Sustainability of Local Food Systems*

Instructor: Jeffrey Potent

Spring 2017: May 16, 23, 30, June 6, 13 (5 sessions; Tuesdays, 6:10-8:10 PM)

*This course falls within the Sustainable Food Systems Track

Description:

The locavore movement is alive and well in New York, its environs, and across the nation. Green markets, community supported agriculture (CSAs), farm-to-table restaurants, and established retailers and restaurants now offer a dizzying array of locally-produced meats, libations, veggies, cheeses, breads, and other value-added products. Foodies, environmentalists, farmers, and economic development professionals are all singing the praises of this revolution in the way many of us buy our food and what we choose to eat.

In this course, we will explore this exciting and hopeful trend with a focus on how it is contributing to the sustainable development of our region. We will address this topic from three key perspectives:

1. The land — How is the local food movement serving to keep productive land in agriculture and farmed in a manner that restores and protects soil health, water and air quality, and helps to mitigate and adapt to climate change?
2. The nutrition value of the food — Is locally-produced food more accessible and nutritious than other alternatives?
3. The economy — Does local agriculture provide economic opportunities and stability for farmers, distributors, processors, retailers, and restaurateurs?

From this exploration, we will gain perspective on how this phenomenon must evolve to best serve people and the planet and profit so that it will continue to expand as a critical element of an emerging sustainable economy and society.

Jeffrey Potent develops and teaches courses in corporate sustainable development, systems theory, natural capital, and sustainable agriculture at the Earth Institute and the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He also consults and speaks publicly on corporate and agricultural sustainability and water quality. Mr. Potent formerly led corporate partnerships for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Water in Washington DC, advancing sustainable and market-based approaches to environmental protection. Earlier in his career, he served as the EPA/US Department of Agriculture (USDA) liaison, facilitating collaboration among Land Grant Universities, EPA, USDA, and other agencies and academic institutions. In 2001 he established the regional component of the USDA National Integrated Water Quality Program, serving as regional coordinator and member of the program’s national leadership team. Before that, he led an energy and environmental engineering consulting practice, managed pollution prevention programs for a large environmental agency, and planned satellite and cable infrastructure for a global telecommunications corporation.