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Food System Primer

Bite-sized introductions to big ideas about the food system

Developed by leading experts and educators at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, the Primer offers short, easy-to-digest readings about topics from farm to fork, peppered with anecdotes and images that bring concepts to life. Directories of articles, reports, lesson plans, and other resources help food system scholars dig deeper into the issues.

Who is the Primer for?

The Primer is designed for educators, students, journalists, policymakers, researchers, and other engaged citizens seeking information and resources about the food system.

What is the Food System?

The food system spans the activities, people, and resources involved in getting food from field to plate, from agriculture through nutrition and beyond. Along the way, it intersects with aspects of public health, culture, society, policy, and the environment.

Why Learn About the Food System?

Widespread problems such as chronic illness, infectious disease, social inequality, animal suffering, environmental degradation, and the concentration of economic power have ties to the food system. Recognizing these connections can empower people to become not only informed consumers, but also food citizens who can engage in many facets of the food system, from growing their own food to advocating for policies. Now let's get started!

Full bowl of food

Hunger and Food Insecurity

How can we ensure that all people, at all times, have access to enough safe, healthy food?

Forest Fire in Brazil

Food and Climate Change

Why is changing what we eat critical to meeting climate change mitigation targets?

Urban Gardens

Ecological and Urban Agriculture

What are the health, social, economic, and environmental benefits – and limitations – of urban agriculture?

Eagle in landfill

Wasted Food

Why is so much of our food supply wasted, and why does it matter?

Industrial food Animal Productions - Resistance

Industrial Food Animal Production

Why are current federal policies inadequate for dealing with the threat of antibiotic resistance?


The wealth of the sea belongs to the dead, the living, and those yet to be born.