For the InstructorThese student materials complement the Future of Food Instructor Materials. If you would like your students to have access to the student materials, we suggest you either point them at the Student Version which omits the framing pages with information designed for faculty (and this box). Or you can download these pages in several formats that you can include in your course website or local Learning Managment System. Learn more about using, modifying, and sharing InTeGrate teaching materials.
Food System Definition and Components
The food system has been defined generally as "the aggregate of food-related activities and the environments (political, socioeconomic, and natural) within which these activities occur." (Pinstrup-Andersen and Watson, 2011). As seen in the food supply chain exercise you completed, it is also useful to think of it as including food production, transport and distribution, and food preparation and consumption, as major parts or subsystems of the food system (10.1.3). Another feature of the food system pointed out by the food supply chain exercise is that food systems are ubiquitous – every human being on earth is a part of some type of food system.
Credit: Steven Vanek, based on Combs et al., 1996.
In addition, most descriptions of food systems identify their linkages to technologies (e.g. crop breeding, farm practices, food processing), the natural environment in production regions, and social factors or "environments" such as culture and government food policy (Fig. 8.2). These are analogous to the social and ecological dimensions of the foods you diagrammed in your food supply chain activity above. Throughout modules 8 and 9 we'll describe how seeing the food system as a coupled natural human system helps us to encompass and understand these socioeconomic and biophysical factors of the food system.
You can find more details about the concepts surrounding the current state of the modern food system in this reading:
Pinstrup-Andersen and Watson, "Towards a dynamic global food system" in Food Policy for Developing Countries, available via the e-Reserves system.