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FoodWords Draft

Food and Society Workshop, Tahsha LePage, Phoebe Ward, Monica Saralampi, Martha Megarry, Maria Frank, Matt Gunther, Authors

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The Food System

What are the major patterns of behavior, structures of sense-making, and physical spaces that shape actions? Are there few of these in play--or many? If an artifact points to forces larger than the individual actor, it deals with the theme of the Food System

There are several ways of looking at the term food system:
  • Citing a 2007 APA paper, the 2013 CURA food narrative notes, "Food system is a term used to describe the range of agents, activities, and processes that are involved in growing, processing, distributing, selling, eating and disposing of food."
    • An alternative vocabulary for describing the above processes would be "production, transformation, transportation, access, and consumption" [CITE?]
  • In "Food Sovereignty in Northern Minnesota," Dawn Plumer explains that a food system can include "water, gardening, agriculture, hunting, gathering, home canning, food safety, fast food restaurants, fad diets, the grocery store clerk, food banks, preparing dinner, refuse collection, and obesity" (2009, p. 4)
Most definitions vary in the scope and specificity of the elements included, as above. Some include factors external to other definitions or not explicitly considered...
  • In "A Primer on Community Food Systems: Linking Food, Nutrition and Agriculture," Cornell University defines it as "all processes involved in keeping society fed; ie, growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consuming, and disposing of food and food packages... [The food system] includes the inputs needed and outputs generated at each step... [and] operates within and is influenced by social, political, economic, and natural environments. Each step is also dependent on human resources that provide labor, research, and education."
...and some focus on the global or local food system, and/or include social and environment considerations.
  • Cassidy and Patterson (2008) define a local food system as "a food system in which everyone has financial and physical access to culturally appropriate, affordable, nutritious foods that were grown without degrading the natural environment, and in which the general population understands nutrition and the food system in general."

Related terms: supply chain, agribusiness, scale, systems / systems thinking, networks

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