Sustainable Food Systems

Spring 2019
Michael Elliott
CP 4813-ME
CP 8823-ME
Food nourishes not only our bodies, but our spirits, families, and communities. At its best, food is healthful, economically sustainable, culturally appropriate and environmentally beneficial. Yet, all too often and for too many people, the quantity, quality and character of food remains inadequate for individual nutrition and damaging to our economy, society and environment. Food production and distribution is increasingly mono-culture, globalized and processed, with significant impacts on human well-being, climate, environment, economy, and culture. In the USA, food on average travels more than 1500 miles from producer to consumer, disconnecting us from our food sources. Food processing has reduced the cost of food calories to historic lows, while contributing to rising obesity and Diabetes Type II rates in children and adults. The continuing urbanization of productive farmland, ongoing poverty and undernourishment, and environmentally destructive food practices, both globally and in our country, suggest that new ways of thinking about and planning for food are needed. This course is designed to build knowledge of the food system, how it functions, the forces shaping it, and how
planning, public policy, civic action, and individual choice can help reshape the system. The course will familiarize students with the production, distribution, marketing, and disposal of food, with special focus on issues of equity, access, and impact. The course is a community-interactive seminar. It will develop and challenge students’ thinking through readings, structured discussions, debates, and project-based learning (associated with the Georgia Farmers Market Association). Students should have an increased understanding of food systems as a planning and community development topic, the forces shaping food systems, dimensions of conventional and alternative models, and their own relationship and choices with regard to the contemporary American food system.
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