About this Research Topic
Building on the success of the 2016 Research Topic, 'Food, Nature & Health: Dueling Epistemologies', we are issuing a revised call for participation for a new Research Topic.
Who is responsible for the health of the food system? In market-driven, long-distance supply chains, which have become increasingly dominant worldwide, the wellbeing of land, labor, water and air, are generally invisible to all but a few specialized professionals and farmers and others from rural communities. Meanwhile, industrial food systems also produce negative human health outcomes, including not only food insecurity and diet-related disease, but also the health effects of toxic contaminants, like microbial outbreaks, or the long-term, cumulative effects of pesticide residues. Research on and treatment of these health impacts is often siloed from discussions of larger agroecosystem health.
Producing and making accessible food that sustains the fertility of the ecosystem and nourishes the health of the consumer requires attention to a wide breadth of issues, covering many disciplines and communities of practice. While interdisciplinary research in this arena is increasing, addressing the full complexity of food system wellbeing (FSW) requires changing knowledge paradigms. By FSW we mean the ability to support vital and robust life at every stage of the food system, from the health and vitality of the ecosystems where food is produced and food waste is disposed of, to the health and wellness of stakeholders and actors at every stage of the food chain.
Models of holistic approaches to wellness exist: fundamental principles of long-standing, non-Western health traditions, hold the worldview that the microcosm (e.g., humans) are a fractal of the macrocosm (universe) and therefore anything that impacts the universe is bound to affect humans, and vice versa. Systems of knowledge and practice emphasize interdependence and reciprocity between nutrition, medicine, good living and nature. Traditional philosophies of optimal usage - as opposed to exploitative usage - of resources challenge market paradigms both within and outside of Western and/or colonial contexts.
Increasingly, approaches within Western academic knowledge, such as Planetary Health and One Health, seek to integrate holistic approaches. These emerging approaches stress the interconnectedness between the health of humans and that of other living and non-living entities. Indices such as the happiness index, or measurements of progress toward the sustainable development goals (SDG) are in their infancy. Making such metrics mainstream is essential yet challenging.
In this Research Topic, we seek papers that push food system paradigms, exploring questions of both epistemology and practice. How do paradigms underlying the food and health systems, like replicating fractal patterns, send ripples throughout the world? What models exist for food and health systems that consider benefit humans without degrading the environment or destroying other life forms? What needs to change in the current ways of thinking, doing and measuring in order for such changes to take effect?
In this volume, we welcome you to contribute to an issue of Frontiers in Public Health with articles addressing the following domains:
• Analysis of the multidirectional relationships linking food system wellbeing to human wellness;
• Dueling epistemologies: Approaches to understanding and changing worldviews, belief systems, values, assumptions and relationships to the food system;
• How is food system wellbeing connected with the ways that we use and abuse animals, the assembly line approach to animal farming, from overuse of sub-therapeutic antibiotics to inhumane slaughtering practices?
• Analysis of how different socioeconomic structures (cooperative ventures, direct marketing, learning how to grow one's own food, etc.) affect values and beliefs about the food system and its potential for change. What assumptions (e.g. of scarcity vs. collaboration) underpin these models, and with what implications?
• Comparisons of the impacts of different beliefs related to food systems on ecosystem and human health;
• Monetary and non-monetary markets, hard and soft technology, and/or biological, chemical, physical and intellectual contamination of the food system;
• Innovative research methods being developed to integrate the key domains of the food system (production, processing, distribution, marketing and consuming) in analysis.
• How do novel environmental contaminants - such as microplastics, antibiotics, and hormone residues – emerge from food system practices, and/or challenge existing conceptions of the relationship between food and human/environmental health?
• On measurement and metrics: how does the use of particular measurement tools force particular food system outputs, and disincentivize others? What would we be measuring, were we to place the well-being of the most fundamental elements of our existence, rather than economic productivity, as our foremost goals?
The Guest Editors particularly encourage submission of articles using interdisciplinary methods and analysis.
Keywords: wellness, food system, food ecosystems, one health, epistemology, health system
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.