DIGGING DEEPER: Bringing a Systems Approach to Food Systems: A Different Way To Approach Policy Change
Keywords:Food Systems, Community Development, Sustainable Agriculture
First paragraphs:A question I've been asked a number of times is: What are the most critical food policies that need to be changed or formulated to meet any number of different goals? My short answer to two such exchanges over the past couple of years have been, "I don't have a clue" and "There are too many to count." If you look at any comprehensive food system map (the one I like best is the Global Food System Map by shiftN (2009) at the Food + Tech Connect website; another good one is the Nourish food system map by WorldLink (2014) at the Nourish website), you'll see uncountable places where a policy or multiple policies are in play. This occurs at every level, from local to global. Some of the existing or recommended policies are supportive of a sustainable, resilient system — and many are not. Furthermore, and most importantly, many have never been examined well enough in a strategic, systemic way to be identified as useful or not.
It strikes me that it might be helpful to have some better tools to help people decide what policy change might be most appropriate in a particular situation — not just in terms of the politics of the thing, but in terms of optimizing the most variables. The global map shows, for example, that regional or national food security arises out of the intersection of many sectors: science, technology, politics, sociocultural phenomena, population, and education. The environment supports food production and other parts of supply chains, and economics plays the other key supportive role. The task is to examine those variables in terms of their significance for any particular policy proposal....
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