What is a food system?

A food system involves all aspects of food from farm to table. More specifically, the International Food Policy Research Institute defines a food system as: 

"The sum of actors and interactions along the food value chain—from input supply and production of crops, livestock, fish, and other agricultural commodities to transportation, processing, retailing, wholesaling, and preparation of foods to consumption and disposal. Food systems also include the enabling policy environments and cultural norms around food. Ideal food systems would be nutrition-, health-, and safety-driven, productive and efficient (and thus able to deliver affordable food), environmentally sustainable and climate-smart, and inclusive."

The image on the right depicts the movement of food through the entire food system. The food system is affected by associated BIOLOGICAL, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, POLITCAL, and HEALTH systems.

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Metropolitan Food and Environmental Systems
College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences








The Metropolitan Food and Environmental Systems Student Association (MFSTSA) serves to educate UIUC students about the complexity of the food system. We emphasize the connections to biological, economic, social, political, and health systems when analyzing the food system. MFSTSA promotes food systems resiliency and sustainability for people, profit, and planet. We introduce MFSTSA members to systems level thinking and encourage open-mindedness and continuous learning.