Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 308–320 | Cite as

Introduction to the Symposium on American Food Resilience

  • Gerald G. Marten
  • Nurcan Atalan-Helicke


The resilience of the American food supply—the ability of the food system to withstand shocks or stresses that could lead to disruption or collapse—is a matter of genuine concern. While all seems well with supermarkets stocked to the brim, changes in the food system and our environment during recent decades have created risks that are no longer hypothetical possibilities. They are with us now. The 27 articles in the Symposium on American Food Resilience explore the vulnerability and resilience of food production and distribution from a diversity of perspectives. Four central questions provide a framework for the exploration:

• What are the main lines of vulnerability?

• What are leverage points for reducing the risks and improving the capacity to deal with breakdowns if they occur?

• What is already being done by government, civil society, and the private sector to reduce the risks?

• What can scientists, teachers, and other environmental and food system professionals do through research, education, community action, or other means to make the food system and food supply more resilient?

Some of the articles use case studies that highlight various kinds of disturbances: influenza pandemic, war, nuclear-reactor catastrophe, natural disasters (e.g., floods and earthquakes), and crop failure due to drought or other climatic perturbations. Lessons for improving resilience are drawn from the experiences. Other articles examine the significance of globalization, food system consolidation, diversity, and food storage; the interplay of efficiency, adaptive capacity, sustainability, and resilience; the potential and limitations of local or regional food systems to compensate for shortcomings in the mainstream food system; organizational learning and networking, integrating local food systems with the mainstream, channeling promising innovations into the mainstream; and success stories and the lessons they offer. The articles afford a wealth of material that can be mined by researchers, teachers, practitioners, and policy makers for application to their own circumstances.


Food system Food security Food crisis Food supply Food supply chains USA Resilience Sustainability 



We gratefully acknowledge:

• Sasha Adkins, Kip Curtis, Todd LeVasseur, Alesia Maltz, Bryan McDonald, Peter Jacques, Mohammed Rabbi, Krystyna Stave, Brian Thomas, and Teddie Phillipson-Mower, whose presentations on food resilience at the 2013 AESS conference set in motion the process leading to this symposium (Online Resource 1).

• Ed Teixeira (former State Civil Defense Chief) and Danny Tengan (former State Civil Defense Hurricane Program Manager) at Hawaii State Civil Defense (now Hawaii Emergency Management Agency) for providing information about hurricane preparedness in Hawaii.

• All authors of the articles in this symposium for bridging the gap from their particular expertise and experience to casting light on the food resilience issue and for their patience and endurance during a lengthy manuscript preparation process, providing feedback on one another’s manuscripts and persevering through numerous revisions of their own.

• Nearly 100 colleagues who provided prompt and thoughtful reviews of the manuscripts for the journal’s peer review process.

Supplementary material

13412_2015_310_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (13.5 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 13,851 kb)
13412_2015_310_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (585 kb)
ESM 2 (PDF 585 kb)
13412_2015_310_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (183 kb)
ESM 3 (PDF 183 kb)


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Copyright information

© AESS 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EcoTipping Points ProjectKailuaUSA
  2. 2.Environmental StudiesSkidmore CollegeSaratoga SpringsUSA

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