Meredith's work lies at the intersection of food systems and the environment from the perspective of behaviors, people and policy.  She utilizes multiple approaches in her research including global scale-modelling, incorporation of remote sensing data, quantitative surveys, focus groups and interviews.  She believes through this mixed methods approach her work is more comprehensive by incorporating both quantitative and qualitative data.

Meredith's work spans multiple scales ranging from projects examining local issues to comparative large-scale global studies.  Currently Meredith's research is focused in Vermont, California, New Zealand and across a number of countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Below are a snapshot of her current projects, which can all be explored in greater depth.  Research briefs from all of Meredith and her labs' projects are also available.

Food Systems and Environmental Change

Farmers are innovators and deal with many environmental challenges including weather and extreme events like drought. Meredith has multiple projects exploring how farmers perceive and respond to environmental changes including environmental policies and how they adopt strategies to cope with the environment and change.  This work thus far has focused on climate variability and drought, groundwater management, and manure management.

A farmer in New Zealand puts up fencing after a hard frost. (Photo: M. Niles)

Farmers and Regulations

Farmers comply with a variety of policies and regulations on their farms.  Such policies come from different jurisdictions and agencies and often require reporting and analysis.  This project explores how farm policies "stack" to influence farmers and their livelihoods, including the time and cost of regulatory reporting and compliance, and the impact this has on farms and communities.

A Vermont farm.

Climate Change and Food Security 

Food systems may be significantly affected by future climate and weather changes.  Food security is one critical concern under future conditions, particularly for those already vulnerable.  Meredith is working to understand two components of food security and climate change: 1) How smallholder farmers across low-income countries have been affected by climate changes and extreme events and the impact this is having on food security; and 2) How climate changes may affect food security in the United States through extreme events and acute food insecurities, disaster relief, and shifting food systems as a result of climate changes.

Women working in Haryana. Photo: Dharini Parthasarathy/CCAFS

Integrated Crop and Livestock Systems

Research suggests that coupling animals and crops together may have the potential to minimize environmental impacts while increasing economic benefits for farmers.  Meredith is working with a team of international colleagues to explore across Brazil, New Zealand and the US the potential benefits and challenges for integrating animal and cropping systems.

Food Waste Behaviors

Estimates suggest up to 40% of food is wasted globally.  Efforts to reduce food waste fundamentally involves a shift in behaviors across the supply chain.  Meredith is working to understand behaviors that lead to food waste across the food system and policies that can minimize waste in the future.

Livestock on an Integrated Crop Livestock System in New Zealand. Photo: M. Niles
Food waste at the Brattleboro, VT composting facility. Photo: M. Niles