Volltext-Downloads (blau) und Frontdoor-Views (grau)

Food habits and environmental impact : an assessment of the natural resource demand in three agri-food systems

  • The ongoing increase of the world population entails huge challenges for all countries' agro-food systems. Agriculture has to satisfy growing food requirements both in quantitative and qualitative terms, but the on hand natural resource stock is quickly depleting. Moreover, food production and energy production from biomass are competing for land. The thesis aims at measuring the environmental impact of nutrition in three agri-food systems. The study considers the amount of natural resources used in the production and consumption of food along its life-cycle. It is featured in two parts. In the first one the analysis is restricted to the supply chain of food, and provides a sustainability rating of thirty-seven products, grown throughThe ongoing increase of the world population entails huge challenges for all countries' agro-food systems. Agriculture has to satisfy growing food requirements both in quantitative and qualitative terms, but the on hand natural resource stock is quickly depleting. Moreover, food production and energy production from biomass are competing for land. The thesis aims at measuring the environmental impact of nutrition in three agri-food systems. The study considers the amount of natural resources used in the production and consumption of food along its life-cycle. It is featured in two parts. In the first one the analysis is restricted to the supply chain of food, and provides a sustainability rating of thirty-seven products, grown through different agricultural practices. The second analysis takes into consideration all the value chain according to three paradigms of agri-food systems. They refers to different models of food production and consumption, observed in Italy. The first one is the dominant paradigm, including conventional and intensive farming practices, long and globalized food chains, retailing in supermarkets. The other models refer to Alternative Food Networks (AFN). The first is the GAS (Gruppi di Acquisto Solidali) initiative, i.e. solidarity purchasing groups, that manage collectively the purchasing of organic food and natural manufactured products mainly from local enterprises and farmers. They aim at accessing high quality and naturally grown food, avoiding the retailing passage and ensuring a fair price to the farmers. The third model refers to UPM (Un Punto Macrobiotico), an international association established in the Marche region in 1980. It manages and controls an entire food chain, since the agricultural production, based on the post-organic technique "Ma-Pi polyculture", till the food purchasing and catering, in sixty-three restaurants spread in the Italian territory. UPM is a very consumer-oriented food chain, in which a very exigent demand (in terms of food naturality and healthiness) drives the agricultural production towards the minimization of the external inputs employment. A further model concerns the reduction of the "Food Miles", i.e. the kilometres covered by food, since the dominant paradigm. Thus, in this model the distances are reduced by an average 90%, while the production practices do not change. The methodology used for assessing the sustainability of food is the Material Input Per Service unit (MIPS) indicator. It estimates the overall environmental pressure caused by products or services by indicating the life-cycle-wide consumption of natural resources in relation to the benefit provided. It includes five resource categories: abiotic and biotic materials (renewable resources), water, air and soil. Results of the first analysis provide a dataset of the material intensity of Italian agricultural products and foodstuffs, which can expedite future research on the topic of nutrition’s sustainability. The second analysis evaluates the natural resource demand for feeding one person during a week, in the paradigms under investigation. With respect to the dominant, the GAS model allows a 58% reduction in the abiotic resource demand, 53% in water and 71% in air. The UPM system, instead, permits a tenfold reduction in abiotic, biotic and water, and 82% decrease in the air category. The insight on the socio-economic features of the systems, together with the environmental sustainability measurement, allowed making some general conclusions and policy recommendations on the sustainability of the different food systems. The role of a low external input technology in agriculture is emphasized as a possible strategy for driving food system towards more sustainable patterns and empowering the small-scale farming.show moreshow less

Export metadata

Additional Services

Share in Twitter    Search Google Scholar    frontdoor_oas
Metadaten
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Author:Lucia Mancini
University:Universität
Place of University:Ancona
Year of Publication:2010
Pagenumber:175
Language:English
Dewey Decimal Classification:600 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften