This summer, I had the pleasure of conducting food systems research at the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) in Berkeley, California. Housed within the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and National Resources, NPI is an organization that conducts and evaluates research on the influence of nutrition on public health. This post describes some of the major projects I have been working on over the past months.
Agricultural research and production is commonly grounded in one scientific knowledge base, the Western. However, there are other valid forms of knowledge in the world offering salient techniques and perspectives. Indigenous science (IS), the transmission of ecological knowledge in Indigenous communities across generations, is example of another form of knowledge that should be honored and looked to for answers for present day agricultural issues.
If we want all students to reach the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (self-actualization), how can we expect them to achieve this without meeting the lowest level of the hierarchy (basic physiological needs)? In California, 20 percent of K-12 students are in poverty and 21 percent are food insecure. I have been an education policy nerd for years; in high school, I loved immersing myself in student government, leadership roles in my school district, and working with statewide educational non-profits. Through my food systems engagement project, I wanted to channel my longtime passion for education with my newfound passion for food justice. I delved into studying what programs and policies exist to ensure a students’ access to food with support from the Berkeley Food Institute.