What is a Food System?

Food System Infographic

The term “food system” is used frequently in discussions about nutrition, food, health, economic development, food security, farming and fishing.

A food system includes all processes and infrastructure involved in feeding a population: growing or harvesting, processing, packaging, aggregation, distribution, transportation, marketing, consumption and disposal/recycling of food and food-related items. The intersection of all the processes is important to understand for the study of food systems, as well as understand the different scales at which they operate.

It also includes the inputs needed and outputs generated at each of these steps.

Infographic: what is a food sytstem
Courtesy of Massachusetts Food System Collaborative

A food system operates within and is influenced by social, political, economic and environmental contexts. It also requires human resources that provide labor, research and education.