Geography of Food Research Group
Our food system is facing major challenges that require fundamental transformations in the entire food value chain. Through our work, we aim to help shape the food system of the future, locally and globally, and drive an agroecological transformation. By promoting resource-efficient agriculture, fair trade relations and sustainable consumption patterns, we strengthen resilience, sustainability and diversity in the system.
Updates from Geography of Food
Practical proximity is particularly important to us in our teaching. Students of the module Life Cycle Assessment and Label Management, for example, were recently given the opportunity to explore the FSC-certified forest around the campus with the Head of Forestry Richterswil & Wädenswil. Read the article about it here.
An agroecological transformation requires adaptations at all levels of the food system. Thus, we are looking for new solutions in the field (Agriculture & Climate Change), within the value chain (Sustainable Value Chains & Consumption) and across the food system (Regional Food Systems).
Regional Food Systems
The food system drives and requires transformations - globally and locally.
We initiate and support projects for a participatory and resilient transformation of our food system on a local and regional level - for example in Swiss mountain regions. Collaboration with the local population and actors of the food system, are central components of our projects.
Reference project: Mountain Valorization through Interconnectedness and Green Growth (MOVING)
Sustainable Value Chains and Consumption
Value chains are increasingly globalized, complex and consequently non-transparent.
We develop assessment methods and evaluate the sustainability of value chains comprehensively from the field to the plate. Among other things, we analyze whether agricultural production conditions are fair, to what extent standards deliver what they promise, and where sustainability challenges arise in the supply chain. In cooperation with stakeholders and partners from the field, we develop solutions and raise awareness among consumers for sustainable consumption decisions in nutrition.
Reference project: Neuentwicklung von labelinfo.ch
Agriculture und Climate Change
Agriculture is strongly affected by the impacts of climate change and itself causes high emissions of greenhouse gases.
We are investigating options for climate mitigation and adaptation. To promote a diversified climate-friendly crop production, we identify new suitable crops and evaluate their current and future suitability. The goal is locally adapted, sustainable agriculture based on the principles of agroecology.
Reference project: CONSUS
As an interdisciplinary team, we combine natural and social science perspectives. In our applied research projects, we explore and develop potential solutions from the field to the plate, supporting decision-makers in policy, practice and at the individual level.
Our competencies include:
- Systems analysis and sustainability assessment in the food system
- Participatory research and project development
- Spatial suitability analyses for sustainable production systems and niche crops
- Foresight studies and scenario development
- Sustainability analysis of value chains
- Awareness raising for sustainable nutrition through scientainment and gamification
In foodcoops, individuals or households join to purchase food directly from producers. The cooperatives promote ecological production systems and short value chains and enable fairer prices for all parties involved. In the project "Promotion of Foodcoops in Zurich" we analyze the obstacles for the founding of foodcoops and encourage committed volunteers to found new cooperatives.
Europe's mountain regions are facing major challenges and changes. As part of the EU project MOVING, which involves 16 partner institutions from 23 countries, we are investigating in the Grisons mountains which value chains are particularly resilient and how we can learn from regional innovations in a sustainable way.
Sustainability standards represent an important support for the social, ecological and economic sustainability of consumer decisions. In this project, we re-evaluate standards from various product areas on the basis of a multi-criteria analysis and thus update the information platform labelinfo.ch.
To tackle climate change, emissions must also be reduced in agriculture. In the project Offensive Specialty Crops, we are conducting a site analysis for special crops such as fruit, berries, nuts or legumes as an alternative to animal production on behalf of the canton of Lucerne.
Current Master Thesis Topics
- «Closing cycles in the Alpine agrifood sector»
In agriculture and food processing, there are many resources that are used inefficiently - especially in the Alps. For example, whey or wool are thrown away because there is no market for these by-products. In this master thesis you will look at concrete case studies in the alpine region to see what are the biggest hurdles and possible solutions around this topic. Contact Emilia for further information
- «Social impacts of vanilla cultivation»
Vanilla is one of the most expensive spices. But who benefits from these high prices? What are the living conditions of vanilla producers like? You can get to the bottom of these and other questions in your master's thesis directly on site, for example in Mexico. Contact Sonja for further information
- «Climate change mitigation and adaptation in agriculture»
Within the framework of this topic, you have the opportunity to specifically investigate climate change mitigation measures and their potential, or climate adaptation strategies and their promotion. You can focus on national or international agriculture. Contact Roman for further information
- «Suitability analysis for new agricultural crops»
Which crops for a plant-based diet can be grown increasingly today or in the future in the wake of climate change? Depending on your interests, you can investigate the suitability of different crops on a global, regional or local level qualitatively or quantitatively (through GIS). Contact Roman for further information
Our freely available-learning courses are for anyone interested in sustainable food value chains.
For a younger audience we have developed the online game Foodscape . The game teaches the connections between nutrition, a healthy lifestyle and the use of resources in a playful way.
We would like to thank all our national and international cooperation partners from research, politics, practice and society for the exciting collaboration.