Claire Brennan | 2024 I.S. Symposium

Claire Brennan head shot

Name: Claire Brennan
Title: Small Scale, Big Impact: The Power of Local Food Systems in Repairing Food Literacy and the Consumer-Producer Divide
Major: Environmental Studies
Pathway: Environment and Society
Advisors: Matt Mariola, Carlo Moreno

Over the past century, the relationship between Americans and their food has undergone a profound transformation as a result of the rise of industrial farming. Modern agriculture and agribusiness have created widespread environmental degradation, depleted food knowledge, and produced a stark disconnect between consumers and the origins of their food. Against this backdrop, my research aimed to discover whether participation in local food systems could increase food literacy among Ohio residents.

Utilizing a mixed methods approach including both surveys and interviews, I investigated how engagement with local food systems (LFSs) influenced individuals’ food-related knowledge, behaviors, and skills and was able to confirm my fundamental hypothesis that participation in LFSs is positively and significantly correlated with food literacy. This means that participants who reported the most engagement with LFSs also reported the highest confidence in skills like cooking, growing food and preserving food, the highest frequency in utilizing those skills, and the most learned from LFSs.
This project demonstrates the exciting potential of LFSs, emphasizes the positive impact of immersing ourselves more deeply in the food system, and reaffirms the critical importance of continuing conversations about food knowledge and practices. By addressing structural barriers to LFS accessibility and utilizing larger and more diverse samples, future researchers could improve and build on this research to further discover the profound impacts of LFSs and work to establish a food system in which knowledge about and access to good food are accessible for all.

Posted in Symposium 2024 on April 23, 2024.