Food, Farms and Community?Exploring Food Systems was written by the authors Lisa Chase and Vern Grubinger. In the year of 2014, the book was published by University of New Hampshire Press.
Chase and Grubinger bring valuable clarity and insight to the inherent complexity of contemporary food systems. Through reading this book, one could indeed understand how these systems work–or don’t work. On the one hand, the book explores the complexity of the food system from the perspective of different key people, while also providing solutions that contribute to the continuous development of food and agriculture. On the other hand, this book is an essential contribution to the literature on food systems since it pulls together a range of relevant material and it also provides some of the specific dynamics and statistics that reveal the relationships between parts of the system. The book not only covers the territory from farm to fork, clarifying the complexities but also focusing on what’s important: what to do to create food and farming systems that promote the health of people and the planet. This book is dedicated to helping readers develop a more comprehensive understanding of food systems by summarizing the relevant history and current data on critical issues, as well as by presenting the personal perspectives of a variety of people working in and on such systems. The authors hope that students, educators, researchers, activists, and the general public will have a broader and more nuanced understanding of these issues, and then they should be better able to take action toward healthier food systems in the future.
In my view, the content of this book can be divided into about four parts. At the first part, the authors introduced food systems entirely and systematically, which include the different definition of a food system, the function of a food system, the classifying of the food system, and so on, then they give a detailed introduction to local food system. Through the content of this part, the authors illustrate that our food systems exist now are imperfect.
As the author said, a food system has been defined as interconnected activities, resources, and people that extend across all domains involved in providing human nourishment and sustaining health, which includes production, processing, packaging, distribution, marketing, consumption and disposal of food (Lisa Chase and Vern Grubinger, 2014). The organization’s reflection on the food system and the response to the social, cultural, political, economic, health and environmental conditions, can be from a family kitchen to a city, a county, a state or a country, from multiple levels to determine. In short, the food system affects every aspect of our lives, whether it’s seen or not.
The term “food system” is frequently used in discussions about nutrition, food, health, community economic development, and agriculture. A food system includes all processes and infrastructures for population: planting, harvesting, processing, packaging, transportation, marketing, consumption and processing of food and food-related items (Lisa Chase and Vern Grubinger, 2014). It also includes the input and output generated in each step. A food system operates internally and is subject to social, political, economic and environmental influences. It also requires the provision of Labour, research and the human resources of education. According to their food life model, the food system is either traditional or alternative, and everyone has to eat it. The call to improve the food system could have a broad impact, far beyond most social challenges.
At the second part, the authors illustrate that the problem in food system itself inhibit its sustainable development and puts forward improving measures regarding the questions.
Firstly, many aspects of food systems lack transparency. Because lacking information about anything else, market price becomes the primary influence on consumer behavior. However, as a result, the real value of the food was not accurately reflected. How important is clean water? What is the value of a vibrant rural community? Something like this is valuable, but it’s not accessible to price. Economic, environmental and social values play an essential role in the food system. They are intertwined, sometimes mutually reinforcing, sometimes conflicting. The market is driven by the value of money. Although people may value the clean environment and social welfare, these are often underestimated in the market because we lack a widely accepted, systematic approach. To deal with this problem, a variety of methods to solve market and non-market value need to improve the food system. There are some marketing strategies, providing the type of food and the transition of the information needed to help balance values our food system: market directly, cooperatives, value chain, food center.
Secondly, Food systems start with farmers and the people working on their farms. However, farmers and their workers, especially at the national and regional levels, are largely anonymous. There are not enough laws to protect the farmworkers so that they always have the lower salary and worse living conditions. Moreover, a large number of undocumented foreign and migrant farmworker made it hard to manage. To remission this solution, relevant departments of government should develop relevant policies and laws, so that farmer cooperatives have opportunities to work closely with their farmer-members and promote reasonable standards for migrant labor working conditions, living conditions, and pay. Communities and individuals can also take steps to support farm workers proactively.
At the third part, the authors introduced the impact to the food system form some external factors such as natural environment and climate.
Firstly, as the grow in population and wealth, there is a growing demand for food, in order to meet the demand of the portfolio strategy, including mechanization replace animals and human labor, increase the land used for agriculture, cultivating crop and livestock, expanding the use of new technology of irrigation and irrigation, application of pesticides, and increase the use of fertilizers. As a result, we are faced with more and more environmental problems such as desertification, greenhouse effect, acid rain, the Arctic melt, ozone depletion and so on which may resulting in food production decrease. There are two paradigms for the design of agricultural systems, and thus two approaches to reducing their impacts on the environment. One paradigm has been called industrial or conventional agriculture and the other ecological, or alternative agriculture. Secondly, because of the emission of greenhouse gases, the frequency of extreme climate such as heat waves, droughts are increased. This will negatively affect crop yields and livestock. The authors’ propose two primary strategies for dealing with climate change, for farmers as well as society. One is called adaptation, which includes techniques for coping with current and predicted effects of climate change. The other is called mitigation, which focuses on slowing the rate of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Thirdly, the energy used in food systems are huge, and this exacerbates the use of fossil fuels, and then result from more emission of greenhouse gas. So improving the energy utilization rate will be helpful for the sustainable of a food system. These can be achieved by adopting practices that increase energy conservation and efficiency, shifting to a diet that is less energy-intensive, and adopting renewable energy sources in place of fossil fuels, and while farmers are reducing their energy usage, consumers can do their part as well. The role of consumers in reducing energy use in food systems turns out to be rather large.
At the forth part, the authors expound their views about the sustainable development of the food system in the future and make recommendations of the improvement of the food system.
Whether future or modern food system, the production goal is to continue to obtain material from sustainable agro-ecosystems to be able to meet the needs of human society. The future food system is the development of modern food system, but the future food system should be more efficient, more ecological and healthier.
The time has come to acknowledge that simple solutions to these problems are rarely effective, whether in business, education, research, or policy. Bold thinking is needed to secure a bright future for food systems, by changing the way people in these systems interact and the measures of success they employ. Practical plans for making these changes must be implemented by coalitions, and the work needs to be done at all levels of the system. Whether the plans focus on local food or international trade, they must have measurable goals that are ambitious but achievable. The result will be enduring sustenance for people, protection of natural resources, and a stronger social fabric stretching from the household to the global food system.
As my point of view, I agree with the opinions than authors proposed in this book. With the improvement of living standards and technological progress, people are increasingly concerned about their food sources, production methods and the impact of production on individuals and communities. The answers to these questions reveal a complex network of interactions. Although large, distant farms and multinational companies dominate at the national and global level, but the innovation projects including the farmer’s market, from farm to school, and agricultural tourism, is for the local and regional level establish greater contact with food. At all levels of the food system, energy use, climate change, food security and maintenance of future farmland are critical considerations. You need to understand the food system — what they are, what they are involved in, and how they work (or not) — and that demand has never been greater than ever.
To date, the many problems posed by modern food systems, whether dietary behavior, farm labor, land use, rural economic development, or water quality, have been addressed in relative isolation. Moreover, almost every country in the world faced the population problem. Now we have all about 7 billion people on earth. Progress in science and the improvement of living conditions have made it possible for babies to grow up healthily and for people to live longer than they used to, the death rate has been lowered considerably. Thus, by the year 2100, a population on earth will be the largest and all about 11 billion people. As a result, we will need more and more food to meet the large population in the foreseeable future. So, it is essential to solving the problem existed in our food system and made available plan to ensure that our food system will be sustainable.
Food, Farms, and Community Exploring Food Systems. (2014) Lisa Chase and Vern Grubinger. Retrieved October 25, 2017, from http://www.upne.com/1611684216.html