Summary: Equipping nutrition graduates for the complex realities of practice: Using practitioner perspectives and experiences to inform authentic sustainability curriculum (2023)

Maher, J, Ashford, T, Verdonck, M, English, E, Burkhart, S. Equipping nutrition graduates for the complex realities of practice: Using practitioner perspectives and experiences to inform authentic sustainability curriculum. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2023; 1– 11. https://doi.org/10.1111/jhn.13159

Open access link to article:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jhn.13159

Relevant to:

Dietitians, Practitioners, Nutrition students, Nutrition graduates

Questions the research focuses on:

How do a cohort of Australian N&D professionals perceive opportunities for integrating sustainability into practice? What are the challenges or barriers to realizing these?

Bottom line for nutrition practice:

We recognize practitioners as a source of experience, anticipating where sustainability discourse and nutrition practice intersect.

Abstract:

Background: Nutrition professionals’ function at the nexus of food, nutrition status and the myriad of determinants influencing these. However, defining our role in food system transformation requires a multifaceted and deep understanding of sustainability in the context of nutrition and dietetics (N&D). Practitioner perspectives and experiences provide a rich source of practice wisdom that can inform authentic curriculum to equip students for the complex realities of practice; however, there is limited understanding of these in the Australian higher education setting.

Methods: Qualitative methodology using semi structured interviews with 10 Australian N&D professionals. Thematic analysis was used to understand how they perceive opportunities and barriers for integrating sustainability into practice.

Results: Practitioners’ experience in sustainability practice varied. Themes were identified in two categories: opportunities and barriers. Themes that reflected future practice opportunities included “Preparing the workforce” (for academics and practitioners interfacing with students), “Practical individual level work” and “System level and policy interests”. Themes that were considered barriers to integrating sustainability in practice included “lack of contextual evidence” and “complexity and competing priorities”.

Conclusions: Our findings make a novel contribution to the current literature as we recognise practitioners as a source of experience anticipating where sustainability and nutrition practice intersect. Our work provides practice-informed content and context that may assist educators to create authentic sustainability-focused curriculum and assessment to replicate the complexity of practice.

Details of results:

  • Practitioners found it difficult to name specific examples of sustainability in practice, possibly because of the current landscape where there is a lack of consensus on what sustainability in nutrition and dietetic practice is.
  • Integrating sustainability into nutrition practice was associated with two themes categorized as barriers. These were: a lack of contextual evidence, complexity and competing priorities.
  • Integrating sustainability into nutrition practice was also associated with three themes for opportunities: learning and teaching practice to prepare the workforce; individual-level practice and application; and broader system/policy-level practice.
  • The results show that opportunities and barriers are interconnected, and it is likely that the perceived opportunities can be realized if sectorial, institutional, and government policies change and the profession advances and adapts.
  • Preparing students for practicing with a sustainability lens requires integration of sustainability in its various forms into N&D curriculum and equipping them with the skills and capabilities to contribute meaningfully to N&D practice from an individual to food system level.
  • Knowledge alone may not equip graduates to effectively practice for human and planetary health. Moving forward, practice insights provide a productive platform for curriculum development, both situating practice within the current complex contexts or “realities” at the same time as also considering a future that integrates sustainability and nutrition more closely.
  • There is a predominant environmental focus that may limit the effectiveness of student training, particularly in addressing more challenging and complex situations or settings where environmental concerns must also be balanced with social and economic realities.
  • If governments or institutions have not yet included sustainability within their policies, curriculum developers can. This will then shift the expectation of N&D graduates who may be able to advocate for change from inside government and institutions.

Of additional interest:

ICDA Learning Modules – These three learning modules are structured to support your knowledge in:

  1. understanding foundational concepts of sustainability and food systems,
  2. understanding the relevance of SFS to nutrition and dietetic practice, and
  3. being able to apply SFS concepts in your practice.

NDA SFS Position Papers – Several nutrition and dietetics associations are officially recognising the relevance of Sustainable Food Systems (SFS) and/or sustainable diets to nutrition and dietetics practice.

SFS Education in Nutrition & Dietetics degrees: Global Case Studies – International Dietetic educators integrating sustainability into their curricula. The is an online platform for sharing examples serves as a series of mini case studies

Teaching Food Systems and Sustainability in Nutrition Education and Dietetic Training: Lessons for Educators (2013) – This is a PDF compilation of research and experiential lesson plans from food, nutrition and dietetic educators in the US and Canada.

The Food Sustainability Index (FSI) as an Educational Tool (2016) – The FSI has an intended audience of university students and graduate students, by can be used for anyone who interested in learning more about the connection of food and nutrition to sustainable food systems and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainability: nutrition and dietetic students’ perceptions (2020) – This Australian study explored nutrition and dietetic undergraduate students’ self-reported views and actions related to sustainability, with a view to building a holistic curriculum that includes content and competencies required to address UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Leveraging Online Learning to Promote Systems Thinking for Sustainable Food Systems Training in Dietetics Education (2021) – A multidisciplinary group of educators, learners, and food systems experts representing eight different institutions across the US worked together over one year to develop, pilot test, and evaluate two interactive webinar series. The series was provided for dietetics interns and graduate students at four university sites in the United States between March and May 2019.

Summary: How do dietetics students learn about sustainability? A scoping review (2023) – Despite increasing discussion about the role of dietitians in supporting sustainable food systems, effective integration into dietetics curricula is understudied. Some evidence points to the importance of experiential learning, and scaffolded learning about SFS through integration into a number of different courses.

Conflict of interest/funding:

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

Corresponding author:

Judith Maher, Doctor of Philosophy (Nutrition and Dietetics), jmaher@usc.edu.au

Red-Listed Seafood (2023 Aug)

At a Glance

  • Madalyn Higgins, RD, the Dietitian and Sustainability Manager at Acadia Dining Services (provided by Chartwell’s Canada) worked with the students in NUTR 4913 Sustainable Food Systems and Dietary Patterns to address this target, providing them with a meaningful experiential learning opportunity. The students were all studying to become nutrition or health professionals, at least half of them intended on a career in dietetics.
The efforts of the students focused on three areas:
  • Understanding and communicating key messages about sustainable seafood.  Students put together a comprehensive review of existing research surrounding the topic and created communications tools to be displayed in the dining hall to inform staff and students about the negative effects of Red-Listed seafood and what steps they can take to minimize these effects.
  • Identifying Red-Listed seafood on the menu. Students investigated seafood sources to determine if they are on the Red List. This meant speaking with food system actors such as distributors and fisheries and comparing information to Ocean Wise resources.
  • Exploring strategies for more sustainable menu alternatives. Students proposed potential replacements using comparable items and looked for distributors.
  • The students presented their work to the dining hall’s Chef, Dietitian and Sustainability Manager, Director of Operations and Marketing Manager.
  • These efforts aimed to promote environmentally responsible dining practices at Acadia University while raising awareness about the importance of sustainable seafood sourcing.

Background:

Buying seafood that is Red-Listed has been recognized worldwide as a significant problem, as it is linked to major concerns for our fisheries and the health of the planet such as low fish stock numbers, destabilization of the ecosystem-wide food chain, and Irresponsible fishing practices that contribute to the destruction of our oceans.

With the growing population and growing appetite for fish and seafood in developed nations, billions of people around the world rely on fish and seafood as an essential source of protein and a means of income. Researchers have gathered that this seafood should not be made commercially available and alternative options need to be considered.

Organizations such as Seafood Watch, categorize red-listed seafood through different ranking systems tailored for various types of fishing such as fisheries and aquaculture, and score them based on their sustainability criteria.

The sum of the scores allow the seafood to fall into Green (good choice), Yellow (good alternative), or Red (avoid) categories. Other organizations such as Ocean-Wise and Aquaculture Stewardship Council also assess sustainability based on Seafood Watch’s sustainability scoring system  and convert the scores from three-fold to a binary system of Green and Red. Learn more…


Lessons Learnt:

  • Through research, students gathered that the problem is that there is a lot of complexity and lack of transparency surrounding the global seafood supply chain and what seafood is sustainable to eat.
  • There is a need to improve transparency regarding sustainable seafood and ability to access this information. The group learned about the importance of understanding these tools to identify relevant information about sustainable seafood options.
  • It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure sustainable seafood consumption. Policies should be put in place to regulate how seafood is being labeled sustainable.
  • While not easy, it is possible to identify unsustainable seafood sources and replace them with more sustainable sources.
  • Sustainably sourced seafood, such as recirculating aquaculture is not perfect but can create seafood options. These options can be much more expensive, and we rely on food and nutrition professionals to get creative in the kitchen to use them more sparingly.
  • The seafood that the students helped remove included the red-listed atlantic salmon and white shrimp that was being served in the Acadia dining hall.  Students gathered sustainable options to be presented as recommendations to replace these red-listed menu items. The better choices included the Ocean Wise-approved farmed Whiteleg shrimp and the Ocean Wise-approved farmed Giant Tiger shrimp. 

What Else? Other Relevant Examples

  • Recirculating aquaculture is Ocean Wise approved by fisheries worldwide and is often used for Atlantic salmon farming. Learn more…
  • Through the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, you can search ASC-certified seafood using a simple drop-down search. Learn more…
  • Organizations such as the Marine Conservation Society create resources to help educate students about ocean sustainability. Learn more…
  • Nourish Canada has developed a Sustainable Menu Guide that can guide menus for organizations such as University campuses. The menu guide simplifies efforts o create sustainable menus that reduce environmental impact while offering healthy, affordable, acceptable, and fair food to clients.  While not specific to sustainable seafood, it is more broadly helpful with practical examples.

Food for Thought
How do we ensure that we have aquatic resources for the future, especially with the growing demand?
What kind of tools are effective or needed to empower and educate consumers to make sustainable choices?
What supports do food service providers need to serve sustainable seafood choices?

Contact Information
Madalyn Higgins, Madalyn.Higgins@compass-canada.com

Food and food-related waste management strategies in hospital food services: A systematic review (2022)

Cook N, Goodwin D, Porter J, Collins J. Food and food-related waste management strategies in hospital food services: A systematic review. Nutrition & Dietetics. 2022;1‐27. doi:10.1111/1747-0080.12768COOKET AL.27

Open access link to article: 

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1747-0080.12768

Relevant to: 

Foodservice dietitians, sustainability dietitians, foodservice manager and workers

Question: 

  • What are hospital foodservices around the world currently doing to manage their food waste more sustainably?
  • What are the financial, environmental and staffing outcomes associated with these activities?
  • And what were the barriers and enablers to implementing these strategies?

Bottom line for nutrition practice: 

  • Divert surplus edible food and inedible food waste from landfill by using the most appropriate management strategy available.

Abstract: 

  • Aim – This review explored peer-reviewed and grey literature to describe the types and characteristics of food or food-related waste management strategies used in hospital food service settings; their financial, environmental and staffing outcomes; and the barriers and enablers associated with their implementation.
  • Methods – Six electronic databases, 17 Google Advanced searches, and 19 targeted websites were searched for peer-reviewed and grey literature. Literature reporting the financial, environmental, or staffing outcomes of food or food-related waste management strategies that reused, recovered energy from, or recycled waste instead of sending it to landfill were eligible. Document screening and review were completed in duplicate, and included peer-reviewed literature were assessed for quality using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Data were synthesised narratively.
  • Results – Four peer-reviewed and 81 grey literature records reported 85 strategies. When grouped from most to least favourable according to the food recovery hierarchy they managed waste by: donating surplus food (n = 21); feeding animals (n = 2); industrial use (n = 11); composting (n = 34) and other (n = 17). These approaches had the capacity to reduce waste hauling fees (n = 14), reduce staff handling of waste (n = 3), and decrease the amount of waste sent to landfill (n = 85). Barriers included contamination of waste streams, while enablers included leadership and time-neutral changes.
  • Conclusion – This review summarises the waste management strategies used by hospitals worldwide that divert food and food-related waste from landfill, their outcomes, and position in the food recovery hierarchy to enable hospital food services to implement appropriate practice and policy changes to decrease their environmental footprint.

Details of results: 

  • 85 examples of hospital foodservices were found to be diverting their food waste from landfill more sustainably.
  • When grouped from most to least favourable according to the food recovery hierarchy they managed waste by: donating surplus food (n = 21); feeding animals (n = 2); industrial use (n = 11); composting (n = 34) and other (n = 17).
  • The location of these strategies diverting waste were in hospital foodservices (n = 41), cafeteria (n = 7), CPK (n = 2), catering unit (n = 1) or combination of these settings (n = 18).
  • Financial savings ranged from AUD $400-50,000 from waste disposal, equipment changes and labour use whereas costs ranged from AUD $1200-260,500 from food waste collection and installing procured equipment.
  • Landfill savings occurred in every case but notably the highest examples were annually: 18,1444 kgs being donated, 200 tons composted and 360 digested.
  • Other environmental outcomes included reduced carbon emissions, water savings, energy creation and less transport.
  • Staffing outcomes were less waste handling and less time cleaning, however also involved giving staff more responsibility to separate, transport waste and operate equipment.
  • The major reported barriers were contamination, times demands, equipment problems, stakeholder coordination and staff resistance, whereas enablers were leadership, no increase in time, easy equipment use, data and a return on investments.

Of additional interest: 

Collection of research on food waste measurement by this group on Google Scholar

Conflict of interest/ Funding:  

Prof. Judi Porter is Editor-in-Chief of Nutrition & Dietetics. She was excluded from the peer-review process and all decision making regarding this article. This manuscript has been managed throughout the review process by the Journal’s Editor. The Journal operates a blinded peer review process and the peer reviewers for this manuscript were unaware of the authors of the manuscript. This process prevents authors who also hold an editorial role to influence the editorial decisions made. All authors are in agreement with the manuscript and declare that the content has not been published elsewhere. Other authors declare no conflicts of interest. NC received a departmental scholarship for his Ph.D. from Monash University’s Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food, and a King and Amy O’Malley Trust Scholarship during this study.

External relevant links:  

USA EPA Food recovery hierarchy.

Corresponding author: 

Mr. Nathan Cook, Nathan.cook@monash.edu

Factors influencing implementation of food and food-related waste audits in hospital foodservices (2022)

Cook N, Collins J, Goodwin D and Porter J (2022) Factors influencing implementation of food and food-related waste audits in hospital foodservices. Front. Nutr. 9:1062619. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.1062619

Open access link to article: 

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.1062619/full

Relevant to: 

  • Foodservice dietitians, sustainability dietitians, foodservice manager and workers

Bottom line for nutrition practice: 

  • What are the perspectives of individuals working close or within hospital foodservices on a previous developed food waste audit tool and what do they perceive to be the major factors supporting and or blocking the completion of a food waste audit?
  • Consider the barriers and enablers to the completion of a food waste audit in your facility before pursuing one including the design, completion and analysis of an audit.

Abstract: 

  • Background: Designing a food waste audit tool for novel hospital foodservice practice does not guarantee uptake. Intended users must be consulted to understand the tool’s feasibility and face validity. This study aimed to identify the perspectives of staff involved in the operation of hospital foodservices on (1) how an evidenced based consensus pathway food waste audit tool is perceived to translate into practice, and (2) to determine the factors that influence the completion of food and food-related waste audits within this setting.
  • Materials and methods: Purposeful sampling was used to recruit staff with knowledge on the operation/governance of foodservices within hospitals in Victoria, Australia. Semi-structured interviews (n = 20) were conducted via Zoom to explore barriers and enablers to completing food and food-related waste audits and a previously published food waste audit tool. NVivo was used for inductive thematic analysis.
  • Results: Three factors determined the completion of food and food-related waste audits in hospital foodservices, and each factor could be a barrier or an enabler; (1) capacity: the availability of time, labour and materials to complete an audit (2) change: staff resistance to audit procedures and how to gain their buy-in (3) processes, governance, and leadership: the opportunity for high level support, policy and structure to encourage waste audits if present. The consensus tool appeared to have face validity. Planning audit operations, conducting stakeholder meetings, providing education/training to foodservice team members, and facilitating communication between managers and staff were described to support consensus tool use and audit completion.
  • Conclusion: The consensus tool can be used to support hospital foodservices to complete food and food-related waste audits, although it may need to be customised to be fit for purpose. Optimising the capacity, change management and processes, governance and leadership of the foodservice department may improve the experience and success of a food and food-related waste audit.

Details of results: 

  • The two major perspectives participants shared for a food waste audit to come to fruition were appropriate preparation and implementation. Other recommendations included adequate support, having a clear goal in mind, planning, organising logistics and having clear communication between all levels of staff delivered through meetings and education sessions.
  • Most of participants believed the tool was: detailed, supportive to their practice, helpful for decision making and ready to use. However others viewed it as busy, confusing and that it requires extra knowledge to understand and use. Future iterations of the tool were suggested to be customisable to participants facilities, demonstrate solutions to reduce food waste and have separate sections compared to the one page only.
  • The three factors relating to food waste audit completion were –
    • (1) capacity: the availability of time, labour and materials to complete an audit.
    • (2) change: staff resistance to audit procedures and how to gain their buy-in.
    • (3) processes, governance, and leadership: the opportunity for high level support, policy and structure to encourage waste audits if present.
  • A key finding related to the factors which may support or hinder a food waste audits completion were that the enablers suggested would solve the barriers discussed. This demonstrates individuals who work close or within hospital foodservices already know what to do for a food waste audit if this task was asked of them to complete.

Of additional interest: 

Collection of research on food waste measurement by this group on Google Scholar.

Conflict of interest/ Funding:  

No conflict of interest. NC received a departmental scholarship for his Ph.D. from Monash University’s Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food, and a King and Amy O’Malley Trust Scholarship during this study

External relevant links:  

Corresponding author: 

Mr. Nathan Cook Nathan.cook@monash.edu

SEAFOOD TOMORROW (2021)

cover of the book
Wilson, Annette M., Reuver, Marieke, Santos, Marta, & Marques, António. (2021). SEAFOODTOMORROW Key Achievements Booklet – Nutritious, safe and sustainable seafood for the future. Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4696236

SEAFOOD TOMORROW was a €7m European Union Horizon 2020-funded project that ran from 2017-2021 that aimed to develop innovative sustainable solutions for improving the safety and dietary properties of seafood in Europe.

Addressing the challenge to meet the growing market need for safe and sustainable seafood, the project generated new knowledge to develop commercial solutions for improving the socio-economic and environmental sustainability of the European seafood production and processing industry.

This interactive booklet summarises the key achievements of the SEAFOOD TOMORROW project: Nutritious, safe and sustainable seafood for consumers of tomorrow.

This booklet is for all seafood stakeholders, including industry representatives, policy- and decision-makers, and seafood consumers.

They present the Eco-Innovative Solutions and Key Exploitable Results generated by the SEAFOOD TOMORROW team, including their potential or realised impact, a summary of dissemination and exploitation activities carried out, and the next steps needed to ensure maximum uptake and legacy of the SEAFOOD TOMORROW outcomes.

Aquaculture Stewardship Council (Website)

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is the world’s leading certification scheme for farmed seafood – known as aquaculture – and the ASC label only appears on food from farms that have been independently assessed and certified as being environmentally and socially responsible. Aquaculture produces over half of the seafood eaten around the world and will be vital in providing healthy, affordable protein to the world’s rapidly growing population in the future. But like all food production, it has impacts and must be done responsibly.

ASC develops and manages the strictest standards in the industry. These standards include hundreds of requirements covering the potential impacts of aquaculture – including water quality, responsible sourcing of feed, disease prevention, animal welfare, the fair treatment and pay of workers, and maintaining positive relationships with neighbouring communities.

The ASC Metrics Methodology project to creates transparency and consistency into the ‘metric’ standard-setting. The ‘Baseline’ Methodology published in November 2020 was issued for a 62-day public consultation period. It is applicable to all species-specific metrics and aims to provide minimum requirements for setting and/or revising metrics within any of the ASC standards.

Click here to find a farm, supplier, or product around the globe. You’ll also be able to access ASC country / regional websites from this link as well.

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) was launched in 2010 and we have been collecting data since the first farms achieved certification against our standards in 2012. You can visit their dashboard to see what countries are covered and how many frames and products are included. This provide an important picture of ASC’s growth, the reach of environmentally and socially responsible seafood choices, and inform market opportunities. Aggregated data are often used by stakeholders in their own research and understanding on responsible farming practices.

Click here to explore the database via the ASC dashboard.

Updated 2023 April

The vital roles of blue foods in the global food system (2022 Jun)

Michelle Tigchelaar, Jim Leape, Fiorenza Micheli, Edward H. Allison, Xavier Basurto, Abigail Bennett, Simon R. Bush, Ling Cao, William W.L. Cheung, Beatrice Crona, Fabrice DeClerck, Jessica Fanzo, Stefan Gelcich, Jessica A. Gephart, Christopher D. Golden, Benjamin S. Halpern, Christina C. Hicks, Malin Jonell, Avinash Kishore, J. Zachary Koehn, David C. Little, Rosamond L. Naylor, Michael J. Phillips, Elizabeth R. Selig, Rebecca E. Short, U. Rashid Sumaila, Shakuntala H. Thilsted, Max Troell, Colette C.C. Wabnitz. The vital roles of blue foods in the global food system. Global Food Security 33 (2022) https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gfs.2022.100637

Highlights

  • Blue foods are diverse, rich in essential nutrients and fatty acids, and can offer sustainable alternatives to terrestrial animal-sourced foods.
  • Blue foods are often missing from food system analyses, policies, and investments.
  • This paper offers three recommendations for realizing the potential of blue foods in sustainable, healthy, and just food systems.
Fig. 1

Abstract

  • Blue foods play a central role in food and nutrition security for billions of people and are a cornerstone of the livelihoods, economies, and cultures of many coastal and riparian communities. Blue foods are extraordinarily diverse, are often rich in essential micronutrients and fatty acids, and can often be produced in ways that are more environmentally sustainable than terrestrial animal-source foods. Capture fisheries constitute the largest wild-food resource for human extraction that would be challenging to replace.
  • Yet, despite their unique value, blue foods have often been left out of food system analyses, policies, and investments.
  • Here, we focus on three imperatives for realizing the potential of blue foods: (1) Bring blue foods into the heart of food system decision-making; (2) Protect and develop the potential of blue foods to help end malnutrition; and (3) Support the central role of small-scale actors in fisheries and aquaculture. Recognition of the importance of blue foods for food and nutrition security constitutes a critical justification to preserve the integrity and diversity of aquatic species and ecosystems.

Fig. 1. Overview of blue food benefits and challenges and the three areas of policy action identified in this paper that would help realize the potential of blue foods to contribute to sustainable, healthy, and just food system outcomes.

  • To make a case for integrating blue foods into global food system decision-making, we draw on the findings of the Blue Food Assessment.
  • These policy recommendations should not be seen as all-encompassing. Instead, they are an entry point into making blue foods part of food system transformations.

Four ways blue foods can help achieve food system ambitions across nations (2023)

Crona, B.I., Wassénius, E., Jonell, M. et al. Four ways blue foods can help achieve food system ambitions across nations. Nature 616, 104–112 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-023-05737-x

Abstract

  • Blue foods, sourced in aquatic environments, are important for the economies, livelihoods, nutritional security and cultures of people in many nations. They are often nutrient rich, generate lower emissions and impacts on land and water than many terrestrial meats, and contribute to the health, wellbeing and livelihoods of many rural communities.
  • The Blue Food Assessment recently evaluated nutritional, environmental, economic and justice dimensions of blue foods globally. Here we integrate these findings and translate them into four policy objectives to help realize the contributions that blue foods can make to national food systems around the world: ensuring supplies of critical nutrients, providing healthy alternatives to terrestrial meat, reducing dietary environmental footprints and safeguarding blue food contributions to nutrition, just economies and livelihoods under a changing climate.
  • To account for how context-specific environmental, socio-economic and cultural aspects affect this contribution, we assess the relevance of each policy objective for individual countries, and examine associated co-benefits and trade-offs at national and international scales.
    • We find that in many African and South American nations, facilitating consumption of culturally relevant blue food, especially among nutritionally vulnerable population segments, could address vitamin B12 and omega-3 deficiencies.
    • Meanwhile, in many global North nations, cardiovascular disease rates and large greenhouse gas footprints from ruminant meat intake could be lowered through moderate consumption of seafood with low environmental impact.
  • The analytical framework we provide also identifies countries with high future risk, for whom climate adaptation of blue food systems will be particularly important. Overall the framework helps decision makers to assess the blue food policy objectives most relevant to their geographies, and to compare and contrast the benefits and trade-offs associated with pursuing these objectives.
figure 2

Fig. 2: Overlap in relevance between different policy objectives.

  • The numbers in parentheses in the top row represent the total number of countries for which each policy is relevant.
  • Each cell shows the number of countries (in parentheses) for which both column- and row-heading policies are relevant, as a proportion of countries for which the column-heading policy is relevant.
  • Relevance in this figure indicates countries categorized as ‘highly relevant’ or ‘relevant’ for a given policy.

Fig. 3: Example of hypothetical trade-offs associated with policies pursuing economic and/or nutritional benefits of blue food.

figure 3
  • The figure illustrates one set of trade-offs in policy outcomes that may result across the dimensions of environment, equity, economy and nutrition, depending on the degree of prioritization of either increasing domestic blue food supplies for nutritional outcome, or maximizing monetary value through exports of blue foods.
  • The degree of emphasis placed on either policy goal is represented by the blue bars.
  • Likely outcomes for each dimension are represented by coloured boxes and the strength of outcome is represented by plus and minus symbols; with positive outcomes depicted in green, and negative in pink.
  • Sustainable commodification aligned with local preferences and demand represents an example of how a balance could be struck to optimize positive environmental, inclusive, economic and nutritional outcomes.
  • Unknown impacts, or where policy objectives are judged to not have a strong impact, are depicted in grey. E. Wikander/Azote.

Compound climate risks threaten aquatic food system benefits (2021)

Tigchelaar, M., Cheung, W.W.L., Mohammed, E.Y. et al. Compound climate risks threaten aquatic food system benefits. Nat Food 2, 673–682 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-021-00368-9 (open source)

Abstract

  • Aquatic foods from marine and freshwater systems are critical to the nutrition, health, livelihoods, economies and cultures of billions of people worldwide, but climate-related hazards may compromise their ability to provide these benefits. Here, we estimate national-level aquatic food system climate risk using an integrative food systems approach that connects climate hazards impacting marine and freshwater capture fisheries and aquaculture to their contributions to sustainable food system outcomes.
  • We show that without mitigation, climate hazards pose high risks to nutritional, social, economic and environmental outcomes worldwide—especially for wild-capture fisheries in Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Small Island Developing States. For countries projected to experience compound climate risks, reducing societal vulnerabilities can lower climate risk by margins similar to meeting Paris Agreement mitigation targets. System-level interventions addressing dimensions such as governance, gender equity and poverty are needed to enhance aquatic and terrestrial food system resilience and provide investments with large co-benefits towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

Fig. 3: Climate risk profiles based on differences in hazards, exposure and vulnerability across food system outcomes.

figure 3
  • On the basis of a cluster analysis, we identify four climate risk profiles for aquatic food system outcomes.
  • The profiles are based on the characteristics of countries that have ‘high’ or ‘very high’ climate risk for at least one food system outcome by mid-century under a high-emissions scenario.
  • The profile descriptions are based on median indicator values for each profile.
  • Individual countries within each cluster can deviate slightly from this characterization. SLR, sea level rise.

Results, excerpt from Towards climate-resilient aquatic foods

  • For countries with high marine fisheries dependence, including many SIDS, one of the challenges will be to design measures that strike an appropriate balance between supporting economic development aspirations through efficiency and revenue generation, and supporting food security through local and domestic consumption of fish (for example, climate-smart agreements for transboundary resources and the development of climate-resilient aquaculture for food security).
    • For countries where freshwater aquaculture contributes to poor environmental outcomes, solutions may target the adoption of integrated farming solutions or of technological innovations such as resource-efficient production systems that can be isolated from the environment.
    • In both contexts, solutions need support through enabling government policies, functional institutions at the national to community levels and sustainable, responsible financial investment.
  • Enhancing climate resilience for highly vulnerable countries facing compound climate risk—from freshwater and deltaic fisheries and aquaculture or from marine fisheries—is most challenging and urgent given that these countries are projected to have the greatest number of food system outcomes experiencing high climate risk.
    • For such countries, resilience efforts focused on aquatic food systems provide options (such as nature-based solutions (for example, mangrove, reef and seagrass restoration to aid coastal storm protection and enhance aquatic ecosystem productivity), sustainable intensification, livelihood diversification and investments in local value chains), but these efforts need to be part of a more generalized resilience framework that addresses the social dimensions of vulnerability (for example, through strengthening governance, promoting gender equity and reducing poverty).
    • Climate solutions that require public sector investments must be able to deliver both social and political gains to increase their acceptability to the public choice-maker. Ultimately, a generalized resilience approach means enhancing the capacity of coastal and riparian people to become the agents of societally desired systems transformation and to recognize aquatic food systems as integral to socio-economic development efforts and nutrition policies and overall food system resilience.


Aquatic (animal source) foods (AASF) to nourish nations (2021)

Golden, C.D., Koehn, J.Z., Shepon, A. et al. Aquatic foods to nourish nations. Nature 598, 315–320 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03917-1 (open source)

Abstract:

  • Despite contributing to healthy diets for billions of people, aquatic foods are often undervalued as a nutritional solution because their diversity is often reduced to the protein and energy value of a single food type (‘seafood’ or ‘fish’)1,2,3,4.
  • Here we create a cohesive model that unites terrestrial foods with nearly 3,000 taxa of aquatic foods to understand the future impact of aquatic foods on human nutrition. We project two plausible futures to 2030: a baseline scenario with moderate growth in aquatic animal-source food (AASF) production, and a high-production scenario with a 15-million-tonne increased supply of AASFs over the business-as-usual scenario in 2030, driven largely by investment and innovation in aquaculture production.
figure 1
  • By comparing changes in AASF consumption between the scenarios, we elucidate geographic and demographic vulnerabilities and estimate health impacts from diet-related causes. Globally, we find that a high-production scenario will decrease AASF prices by 26% and increase their consumption, thereby reducing the consumption of red and processed meats that can lead to diet-related non-communicable diseases5,6 while also preventing approximately 166 million cases of inadequate micronutrient intake.
  • This finding provides a broad evidentiary basis for policy makers and development stakeholders to capitalize on the potential of aquatic foods to reduce food and nutrition insecurity and tackle malnutrition in all its forms.

Discussion excerpt:

  • It is critical to consider where and how aquatic foods are produced, because environmental, social and economic impacts can vary widely across both the wild-capture and aquaculture sectors (Supplementary Methods).
  • Despite the variability in environmental impacts across animal-source food-production sectors, aquaculture and wild-capture fisheries nearly always produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions and use less land than the farming of red meats, and many AASFs outperform poultry33.
  • Sustainably and equitably achieving the human health benefits of expanded aquatic food production will require policies and technologies that mitigate impacts on adjacent ecosystems, industries and communities21.

Fig. 1: Nutrient diversity of aquatic animal-source foods in relation to terrestrial animal-source foods.

  • Aquatic (blue) and terrestrial (green) food richness assessed as a ratio of concentrations of each nutrient per 100 g to the daily recommended nutrient intake.
  • Each shaded box represents the median value of each nutrient in a muscle tissue across all species within each taxonomic group. 
  • Food groups were ordered vertically by their mean nutrient richness with higher values meeting a higher percentage of the daily recommended intake.