This course explores food systems - primarily as food supply chains (e.g., production, processing, distribution and consumption of food) - within the context of social, economic, governance, health, and environmental dimensions of sustainability. Systems-based frameworks are the basis for understanding how to translate conceptual models into applications for programs and policy-making by government agencies, food and other industry sectors, NGOs, and educators.
Sustainability will be examined as both a worldview and as a set of succinct values with respect to its integration into food and nutrition frameworks. A particular emphasis is ‘sustainable diets’, defined by FAO as “those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations”. How can food consumption serve as a critical change model for producing a more sustainable food system? In turn, how do major sustainability concerns, such as climate change, biodiversity, and food security, influence the food supply chain and ultimately what we eat?
The course emphasizes active class participation, including student-led presentations and group exercises designed to build skills in applying sustainability and food system concepts to real-world situations. Assignments will focus on understanding the interplay of multiple facets of sustainable food systems, and how to navigate their complexities to produce practical outcomes in domains such as public policy, agricultural and food industry practices, public health nutrition, NGO advocacy, and communications.