1. Overview of food system challenges

Written by

Tara Garnett


Jessica Finch, Will Nicholson

Edited by

Will Nicholson, Jessica Finch, Marie Persson

How food gets to our plates, and what happens afterwards, connects many issues that we care about, including health, biodiversity, communities, the environment, climate change, livelihoods, and more. This means that by acting to change how food is produced, distributed, consumed, and disposed of, we can also affect these outcomes, either for better or for worse. However, to understand the implications of potential changes, we must understand how all these factors are interconnected and affect one another – in other words, we need to apply systems thinking to food.

This chapter, and associated resources, provides an entry point into ‘food systems’ thinking and the multifaceted set of issues that are connected to food. It provides a foundation for the wider set of ideas and complexities that are explored in the other chapters of Foodsource.

The chapter addresses the following:

  • What is meant by the term food system?
  • What are the major issues of concern linked to food systems?
  • How can a food systems approach help us to address these more effectively?