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UCC researchers coming to a kitchen near you

6 Dec

Growing up in Ireland, the local corner shop or supermarket were often the only options available to buy our groceries. In recent years however, the ways in which households buy food has multiplied.

These days we can choose from an array of food supply options including online supermarkets, farmers markets, food cooperatives, vegetable box schemes, meal ingredient boxes, online butchers and snack box schemes. Many of these newer options for the weekly shop involve an online order and home delivery, or in the case of farmers markets, a social experience much different to that of visiting a supermarket. But how do these new platforms affect our food choices and are they helping us to become more sustainable at home?

Researchers at Cork University Business School, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, are asking these questions in collaboration with the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) in UCC and research partners in four other European countries as part of a €1.2m EU project, PLATEFORMS, to investigate how food supply and food consumption are contributing to sustainability.  Through in-depth exploration of kitchens via fridge audits, kitchenscapes and in-depth interviews researchers will uncover how households use these new food supply platforms and whether they affect food preparation for the family, the means of cooking, storing and eating the food, and food disposal. The PLATEFORMS project is part of the European transnational ‘SUSFOOD2’ initiative for sustainable food systems research from production to consumption.

Mary McCarthy, Professor at Cork University Business School, and PLATEFORMS Principal Investigator believes that this research will help uncover how new food supply systems affect households’ transitions to more environmental, social, and economically responsible consumption.

“For decades, food consumption has been associated with unsustainable practices of over-consumption, increased food waste, and unhealthy diets,” says Professor McCarthy “Given the impact of food production and consumption on global warming, as starkly highlighted in the latest report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the current unsustainable consumption patterns can no longer be maintained.”

Professor McCarthy emphasized the need for an urgent transition to responsible consumption behaviour and lifestyles, such as sustainable diets and reduced food waste, as being critical to mitigate climate change. “Adjusting food consumption practices at all stages from planning shopping, cooking, storing and disposal of food can make a difference. This research will identify unsustainable patterns and examine how, with the use of new supply platforms, we can move forward to a more sustainable future for food on a large scale.”

This project will also actively promote sustainable food choices through involvement with food company owners and by highlighting sustainable success stories on its website and social media. You can keep up with the findings of the project here: https://plateforms.oslomet.no/ or by following Plateforms on Twitter: @plateformsEU.

Environmental Research Institute

University College Cork, Lee Road, Cork

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