About Us

The Berkeley Food Institute catalyzes and supports transformative changes in food systems to promote diversity, justice, resilience, and health—from the local to the global. BFI envisions a world in which nutritious, affordable food is available for all and is produced sustainably and fairly—ensuring healthy people and a healthy planet.

For Students: Help BFI Serve You

Please complete this brief survey by February 22, 2016, to help the Berkeley Food Institute understand effective ways to serve and support students. We appreciate your time and value your input.

Berkeley Food Institute Featured in Breakthroughs Magazine

In the winter 2016 edition of Breakthroughs, the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources’ magazine, the Berkeley Food Institute’s executive director, Ann Thrupp, and three student fellowsLaura Moreno, Maywa Montenegro, and Kate Kaplan—share highlights of their work at BFI. Read the article here.

About the Berkeley Food Institute

The College of Natural Resources, the Goldman School of Public Policy, the Graduate School of Journalism, Berkeley Law, and the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley have joined together to develop an institute dedicated to galvanizing the transition to more resilient and just food systems, from local to global scales. BFI has over 100 affiliated faculty and staff on the UC Berkeley campus.

Main Strategies and Objectives

BFI creates and supports linkages between research, education, policy, practice, and social movements that pertain to the Institute’s mission. The following are the main overlapping strategies, and objectives for each:

Research: Conduct and support research that is: Interdisciplinary and innovative, participatory and collaborative, actionable and methodologically robust, and aimed to foster and strengthen sustainable and just food systems.

Education: Develop unique educational opportunities to advance knowledge and problem-solving in this field.

Policy: Foster connections between research and policy, to communicate relevant scientific information to policymakers and enable research to be effectively used by policy makers on critical issues in food systems.

Practice: Collaborate and engage with community initiatives, innovative practitioners, and public campaigns to support diverse, just, resilient, and healthy food systems.

Main Thematic Areas

  • Sustainable Agriculture and Ecosystems
  • Society and Culture
  • Economics and Business
  • Policy and Justice

Health is recognized as a central thread, since food systems interact with health of individuals, society, the economy, farms, ecosystems, and the planet.

BFI Main Themes

BFI’s Four Pillars

The Berkeley Food Institute’s “pillars” describe a vision for transformed food systems in which diversity, justice, resilience, and health pertain to food that is available to all people, and also characterize the ways in which food is grown and produced, affects our environment, and impacts economies and communities worldwide. BFI recognizes the interconnections between diversity, justice, resilience, and health, and acknowledges that these concepts are fundamental elements of sustainability in food systems. Here are brief explanations of these terms in the context of food systems:

Diversity encompasses agricultural biodiversity (of organisms, species, populations, and landscapes) within farming systems and surrounding areas; economic and physical diversity in production systems; social diversity in the production and distribution system; diversity of consumers and beneficiaries; variety in food sources and nutrition that is essential for a healthful diet and for life itself; and culinary diversity and its importance for cultural traditions.

Justice encompasses “a concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people” (Oxford English Dictionary) in all stages and levels of food and agricultural systems and at all scales, from the production of agricultural inputs and food; through distribution systems and access to land/resources and food; to consumption patterns; and in broader economic, social and political structures that affect the food system.

Resilience encompasses the capability of food/agriculture production system and of people/cultures associated with food systems to respond effectively to changes in the environment and in social/economic conditions; and the capacity of agricultural systems (and natural resources related to agriculture) to recover from stresses, and to ensure sustainability (endurance) over time, across generations.

Health encompasses the wellness and well-being of people in all aspects of the food system (including consumers, workers, producers, etc.) through access to sufficient and good food; absence of disease or ill-health associated with lack of adequate/appropriate foods or inappropriate working conditions; and also health and robustness of ecosystems, soil, plants, animals, and natural resources

 Disciplines and Entities Involved with the Berkeley Food Institute

BFI Hubs 2-up

Download the Berkeley Food Institute brochure here.