Why “food”?

The topic of my thesis is food, or, more precisely, “hacking the food system.”

What’s a food system? And why does it need hacking?

The term “food system” refers to a complex network of processes and relationships that serve to bring food from producer to consumer. This encompasses everything from politics to cultural beliefs to the natural environment to technology to our own individual senses of taste. A regulatory bill, a Thanksgiving dinner, a few million plankton, a plastic bottle, and a person’s choice to be a vegan are all part of the food system.

So is a government-subsidized, corporate-sponsored school lunch; an animal in a Confined Animal Feeding Operation; an overweight stroke victim on a hospital bed; a bunch of grapes laced with pyretheum; an illegally immigrated meatcutter whose hands can no longer move; a lake filled with nitrogen where no fish can live. These are all reasons that the food system needs hacking.

All these things, taken together, are a lot to tackle, far too much for a tiny little one-year project. So my first task is to learn as much as I can about the various ways I can effect change. And then choose one to chisel away at, in hopes that it’ll make a bit of positive difference.