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Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health Seminar

Autumn 2023 Seminar Series

The Biodiversity of Food Systems

This seminar will explore the biological diversity that enables sustainable food systems and healthy communities. This biodiversity, including plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms across ecosystems, is critical to clean water, fertile soils, pollination, stable climate, and nutritional and cultural diversity. This biodiversity is also at risk of extinction, largely due to food production practices that rely on monocultures of single species over large tracts of land and water. The consequences of this transformation have led to multiple negative climate and health impacts, especially for rural and marginalized communities.

Drawing on the expertise of guest speakers throughout the quarter, this seminar will dig into topics such as traditional and biodiverse food systems, soil biology, and agroecological communities that nourish humanity. Each topic will connect with food systems more broadly, as well as opportunities for reverence and reflecting on how to live in harmony with the systems that support humanity and life on Earth.  


  • Fridays, Kane Hall 120
  • Time: 12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.
  • Instructor: Yona Sipos
  • 1 CR course, register for:
  • All UW students, faculty, staff are welcome to attend

Our speaker schedule will be available closer to the beginning of autumn quarter.


Watch recordings of many of our recent seminars on YouTube or explore our archives below. Session information, speaker schedules, and links to session recordings are available.

Over 80% of the US population lives in urban areas; by 2050, close to 70% of the whole world will do the same. Urban food systems can promote community health but also face many challenges.

Systemic inequities across communities, low wages for food chain workers, expensive real estate, limited city zoning, polluted soils and water, compromised growing sites, and complicated supply chains are all compounded by increasing climate disasters. Food prices are rising along with food insecurity.

So, what are the solutions? How can urban food systems instead support functional ecological systems, strong livelihoods, and just opportunities that promote food security and food sovereignty? How can the challenges be addressed and overcome to result in stronger health, sustainability, and equity outcomes?

In this seminar we will dig into urban food systems, including communities, soils, agriculture, markets, and more as you engage with leaders at the forefront of addressing these challenges and opportunities.

Printable Schedule and Poster

Recorded Sessions

Click title to watch recording of the session.

Oct 4Introduction to Urban Food Systems
Presenter: Yona Sipos, Nutritional Sciences Program, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, UW
Oct 11Sweetened Beverage Taxes: Economic Burdens and Benefits
Presenter: Jessica Jones-Smith, Nutritional Sciences Program, Health Systems and Population Health, Epidemiology, School of Public Health, UW
Oct 18Food Access and Mutual Aid: Example of Providing Food to the Community Through Decentralized Networks
Presenter: Michelle McIntosh, Advocate for Mutual Aid
Oct 25Seeking Justice, Eating Toxics: Overlooked Contaminants in Urban Community Gardens
Presenter: Melanie Malone, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell. Note: A recording of this presentation is not available
Nov 1Growing Food and Community in Seattle
Presenters: Bela Sánchez, Solid Ground and Marra Farm
Nov 8Seeking Feedback: Presenting the UW Farm Strategic Plan Phase I
Presenters: UW Farm, UW Farm Advisory Committee, and UW Botanical Garden
Nov 15Eat Local First - Healthy Food, Healthy Farms, Healthy Economies, and Healthy Communities
Presenter: Sheryl Wiser, Tilth Alliance and Eat Local First
Nov 22Introduction to the Food Equity Fund
Presenter: Lorna Velasco, City of Seattle Food Equity Fund
Nov 29Seattle's Food Action Plan: Developing the City's Roadmap Towards a More Sustainable, Equitable Food System
Presenters: Chris Iberle and Bridget Igoe, City of Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment
Seán Walsh, City of Seattle Human Services Department
Dec 1Growing Future Cities: The Potential of Urban Food Systems
Presenter: Yona Sipos, Nutritional Sciences Program, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, UW

Food Rescue Innovation

Winter 2022

Food Rescue InnnovationThe food and agriculture organization estimates that each year, one-third of all food produced in the world for human consumption is lost or wasted. Not only does this impact global food security and climate change, but it is also evidence of the incredible economic and environmental waste within the food system. Addressing the issue of food loss and food waste has the potential to generate a “triple win”. At the economic level, reductions in food loss and waste can save money for farmers, companies, and households. Wasting less food also means we can feed more people, creating enhanced food security. And reductions in food waste can alleviate pressure on climate change through efficiencies in water, land, and energy use. Recently, there has been a modern movement around food loss and waste reduction, centered around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which calls for halving the rate of food loss and waste by 2030. How can we achieve this aggressive goal? This quarter’s seminar welcomed experts and innovators from the private, public, and non-profit sectors at the forefront of addressing the real challenges of food loss and food waste at all parts of the food system, while considering creative approaches that harness collective behaviors and human motivation to catalyze change.

Printable Schedule and Poster

Recorded Sessions

Jan 7Framing Food Rescue
Presenter: Alissa Bilfield, Assistant Professor, Nutritional Sciences Program and Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, UW
Jan 14Reducing Food Loss and Waste
Presenter: Brian Lipinski, World Resources Institute
Jan 21Partnering with Farms to Rescue Ugly Food: Insights from Field to Fork
Presenter: Maddy Rotman, Head of Sustainability, Imperfect Foods
Jan 28Big Data and Big Grocery: Streamlining Supply Chains to Reduce Food Loss
Presenter: Stefan Kalb, CEO and Co-Founder of Shelf Engine
Feb 4Certifying Upcycled Food
Presenter: Daniel Kurzrock, CEO of ReGrained and Co-founder Upcycled Food Association
Feb 11Creating Collaborative Action for Food Rescue Innovation
Presenter: Liz Fikejs, Seattle Public Utilities
Feb 18Pedaling Relief: Activating Volunteers to Address Food Insecurity & Food Waste
Presenter: Alissa Bilfied discusses Maxwell Burton's work with Cascadia Bicycle Club
Feb 25Capturing Energy from Food Waste to Address Climate Change
Presenters: Michael Smith and Peyton Ridland, Impact Bioenergy
Mar 4Designing Innovations Around Food Rescue and Food Waste
Presenter: Lauren Brohawn, Arthur W. Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, UW

Future of Food Systems

Autumn 2021

Autumn 2021 seminar Future of Food SystemsThere is growing urgency for our food systems to be more sustainable, resilient, and equitable. But how? Food systems are too-often implicated in perpetuating health inequities, climate chaos, and diminishing biodiversity. Competing solutions to these challenges are being considered locally and globally, across often-complicated supply chains and impacted by various public health, social, ecological, and economic drivers. Should farms and food systems feed regional or international communities; should they be large or small, uniform or diverse? What are the outcomes for our climate, human and ecological health, justice and equity? Which technologies and processes of engagement should be prioritized? While solutions may not be binary, choices must be made to nourish a growing human population on a finite Earth. This quarter;s seminar welcomed experts and practitioners who are at the forefront of addressing these challenges and considering different possibilities for the future of food systems.

Printable Schedule and Poster

Recorded Sessions

Oct 5Framing Future Food Systems
Yona Sipos, Assistant Teaching Professor, Nutritional Sciences Program and Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Washington
Oct 12Learning from Traditional Ecological Knowledge to Grow Future Food Systems
Polly Olsen (Yakama Nation) Tribal Liason, Burke Museum, University of Washington
Oct 19Unpacking the Dialogue on Sustainable Diets: Evidence, Translation, and Action
Marie Spiker, Assistant Professor, Nutritional Sciences Program and Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Washington
Oct 26Food Justice in Washington State: Increasing Community Access and Ownership
Ariel Bangs, Chef and Executive Director, Plant Based Food Share
Nov 2What's at Stake with the Right to Food

Michael Fakhri, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
Nov 9Irrigation Water Quality in Agricultural Production Systems

Karen Levy, Associate Professor, Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Washington
Nov 16Assessing Washington State Food Systems During COVID-19
Associate Professor Jennifer Otten and Assistant Professor Sarah Collier, Nutritional Sciences Program and Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Washington
Nov 23Indigenous Food Sovereignty: Challenges and Successes
Devon Mihesuah (Choctaw Nation) and Cora Lee Beers Price Teaching Professor in International Cultural Understanding, Humanities Program, University of Kansas
Nov 30Carbon across biomes: Agricultural applications for PNW resilience
Eli Wheat, Lecturer, Nutritional Sciences Program and Program on the Environment, University of Washington
Dec 7The Future is Now
Yona Sipos, Assistant Teaching Professor, Nutritional Sciences Program and Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Washington

Food Supply Chains During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Winter 2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020, images of dumped milk and plowed-under crops, empty grocery store shelves, and lengthy food bank lines shocked the nation. While there are no nationwide shortages of food, inventory and availability of various staples have been affected, and food prices and food insecurity are on the rise, especially impacting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Many food system laborers are from BIPOC communities and continue to be adversely affected as farmworkers, meat plant workers, and long distance truckers face compromised work environments. The food service industry has been crippled, and food packaging and distribution has shifted to accommodate household servings instead of restaurant and bulk orders.

“Food supply chains” have now become part of everyday conversations as the stress of the pandemic raises questions about the sustainability, resilience, and inequities of our food system. Food supply chains include the sectors and labor supporting food production, processing, transportation, distribution, and access. Linear representations of supply chains often belie the extended, complicated realities of interconnected national and global food systems. As food supply chains continue to be impacted by COVID-19 among other global challenges, it is essential to learn about opportunities to increase sustainability, resilience, and equity. Applying a systems perspective to these questions were the focus of this quarter’s seminar and discussion.

Printable Schedule

Recorded Sessions

Jan 8Introduction to Food Systems During COVID-19
Yona Sipos, Assistant Teaching Professor, Nutritional Sciences Program and Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, Core Faculty for Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health, UW
Jan 15Food Supply Management: A Technological Approach and COVID-19 impact
Joe Heim, Health Services and Industrial & Systems Engineering, UW; Christina Mastrangelo, Industrial & Systems Engineering and Center for Healthcare Organization Transformation, UW
Jan 22The Power of Local Food Systems - Why You Should Buy Better Eggs
Donnie Wilcox, Supply Chain Manager, Wilcox Family Farms Inc.
Jan 29Resource Mobilization Advocacy for Global Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health
Shelby Wilson, Consultant
Feb 5Impacts to the Potato Supply Chain Due to COVID-19: Insights from the WA State Potato Commission
Chris Voigt, Excecutive Director, WA State Potato Commission
Feb 12From Canned Goods to TP: Managing Grocery Supply Chains Under the Strain of COVID-19
Senior Grocery Buyer Scott Owen,
PCC Community Markets
Feb 19COVID-19 Food Access Among American Indian/Alaska Native Tribes in WA State: The Value of Food Sovereignty
Speakers from the Northwest Tribal Epidemiology Center,
Northwest Portand Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB): Victoria Warren-Mears, Director and Nora Frank-Buckner, Food Sovereignty Initiatives Director
Feb 26Insights from the Washington Food Policy Forum
Laura Raymond, WSDA Regional Markets Program Manager, Small Farm Direct Marketing Assistance and Farm to School
Mar 5Findings from the Washington State Farm Resilience Survey: Impacts and Adaptations During COVID-19
Anna Fogel, MPH and GCPD student in the Nutritional Sciences Program at UW, and
Sarah Collier, Assistant Professor, Nutritional Sciences Program and Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, Core Faculty for Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health, UW

Growing Resilience and Equity: Food Systems Amid the Dual Pandemics of COVID-19 and Systemic Racism

Autumn 2020

The dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism are illuminating health equity, food equity, and structural vulnerabilities across the food system. COVID-19 impacts have amplified the inherent racial and economic inequities of our globalized and industrialized food supply chains. The lowest paid and most vulnerable workers have either been laid off or deemed essential and subject to unsafe working conditions; viral outbreaks continue to spread amongst farm workers and meat processing workers; market channels are disrupted; and food insecurity is rising alongside food waste. These challenges disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, who are already most affected by environmental and climate injustices. This quarter’s seminar showcased researchers and organizers working at the confluence of these crises for positive and impactful change. Sessions highlight challenges as well as transformation, hope, and potential for resilience and equity to take root across the food system.

Printable Schedule

Recorded Sessions

Food Systems in the Age of Climate Change

Winter Seminar, Food Systems in the Age of Climate ChangeWinter 2020

Every aspect of the food system is impacted by and has an impact on climate. Greenhouse gas emissions and contributions to climate instability or resilience are determined by what we eat, how that food is produced and harvested, how far it travels, and whether the food is wasted or resources are recovered. Climate change impacts which foods will grow and be available, their nutritional outcomes, and the occupational health of front-line agricultural workers.  This quarter’s seminar welcomed local and regional experts to explore such climate impacts in the context of the Pacific Northwest, alongside the quest for climate justice and food system resilience.

Printable Schedule

Recorded Sessions


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