Hot Topic Resource Cluster: Blue Foods

Thank you to Júlia Muñoz Martínez for staring this cluster!

Summary of key points in this cluster:
– Blue foods are more than fish.
The aquatic ecosystem include much more than just fish such as crustaceans, cephalopods, molluscs, plants, algae, mammals and insects.

Blue foods are an important source of valuable nutrients considered essential in the pursuit of the sustainable development goals.
In many regions communities depend nutritionally and economically on aquatic foods. Blue foods are usually estimated to have a carbon footprint better than most terrestrial animals, often around the level of chicken, and sometimes even lower.   

The livelihoods of many communities depend on aquatic system outputs… 
…however, the high pressure big firms are putting on the seafood market is threating the wellbeing of these communities.

The aquatic food system is being threaten by climate change aftermaths and other hazards.
Ocean warming, acidification, cyclones, and water pollution are negatively affecting the productivity from fisheries and aquacultures.

By 2050, bluefood demand is expected to double due to population and income growth.
To cope with this increase is paramount to improve farming and wild-catching techniques to be less resource dependent, approach to emissions neutrality and respect the marine ecosystem. 

Dietitians can help the population to make sustainable choices on blue food. To do so, some key messages are:
1) Ensure the diversity of the seafood consumed, data shows that we tend to uptake a narrow variety of species.
2) Choose seafood lower on the food chain such as mussels or anchovies.
3) Check for labels that ensure seafood has been fished sustainably such as MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) or ASC (Aquaculture Stewardship Council)
4) If possible, consume local seafood. Sometimes, this does not mean that foods will be more environmentally friendly, but likely to support local farmers.

Resources in the ICDA SFS Toolkit:

🌀 Organizations, projects and collaborations:

  • Blue Food Assessment: it is an international collaboration that gather the expertise from more than 100 scientists and over 25 institutions to assess the evidence on aquatic food systems and assist decision makers in making informed choices regarding opportunities, trade-offs, and the implementation of solutions that can promote the development of healthy equitable, and sustainable food systems.
  • Seafood tomorrow (2021): European project that aims at creating innovative and sustainable solutions for improving the safety and dietary properties of seafood in Europe. Access a booklet that summarised their Eco-Innovative Solutions and Key Exploitable Results.

🐠 Tools:

  • Marine Conservation Society: Good Fish Guide: Assess the environmental impact of seafoods consumed in the UK. Indicators used to assess the sustainability of farm fish are feed used, environmental impacts and interactions, fish welfare, regulation, and management. Concerning wild-caught seafood they assess stock status, management, and capture method (which may affect habitat, bycatching, and vulnerable species).
  • FishChoice Calculator: Resource developed for the EU under the H2020 project ‘SEAFOOD Tomorrow’ that provides personal fish calculator for an overview of the nutritional content of the fish consumed weekly, its potential contaminants, and its sustainability along with links to sources.
  • Aquatic Foods Toolkit (2023): A World of Aquatic Foods Resources: Open-access resources designed to empower chefs, foodservice, consumer packaged goods entrepreneurs, healthcare professionals, and other aquatic food advocates in promoting bivalves and sea vegetables. Free, open-access toolkits, packed with evidence-based resources, eater insights, tested messaging, nutritional guidance, and inspiring recipes. Access to an interactive Aquatic Foods Ecosystem Map, so you can connect with others creating impact through sea vegetables and bivalves.
  • Blue Foods as Medicine (2023 Oct): A FREE, interactive, four-module online curriculum for health and nutrition professionals and students. The modules are 1: Blue Foods Foundation, 2: Sea Vegetables, 3: Bivalves, Clams, Oysters, Mussels; and 4: Integrating into Your Practice. Funded by Builders Initiative and created by Food for Climate League and Food + Planet.

🐳 Certification Organizations:

  • Marine Stewardship Council (MSC): The MSC is a third party organization that assesses population wellbeing, impact on marine environment and management of fisheries around the world. Its aim is to facilitate consumers identify seafood that has been caught through techniques respectful with the environment, conservation, and biodiversity.
  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC): The ASC is a third party organization that certifies farmed seafood has been produced respectfully with the environment and in a just way. To achieve this, they use some of the following indicators: water quality, responsible sourcing of feed, disease prevention, animal welfare, the fair treatment and pay of workers and maintaining positive relationships with neighbouring communities.

🔷 Research:

  • Aquatic foods to nourish nations (2021): Provides an overview of the nutritional benefits from aquatic foods in comparison with commonly consumed terrestrial animals and highlights the socioeconomic benefits from increasing its production. Additionally, they provide four policy recommendations to aid governments building resilient aquatic food systems that ensure food security.

🐟 Podcasts-Webinars-Workshops

  • Dive into the Power of Blue Foods as Medicine (2023 Sep): This Food + Planet webinar gives participants an action-oriented understanding of the definition, nutritional significance, and sustainability of blue foods (with an emphasis on bivalves and sea vegetables) and shares an overview of how these foods can be integrated into a “Food as Medicine” approach in a variety of settings. 

🌐 Case study:

  • Red-Listed Seafood: Removing Red-Listed Seafood in Acadia University’s Wheelock Dining Hall – Acadia University has worked with their Food Service Provider to prioritize healthy and sustainable food on campus. In 2018, they released the Acadia Food Plan, which includes measurable targets to achieve these priorities. This includes a target to serve sustainable seafood (e.g., Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified) and to not serve any seafood that has been “Red-Listed” (unsustainable) by Ocean Wise.

This Hot Topic Resource Cluster was developed: 2023 April 7, updated Nov 1

Feedback? Questions? Ideas? Contact the ICDA SFS Coordinator:

Hot Topic Resource Cluster: D-Ns role in Food Waste (2023 Apr)

Summary of key points in this cluster:
– Zero Waste is achievable:
Nature never wastes. All byproducts feed something else. Waste is only waste if we waste. Thoughtful innovation, design, and behaviours are key to our success.

– Wasted food is harming our earth and people
adapted from FAO International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste:
• 31% of our food is wasted.
• 14% of the world’s food is lost after harvest, up to – but not including the retail stage of the supply chain.
• 17% is wasted in retail and at the consumption level.
• This food loss and waste account for 8 -10 per cent of the total global greenhouse gases, contributing to an unstable climate and extreme weather events such as droughts and flooding. These changes negatively impact crop yields, reduce the nutritional quality of crops, cause supply chain disruptions and threaten food security and nutrition.

– Dietitians-Nutritionists are influential and valuable!
While not solely responsible for environmental sustainability initiatives, Dietitians-Nutritionists have a strong influence over food services, and food in the institutions is a strong driver of environmental impacts. Dietitians-Nutritionists should be at the table, collaborating with relevant colleagues to support this effort.

– Practical Tips for using food wisely:
• First in First out – store & use food correctly from the pantry, freezer, and fridge
• Plan your meals, involve the whole family and make a shopping list together
• Be creative with any leftovers – eat them as part of the next meal or snack or transform them to something new.
• Share your solutions and discuss you struggles with relevant groups you are part of (schools, religions, community, etc.)

Resources in the ICDA SFS Toolkit:

Case study:

  • SecondBite was created in 2005 in Australia and shows how the hard work and determination of just two individuals can lead to a decrease in hunger and food waste and an indirect increase in food security for thousands of people by saving nutritious food from entering the landfill, and instead, entering the homes of many people who need it.
  • Addressing Food Waste at University College Dublin, Ireland (2023 Sep) – A team at University College Dublin (UCD) aimed to capture a snapshot of food waste within the campus food system. Two students undertook this as their final year project for the BSc in Human Nutrition at UCD and two students were working as work placement interns with the clinical nutrition and dietetics team at the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy & Sports Science.


  • Environmental Sustainability of Hospital Foodservices Across the Food Supply Chain: A systematic review (2020) – While not solely responsible for environmental sustainability initiatives, this evidence tells us that dietitians have a strong influence over hospital food services, and food in the hospital is a strong driver of environmental impacts. This means planning with the whole hospital food system in mind, to maximize benefits (e.g., co-benefits between decreased food waste, increased food and nutrient intake, recovery times, and decreased costs).
  • Reduce, Recover, Recycle—Food Waste in Prince George’s County, Maryland USA (2019) This study describes Prince George’s County‘s problem of food waste and presents policy recommendations and strategies, supported by national promising practices, to reduce, recover, and recycle food waste in the County. It provides an excellent example of what you can do where you are as well – either mimicking their study or using some of their ideas in your food council or other group or institution


  • Swedish Dietitians Work to Reduce Food Waste (2020) – Swedish Dietitians produced a handbook inSwedish that explains food waste and includes how-to information for reduction and measurement. Coordinator thought: Could a volunteer translate this handbook so more of us can use it?
  • Reducing Food Waste Activity (2013) To reduce food waste by planning in flexible meals that use up things that would otherwise be composted.To communicate your menu choices and sustainability benefits to clients


  • Sustainable & Wellness Oriented Lifestyle Practices (2020) by Integrated Dietetics’ Dr. Ram Aditya and Mr. T Kumaresan via Facebook live discusses important sustainability topics including biodiversity and food waste, and includes tips on how to incorporate sustainable practices in everyday life.


  • Diet for a Green Planet‘s firth criteria is reduced waste and includes a variety of tools related to diet & zero waste.

  • Edit history:
    • Initiated 2022 Sep
    • Updated 2023 Apr

Hot Topic Resource Cluster: University Dietetic Educators integrating SFS (2023 Dec)

Thank you to Naomi Kereliuk for starting this cluster!

Summary of key points in this cluster:
In this cluster, the term ‘educator’ is used for educators at the university level.

Dietitians and nutritionists are sustainable food systems (SFS) leaders. There is an inseparable relationship between SFS and human health as covered in ICDA SFS Learning Module 1. Nutrition and dietetics professionals have a role in addressing the interconnected challenges of ecological sustainability and human health and are well-positioned to be leaders in SFS as covered in ICDA SFS Learning Module 2.

– Only a few dietitians and nutritionists are actively and confidently working toward facilitating the promotion and adoption of sustainable diets. Many dietetic and nutrition professionals do not feel prepared to integrate SFS into practice, let alone teach students this topic and there is no SFS training standards or curriculum for educators.

– Educators play an important role in preparing future nutrition professionals for arising challenges within food systems. 

– Leadership and advocacy skills may be a critical aspect to advance learning of SFS. Many programs teach leadership and advocacy skills already, and this provides an opportunity to integrate SFS-related topics to the development of this skillset. 

– Social Justice plays a large part in SFS education because of the role that equity and trauma play in the challenges within the food system.

– The role of universities and accrediting bodies is key because if SFS is not a “priority” in nutrition and dietetic programs, it is found difficult to incorporate into the curriculum. Teaching SFS requires supportive policies, funding, engaged leaders, and staff training at universities.

– Multidimensional and systems thinking teaching approaches are essential for emphasizing the complexities of SFS. In most programs, students already develop knowledge and skills in critical thinking and problem-solving. Taking this one step further to systems thinking is a manageable step.

– One size does not fit all approach when teaching SFS. Pedagogy should be tailored towards variability in views and different perspectives of students, and highly sensitive to contextual relevance of the geography and culture of the region.

– Scaffolding content across courses to integrate SFS education in more than one course over the duration of the degree, specifically in a nutrition degree is shown to significantly increase SFS knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours in students.

– Experiential learning is important to facilitate student understanding of food system issues and can enhance creativity, and critical thinking skills. If time is a barrier, carefully constructed case studies can be helpful in this regard.



  • 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. Without clear competencies and guidance, educators are doing this ad hoc. More guidance is needed. Some evidence points to the importance of experiential learning, and scaffolded learning about SFS through integration into a number of different courses.
  • Sustainability: nutrition and dietetic students’ perceptions (2020) – The researchers report that while students showed a high level of awareness of the general importance of sustainability, their knowledge related to it was superficial. The authors also suggest that their findings of strong core beliefs and values in students related to sustainability could motivate interest in further learning about the issues. The authors discuss and suggest systemic pedagogical approaches.
  • Centering Equity in Sustainable Food Systems Education (2021) – This study is part of the “Teaching Food Systems CoP” whose goals are to convene academics and practitioners focused on SFSE, to: (1) support and grow a CoP for developing and implementing curricula in food systems courses; (2) share materials using systems thinking frameworks to teach about food systems; and (3) foster assessment tools on student learning in systems thinking.

Case studies: 

  • Red-Listed Seafood (2023 Aug) – Acadia University worked with their Food Service Provider to prioritize healthy and sustainable food on campus. In 2018, they released the Acadia Food Plan, which includes measurable targets to achieve these priorities. The Case Study describes how the Dietitian and Sustainability Manager at Acadia Dining Services worked with the students to address this target, providing them with a meaningful experiential learning opportunity.
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Briefs: Dietitian-Nutritionist Roles – These briefs explore possible roles for Dietitian-Nutritionists (D-N) for a selection of key UN SDGs listed. The briefs are intended to help increase awareness of the SDGs, provide an overview of what is currently being done to meet each goal, and how D-N can contribute.

Tools for practice – all tools are found on one page using the same link:

  • Great Meals for a Change – created as part of a research project which examined the effectiveness of people hosting a meal with friends and using educational activities with a toolkit to guide and support conversation about sustainable food and food systems. It is A party-style “sustainable meal” that can be an effective way to shift norms and disseminate knowledge about sustainable food.
  • Sustainable salsa activity – To teach students about sustainability through local and season foods and provide an easy and sustainable recipe. It’s easier to talk about sustainability over food!
  • PlanEATary Quest – 🇦🇺 Australia created the PlanEATary Quest to promote planetary health, one bite at a time. The PlanEATary Quest encourages dietitians to choose their own adventure to modify their own diet-related practices in line with current evidence regarding planetary health outcomes. To read more how it was produced, visit the SFS Toolkit Grants page.

updated 2023 Dec

Hot Topic Resource Cluster: Proteins Plants & Animals (2023 Aug)

Summary of key points in this cluster:
– Increased Interest – high protein foods have been a hot topic in relation to health of humans and Earth. Products have proliferated over the years, some achieving improvements in health of humans and Earth, and others not.

Learn – Systems vary greatly for different plant & animal proteins, some are sustainable, some are not. This leaves some work for consumers to make choices based on what they can learn about the different options. Nutrition professionals can help.

Diversity – There is a huge diversity of animal & plant proteins in the world from water, land, and air. Learn about and encourage diversity, especially species indigenous to your area.

Balance & Track – Balance animals & plants in the environment and other parts of the food system (Production – Markets – Consumption). Whenever there is an imbalance, symptoms emerge that need to be fixed. Strategies are emerging to help consumers both understand the need to balance diets and change to achieve better balance.
The SFS Toolkit also has a:
– Guide on balanced diet & environment see the 2019 EAT-Lancet report on Healthy Diets from SFS.

Recent resources in the ICDA SFS Toolkit:

  • Meat: The Four Futures (2023) – A podcast series by TABLE and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), via the SLU Future Food platform. The series aims to bring us together on a journey where we can examine our past and our future, our decisions and the science that informs them. The series will explore four competing visions for meat and livestock: 1) Efficient meat 2.0, 2) Alternative “meat”, 3) Less meat, and 4) Plant-based no meat.
  • My NutriWeb: The Truth about Plant Protein (2022 Nov 17). This 4-hour symposium held with the Alpro Foundation and is designed to bring together all professionals working across the health and food systems as well as tutors and students across the UK Ireland and Europe with the aim of addressing the latest hot topics in plant-based eating for health and the planet.
  • The politics of protein: examining claims about livestock, fish, ‘alternative proteins’ and sustainability. (2022 Apr) – They recommend 3 approaches for how to move beyond misleading and oversimplified claims to support meaningful change in sustainable protein-source foods. 1) Shift the focus from ‘protein transition’ to sustainable food system transition and sustainable food policies, 2) Prioritize reform pathways that deliver on all aspects of sustainability, starting at the territorial level (measure what matters, where it matters), and 3) Reclaim public resources from ‘big protein’, realign innovation pathways with the public good, and reset the debate.
  • WWF Consumer Meat Guides for the Baltic Region (2021) – By eating less but environmentally better meat and choosing more plant-based protein, you as a consumer can contribute to more sustainable meat consumption. These meat guides try to help consumers contribute to more sustainable meat consumption by making wise food choices that take into account nature, climate and animal welfare.
  • Comparative analysis of environmental impacts of agricultural production systems, agricultural input efficiency, and food choice (2017) – The results illustrate that environmental impacts of agricultural production systems are different depending on which systems, food, and environmental indicators are examined. The difference in environmental impacts between foods of different types is large compared to the difference between the same foods produced using different systems. For all environmental indicators and nutritional units assessed, plant-based foods have the lowest environmental impacts – even when analyzed per kilocalorie of food produced.  Systems should integrate the benefits of both systems to develop more sustainable agriculture (e.g., organic’s lower use of chemical inputs, and higher yields in conventional systems). 
  • Meat alternatives: life cycle assessment of most known meat substitutes (2015) – This article compares the environmental impacts of different meat substitutes. Multiple environmental impacts were measured, and assessed by weight (kilograms), energy (kilojoules) and protein (grams). The authors estimated impacts from the stage of raw resources to (including) consumer use.  One of the key objectives of meat substitutes is to lower environmental impact compared to that of livestock. Across all three measures, lab grown meat and myco-protein based foods (fungus/ mushroom) had the highest impacts. After this, results depended on the unit of measurement (weight, energy, protein). The authors report that the best performers were insect and soya-based substitutes and chicken (although chicken ranked more poorly when measured by weight).  

Started 2022 May, updated 2023 August