Indiana University Sustainable Food Systems Science is a group of faculty, researchers and community partners engaged in applied research and outreach for food system change in Indiana. We support network development, grant projects for research and implementation, and provide technical assistance on the human dimensions of the food system.
What are the human dimensions of the food system?
Focusing on the ways individuals make decisions and adopt sustainable behaviors, we study farmers, eaters and the supply chain decision makers in local and regional food systems in Indiana. We use tools like social network analysis, surveys, focus groups and interviews to understand how individuals and organizations interact and make decisions on matters of food sustainability.
Indiana exemplifies the predominant agricultural system in the midwestern corn belt in the U.S. that emphasizes production of a few commodity crops in a heavily mechanized system dependent on fossil fuels, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, and economies of scale. The state illustrates the challenges and opportunities of rebuilding food production on local/regional scales, as a growing sector of farms and community food initiatives are working to resurrect food processing and aggregation infrastructure that has been lost. Regional development of food system networks may increase the availability of fresh foods, expand markets for farmers and eaters, and create lasting economic change for Indiana.