Food Systems and Human Ecology: An Overview

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Sustainability Science: Key Issues, 2018, Koenig, Ariane, pp. 183 - 210
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A major sustainability challenge is to feed the world’s population whilst reducing environmental impacts, narrowing inequities in food access, and meeting global nutritional needs (Lawrence et al., 2010; Ingram, 2011). If this challenge is to be met, processes operating between key interacting factors must be successfully managed. These factors include the social and economic (Carolan, 2016; Dethier & Effenberger, 2012), environmental (Vermeulen et al., 2012), and health and wellbeing (Friel & Ford, 2015) and occur across the food chain from production, manufacture and processing, to distribution, retail, and end consumption. Because these factors dynamically interact to drive changes in each other, it is preferable to think of food systems rather than chains (Ericksen, 2008; Ingram, 2011). The goal of a food system is, or should be, to regularly and reliably make appropriate food available at a specific scale, be it a household, town, or nation. We add the words ‘should be’ to flag that the purpose or goal of food systems is actually contested, as discussed later.
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