The Center is unique among sustainable agriculture programs in the extent to which our staff, faculty affiliates, and graduate students engage social and political economic problems along with environmental and production problems. Developing sustainable food systems requires addressing social issues such as access to resources and power, along with the institutional and policy framework needed to achieve sustainability. The Center's Sustainable Food Systems and Social Issues Research program conducts research, analysis, and education within this framework.
Social issues research examines —
- the political ecology of agrifood systems
- the impact of alternative food initiatives, such as farm-to-institution programs, community supported agriculture, and farmers’ markets, on the sustainability of the food system
- consumer choice and consumer awareness of food systems issues
- social justice issues, such as workers’ conditions, access to food, and farm viability
- innovative business models that emphasize social and environmental factors in their practices
Research areas include domestic food security—how to achieve it, what successful models exist, and whether local food systems can help ensure adequate food for everyone. Social issues research also addresses the impact of the organic agriculture movement and its policy implications, as well as the ways that government programs and research affect food production and consumption.