Food systems include the basics of what is needed to move food from point A to point B along a supply chain. Food production includes factors such as the use of land for productive purposes (land use), the distribution of land ownership within communities and regions (land tenure), soil management, the reproduction and selection of crops, the raising and management of livestock and the harvest, which have been addressed in previous modules. Food distribution involves a series of post-harvest activities, including the processing, transportation, storage, packaging and marketing of food, as well as activities related to household purchasing power, traditions of using food (including infant feeding practices), exchanging and gift-giving, and the public distribution of food. Activities related to the use and consumption of food include those related to the preparation, processing and cooking of food at both the household and community levels, as well as household decision-making with respect to food, household food distribution practices, cultural and individual food choices, and access to health care, sanitation and knowledge.
Among the components of the food system, for example,. Food processing, communication and education, there is substantial overlap and interrelationship. For example, household decision-making behavior with respect to food is influenced by nutritional knowledge and cultural practices with respect to the allocation of food within the household, as well as by purchasing power and market prices. Food systems comprise the interactive parts of human society and nature that provide food to homes and communities (see the previous page), and can be used to understand food as it relates to the Earth system.
To better understand food systems, in the next exercise you will be asked to consider a family food of your choice and the journey that this food takes from where it is produced to the foods we consume every day. Within the food supply chain of this food, you will be asked to distinguish between the social (human system) and environmental (natural system) aspects of food production and the supply chain of that product. These may be much more complete than your examples, but they give an idea of the variety of possible answers.) This teaching material module is part of the OER initiative of the Penn State School of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Unless otherwise stated, the content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.
For example, the increase in imported food products can create greater competition for small farmers and reduce the production of domestic commodities. Another characteristic of the food system mentioned in the exercise on the food supply chain is that food systems are ubiquitous: all human beings on the planet are part of some type of food system. The availability and affordability of food; safety, quality and convenience; and advertising are all part of the food environment. In addition, the availability of abundant and healthy foods does not guarantee adequate consumption patterns or prevent excess body weight.
In large urban environments, food supply chains can be longer and, in general, more complex foods are produced farther away and more people participate in their production, processing, packaging and retail. Urban areas obtain dry and fresh food through longer supply chains and rely on food imports rather than on traditional and informal food systems. The food system includes all the people and activities involved in the cultivation, transportation, supply and, ultimately, the intake of food. This is because there is a greater need for processing, packaging and refrigeration, and because there is more food loss.
Changes in food systems and changes in dietary patterns can have major economic effects on farmers, retail owners and consumers. For example, tax policies can be used to discourage the consumption of unhealthy foods, such as soft drinks and packaged, highly processed foods. You might want to take a quick look at the video again and look at the food pathways that foods follow in these systems. The Summit must present visions for the transformations of the food system in their respective contexts.
As shown in the following image, the different parts of the food system include food supply chains, food environments, individual factors and consumer behavior, as well as external factors (factors that push or attract the system). These are analogous to the social and ecological dimensions of food that you have outlined in the activity of the food supply chain above. There is growth in the retail sale of luxury foods, as well as in “fast and casual” restaurants, which sell higher-quality fast food. .