How and what we eat is the result of complex interactions between various factors, actors and social forces – interactions that, collectively, form the ‘food system’. From obesity and cardiovascular disease, to food insecurity and malnutrition, to decimated ecosystems and farming communities, it is clear that our food system is not working for its eaters, growers, or the environment. But achieving change in complex systems is difficult. It requires governance responses that cross multiple geographic, scalar, and administrative boundaries, raising numerous ethical quandaries about how responsibility is apportioned, who bears the cost, and how we account for the negative implications of food systems change. It requires a rethinking of a cultural understanding of food as something off of a shelf, rather than something that, like us, is part of a larger ecosystem of individuals, communities, and environments.
This theme connects various researchers working across the University on the social, cultural, and political bases of food systems to those seeking to design effective and ethical solutions to the challenges we face.
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