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Food Security- How Sustainable Fishbox Ticks the Boxes

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 : 4:47 PM

My name is Rachel Norman and I work at Stirling University where I lead the Centre for Aquatic Food Security. I am currently having fun working with FishboxHQ to develop an algorithm which will make packing your boxes easier.

So I thought that you, my fellow Fishboxers, would be interested to hear what food security is, why it is important and how seafood fits into the picture.



Rachel with the original Fishbox!

There are a number of issues that are expected to put pressure on the food system over the next 30-40 years. The global population is expected to grow from its current level of 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050. That growth is not expected to be evenly spread, with the populations in developed countries remaining relatively steady whilst populations in India, China and Africa are expected to more than double.

At the same time people are getting wealthier and middle class consumption is expected to increase which will mean that there is more demand for meat, especially beef and for more processed foods.

The population growth means that the demand for food is expected to double by 2050, whilst climate change means that the food that we currently produce could be under threat. 

Seafood related industries play a key role in developing countries. Seafood often makes up a large proportion of their diet. Photo by Mags Crumlish


How do we tackle this problem? Three main approaches:

The first is sustainable intensification, in this case the idea is that we need to increase the yield of our food production whilst minimising the damage to the environment so that the production can be maintained in the longer term. That is not just about higher yielding plants or animals but also about reducing losses on farms due to pests and diseases.

The second is to minimise waste. These losses can occur at five different points in the food production chain. 1) On the farm; 2) post-harvest- during storage and transportation; 3) at the processing stage; 4) when products are in the shops and 5) at the consumption stage either at home or in restaurants. The amount of waste at each of these stages varies from country to country, but we need to look for improvements across all of these stages.

The third approach is to think about sustainable nutrition, this is an approach which means that instead of trying to meet predicted demands we try to reduce those demands and focus on ensuring that people eat a more healthy and less environmentally damaging diet. One of the problems with food security is that we often have issues with contradictory demands, for example, increasing yield often means compromising the environment.


Fresh shellfish and vegetables.

However the one area where there is synchrony between our requirements is that diets which are healthier for us are also better for the environment. This is therefore a really positive route to pursue and something I am particularly interested in.


So, you may be asking what we, as individuals can do to help with this problem?


Firstly we can reduce the amount of food we waste in the home by planning meals more carefully.

Secondly we can eat more healthily with diets which contain more fruit, vegetables and fish and less meat and processed food. Seafood has many health benefits as it contains lots of micronutrients.


On average, seafood is produced relatively efficiently compared to other forms of protein, so is better for the environment.



The way that Fishbox works already ticks many of the boxes discussed above, they only supply seasonally and locally available seafood which reduces the environmental impact of the food and is sustainable.

Work on the new algorithm will also help to make sure that waste continues to be minimised as the company grows.



The Fishbox algorithm team! Partnering maths and Fishboxes to make our supply chain smooth and ensure sustainability at all times!


Fishbox and Rachel are presenting at the 
Interface Knowledge Exchange Awards this month!




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