At its core, a food system includes the public policy decisions; the national, local, and global systems and supply chains; and the individuals and groups – both public and private – that ultimately influence what we eat (FAO et al 2022). Food systems are not only important to public health and well-being (especially important for underserved communities and groups like children, seniors, low-income individuals), they also have an enormous impact on the planet through production, farming, and processing. Sustainable production of food can mitigate environmental damage and climate change. Industrial food production has an immense ecological impact due to the heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides and contribution of up to a third of greenhouse gas emissions globally (FAO et al 2022).
The future of the California food system is undergoing transformation, including notable innovations and investments in aquaculture, alternative proteins, climate-adapted crop genetics, robotic labor, livestock methane capture, and urban farming. Locally, there have also been more investments in projects and initiatives focused on regional food systems. For example, the Riverside County Food Systems 2023 initiative and community-based organizations like Feed Black Futures have recently made progress in this space. More investment is needed in the region to support these kinds of projects and initiatives as we strive for a future in which all residents have access to high-quality, nutritious, and sustainable food.