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Food and Sustainability

Edited by Paul Behrens, Thijs Bosker, and David Erhardt

Publication Date - March 2020

ISBN: 9780198814375

399 pages
9.7 x 7.4 inches

In Stock


Food and Sustainability is the first text on this topic to consistently and coherently bring together important concepts from different disciplines to introduce students to a common challenge: food sustainability.

The book explores the issues related to our growing demand for food from the perspectives of disciplines ranging from environmental and social sciences, to public health. It examines food as a point of convergence across these disciplines, illustrating the need for a transdisciplinary approach to understand common challenges and opportunities in food systems.

The issues discussed are exemplified in several case studies for each chapter, which provide a direct avenue for students to apply the principles and theories set out in each chapter to real-world problems. In addition, 'Food controversy' panels highlight how there is very often no one right answer to the problems being faced, and how different viewpoints and perspectives need to be weighed up alongside each other to come to workable resolutions.

Online resources:

Food sustainability is augmented by a range of online resources, which include:

For students:
DT Hyperlinks to extended research readings
DT Practice quizzes to support independent study
DT Answers to in-text questions.

For instructors:
DT Downloadable (PowerPoint) figures from the book
DT Answer sheets to the end of chapter questions
DT Suggested exam questions.


  • The first text to introduce students to the full range of disciplines underpinning food sustainability, and help them successfully apply their knowledge to the real-world challenges food sustainability presents.
  • Case studies throughout demonstrate the real-life application of concepts being introduced in the main text, while a range of in-text learning features promote engagement, reflection, and critical thinking on the part of the reader.
  • In-depth boxes introduce more complex topics, such as derivations or specific terminology, without disrupting the flow of the main body of text.
  • A 'Food controversy' panel in each chapter encourages the reader to view topics under discussion from different perspectives, and to appreciate how there is often no one 'right answer' to debates and issues.
  • A 'Connect the dots' feature actively encourages the reader to make links between the range of disciplines discussed in different chapters, underpinning the study of food sustainability in order to see the field as a coherent whole.

About the Author(s)

Paul Behrens, Leiden University College The Hague, Leiden University and Institute of Environmental Sciences, Leiden University,Thijs Bosker, Leiden University College The Hague, Leiden University and Institute of Environmental Sciences, Leiden University,David Erhardt, Leiden University College The Hague, Leiden University

Paul Behrens is an Assistant Professor in Energy and Environmental Change at Leiden University. A physicist by training, Paul received his Masters in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Sheffield (UK) after conducting research at the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (Spain). His PhD is from the University of Auckland (New Zealand), where he developed remote sensing techniques for the harnessing of wind energy. Before joining Leiden University Paul worked at the Royal Society of New Zealand, providing expert scientific advice to the New Zealand Government on environmental sustainability and other topics. He has worked in industry, NGOs, and academia. His current work focuses on the environmental impact of human consumption, including energy, food, and water. Paul is passionate about science outreach and his recent research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Nature Energy, has appeared in The New York Times, the BBC, and Scientific American.

David Ehrhardt is an Assistant Professor in International Development at Leiden University. With a D.Phil in Development Studies from the University of Oxford, David subsequently worked as a post-doctoral Research Officer in Oxford's Department of International Development. In his current research, he uses qualitative and quantitative research methods to understand the efficacy and development of 'hybrid' governance in Nigeria as well as comparatively. In the past, his research has explored ethnic and religious conflict and cooperation; the development of political authority beyond the state; and the ways in which inequality and governance interact in the formation of group identities and violent conflict. At Leiden, David coordinates a BSc programme in governance, economics, and development.

Thijs Bosker is an Associate Professor in Environmental Science at Leiden University. He obtained a BSc and MSc in Plant Science at Wageningen University (the Netherlands), specializing in sustainable agriculture. Next, he worked for an NGO where he focused on reducing pesticide emissions to the environment. In 2005 he moved to Canada to complete a PhD in aquatic toxicology at the University of New Brunswick. He continued as a postdoctoral fellow at the Canadian Rivers Institute, became an Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut (USA), before moving to Leiden University. In his current research he uses laboratory and field techniques to study impacts of contaminants on ecosystem health. He has worked on a variety of environmental issues, with a special focus on the combined impacts of contaminants and environmental stressors on reproduction and development of organisms. At Leiden University he coordinates the BSc programme Earth, Energy and Sustainability.

Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: can we feed the world sustainabily?
    PART I: Food and environment
    2. Biodiversity: what are the impacts of food production on biodiversity?
    3. Pollution: how are food systems driving environmental pollution?
    4. Water: how does agriculture impact water quantity and quality?
    5. Soils: what are the impacts of agriculture on soils?
    6. Climate change: how will food systems and the climate interact?
    7. Energy: what is the role of energy in food production, and how must it change?
    Part II: Food and society
    8. Nutrition: how are healthy diets linked to environmental impacts?
    9. Food security: what are the challenges in providing everyone accessible, affordable, and healthy food?
    10. Consumption: how can we promote sustainable food consumption?
    Part III: Food systems and governance
    11. Food systems: how are food systems organised in a globalised economy?
    12. Collective action: how do collective action problems hinder the transition to sustainable food systems?
    13. Governance: how can food systems be effectively governed to promote sustainability?
    14. Food aid: how can food aid improve food security sustainably?
    15. Conclusions: rethinking sustainability in food systems