Our food system is both a contributor to climate change emissions and also a potential victim of its impacts.  While much work has been done to explore potential agricultural changes from climate change, less work has focused on the implications of these changes and other climate induced impacts on food security and diet quality.  These challenges will look different across the world and Meredith's work is exploring links between food security and climate change in multiple regions through these projects.  More recently this work is considering the relationship between agricultural diversity and diet and nutritional diversity and stability, including in the context of future climate changes.

A women’s farming group discusses climate change in Kenya.  Photo: C Schubert (CCAFS)
Smallholder Farmers Food Security and Diet Diversity

In collaboration with researchers at the CGIAR Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) program, Meredith is working to explore links between food security and climate change across countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America at multiple scales.  She is exploring how smallholder households experience climate shocks and its relationship to food security, rainfall variability and smallholder food security, links between social capital at organizational and household levels and food security, and organizational networks for climate smart agriculture.

Recent work coupled climate and survey data to explore the effect of climate changes on diet diversity among children in 19 countries.  Other collaborative work through the National Socio-environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) demonstrated how large-scale land acquisitions affects diet diversity for local communities.


Similar work is continuing with a Gund Catalyst grant to examine relationships between food security and agricultural diversity at multiple scales.  Ongoing work is coupling large datasets to explore how crop diversity relates to nutritional stability globally and across multiple regions.

In Madagascar, research led by PhD student Maya Moore examines relationships between smallholder farmer livelihoods, agricultural production and conservation implications for nearby reserves.

Hurricanes, Islands, and Agricultural Resiliency

This project is led by Luis Alexis Rodriguez Cruz, a former PhD candidate in The Lab. 2017’s hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico’s agricultural sector, with a reported $245 million in agricultural production losses, and $1.8 billion in agricultural infrastructure damage. Hurricanes are one of many challenges Puerto Rican farmers are facing due to climate change, and other socioeconomic factors. More broadly, island countries and territories are known for their specific vulnerabilities in this changing climate such as land loss, sea-water intrusion, food insecurity, and isolation. Hence, the importance of understanding farmers’ experiences with these events, and how their perceptions and psychological distance of climate change impact adaptation behaviors. This project aims to contribute to an emerging body of work addressing climate change adaptation and agricultural resiliency in island food systems.

A livestock field in Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico. Photo Credit: Luis Rodríguez-Cruz

Research was carried out in collaboration with the Extension Service of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, who surveyed 405 farmers across Puerto Rico to understand the obstacles they faced towards recovery after Hurricane Maria, their perceptions on climate change, food insecurity and policy. and to better comprehend their farm systems, socioeconomic conditions, and their actual and intended agricultural practices. This project intends to work with these farmers over time to understand how climate change perceptions and adaptation behaviors vary. Moreover, this research has global implications on island food systems, specially in the Caribbean.  A research brief on the research can be found here in English and here in Spanish.