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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Fall 2015

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Science and Technology Resources on the Internet

Food Security: Selected Global and U.S. Resources

Megan Kocher
Science Librarian
University of Minnesota
St. Paul, Minnesota

Table of Contents

Data and Statistics
      United States
Research Centers
Organizations and Institutes
      United States Government
      TED Talks


Food security is a complex global issue relating to sustainable agriculture, distribution and trade, policy, cultural practices, poverty, and nutrition. The term "food security" was defined by the 1996 World Food Summit as existing "when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life" (FAO 1996; World Food Summit Plan of Action section, para. 1). This means that not only is healthy food available, but also that it is affordable and that people know how to use and prepare it (World Health Organization 2010). Food security looks different in different environments. In urban areas, food insecurity may be caused by "food deserts," which are defined as low-income neighborhoods with inadequate access to a large grocery store or supermarket (United States Department of Agricultural Marketing Service). In suburban and rural areas, food security issues may hinge around access to water or the ability to import foods.

With the global population projected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, food security has become a major issue for world leaders and scientists alike as they work to find a sustainable solution to producing and distributing adequate food supplies. Proposed solutions are multifarious and weave together components of increasing agricultural production, decreasing waste, and altering diets (Godfray et al. 2010). Solving this problem will also rely on economics and crop prices, which are impacted by climate change and technology (Rosegrant et al. 2014). Researchers tackling food security are challenged to be interdisciplinary and creative in their approach in order to cover the broad scope of factors that impact and are affected by the global food system.


Food security is researched and dealt with on local, regional, national, and global levels with solutions ranging from local farmers' market initiatives to increasing crop yields through genetically modified plants to streamlining global supply chains. Because of its broad, interdisciplinary nature, it is necessary to narrow the focus of this webliography by limiting resources to those specifically addressing food security. Tangentially-related resources, such as those focused solely on water resources, were excluded; broader related concepts such as "food sovereignty" were also excluded. This webliography focuses specifically on sources that address food security in the United States or at the global scale.

This guide is intended to be useful to a broad audience including: academic and public librarians, educators, researchers, graduate students, and nonprofit organizations.


Sources included in this guide were chosen from targeted searches of Google and YouTube. All sources meet the following criteria for inclusion:


These resources provide an introduction to food security from some of the key organizations addressing its associated challenges.

Environment Reports: Food Matters
Environment Reports is published by the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment in collaboration with an international group of scientists and writers. Their reports are targeted at public and professional audiences with the goal of providing data and information to environmental decision-makers. Their "Food Matters" reports give briefings on a variety of topics related to food security including food waste, increasing demand for agricultural production, and changing diets.
Feeding 9 Billion
This web site is maintained by a team of Canadian researchers and the University of Guelph. Its focus is on providing an introduction to the complexities and issues surrounding global food security and to explain related scientific concepts. The site provides educational videos and fact sheets that would be appropriate for a high-school age audience or older.
The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015
This report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations gives an overview of global food security facts, figures, research, case studies, lessons, and progress based on a suite of indicators defined by the FAO in 2014. This report is key in understanding the current work being done to address food insecurity globally. This annual report series is available back to 1999.
USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) International Food Security Assessment, 2014-24
This research report projects food insecurity for 76 low- and middle-income countries using data from the FAO. The appendices to this report include tables comparing current and projected food gaps and numbers of food insecure people. This report gives an indication of what work needs to be done to address future challenges in food security globally.
USDA ERS Readings on Food Security in the U.S.
ERS has compiled a list of key articles and reports on U.S household food security and U.S. community food security. This is a good resource for instructors and discussion groups to find introductory readings on a variety of food security topics.

Data and Statistics


FAO Food Security Statistics
This web site is a portal to the FAO's collected data on global undernourishment. It includes downloadable 2015 hunger maps as well as links to data collected from FAOSTAT and context for how this data was collected and analyzed.
Global Food Security Index
The Global Food Security Index is a project of The Economist Intelligence Unit (a research unit of The Economist Magazine) and is funded by DuPont. The index measures 28 indicators in 109 countries using both quantitative and qualitative measures. The index has existed since 2012 and measures are available for the current and previous years.
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) Food Security Portal
IFPRI is a large research institute that is part of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR). The IFPRI food security portal aggregates data, news, and research on food security globally. Information can be accessed at the international, country, or regional level. The "Data Dashboard" section of this web site pulls together data from the World Bank, FAO, and UNICEF, as well as data generated by IFPRI. Data sets cover food security, commodity prices, economics, and human well-being. Data include the most recent year's figures only; no historical data is located on this web site.
World Food Programme (WFP) Food Security Analysis
The WFP conducts a variety of assessments to analyze and monitor food security globally by combining geospatial and survey data. Their data, publications, and analytical tools are available to the public through this web site.

United States

ESRI Food Desert Finder;4722931.8985;10
This interactive map, published by ArcGIS parent company ESRI, shows access to supermarkets in the United States. It highlights the distance (walking and driving) to supermarkets from communities.
USDA ERS Food Access Research Atlas
The Food Access Research Atlas uses spatial data and census data to generate maps of food access and supermarket availability in the U.S.
USDA ERS Food Environment Atlas
The Food Environment Atlas merges spatial data with environmental data (e.g. restaurant proximity, food assistance) to create maps with a broader context of food availability and related factors than the Food Access Research Atlas.
USDA ERS Food Security in the United States
This data set includes questions from the U.S. Food Security Survey dating back to 1995. Data sets available through this web site are the Current Population Survey (CPS); Spanish Language CPS Food Security Supplement; Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 (ECLS-K); Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP); and Survey of Program Dynamics (SPD).

Research Centers

The following centers are sources for research and scholarship on food security issues.


Columbia University Earth Institute Agriculture and Food Security Center
Members: This center is staffed by a core group of scientists, researchers, and staff as well as affiliated adjunct researchers from a variety of fields.
Focus Areas: Research at this center is focused primarily on tropical regions with an emphasis on increasing agricultural production while addressing issues related to environment and livelihoods of the people living in these areas.
Michigan State University (MSU) Food Security Group
Members: This group is comprised of faculty in the Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics Department at MSU.
Focus Areas: This group closely partners with USAID on projects related to food policy and agricultural production with a geographic focus on Africa and Southeast Asia.
The Ohio State University (OSU) Food Innovation Center
Members: This center includes faculty and students from 14 colleges at OSU ranging from dentistry to business to arts to agriculture.
Focus Areas: This center looks at food security issues broadly with initiatives at multiple scales: locally in Central Ohio, nationally, and globally. This group has a strong public health focus with projects related to obesity, nutrition, and food safety, as well as food policy and agricultural production.
Purdue Center for Global Food Security
Members: This center is run by a core group of Purdue University faculty, guided by an executive committee including faculty from a wide range of related disciplines including economics, nutrition, and political science.
Focus Areas: This center, housed in Purdue's Discovery Park, is focused on turning research into commercially viable products. Its research projects have addressed climate mitigation and crop storage. It also carries out research funded by USAID focused on nutrition, grain production, aquaculture, sustainable agriculture, and natural resource management. Geographic focus varies by research project.
Stanford Center on Food Security and the Environment
Members: This center is comprised of Stanford faculty from economics, political science, biology, civil and environmental engineering, law, earth sciences, medicine, anthropology, education, history, and more.
Focus Areas: This center has a large portfolio of research projects which can be browsed by topic or geographical region. Research is focused on seven key areas: agricultural innovation; climate and agriculture; biofuels, crop and livestock systems; deadly connections; aquaculture; food and nutrition security; and rural education.
University of California Davis World Food Center
Members: This center is run by a core group of directors and staff and is guided by an advisory board of outside partners and a faculty advisory committee made up of UC Davis faculty from a wide range of disciplines.
Focus Areas: This center's research focuses in four areas: health, sustainability, innovation, and outreach. Their research is both globally and locally focused, with a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation in California. They also have created a hub for food safety research in China.
University of Missouri Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security
Members: This center is made up of University of Missouri faculty and graduate students in sociology, geography, public affairs, and nutrition
Focus Areas: This center began its work with a research project on food pantries. Their research continues to focus around issues of hunger and food access, particularly in Missouri.


CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security
Description: This program is a collaboration of 15 CGIAR research centers and 700 partners headed by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).
Focus Areas: This program's research centers around five flagship areas: climate-smart agricultural practices; climate risk management; low emissions agriculture; gender and equity; and policies and institutions. Their work is geographically focused in East Africa, West Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and South Asia.
Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)
Description: This U.S.-based nonprofit works to eradicated hunger, undernutrition, and food insecurity in the U.S. by addressing poverty.
Focus areas: The central focus of this organization is to change public policy to address issues of hunger, nutrition education, and food banks.
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Food Security and Climate Change Initiative
Description: IISD is an international public policy research institute for sustainable development based in Canada.
Focus areas: The IISD's work focuses on the intersection of climate change and food security. Their initial work has addressed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, improving food security in developing countries through agricultural practices, and future needs and issues impacting food security and climate change.
Union of Concerned Scientists: Food & Agriculture
Description: The Union of Concerned Scientists is a nonprofit analysis and advocacy organization. Their site on food and agriculture provides access to experts and outlines of related issues.
Focus areas: This group's research and work focus on food policy, industrial agriculture, and genetic engineering, particularly in relationship to the U.S. food system.

Organizations and Institutes

These sources showcase prominent government and nonprofit initiatives addressing food security issues through a variety of means. They are useful as news sources, educational tools, and as studies in what work has an impact on reducing food insecurity. They also may be sources of grant funding for food security research.

United States Government

Feed the Future: The U.S. Government's Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative
This web site details the U.S. government's efforts to increase food security in select countries through investment in women's empowerment, diet quality and diversification, post-harvest infrastructure, high-quality inputs, and financial services. News and reports generated by this initiative are published on the web site.
USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA): Hunger and Food Security
NIFA is an agency of the USDA with the express mission of solving societal challenges through agricultural research, education, and extension. This web site is a portal for their efforts surrounding food security and hunger. It provides grant information, selected resources, and research results.


FAO Committee on World Food Security (CFS)
This web site provides access to documents and reports generated by the United Nations Committee on Food Security (CFS), including the final reports generated by the yearly CFS forum in Rome, dating back to 2009.
Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance (FANTA): Food Security
FANTA is a project of USAID and its partners focused on support to developing countries. Their food security web site provides information on the research they are conducting in this area as well as assessment results and data collection guides. The materials on this site are intended to be used in the development of food security policies and programs.
The Global Agriculture & Food Security Program (GAFSP)
GAFSP is an organization that provides funding for agricultural and food security projects in developing countries. It has funding from both public and private entities and consults with stakeholders in developing countries to determine disbursement of funds.


SciDevNet: Food Security
SciDevNet is a science and technology news source focused on global development. They are based in London and work with journalists and advisors across the world. This web site compiles all of their articles tagged "food security" dating back to 2006.
Scientific American: Food Crisis
This page aggregates stories from Scientific American that deal with the global food security crisis. These are popular science articles that would be appropriate for high school students or for stimulating a class discussion on current topics.
USDA Blog: Food Security
This web site aggregates all posts to the USDA Blog with the tag "Food Security." Articles on the blog address both U.S. and global food security topics.


TED Talks

TED is a nonprofit organization dedicated to disseminating ideas on a variety of topics through engaging talks given by experts. The following talks were selected from videos tagged "food" on the TED web site,

Ellen Gustafson: Obesity + Hunger = 1 Global Food Issue
Ellen Gustafson is an entrepreneur and creator of The 30 Project. In this talk, she discusses the problems of hunger and obesity and how to change the food system to address both.
Jonathan Foley: The Other Inconvenient Truth
This talk, given by environmental scholar Jonathan Foley, discusses the need to increase agricultural production to meet the needs of a growing population in a changing environment. He proposes changing methods of agricultural production through "terraculture."
Josette Sheeran: Ending Hunger Now
Josette Sheeran is a former head of the UN World Food Programme. This talk discusses solutions for global hunger issues through leadership and empowering small farmers.
Tristram Stuart: The Global Food Waste Scandal
Tristram Stuart is the author of the book Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal. In this talk, he proposes addressing issues of hunger and increasing food production needs through eliminating food waste.


There are many educational videos addressing food security issues and solutions on YouTube. This list is limited to YouTube channels produced by reputable sources, but represents only a small fraction of the videos available.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)'s video channel gives updates on their work and partnerships, profiles farmers, and presents recipes for simple dishes using basic, readily-available ingredients.
World Food Programme
This frequently-updated channel showcases the World Food Programme's work battling hunger through video series, tie-ins with current events, and celebrity profiles. One recent series, for example, highlights the problem of hunger facing Syrian refugees.


FAO. 1996. Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action. World Food Summit 13-17 Novemb. 1996, Rome. [accessed 2015 Oct 13].

Godfray, H.C.J., Beddington, J.R., Crute, I.R., Haddad, L., Lawrence, D., Muir, J.F., Pretty, J., Robinson, S., Thomas, S.M. & Toulmin, C. 2010. Food Security: The Challenge of Feeding 9 Billion People. Science (80-. ). 327:812-818.

Rosegrant, M.W., Koo, J., Cenacchi, N., Ringler, C., Robertson, R., Fisher, M., Cox, C., Garrett, K., Perez, N.D. & Sabbagh, P. 2014. Food Security in a World of Natural Resource Scarcity. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute.

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service. Agricultural Marketing Service - Creating Access to Healthy, Affordable Food. [accessed 2015 Jul 28]. {}

World Health Organization. 2010. WHO: Food Security. [accessed 2015 Jul 28]. {}

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