Research Database

This database is a curation of over 170 entries from UC Berkeley faculty and staff in a variety of formats: academic journal articles, reports, videos, and mainstream media pieces. We created this database to allow visitors to search for a topic and easily find research results from the UC Berkeley community. This database is a "living" database with new articles added continually.



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Year Published

The Economics of Soil Health: Current Knowledge, Open Questions, and Policy Implications

Authors

Andrew Stevens

Publication Type

Academic Literature

Source

Year Published

2015

tags

agriculture, soil health

Policy Summaryj

Soil health plays an important role in agricultural productivity, environmental success, and ecosystem sustainability. Healthy soil is associated with a greater amount of organic matter, high levels of active carbon, adequate levels of nitrogen, and a prospering microbial ecosystem. Healthy soils can help increase plant growth, reduce erosion, can help prevent pest growth and disease outbreak, and can serve as a carbon sink. Even though it is known that healthy soil has many benefits, there is room for improvement for policy makers to improve existing economic and policy frameworks, and inform farmers’ of the soil health on their farm. The economic framework of a case study in Kenya provides a concrete starting point for future economic analyses and case studies of soil health issues. The author’s findings suggest that optimal management of both the agricultural system and soil carbon would lead to increased yields and increased levels of soil carbon in the long run.

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Addressing Agricultural Nitrogen Losses In A Changing Climate

Authors

Timothy M. Bowles

Shady S. Atallah

Eleanor E. Campbell

A. Stuart Grandy

William R. Wieder

Publication Type

Academic Literature

Source

Nature: International Journal of Science

Year Published

2018

tags

agriculture, agroecosystem, climate change

Policy Summaryj

Nitrogen loss in agriculture poses a threat to both human and environmental health. Climate change along with intensive agricultural management will increase the harmful effects and suppress current mitigation efforts. If no action is taken, warmer climates can potentially intensify the global hydrological cycle and are expected to increase precipitation levels with more intense but infrequent rainfall. Thus, nitrogen loss affects plants, the soil, and microbial processes. This Review includes five propositions to reduce nitrogen losses in a climate that is rapidly changing: recognize the limitations of fertilizer management; breed for belowground traits; increase agroecosystem resilience, catalyze change with a socioeconomic perspective; and intercept nitrogen losses. Ultimately, building resilience to stressful conditions, both at the crop genotype and whole agroecosystem levels, will become increasingly more effective than fertilizer management.

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Open-Source Food: Nutrition, Toxicology, and Availability of Wild Edible Greens in the East Bay

Authors

Philip Stark

Daphne Miller

Thomas J. Carlson

Kristen Rasmussen de Vasquez

Publication Type

Academic Literature

Source

PLOS ONE

Year Published

2019

tags

agriculture, California, food access, food insecurity, food policy, San Francisco, Wild edible greens

Policy Summaryj

Wild edible greens that grow by our sidewalks, our parks, and our schools have a substantial amount of vitamins and minerals thus exceeding many domesticated leafy greens including kale. Researchers looked at the availability of wild edible greens in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the East San Francisco Bay Area in 2014-2015. One of the great benefits of wild leafy greens (such as chickweeds and dandelions) is that they are a reliable source of nutrition accessible all year-round due to being resistant to high and low temperatures. As of now, foraging is forbidden on most parts of US land but permitting access to these edible, “culinary quality” greens can potentially provide nutrient security to millions of people.

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Indicators of Land Insecurity for Urban Farms: Institutional Affiliation, Investment, and Location

Authors

Joshua Arnold

Paul Rogé

Publication Type

Source

Sustainability

Year Published

2018

tags

Bay Area, California, food policy, food security, Urban Farm

Policy Summaryj

Urban agriculture has demonstrated ecological, economical, and social benefits in the United States. The percentage of urban farming participation has risen 34% from 2007 to 2011. However, it is often regarded as a transitory land-use activity and a temporary solution to food security.  The political and economic issues many urban food producers face has affected their security of tenure and access to land. Between the years of 2016 and 2018, three surveys were conducted in two areas known for their urban agriculture: the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County. The farms in these areas were divided by tenure status– high-security and low-security. The tenure-secure farms studied were mostly affiliated with schools, and were more able to pay for services such as irrigation and hire full-time managers — indicators of long-term sustainability. In contrast,  tenure-insecure farms were not usually affiliated with any institutions and were also less likely to afford necessary farming services (like irrigation or staff), even if they were in higher-income neighborhoods.

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Does Urban Agriculture Improve Food Security? Examining the Nexus of Food Access and Distribution of Urban Produced Foods in the United States: A Systematic Review

Authors

Alana Siegner

Publication Type

Academic Literature

Source

Sustainability

Year Published

2018

tags

agriculture, food environment, food policy, food security, Urban Agriculture

Policy Summaryj

Urban agriculture has rapidly gained popularity as a method of providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables in low-income communities as well as providing exposure of agriculture to those who live in the city. These urban farms are usually run by members of the community.  However, through focus groups, case studies, and a set of critical analyses, researchers found that urban agriculture is not the only solution that will improve food access to ensure food security. The focus on food desserts and their lack of grocery stores overlooks the historical underinvestment patterns and underlying structural causes of food insecurity and oversimplifies the solutions landscape. This narrow focus on increasing access doesn’t guarantee that the most vulnerable are obtaining food and whether or not they are consuming it. Policymakers should ensure that the communities that depend on urban farms receive city support because it can place a burden on struggling households to find the time, money, and expertise to run these farms.

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Thinking inside and outside the box: local and national considerations of the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)

Authors

Megan Mucioki

Jennifer Sowerwine

Publication Type

Report

Source

Science Direct

Year Published

2018

tags

diabetes, FDPIR, food insecurity, food policy, food security, Native Americans, obesity, rural

Policy Summaryj

Since the arrival of settlers in North America, Native Americans have lost access to their healthy and traditional foods, largely due to lack of food access on reservations. Since then, Native Americans have received boxed foods through the USDA Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations ( FDPIR). Through focus groups, researchers have come to the conclusion that not only are these boxes important for nutritional supplementation but they provide secure meals for youth that are struggling with drug addictions and stressful home situations. However, these boxed meals do not contain traditional Native American food that are significantly healthier such as bison, nuts, and berries. The boxes have a limited amount of good quality meat, lack of fresh fruits/vegetables, and a substantial amount of goods high in carbohydrates. The quality of the food has improved in comparison to 30 years ago but there is room for improvement in order to ensure the well-being of Native American communities.

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Examining the public debate on school food nutrition guidelines: Findings and lessons learned from an analysis of news coverage and legislative debates

Authors

Lori Dorfman

Publication Type

Report

Source

Berkeley Media Studies Group

Year Published

2016

tags

federal, Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, legislation, news media analysis, news media framing, opinion, public health, states

Policy Summaryj

This paper examines state and local-level debates about standards that the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) created for the National School Lunch Program in 2010. Dorfman examined regulatory testimony and newsarticles published in 11 states, assessing the content, quantity, people featured, and arguments in favor or against the new federal legislation. Pro-HHFKA articles tend to be straight news stories, not opinion pieces, suggesting that there is an opportunity for public health advocates to use the opinion pages to shape the narrative around legislation.

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Beyond Income: What Else Predicts Very Low Food Security Among Children?

Authors

Patricia Anderson

Kristin Butcher

Hilary Hoynes

Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

Publication Type

Academic Literature

Source

Southern Economic Journal

Year Published

2016

tags

benefits, children, families, food insecurity, food security, food stamps, free and reduced-price lunch, households, mental health, nutrition, physical health, SNAP, teenager

Policy Summaryj

Here, Hoynes et al examines characteristics that are associated with United States households that have children with very low food security who may be at risk of nutritional deficienciesThe authors find that these households commonly have teenage children and participate in programs such as SNAP and free and reduced-price lunch. The presence of an adult in the household who has poor mental or physical health is the most important factor to determine if children will be food insecureThese findings suggest that policy that promotes parental health may have beneficial effects on children’s health and nutritionFurthermore, nutrition programs should consider the age of household members when determining benefits to better meet the needs of recipients.

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Food environment and weight change: does residential mobility matter? The Diabetes Study of Northern California (DISTANCE)

Authors

Nancy Adler

SD Blanchard

W Dow

Maggi Kelly Barbara Laraia

Howard Moffet

Dean Schillinger

Margaret E Warton

YT Zhang

Publication Type

Academic Literature

Source

American Journal of Epidemiology

Year Published

2017

tags

BMI, body mass index, built environment, diabetes, food environment, healthy foods, nutrition, obesity, weight loss

Policy Summaryj

Kelly et al examined the effects of living in a healthful food environment on the body mass index of adults with Type II Diabetes. They found that living in a healthy food environment is associated with a 1-pound decrease in body mass index for people who did not move over the course of the study. There was no significant change in body mass index for participants who did move. This paper suggests that for individuals who want to lose weight, living next to good food options is not enough to spur weight loss. Additional programs or diets are needed for meaningful change.  

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Food Prices and the Welfare of Poor Consumers

Authors

Ethan Ligon

Publication Type

Mainstream Media

Source

Giannini Foundation of Agriculture Economics

Year Published

2008

tags

food access, global food system, poverty, SNAP, WIC

Policy Summaryj

Ligon believes that increases in the global price of food will have a larger impact on people living in poverty than people of higher socioeconomic status because people living in poverty devote a greater portion of their income to purchasing food. He argues that if global food prices increase substantially, people will be pushed into poverty and forced to reallocate funding from other areas like housing to avoid starvationHis argument can be extended to promote tying social service benefits to the cost of inflation. As the cost of food and other necessities increases, programs such as WIC and SNAP should increase their benefits accordingly.   

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