Visit the Science Topic about food for hands-on activities, resources, essays, and more from the Museum, and check out additional recommended external resources below.
- Evolution of Crop Plants: A collection of lectures and course materials on the fascinating origins of many of our most familiar crops. Assembled by Dr. Paul Gepts of University of California Davis, an expert on the origin of agriculture, crop domestication, and genetic diversity.
- The Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture: The mission of Economic Research Service is to inform the public about food, farming, trade, health, natural resources issues, and rural development. The site provides access to publications, data, and information on topics that range from food safety to biofuels to global food markets.
- Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture: A leader in sustainable agriculture, Iowa State University’s Leopold Center conducts research on food systems, policy, and ecology.
- Global Crop Diversity Trust: This international organization, which established the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and many other seed banks, works to conserve crop diversity. On the website: information about how this conservation relates to issues such as climate change and food insecurity; an interactive map of conservation initiatives; and case studies of crops from bananas to rice.
- Bioversity International: A leader in agricultural biodiversity research, this organization works with partners around the world to improve the lives of small farmers and rural communities. Explore the role of farm conservation, gene banks, neglected and underutilized foods, and habitat conservation in conserving agricultural diversity.
- Crops for the Future: This international organization undertakes research and capacity development for greater use of underutilized crops. Explore databases, publications, and other resources on lesser-known crops, and find out about updates on crop research, events, and training opportunities.
- Protecting Potato Diversity in Peru: The Museum’s Science Bulletins present videos, essays, and data visualizations about current research in the natural world. An April 2013 BioBulletin describes the domestication of potatoes in the Andes of South America, their evolution into a global staple, and a Peruvian conservation program for some 900 varieties of potato.
- Genetic Engineering in Agriculture:
- http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/our-failing-food-system/genetic-engineering.This page from the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit advocacy group of both private citizens and professional scientists, explores the science of genetic engineering in foods, along with costs, benefits, and alternatives.
- http://www.fao.org/english/newsroom/focus/2003/gmo1.htm.The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a source of information on agriculture, forestry, and fisheries related issues, working towards nutrition and food security goals. This resource provides a balanced overview of agricultural biotechnology.
- http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/gmfood.shtml.This webpage for the US Department of Energy’s Human Genome Project includes information on genetically modified foods, along with benefits and controversies.
- GrowNYC: Information about programs run by this New York City nonprofit, which include greenmarkets, urban gardens, recycling, and composting. Provides teaching materials.
- Growing Power: This Milwaukee-based nonprofit organization develops community food systems and sustainable food production methods in both urban and rural locations. Offers training, active demonstration, outreach, and technical assistance.
- Agriculture and Public Health Gateway: Created by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, this is a portal for information about public health, agriculture, and the links between these two fields. Includes fact sheets and searchable databases.
- International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development: A comprehensive 2008 report on agriculture around the world, with respect to meeting development and sustainability goals, reducing hunger and poverty, improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods, and facilitating social and environmental sustainability.
More you can do
- Monterey Bay Seafood Watch: A sustainable seafood list designed to raise consumer awareness. Visitors can download pocket guides and learn how consumers and businesses can make a difference by purchasing responsibly.
- Windowfarms: Find out why and how to start a hydroponic food growing system in your window. The site provides a platform for open source collaboration and access to a global online community of vertical farmers.
- Teaching the Food System: Distribution & Transport: A cross-disciplinary approach to studying what’s involved in getting food from field to plate developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. The lesson on food distribution and transport explores local and far-reaching distribution systems, along with energy and climate implications. Includes a lesson plan, background reading, vocabulary, slides, and student handouts.
- Agricultural Marketing Service: A USDA website that aggregates information about food hubs, which help small and mid-size farmers reach larger markets. Food hubs offer a combination of production, aggregation, distribution, and marketing services.
- Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States: A 2008 paper published in Environmental Science and Technology that explains the concept and energy implications of food miles—the distance food travels from producer to consumer. The authors explore how emissions from food production compare to emissions from transportation, prompting discussion about how to reduce food-related energy emissions in many ways, from dietary choices to buying local.
- Food Waste Harms Climate, Water, Land and Biodiversity: A new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations documents the economic and environmental impact of food loss and waste along the food supply chain, focusing on consequences for climate, water, land, and biodiversity.
More you can do
- Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill: A 2012 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council of inefficiencies at every level of the U.S. food supply chain. Includes recommendations for making better use of natural resources, saving money, and meeting demands more effectively.
- Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food: Visitors can learn how the federal government supports local and regional food economies, see communities putting these resources to work, and locate farmers and programs on an interactive map of the United States.
- Greener Choices: Products for a Better Planet: Consumer Reports’ guide to evaluating what food labels really mean. Includes articles on related issues, such as organic food, and links to a video critiquing familiar labels
- Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter: Lectures by world-class chefs and food experts on topics that range from the science of texture and flavor to precision cooking. Part of Harvard College’s 2012 Public Lecture Series.
- Teaching the Food System: Food Safety: A cross-disciplinary approach to studying what’s involved in getting food from field to plate developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. In this lesson on food safety, students identify sources of bacterial and chemical contamination along the food supply chain and simulate an investigation of a foodborne illness outbreak. Includes a lesson plan, background reading, vocabulary, slides, and student handouts.
- World Health Organization: Food Safety: Information about foodborne diseases and threats to food safety. Includes Five Keys to Safer Food for Consumers.
- New York Public Library: “What's on the Menu?” A digital repository of over 15,000 historical restaurant menus, dating back hundreds of years and searchable dish by dish, along with tools for exporting search data.
- Wild Fermentation: http://www.wildfermentation.com. Expert and author Sandor Ellix Katz maintains this lively blog about the world of fermentation, including step-by-step instructions for fermenting everything from hot peppers to sauerkraut.
- Monell Chemical Senses Center: Advancing Discovery in Taste and Smell: Scientists at this nonprofit institute conduct basic research on taste and smell and explore their significance for human health. Includes background information on taste and smell, and emerging fields of research.
- About Taste: The Taste Science Laboratory: Cornell University’s Dr. Virginia Utermohlen studies how taste and smell are related to food choice and eating attitudes. Visitors can explore the nature and physiology of taste, and learn about supertasters.
- The Kitchen Sisters: The “Hidden Kitchens” series produced by this award–winning public radio team explores how communities come together through food. Stories range from Lebanese immigrant cooking in the US to the art of foraging.
- USDA Results: Global Food Security: This USDA webpage aggregates information about food security: stable access to enough food and the ability to cook or prepare it in a healthy way. Includes resources on topics ranging from the economic dimensions of food insecurity to community assessment toolkits.
- The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2013: This annual report discusses the underlying causes of global hunger and malnutrition and the connection to human and economic development, and monitors progress toward hunger reduction targets established at the 1996 World Food Summit and the Millennium Summit. Co-published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme.
- Teaching the Food System: Hunger & Food Security: A cross-disciplinary approach to studying what’s involved in getting food from field to plate developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. In the lesson on food security, students explore the history, causes and consequences of hunger and food insecurity in the United States and compare the strengths and limitations of emergency food programs, federal food and nutrition assistance, and the community food security movement.
- Nourishing the Planet: This project from the World Watch Institute aims to eradicate hunger and raise the profile of innovative approaches, from cropping methods to agricultural policy. A blog covers the people, institutions, and ideas that affect the global food system and features several popular series.
- Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science: The website of the Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science, which advances nutrition research and applies its findings in the field. The website includes information about the institute’s research agenda, publications, and upcoming events.
- The Nutrition Source: A range of resources that include recommendations, recipes, and answers to common questions. Maintained by the Harvard School of Public Health.
- USDA: Choose My Plate: The USDA’s building blocks of a healthy diet, with tools and tips to help Americans make good food choices.
- Food n’ Me: An interactive site for kids that promotes healthy eating. Includes quizzes, guessing games and a feature that allows visitors to “smash” their favorite foods to see how much salt and sugar they contain.
- Teaching the Food System: Diet and Food Choice: A cross-disciplinary approach to studying what’s involved in getting food from field to plate developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. In this lesson on diet and influence on food choice, students explore the relationship between diet and health, play a game about how American diets have changed over recent decades, and brainstorm reasons why people eat what they eat. Includes a lesson plan, background reading, vocabulary, slides, and student handouts.
- Healthy School Food: Nutrition education, information about plant-based foods, and programs for the whole school community from the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food.
- Locally grown food: An article from a Consumer Reports newsletter assessing the claim that local food is healthier.
More You Can Do
- Grassroots approach to Food Security: WhyHunger is a nonprofit organization that supports grassroots solutions to ending hunger and poverty and connects people to delicious, affordable food. The site’s Food Security Learning Center offers materials on topics that range from nutrition education and climate change to the food system and urban agriculture.
- Eat Well Guide: A free online directory of fresh, locally grown and sustainably produced food sources in the United States and Canada. Thousands of listings include family farms, restaurants, farmers' markets, grocery stores, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, U-pick orchards, and more. Users can search by location, keyword, category or product, download customized guides, or use a mapping tool to plan a trip. A program of the GRACE Communications Foundation.
- Sustainable Food: From National Geographic magazine, this website offers tips for cooking with sustainable seafood, features on topics like urban agriculture, and buying guidelines for energy-efficient appliances.
FUTURE OF FOOD
- Global Landscapes Initiative: This program at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment is developing tools needed to characterize global land use, understand land use changes, assess trends in global agricultural supply and demand, and balance human needs with environmental stewardship. Includes publications and resources such as videos on the future of food.
- Climate Hot Map: Global Warming Effects Around the World: This webpage from the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists explores the effects of climate-related threats to global food production, including the effects on human health, agricultural crops, livestock and fisheries, and land and marine ecosystems. Includes an interactive “hot map” and describes potential solutions.
- The Future of Food: How Science Will Solve the Next Global Crisis: An interactive atlas of the future of food created by Wired magazine in 2008. Features range from the future of farming to how global diets have changed and may continue to evolve.
- Food Tank: The Food Think Tank is a nonprofit organization focused on environmentally sustainable ways to improve our food system and alleviate hunger and obesity. This website offers information about research and investment in agriculture and news about issues including human health, development, food movements around the world, and climate change.
- NPR's The Salt Blog: The Salt is a dynamic clearinghouse that explroes food from many angles: health, science, taste and flavor, culture, and history.
More you can do
- H2O Conserve Water Footprint Calculator: Water conservation is a key to the future of farming. Visitors can use this interactive tool to explore how they use water—and how much—and find ways to conserve. Your household’s water footprint is the amount of water you use in and around your home throughout the day. It includes the water used indirectly to produce the food you eat, the products you buy, and the energy you consume, and even the water you save when you recycle. A program of the GRACE Communications Foundation.
- Meatless Monday: Information, toolkits, and recipes from Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health to help reduce meat consumption and its toll on the environment. Includes links to other public health initiatives, and activities for kids.