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    A holistic understanding of the structures and processes involved in the U.S. Food System is integral to addressing current concerns surrounding … Read More
    A holistic understanding of the structures and processes involved in the U.S. Food System is integral to addressing current concerns surrounding population growth, climate change, community health and economic security. Effective responses to these matters of local and global interest require knowledge about the interplay between different agencies throughout the food system supply chain, as well as their influence on additional factors of society. Many communities do not have access to the analytical tools needed to transform the large amounts of research and datasets pertaining to food systems into actionable information. Application of complex system visualization methods for creation of a set of comprehensive U.S. Food System Maps provides these communities with understandable and relevant material for informed policy development and community action. Read Less
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As we began development of our capstone project for the Virtual Technology and Design program, my team mate and I explored many systemic concepts. This exploration eventually lead us to the concept of complex systems in which the individual behaviors of actors within the system shape the structure of the system as a whole, and in turn individual behaviors are influenced by the larger structure that they create. We chose to focus our research in complex system mapping on a system whose structure we contributed to and were impacted by daily: the U.S. food system. The U.S. Food System is an expansive and influential structure of our society. It encompasses a multitude of activities, as well as, a large number of organizations and individuals throughout the processes of production to consumption.
During the initial research for this project, combing scientific journals and publications for possible correlations within the food system, we began to define eight distinct categories within the system: Agricultural Production, Consumer Consumption, Energy Cost, International Trade, Environmental Factors, Government Programs, Labor & Employment and Health Outcomes. Correlations between individual elements of these systems were mapped using lines indicating either a positive correlation (solid lines) or a negative correlation (dashed lines).