Bethan Stagg

Bethan Stagg

Dr Bethan Stagg is Digital Education Officer at The Field Studies Council. Toolbox of Multi-species Swards for sustainable livestock production. Allotment grower. @BethanStagg on Twitter.

Location Devon


  • Oh dear, these are strange times, aren't they. Stay well and I hope you have someone that can drop off groceries for you, delivery services all seem to be booked up for the next 3 weeks @SallyMelling

  • @AngelaTaylor yes, the meat debate always gets quite heated, doesn't it. Make sure you have plenty of soya in your diet if following mainly plant-based, as choline intake can sometimes be an issue

  • Yes, I agree @AmeliaMoller

  • @SallyMelling @NettyWeijenberg @AmeliaMoller @Rebecca_ you might find this interesting, it is a project we are working with in Agritech

  • @JanMole we will raise them in insect farms in the UK, we would not use wild insects. Here is a project at Exeter researching insect production using food waste streams as a food source

    I am a big fan of traditional gazing systems and permaculture innovation but a big problem with many of these...

  • Thanks @felipeburgos, will add that to our list

  • @JanMole sorry to hear you are dissatisfied with the course. This video serves as an introduction to some issues in the fishing industry, for those people that do not yet have a background knowledge in the topic. The subsequent steps this week aim to cover some of these issues in more depth.

    There are arguments both for and against the rise in...

  • @SallyMelling Yes, very true

  • That is odd. I don't remember the summers being too bad either of those years. I lived at a farm at the time and seem to remember the polytunnel tomatoes being perfectly good each year!

  • That is a dramatic rise, isn't it.

  • According to AHDB it's to do with production seasons and our high demand for legs, I suppose it's the Sunday roast leg of lamb!

  • @LucasPosada this article is interesting too. Sad how many farming communities are locked into cash crops like sugar. Did you see Felipe's investigation above - he looked at oil palm in Colombia

  • @YelimLee This article throws some light on it too. I wonder what the affected farmers are doing now - what crops they are producing instead for example, or whether (as suggested in this article) it just means sadly that people are leaving the farming profession

  • @RobertMurray interesting - I had noticed that kiwis always used to come from NZ but now all the ones I see in the grocers are from Italy. I wonder what crops/land-use they have replaced in Italy?

  • I knew palm oil plantation has devastated Indonesia and Malaysia, saddening to hear it is an issue in Colombia too. Like you say, it is a completely unnecessary product

  • Glad you managed to get onto the website - interesting stuff, I never knew all that about apples @MohammedLutfiMohammedAli Mohammed

  • Hi Mohammed, did you try a variety of public browsers? Have you checked your virus software settings? What is the message that comes up when you try to enter faostat, I will ask our digital learning advisor to assist

  • Natural ecosystems are much more ecologically complex than agricultural systems. They have many more plant and tree species than the agricultural system and the species in them are native (originate from the local area), rather than being 'introduced' like agricultural species. That means they can support many more animal species, and other living things, than...

  • Yes, we do - this is a trailer for the film that Dan is developing

  • There can be environmental benefits but depends on the production system: if it is a high input/high energy system (eg UK beef or a lot of UK arable crops) then local/seasonal does not necessarily perform better than imported. But seasonal does usually have a lower energy consumption than unseasonal if comparing ‘like for like’

  • Thank you Kelechi, that is really interesting. I used to eat yams sometimes when I lived in London, but probably not prepared as tastily as you describe!

  • Interesting though, in Europe, it is young people that are changing the fastest: burger chains see ‘millenials’ as the biggest threat to their future growth!

  • Hi Tan, that’s right and hopefully the videos and activities that follow will give some answers to your last question. We think changing people’s food behaviour and the ‘food environment’ (which sadly too often now is full of unhealthy foods) are really important

  • Ah I see, interesting. The big challenge is the spoilage, though it depends which stage of the food system the waste is occurring at

  • I am not convinced sheep are so great for our our upland environments, uplands could actually sink a lot more carbon than that if they were not so overgrazed ( and if we grazed less upland areas the scrub/woodland could regenerate naturally, no need for planting). Don’t feel guilty about imported proteins, the GHG emissions for food transport is actually a...

  • Yes, I agree re aquaculture - there are actually some really sustainable models especially for shellfish and seaweed (less so for fish, it seems)

  • I know the feeling!

  • If you freeze the food fast and try to eat it within a couple of weeks the nutrient loss is pretty minimal

  • @AlisonNeedham 30% of our lamb and 70% of our beef is produced from lowland grasslands. Many lowland livestock farmers could become mixed farmers instead, by incorporating veg and arable crops into the rotation (this is working well here in some parts of Devon)

  • We are not saying that livestock production should halt but that it should be dramatically reduced. The majority of meat consumed globally is factory farmed, and that is what we need to address.
    I agree that some regions of the UK grow grass best but there is scope for many purely lowland livestock farmers to go mixed by incorporating some veg and arable...

  • The low proportions of eggs and butter in the diet is not because they are not healthy (eggs v good for us) but because they have a higher footprint than plant-based proteins and fats (ie pulses/legumes and nuts)

  • Agreed

  • This map is making me hungry, thank you for sharing your delicious dishes, everyone!

  • I love Korean food!

  • Partly because of habit and that high salt, fat etc are addictive I guess

  • Partly that people get so hooked on the taste of high fat/high salt/high sugar foods I guess

  • Hi Diana thanks for sharing what is happening in the Philippines. It’s true that tree crops like mango are much more resilient to climate shocks. The big challenge is having to wait a few years until the first crops come in

  • Hi Slavic we went for maize because it plays such a big part in the global food system - it certainly is a bit depressing!

  • Let us know if there is anything that doesn’t make sense - it’s a lot to absorb, it’s true!

  • Hi everyone, it’s great to hear about where you’re from and what you are interested in. I am from Devon, UK and I work on research into diverse grasslands for sustainable livestock production. That’s not to say I don’t support plant-based diets and a massive global reduction in livestock though!

  • Interested to know why you think future food involves more processing of food. Do you mean that is what we are seeing at the moment (people eating more and more processed food) rather than what we hope might happen in the future?

  • @NicholasSaunders potentially, and for some production systems yield stability (predictable harvests in unpredictable climates) is more important than high yields. Have you come across this organisation?

  • @MicheleWaring glad you like it, the recipes are great aren’t they

  • @PetaN I would probably put the tahini under the ‘nuts’ category though appreciate its very oily!

  • @KatharineClayton good question - I think if the shellfish is from sustainable sources then it is fine (and some shellfish production systems are far more sustainable than wild-caught fish). We talk more about sustainable seafood choices in Week 2 of the course

  • @CaraCarter you should be able to download it from this webpage but let us know if you still have trouble downloading it

  • @JanetQuested and amazing that there are discussions now about putting sugary snacks in plain packaging like they did for cigarettes!

  • @PetaN I wish schools would do more to influence healthy eating though! My son’s school gives the children a very sugary pudding option most days, even though in the classroom they are teaching them about healthy eating

  • @JaneLloyd that does sound like a lot of cheese, doesn’t it! (It sounds like a whole packet of cheese). I will look into it and respond again

  • @NicholasSaunders yes it has - the GHG emissions associated with food transportation (apart from air freight) are low compared to the other parts of the food system

  • @JanetQuested I hated cabbage as a child for that reason! Whereas my son cheerfully eats it because it has not been boiled beyond recognition

  • @CaridadCanales very true - especially as superfood fads are so fickle, meaning that farmers switch to a new crop but then no longer have a market for it a few years later

  • @KatharineClayton that’s a shame to hear as some cities can be really good for foraging

  • @RuthWotton it’s interesting to see so many artisan bakers in Devon now -it used to be that the only alternative to a supermarket loaf was the traditional bakery with rows of white loaves and sticky buns!

  • @SilviaDomingoJiménez you are so lucky with fruit in Spain - I wish we could grow cherimoyas in the UK!

  • @JulietJohnston as a child everyone seemed to have a little pot of beef dripping by the stove for frying and vegetable oil virtually unheard of!

  • @RosemaryGarvey very true - we see a lot of diets globally that are high in processed carbohydrates but low in protein and veg due to poverty

  • @NicholasSaunders yes, I think the point Harry was making was this

  • @CamilleGoetz I am afraid to say I have seen teff grain for sale in my local wholefoods shop! I just looked on their website and the brand is Infinity Foods - but it is grown in Europe not Ethiopia

  • @VivienB. thanks for sharing, that is scary to know!

  • @SueDrake thank you, these are very good points

  • @PetaN wow, thanks for sharing!

  • @JulietJohnston thanks for the feedback, I can see how this could be confusing. Maize is most commonly sprayed with neonicotinoids, which kills large numbers of bees due to spray drift and transfer of contaminated pollen and dust via wind currents to bees and hives. In one US state 94% of honey bees had been found to be exposed to neonicotinoids during the...

  • @JulieGrove very true - crazy we trust a supermarket to tell us if the food is fresh instead of just using our noses!

  • @AlisonDellar @EileenFawcett I agree animals are very important for maintaining grassland habitats and traditional landscapes - but the big problem is that we get considerably less food yield per area by rearing ruminants, compared to crop production, however sustainably the livestock are managed. A lot of Britain’s land that is currently used for livestock...

  • @RosemaryGarvey it certainly is - I hope this course helps to make it slightly less complex!

  • @CaridadCanales hi, welcome to the course, I hope you enjoy it and look forward to future discussions with you

  • @VIVEKKUMARSINGH yes, it’s true - the farmer receives a tiny profit for the food he or she produces but the processors make a lot of profits along the food chain

  • @NAGALAKSHMIKOPPARAPU we have some good initiatives in schools in the UK to teach children about healthy food and where food comes from but sadly lots of bad practice too (such as unhealthy school lunches and sugary options). Do you know what it is like in Indian schools? I went to Southern India a few years ago and I loved the vegetarian food cultures there -...

  • @HenryNnaemeka I agree - but consumption of processed sweet and unhealthy food is sadly not just confined to developed countries. Many developing countries in Asia and Africa for example grapple with the same problem, where it may coexist alongside malnutrition and inadequate food supplies. You are right that we need to appreciate our food cultures and reject...

  • @RuthWotton yes I totally agree - unfortunately the issues are rarely straightforward! But we also need to consider the viability of economies in countries in the global South (which often rely on food exports to escape food poverty - subsistence farming sadly doesn’t pay medical bills, schooling etc)

  • @andiclevely Chicken has a lower carbon footprint than other meats and, as food miles have a low carbon cost your imported chicken may be fairly ‘low carbon’. But of course if you consider the other issues of welfare, animal health etc it gets more complicated
    Processing food increases its carbon footprint but so does cooking in our own kitchens!

  • Yes, that is coming up a lot - what do you think? The studies I’ve seen suggest that if globally we adopt a mainly plant-based diet and get to grips with our food waste it really could be possible

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  • My only concern with the planetary health diet is whether it provides enough choline, a nutrient critical for brain health. The best way to address this problem I reckon is to add in 300g of soya beans (or tofu/soya milk equivalent) to this diet to get the right intake of choline (soya beans are higher in choline than other pulses). Increasing the egg content...

  • Local food is a very interesting debate that we look at in more depth in week 3. Surprisingly, the 'carbon cost' of food miles is actually very small compared to the rest of the food system. So whilst consuming plant-based food will reduce your carbon footprint, local food will not.

  • @JoanneBrienesse @JasBerrill @AlexWong thanks for your interesting comments. Growing maize without pesticides is feasible but difficult economically. Insect pests are a major problem in maize production, especially corn borer, corn rootworm, and cutworms. Unfortunately, many of the standard organic approaches (crop rotation, biological pest control,...

  • Hi, It's really interesting to hear about where you are from and what you are doing, thanks for sharing! I am a PhD student at the University of Exeter and work for Agritech Cornwall. Like many of you, I am a keen allotment grower and have a large plot where I grow a range of fruit and veg.