders through data mining of one of their communication media: Twitter. Using tweets by over 1300 Twitter accounts from Canadian agri-food companies and a popular hashtag, we analyze a sample of their tweets in 2019 and 2020 by creating and using a local food’ keyword dictionary based on the concept of proximity. Term frequency and multivariate analysis of variance of 16,585 tweets about local food show significant differences in dimensions of proximity used in communications. This study shows the interest of using the concept of proximity to better define and understand the valuation of local food products. In addition, it offers a methodology capable of distinguishing the nuances of meaning of the locality of products using natural data that is accessible via social media. Full article
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