The Ram's Horn - A monthly journal of food systems analysis.
Discovering the Food System | An experiential learning program for young and inquiring mind
A Primer on Community Food Systems: Linking Food, Nutrition and Agriculture
Assessing Food System Attitudes Among Youth: Development and Evaluation of Attitude Measures  | Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior , Volume 38 , Issue 2 , Pages 91 - 95 | A . Harmon , A . Maretzki
Community Food Security Coalition | National Farm to School Program
Food Systems Research
Urban community food systems and the role of permaculture design
Center for Environmental Farming Systems
Info-graphics of the Organic Industry Structure
Philip H. Howard, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Michigan State University
Center for Sustainable Systems | University of Michigan
Complete Set of Factsheets <>
Printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper
Transition Culture | Foodzoning the Foodshed
Kitchen Gardeners International
Rodale Institute | A Collaborative Effort
Farmers and chefs connect through great food.
U.S. Food System
NEW YORK TIMES | The Food Issue | October 9, 2008
Farmer in Chief  | By MICHAEL POLLAN
The Food Issue: New Food Ideas (October 10, 2008)
Letters: Farmer in Chief (October 26, 2008)
Times Topics: Food Prices and Supply
Michael Pollan, a contributing writer for the magazine, is the Knight Professor of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author, most recently, of “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.”
Seminar: Polly Ericksen on food systems for resilience
Slide 1: Will managing food systems for resilience make us more food secure? Polly Ericksen Global Food Security and Environmental Change (GECAFS) Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University
Slide 2: Fundamental Questions • How will Global Environmental Change affect the vulnerability of food systems in different regions? • How might food systems be adapted to cope with GEC so as to enhance food security? • What would be the consequences of adaptation options for environmental and socioeconomic conditions?
Slide 3: GECAFS Goal To determine strategies to cope with the impacts of GEC on food systems and to assess the environmental and socioeconomic consequences of adaptive responses aimed at improving food security.
Slide 4: Food security… ... exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. (World Food Summit 1996)
Slide 5: Components of Food Security & Key Elements FOOD FOOD UTILISATION ACCESS • Nutritional Value • Affordability • Social Value • Allocation • Food Safety • Preference FOOD AVAILABILITY • Production • Distribution • Exchange
Slide 6: Multiple Exposure: Food insecurity arises from overlapping and interacting stressors 7 12 Misselhorn 2005 Global Environmental Change
Slide 7: Food systems -- evolving Food system feature “traditional” food systems “modern” food systems Principal employment in In food production In food processing, packaging food sector and retail Supply chain Short, local Long with many food miles and nodes Typical food consumed Basic staples Processed food with a brand name; more animal products Purchased food bought from Small, local shop or market Large supermarket chain Nutritional concern Under-nutrition Chronic dietary diseases Main source of national food Poor rains; production shocks International price and trade shocks problems Main source of household Poor rains; production shocks Income shocks leading to food food shocks poverty Major environmental Soil degradation, land clearing Nutrient loading, chemical concerns runoff, water demand, GHG emissions Adapted from Maxwell and Slater (2003)
Slide 8: Food systems framework Food System ACTIVITIES Producing food: natural resources, inputs, technology, … Processing & packaging food: raw materials, standards, consumer demand, … Distributing & retailing food: marketing, advertising, trade, … Consuming food: acquisition, preparation, customs, … Food System OUTCOMES Contributing to: Social Welfare Food Security Environmental • Income Security / • Employment FOOD FOOD Natural Capital • Wealth UTILISATION ACCESS • Ecosystems • Social & political stocks, flows • Nutritional Value • Affordability capital • Social Value • Ecosystem • Allocation • Human capital • Food Safety • Preference services • Access to FOOD natural capital AVAILABILITY • Production • Distribution • Exchange
Slide 9: Analysing FS in context of drivers and feedbacks Environmental feedbacks e.g. water quality, GHGs GEC DRIVERS Food System ACTIVITIES ‘Natural’ Producing Changes in: DRIVERS Processing & Packaging Land cover & soils, Atmospheric e.g. Volcanoes Distributing & Retailing Comp., Climate variability & means, Solar cycles Consuming Water availability & quality, Nutrient availability & cycling, Biodiversity, Sea currents & salinity, Sea level Food System OUTCOMES DRIVERS’ Contributing to: Food Security, Environmental Security, and other Societal Interests Interactions Socioeconomic Food Food DRIVERS Changes in: Utilisation Availability Demographics, Economics, Socio-political context, Cultural context Social Food Environ Science & Technology Welfare Access Capital Socioeconomic feedbacks e.g. livelihoods, social cohesion Source: Ericksen, P. (2007) Global Environmental Change
Slide 10: Using the framework Elements of Characteristics of Major Origin of ACCESS to food food security determinants determinants element Affordability Staple grains are Costs of local Food system cheap if imported; production higher activity: Producing. expensive if local. than external. Social welfare: Income determines income. purchased quantity. Allocation Most food only Supermarket chains Food system available in dominate in urban activity: Retailing. supermarkets. areas; local markets have been driven out of business. Preference Fish and rice are Cultural Social welfare: traditional foods. preferences; agro- Social Capital. ecosystem Ecosystem services. characteristics.
Slide 11: Vulnerability of food systems depends upon adaptive capacity Example: Nutritional diversity (milk) in the Indo-Gangetic Plain Milk production is sensitive to drought (it decreases) Food security outcome Weak adaptive capacity • weak markets HIGH vulnerability Rural areas: • poor infrastructure • access to milk decreases • low income • nutritional value decreases • poor storage or processing Strong adaptive capacity • robust markets LOW vulnerability Urban areas: • sufficient infrastructure • access to milk maintained • higher income • nutritional value maintained • good storage and processing Source: Multi-authored analysis of IGP food system vulnerability to GEC. GECAFS Report. In prep.
Slide 12: Definition of resilience • Resilience is the ability to persist through continuous development in face of change, and innovate and transform into more desirable configurations. Folke 2006 – Amount of change a system can undergo w/o altering function – Capacity for self-organization – Capacity to learn and adapt Carpenter et al 2001
Slide 13: Resilience approach… • Coupled social and ecological system • Focus on structure and function of system and key processes/ dynamics, especially feedbacks • Scale is critical!! – Resilience at one scale embedded in higher and lower • Change is the norm, and often so is surprise
Slide 14: Food system functions Food System ACTIVITIES Producing food: natural resources, inputs, technology, … Processing & packaging food: raw materials, standards, consumer demand, … Distributing & retailing food: marketing, advertising, trade, … Consuming food: acquisition, preparation, customs, … Food System OUTCOMES Contributing to: Social Welfare Food Security Environmental • Income Security / • Employment FOOD FOOD Natural Capital • Wealth UTILISATION ACCESS • Ecosystems • Social & political stocks, flows • Nutritional Value • Affordability capital • Social Value • Ecosystem • Allocation • Human capital • Food Safety • Preference services • Access to FOOD natural capital AVAILABILITY • Production • Distribution • Exchange
Slide 15: Food systems and scale International food system (subsidies, standards) National food system (prices, supply) District food system Community food system (demand, markets)
Slide 16: Cross-scale tradeoffs in global food system • Wealthy food security at cost of poorer (McMichael 2006) • Food miles or fair miles? (McGregor and Vorley 2006) – Where are the real ecological costs? – Global environmental goods versus poverty • Water for agriculture or water for ecosystems or water for cities? • Social protection or economic growth? Food security?
Slide 17: Resilience… (2) • Adaptive capacity arises from diversity – Among assets and strategies, and at multiple levels • Adaptive management requires monitoring and learning by institutions – Governance and capacity are required • Disturbance provides opportunities for innovation and renewal
Slide 18: Pastoralist food insecurity in Northern Kenya • Droughts increasingly trigger food insecurity • Adaptive capacity of local pastoralists slowly eroded – Climatic as well as social and political • Conflicts, sedentarisation, marginalisation • Little economic support • Early warning system limited by poor information, institutional weakness and lack of donor trust • Difficult to change current state
Slide 19: European food insecurity (?) • Foot and mouth disease – local and regional – Farmers bear brunt • Dairy and wheat price shocks – global coincides with regional and local – Consumers pay costs • Unsustainable consumption levels (interdependence) • Unhealthy or unsafe food • Easier to ignore feedbacks .. My food system seems resilient to me as I am food secure
Slide 20: Managing for resilience (Lebel et al 2006, Ecology and Society) • Managing involves both building and eroding resilience, depending upon the desirability of the state; may need transformations • ? For WHOM is resilience? • ? Governance issues, politics and power – Accountability, polycentric institutions, participation
Slide 21: Transforming food systems • Concern w/ signs of vulnerability – E.g. inequities; disease outbreaks; food price shocks; shrinking diversity • Competing objectives and perspectives among global and local actors (profits, availability vs sovereignty, trade and subsidy regimes….)
Slide 22: Transforming for resilience (Olsson et al 2006 Ecology and Society) • Requires preparation and transition phases; linked by a window of opportunity • Preparation: knowledge, networks and leadership • Navigating the transition requires flexibility and cross-scale interactions • ? stress adaptive governance and role of disturbance as opportunity
Slide 23: Northern Kenyan pastoralists • Governance authority at national level; some decentralization to local level; but international donors still important • Accountability difficult • Participation is largely top down • Outside subsidies necessary to re- generate • Transforming the system could mean livelihoods and identities change
Slide 24: European consumers • Food systems governed by business and national government – Building a polycentric structure requires multiple actors • Local movements for transformation growing • Self-organizing capacity unclear because of interdependence • Participation unequal due to wealth, location, etc.
Slide 25: Resilience in food systems: challenges • Resilient state not necessarily desirable – Who gets to decide what is desirable? e.g. pastoralists or government? -- does it require “agreement” across objectives? • Cannot assume social and ecological resilience move in the same direction – E.g. food production increases while diversity decreases (MA 2006) – Savanna biomass increase but not pastoralist food security (Galvin et al 2004)
Slide 26: Tradeoffs are inevitable Local production Food prices Local (affordability) production Food prices (availability) (availability) (affordability) Income from Social value food Income from (utilization) production food production (social welfare) (social welfare) Social value (utilization) GHG emissions food GHG emissions GHG emissions transport (natural agriculture (natural GHG emissions food transport agriculture (natural capital) capital) capital) (natural capital) With support for local production Without support for local production Ericksen 2007 (in review)
Slide 27: Food system outcomes - tradeoffs Production Increase ++ Food Safety Distribution + 0 Decrease _ Social Value Inter-Regional __ Exchange Nutritional Intra-Caribbean Value Exchange Preference Affordability Allocation Source: GECAFS (2006) Prototype Scenarios for the Caribbean. GECAFS Rpt 2.
Slide 28: Resilience in food systems: challenges (2) • Managing at the appropriate scale – Trust and accountability at local level? – How to link across scales, esp. w/ tradeoffs? • Managing for disturbance – Conflict with the current paradigms? • Long planning horizons; emphasis on stability, MSY – Little flexibility in corporate systems
Slide 29: Challenges re adaptive governance • Who governs food systems? • Who decides what to transform? • Who should self-organize? – Can any food system function w/o subsidies from outside? • Can we achieve polycentric institutions? • Can everyone participate?
Slide 30: Resilience in food systems: challenges (3) • Is globalisation a help or a threat to adaptive capacity (Eakin and Lemos 2006)? • Social dynamics replacing biophysical in globalised systems (Young et al 2006) – Connectedness increased but maybe random – Speed of connections increased – Scale stretched so slow and fast variables changing – Diversity decreased
Slide 31: Two examples from globalised food systems • Maize price shocks in Mexico – NAFTA impact on domestic production – Biofuels feedback from US – Local protests ? awareness, ???? • Brazil deforestation (Nepstad et al 2006) – BSE in Europe and China demand increase soy production – International attention offers conservation opportunity
Slide 32: Food system vulnerability Food system structural Potential links to vulnerability in the characteristic food system Low diversity in assets or Consumers have few options; entitlements production susceptible to disturbance; diversity of assets critical to resilience. Institutional weaknesses Institutional capacity critical to and low institutional management for social and capacity environmental outcomes. Lack of functioning Markets help demand meet supply; low markets and low levels of levels of economic activity constrain economic activity access to food.
Slide 33: Food system resilience Food system Scale Resilience function features Affordable food National Buffered against price shocks Nutritious food Local Unprocessed, safe, trusted sources Agro-diversity Landscape Land use planning enforced Agricultural Local Buffered against income commodity price shocks
Slide 34: Sources of adaptive capacity in food systems • Social movements? – Local and global • Experience with disturbance and crisis? – Opportunities for renewal and innovation • Alternative agriculture for ecological lessons? • Learning opportunities?
Slide 35: Concluding thoughts • Resilience approach suitable for the complexity and heterogeneity of food systems • Cross-level and scale interactions must be highlighted and analyzed • Adaptive management is challenging • Ecosystem feedbacks as social dynamics substitute? • Contested and competing outcomes? • Managing for disturbance?
Slide 36: With thanks to John Ingram, Hallie Eakin, Emily Boyd, Henny Osbahr, Monika Zurek, and others for stimulating dialogue and ideas….
Slide 37: International Conference 2-4 April 2008, Oxford University, UK Food Security and Environmental Change Linking science, development and policy for adaptation Purpose: To engage the research and policy communities addressing food security, environmental change and food policy interested in jointly developing adaptation options. Themes: • Concepts and methods • Regional research • Links to the development agenda and policy • Emerging issues and frameworks for adaptation


Developing a Local Food System  [broken link - will fix]
Lessons from the organizing campaign of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative
Direct Design Assistance: Food Map, Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, MN, 2005 [broken link - will fix]
Access to food plays an important role in the daily lives of people and their health. The location of food systems can influence the physical and social patterns found in the urban environment. For this Direct Design Assistance project, the Design Center worked with Renewing the Countryside, a non-profit organization working with rural communities, to create a self-guided tour map of food related areas and projects throughout the Twin Cities. The map was used in the 2005 conference, Justice by Design, with sponsorship by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, to highlight issues of health in urban areas. The map will be used as an educational tool and includes brief descriptions of the highlighted stops.
This map is part of a series on health and urban areas.
Download: Urban Food Systems Map (3.82 MB)  [broken link - will fix]
Food System Talking Points  [broken link - will fix]
Frequently Asked Questions About Food Systems - FAQs  [broken link - will fix]