DIGGING DEEPER: Bringing a Systems Approach to Food Systems: Issues of Scale
First paragraph:October 2011 marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the first food policy council in the U.S., in Knoxville, Tennessee. In the intervening year I have spent some time thinking about the trajectory of food policy councils (FPCs) over those decades. What's impressive is how active FPCs have been in addressing a wide range of policy topics across all sectors of the food system. The policies fall into different legal categories and funding mechanisms, and range from food production to food waste; from direct markets to large retail; from loans to plans. After three decades of FPC activity I find two things of particular interest about this phenomenon: first, the breadth of issues and the amount of human and economic resources going into the work of not only identifying policy changes but legislating and appropriating funds for them; and second, how much of this work is being done in isolation from similar undertakings around the country and even in the same state. It is the latter phenomenon that got me thinking about how to encourage more collaboration and efficiency in local or municipal FPC work. I decided that a useful way was to employ concepts that come from the world of systems thinking and analysis....
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