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).