Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Brainstorming Food-Systems

So as I said in the previous post that there are some basic assumptions regarding agri-food systems. Based on some of these assumptions I have constructed a visual stock and flow diagram of a generic production system. Now, I do not claim that this is correct or that the connections lead to validated behavior among food production systems, but it does help me in thinking about the variables that exist within just one part of the system that includes dimensions of production, processing, distribution and access or consumption.

But this image of the production system is just on part of a larger system. From the highest level view, the overall agri-food system would be generalized by this simple diagram.

The most basic question may be, "why does there appear to be a closed loop between production and consumption?" The reason for this is that in communities where subsistence based food production is central, there is often no distribution and limited processes except in instances where food preservation is central. Yet, this processing is not the same as what one finds in conventional food systems where the emphasis is on processing to create value-added products through raw food materials, i.e. Doritos corn chips processed in Houston, TX from corn grown in Iowa.

Now, consumption feeds back into production because the food people eat is one of the primary means through which they reproduce their productive capacity, which is their labor power. The other primary means would be ingesting water and sex for child bearing (the means of re-producing labor power over a longer time horizon).

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