Future Food Utrecht

Future Food Utrecht offers a platform for scientists and external stakeholders on which they contribute to the transition of the food chain for a sustainable world, by means of unique transdisciplinary research and education. The search is for catalysts of change; small interventions with big effects. Our ambition is to strive for diets that are both good for the planet as for all its inhabitants.

Hub leader
Head of Department
Science - Biology
Professor
Science - Biology - Environmental Biology
Science - Biology - Environmental Biology - Plant Ecophysiology
Science - Biology
How can we realise our strive for diets that are both good for the planet and all its inhabitants?

A unique environment

Future Food Utrecht is a hub within Pathways to Sustainability, one of four strategic themes of Utrecht University. Future Food Utrecht offers a unique environment for inter- and transdisciplinary research and education related to food. It serves as a platform for the discovery and implementation of new concepts that contribute to a food system that is healthy, available and reliable for a growing world population, and at the same time sustainable.

Science and society

Future Food Utrecht houses scientists based at Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht from various areas of expertise. Each of them contributes to scholarly or societal processes that are essential for the development and implementation of future food systems that are sustainable and have a positive impact on health and the environment.

Processes around food

Examples of processes that Future Food Utrecht addresses are enhanced crop resilience, nature inclusive agriculture, consumer behaviour, nutritional interventions to prevent chronic diseases, animal health, food safety, legal frameworks that support the adoption of sustainable food systems or social and cultural dimensions of food transitions, economic trade-offs, and the ethical and justice implications of these transitions.

Connecting interdisciplinary, fundamental research with key stakeholders along three pathways

Pathways

The hub connects the interdisciplinary, fundamental research from Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht with the key stakeholders working on future food. This will be done along three pathways. These pathways identify the key societal questions at stake that need to be addressed jointly. This will be essential for the development of solutions for societal challenges related global food systems.

The three transdisciplinary Pathways that the hub will focus on are:

  • Pathway 1: Future Production & Consumption

Sustainably producing more food from less in a changing environment is currently one of the biggest challenges for society. In this Pathway, we will work with industry, policy makers, NGOs, and consumer organizations to explore how future diets with optimal and prudent use of animal proteins and more meat alternatives can be facilitated for the growing human population. We thereby focus on reducing the impact on the environment and take into account the socio-economic and cultural backgrounds of societies.

  • Pathway 2: Future Health

The relation between food and health is visible in societies around the world. In the Western world, the occurrence of overweight and related non-communicable diseases is increasing while malnutrition persists in developing countries. A good measure for health and health promoting sustainable food and feed is immune fitness: the capacity of the immune system to react or tolerate internal or external triggers by establishing, maintaining, and regulating a proper immune response. In this Pathway, a co-creation approach will be followed to investigate the effects of food and feed concepts on human and animal immune fitness.

  • Pathway 3: Future Efficiencies

What do efficient food systems look like? We all know that the current food system is the world’s largest driver of anthropogenic environmental change, and its management is key to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. While we generally agree that we need to do something to make food systems more sustainable, we do not necessarily agree about what, exactly, should be done. In this Pathway we will explore these issues together with stakeholders and address efficiency in relation to sustainable solutions and sustainable resource use that is both good for the planet and for its inhabitants. Animal production and consumption and food waste, especially in developed countries, will be used as cases.

 

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