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 the diversity, sustainability and resilience of the system.
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
The Regional Development Project (PRE) Wädenswil examines how resource-conserving and sustainable agriculture can be promoted in Wädenswil and how cooperation between agriculture, processing, consumption and research can be strengthened. The aim is to strengthen independence from national sales channels and value creation in the region.
The aim of the study is to develop a guide with Swiss Future Foods, i.e. plant-based foods that show a particular potential to transform the agricultural and food system. The promotion of these Future Foods should contribute to the improvement of the environmental impact, the health impact and the diversification of agricultural production and nutrition in Switzerland.
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.
Current Master Thesis Topics
- «Participatory decision-making for sustainable local agri-food systems» Contact Alice for further information
- «Building local value chains and cooperation for resource-saving and sustainable agriculture in Wädenswil» Contact Sonja for further information
- «Climate change mitigation and adaptation in agriculture» Contact Claudia for further information
- «Suitability analysis for new agricultural crops» Contact Roman for further information
- «Transformation of local food systems - sustainable food strategies for small towns» Contact Isabel for further information
Students of ZHAW and other universities have the chance to participate in one of our international summer schools.
- Agrobiodiversity Summer School
- International Virtual Course
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.