Food Systems Thinking Essay

Learning Objectives

  • Develop deeper knowledge of food literacy workshop topic
  • Identify and articulate connections and relationships between components of items within the food system
  • Compose a narrative based on accurate and reliable scholarly and scientific evidence


One of the main objectives of LFS 250, and the Land, Food, and Community series overall, is to develop your ability to see the connections and relationships within the food system. This is referred to as developing holistic thinking competencies. This assignment is meant to help you gain deeper knowledge of your food literacy topic through understanding its connections to other components and interactions within the food system. Building off of Term 1's focus on "thinking about systems", we will use the example of the essay "I, Pencil", by Leonard Read. The essay is a wonderful exploration of thinking about the relationships, collaboration and interconnectedness of a familiar, and often taken-for-granted object. This habit of seeing connections and patterns facilitates an understanding of the food system and is a useful way to approach complex problems related to food security and food system sustainability.

Just as Read writes from the perspective of the "Mongol 482" pencil to impress upon the reader the richness and complexity of the pencil's background, you will write an essay from the perspective of your food literacy workshop item.

  • Bento box
  • Bread
  • Seeds
  • Tea
  • Red Wiggler Worms
  • Salad

In "I, Pencil", Read touches upon the tree, the mill, the machinery, the graphite, the paint, the brass, and the plug to demonstrate the complexity of the pencil. You will need to touch upon at least 6 different components of other systems that interact together to bring your item into existence.

  • The essay should be a maximum of 6 pages, double-spaced, 12 pt font, and 2.54cm margins (page limit excludes your title page and reference section).