An Introduction to the U.S. Food System: Perspectives from Public Health

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About this course: A food system encompasses the activities, people and resources involved in getting food from field to plate. Along the way, it intersects with aspects of public health, equity and the environment. In this course, we will provide a brief introduction to the U.S. food system and how food production practices and what we choose to eat impacts the world in which we live. We will discuss some key historical and political factors that have helped shape the current food system and consider alternative approaches from farm to fork. The course will be led by a team of faculty and staff from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. Guest lecturers will include experts fro…

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When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: A food system encompasses the activities, people and resources involved in getting food from field to plate. Along the way, it intersects with aspects of public health, equity and the environment. In this course, we will provide a brief introduction to the U.S. food system and how food production practices and what we choose to eat impacts the world in which we live. We will discuss some key historical and political factors that have helped shape the current food system and consider alternative approaches from farm to fork. The course will be led by a team of faculty and staff from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. Guest lecturers will include experts from a variety of disciplines, including public health, policy and agriculture.

Who is this class for: This course is designed for anyone who is affected by the US food system, including consumers, producers, policy makers, and public health practitioners.

Created by:  Johns Hopkins University
  • Taught by:  Keeve Nachman, PhD, MHS, Assistant Professor, Environmental Health Sciences

    Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Taught by:  Robert S. Lawrence, MD, Professor, Department of Environmental Health Sciences

    Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Taught by:  Pamela Rhubart Berg, Food Systems Education Program Manager

    Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering
Level Beginner Commitment 6 modules. Each contains approximately 2 hours of lecture, 30 minutes of reading, and a short quiz. Language English How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 4.7 stars Average User Rating 4.7See what learners said 课程作业

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Syllabus


WEEK 1


Is Climate Change Vindicating Malthus? Food Security and the Right to Food (Bob Lawrence)



Welcome to our short course on the U.S. food system. In this first series of lectures, we dig into the very important concepts of food systems, food security and intergenerational equity and begin to explore what we eat, how that food is produced, and how our dietary choices impact our health and the health of the planet. This broad overview lecture lays the foundation for the rest of the course.


10 videos, 4 readings expand


  1. Video: Welcome from Course Faculty
  2. 阅读: Course Syllabus
  3. 阅读: Optional Textbook, "Intro to US Food System: Health, Environment and Equity"
  4. 阅读: Pre-Course Survey
  5. 阅读: Week 1 Readings and Resources
  6. Video: The Vicious Spiral and the CLF Concept Model I (Lawrence)
  7. Video: The Vicious Spiral and the CLF Concept Model II (Lawrence)
  8. Video: The Vicious Spiral and the CLF Concept Model III (Lawrence)
  9. Video: Food Production, the Ecosystem, Diet, and Public Health I (Lawrence)
  10. Video: Food Production, the Ecosystem, Diet, and Public Health II (Lawrence)
  11. Video: Food Production, the Ecosystem, Diet, and Public Health III (Lawrence)
  12. Video: Intergenerational Equity and the Right to Food I (Lawrence)
  13. Video: Intergenerational Equity and the Right to Food II (Lawrence)
  14. Video: Intergenerational Equity and the Right to Food III (Lawrence)
  15. 讨论提示: How many planet Earths would we need if everyone lived like you? Calculate your Ecological Footprint. (optional)

Graded: Week 1 Quiz (required)

WEEK 2


Food System Sustainability and Resilience
This lesson expands on the concepts of food system sustainability and resilience, and describes strategies that could dramatically improve the food system and the ability of future generations to feed themselves.


5 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. 阅读: Module 2 Readings and Resources
  2. Video: Sustainable Food Systems (Says Who?) (Neff)
  3. Video: Converging Crises (Neff)
  4. Video: Wasted Food: Putting 40% of Our Food Supply in the Landfill (Neff)
  5. Video: What We Can Do: Policy, Sustainable Diets, and (Neff)
  6. Video: Food Resilience: No Regrets; Conclusions: Don’t Press Snooze! (Neff)
  7. 讨论提示: What would you say...? (optional)

Graded: Module 2 Quiz (required)

WEEK 3


Ecological Perspectives on Food Production



The 1938 USDA Yearbook of Agriculture stated, “Essentially, all life depends upon the soil ... There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together”. In this module, we will take a very brief look at the importance of methods of food production for sustainability, resilience, food security and health.


7 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. 阅读: Week 3: Readings and Resources
  2. Video: Industrial Crop Production/Agroecology (Kim)
  3. Video: Soil Composition (Kim)
  4. Video: Soil Ecosystem Services (Kim)
  5. Video: Soil Degradation (Kim)
  6. Video: Soil Conservation Measures (Kim)
  7. Video: Modern Agriculture (Kirschenmann)
  8. Video: Limits to Therapeutic Intervention (Kirschenmann)
  9. 讨论提示: Industrial Farms are Good for the Environment (optional)

Graded: Week 3 Quiz (required)

WEEK 4


Food Animal Production and Public Health



We will now examine the livestock and seafood industries, which we have touched on in previous modules as a key driver of the global food system. As incomes rise around the world, so too does the global collective appetite for meat. Some of our greatest challenges and debates of the 21st century are rooted in the rising demand for animal protein in an era of dwindling resources and climate change. NOTE: This lecture refers to other lectures offered in this or related full for-credit courses at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.


7 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. 阅读: Module 4 Readings and Resources
  2. Video: An Introduction to Industrial Food Animal Production
  3. Video: What Are We Feeding Food Animals?
  4. Video: Antibiotic Use in Industrial Food Animal Production
  5. Video: International Food Animal Production
  6. Video: How Much Seafood Do People Eat, and Which Do We Eat Most?
  7. Video: How and Where Is Seafood Caught and Produced?
  8. Video: How Does Seafood Production Impact the Environment and Public Health?
  9. 讨论提示: If You were a Philanthropist...? (optional)

Graded: Week 4 Quiz (required)

WEEK 5


Food and Farm Policy Perspectives



In the next set of lectures, we begin to explore food and farm policy, a huge and complex topic. Roni Neff returns with an overview of the history and content of the current farm bill and why it really should be called a ‘food bill’, considering the magnitude of its impact on public health. Then Mark Winne will share his experiences as an advocate for community food security and regional food systems here in the U.S. For those of you interested in the international perspective of food policy, we have provided in the readings list a link to a terrific talk by Olivier deSchutter, the former UN special rapporteur on the Right to Food.


8 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. 阅读: Week 5 Readings and Resources
  2. Video: Overview and History of the Farm Bill I
  3. Video: Overview and History of the Farm Bill II
  4. Video: What Is in the Farm Bill? I
  5. Video: What Is in the Farm Bill? II
  6. Video: Farm Bill Politics
  7. Video: History
  8. Video: Future Perspective
  9. Video: Update with Keeve Nachman
  10. 讨论提示: I eat, therefore I .... (optional)

Graded: Week 5 Quiz (required)

WEEK 6


Improving Food Systems: Stories from the Field



In this final module of the course you will hear from real people working to build a healthier, more sustainable food system. First, Michael Heller of Clagett Farm in Maryland will share his farming philosophy and how he links his farm to the local community near Washington DC. Then you’ll hear about Meatless Monday as an example of using health communication campaigns to change the food system from the demand-side. The optional Honors lesson includes two short films produced by CLF showcasing projects and people around the U.S. that are improving the food system from field to plate.


8 videos, 5 readings expand


  1. 阅读: Week 6 Readings and Resources (**includes a Required Reading)
  2. Video: Introduction
  3. Video: Criteria
  4. Video: Local Food Systems
  5. Video: Advocacy for Better Health and a Smaller Footprint: The Meatless Monday Campaign
  6. 阅读: Optional Video: Meatless Monday -- a simple idea sparks a global healthy food movement: Peggy Neu at TEDxManhattan (YouTube)
  7. 阅读: Post Course Survey
  8. 讨论提示: Please tell us... (optional)
  9. Video: Community Food Systems, Business, and the Green Economy
  10. Video: Functions of a Food Policy Council
  11. Video: Why the Food Movement is Spreading
  12. Video: Food as Part of a New, Broader Concept of Health
  13. 阅读: VIDEO: Out To Pasture: The Future of Farming
  14. 阅读: VIDEO: Food Frontiers

Graded: Week 6 Quiz (required)
Graded: Peer Review Written Assignment: Op-Ed
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