Looking beyond calories—when food quality and sourcing matters

Novotny, Ivan P.; Boul Lefeuvre, Nastasia; Stoudmann, Natasha; Dray, Anne; Garcia, Claude A.; Waeber, Patrick Olivier (2023). Looking beyond calories—when food quality and sourcing matters Journal of Cleaner Production, 384, p. 135482. Elsevier 10.1016/j.jclepro.2022.135482

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Farming systems are key to achieving the Sustainable Development goals of Zero Poverty and Zero Hunger. Yet, more than half of food-insecure people live in rural areas. Persistent yield gaps, poverty traps, disinterest in investing in agricultural activities, and population growth put pressure on agricultural landscapes, threatening food security and preservation of natural resources. In addition, narratives around food security often focus on caloric intake and overlook dietary complexity. This is a transdisciplinary study that assesses the complexity of food insecurity across smallholder farming systems, as affected by farmers' goals, drivers, assets, and economic performance. The study was conducted in Donomadé, a marginalized village in Togo, West Africa. Through 81 surveys and 28 in-depth interviews, qualitative and quantitative data on demography, market integration, production systems, and farmers' perspectives on agriculture were gathered. A household Archetypal Analysis was performed. The mean adequacy ratio (MAR) was calculated based on the consumption of one Adult Male Equivalent (AME) of 18 nutritional elements (including macronutrients, micronutrients, and vitamins). The MAR was used to compare food security across archetypes. Twenty percent of the households would be considered food secure if only caloric intake was considered. However, no household was completely food secure when assessing the MAR for 18 nutritional elements. The MAR varied across the five archetypes identified (A–E). Archetypes D and E had the highest MAR of 0.82 and 0.85, respectively. These archetypes had the lowest land pressure, expressed in AME per hectare. Archetypes A, B, and C had a MAR of 0.35, 0.53, and 0.32, respectively. They differed in income source, land pressure, and desire to abandon agricultural activities. Households' food security was also impacted by how much food they sold and bought. Only archetype E bought more food than they sold. Food security levels vary across households. Narratives concentrated around caloric intake can lead to an underestimation of the issue of food insecurity. Due to lack of alternative sources of income, households are forced to sell part of their production. Most of the time, the food sold is not compensated by the food bought, creating deeper gaps in households’ food security.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL


Novotny, Ivan P.;
Boul Lefeuvre, Nastasia;
Stoudmann, Natasha0000-0003-3954-2272;
Dray, Anne;
Garcia, Claude A. and
Waeber, Patrick Olivier0000-0002-3229-0124


S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)








Patrick Waeber

Date Deposited:

08 Mar 2023 09:04

Last Modified:

08 Mar 2023 09:04

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Food security Nutrition Dietary diversity Livelihood strategies Archetypal analysis





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