2018 Tufts Food Systems Symposium

Unintended Consequences in the Food System

The Problem with “Solutions”

Friday, April 6th  ·  10-2PM  ·  Breed Hall, 51 Winthrop St. Medford, MA


Our complex food system presents us with a knot of issues so tangled that they can be difficult to define, let alone resolve. A solution to one issue may evolve and create problems around another. The 2018 Tufts Food System Symposium tackles the issue of unintended consequences and asks how we can continue to work toward a more resilient food system when we cant reliably foresee what the longer-term results of our actions might be. Effective food systems policy and planning requires broad considerations ranging from ecology to social justice on both a local and global scale. We will bring together policy experts, food justice advocates, and practitioners in the field to discuss past lessons learned and explore what kinds of collaborations and approaches allow for a greater understanding of change in our food system.  

Keynote speaker: Julie Guthman, social sciences professor at the University of California Santa Cruz and author of Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California (2004), Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism (2011), and (co-edited with Alison Alkon) The New Food Activism: Opposition, Cooperation, and Collective Action (2017). She is currently a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, where she is completing a book manuscript on the innovations that both created the modern strawberry industry and made non-industrial strawberry production all but inviable.

Following the keynote address, a panel will explore cases of unintended consequences close to home, sharing strategies for operating in complex and shifting situations. Table discussions over lunch will allow symposium participants to explore current  issues like the effects of the “non-profit industrial complex” and the impacts of global demand on local producers. Additionally, a poster display will feature student research on a variety of food topics.

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The event is organized by a committee of undergraduate and graduate students, staff, and faculty from the Department of Anthropology, the Environmental Studies Program, Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy, Tisch College of Civic Life, and Tufts Dining.

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS: Environmental Studies Program, Anthropology Department, Department of Community Health, Experimental College, Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, Deans of Arts & Sciences, Toupin-Bolwell Fund, Tufts Dining, Tisch College, Tufts Institute of the Environment, & Office of Sustainability