The Problem with the Food System is It Works

And How to Break It

Sarah Mock
7 min readNov 18, 2018
Source: Rose Interpreting

If you ever find yourself at a dinner party, trapped in a conversation about food or agriculture, it’s very fashionable to say something like;

“The problem is, our food system is broken.”

The problem with your problem is, it’s wrong.

The Food System in a Nut Shell

Farmers use seeds, water, sunlight, natural and chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and labor to produce plant and animal products. Those products are sold to wholesalers or retailers (or in rarer cases, directly to consumers) who use them to make food for humans or animals, fuel, or fiber. That food, fuel and fiber is sold to the end user, and waste products, generally, end up a landfill.

Source: Connecticut Food System Alliance

Seems simple enough, we put raw materials in, get value out, and bi-products are created here and there along the way — some beneficial, some harmful.

One important caveat — most food systems are not cycles, though some waste products, like animal manure and the occasional ton of compost, do make their way back into the production end of the machine.



Sarah Mock

Author of Farm (and Other F Words), buy now: Rural issues and agriculture writer/researcher. Not a cheerleader, not the enemy.