Profile of the course
During this course you will analyse and develop agro-food production chains considering their economic, social and environmental impact. Focus will be on the application of qualitative and quantitative tools for evaluation of sustainability performance and new design principles. In this course you will learn how to (re-)organize the food chain to use fewer resources and to aim at multi-product recovery. You will learn about novel design approaches for food chains considering single or multiple food chains as an ecological cycle, which will be evaluated with phosphorus. Specific attention will be paid to the very popular Cradle to Cradle philosophy, in which waste equals food. Traditionally, agro-food production chains are aimed at isolation of a single ingredient with co-production of waste streams. In future, food chains will be better designed to ‘refine’ agro feedstock into as many valuable fractions as possible. For this you will learn about bio refinery methods for food ingredient production and application of enzymes for mild disclosure of valuable ingredients. Furthermore, where current food production is carried out at large central plants, production in the future may be better distributed over the production chain. Choices discussed will be amongst others concerned with different sustainable distribution modes and opportunities for processing in different parts of the food chain. The evaluation of the impact of choices in the food chain on the sustainability will be carried out using mass flow analysis and subsequent use of eco-indicators, such as embodied energy, water footprint and greenhouse gasses. Life cycle analysis (LCA) methods will be discussed and applied to evaluate food chains. Using LCA techniques you avoid focusing on a single environmental impact, such as global warming. Instead, you consider complex interrelations with other aspects of sustainability, such as eutrophication, animal welfare, land use or food security.