University of Vermont

Food Systems Initiative


Food systems research at the University of Vermont spans a broad spectrum of topics, disciplines, and colleges. You'll be able to find innovative work on the working landscape, value-added foods, the health of our communities, and much more. Below you'll find a few examples of current food research at UVM, and if you want more information on projects not shown below, contact Alison Nihart.

Ernesto Méndez

Agricultural Resilience in a Changing Climate

Dr. V. Ernesto Méndez (Dept. of Plant and Soil Science) together with his team, the Agroecology and Rural Livelihoods group, is facilitating a transdisciplinary initiative to support farmers and rural communities to manage extreme weather events and adapt to a changing climate. Learn more about the Vermont Farm Resilience in a Changing Climate Initiative.

Josh Farley

Agroecology and Conservation in Brazil

Dr. Joshua Farley (Dept. of Community Development and Applied Economics) is working with Brazilian colleagues to help small family farmers in Santa Catarina, Brazil, adopt agroecology practices that comply with Brazil’s forestry laws and reverse the imminent ecological collapse of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest ecosystem while improving farmer livelihoods.

Teresa Mares

Migrant Food Security in Vermont

Dr. Teresa Mares (Dept. of Anthropology) is conducting a multi-year ethnographic project on the food practices of Latino/a migrant workers in Vermont’s dairy industry to understand the incidence of food insecurity among these workers and better understand the practices and strategies that migrant households engage to access food. Since 2011, she has collaborated with Naomi Wolcott-MacCausland (UVM Extension) on the Huertas Project, which builds kitchen gardens with Latino/a migrant workers to increase access to fresh, culturally familiar foods.

Women in Kitchen, from UVM Library's Louis L. McAllister collection

Gender, Class, and Food

Dr. Amy Trubek (Dept. of Nutrition and Food Science), Dr. Felicia Kornbluh (Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program), and Dr. Teresa Mares (Dept. of Anthropology) are bringing together researchers who address social issues in the food system, including gender and social class. Learn more about their work.

Soda on grocery store shelf

A Penny an Ounce for Health

Dr. Rachel Johnson (Dept. of Nutrition and Food Science) and Dr. Jane Kolodinsky (Dept. of Community Development and Applied Economics) research the health and economic effects of sugar-sweetened beverage taxes. Watch a recording of their webinar from February, 2013.

John Barlow

A Bovine Question or Two

Dr. John Barlow (Dept. of Animal Science) studies host-pathogen interactions and the impact of infectious disease control interventions (e.g. vaccination and antimicrobial use) on cattle health. His work is motivated by practical concerns of the effects of dairy cattle health on food production systems.


Do they eat their veggies?

Dr. Rachel Johnson and Dr. Bethany Yon (Dept. of Nutrition and Food Science) are using a systems approach to develop a state-of-the-art tool to measure how many fruits and vegetables children eat at school. They plan to use this tool to determine the effect of the new National School Nutrition Program regulations on children's consumption of these foods.

A Box of Chocolates

Dr. Rocki-Lee DeWitt (School of Business Administration) looks at how commercial enterprises within this system seek to distinguish their business from other businesses in a food context. For example, she studies the paper-based packaging industry (e.g. the variety of boxes used for cereals and specialty chocolates).

Syrupy Sweet Studies

As Director of the UVM Proctor Maple Research Center, Dr. Timothy Perkins (Dept. of Plant Biology) and his team work with maple syrup producers to help them get the most out of their maple operations, to offer the best quality for consumers, and to help ensure that their harvest is sustainable in the long term.

Pablo Bose

New Farms for New Americans Study

Dr. Pablo Bose (Dept. of Geography) — in collaboration with Alisha Laramee (New Farms for New Americans (NFNA) Program Coordinator) — is currently researching the NFNA program and what it suggests about resettlement, identity, acculturation and sustainable agricultural livelihoods in the context of evolving demographic shifts.

Opportunities for Agriculture White Paper Series: A series of working papers from the Food System Research Collaborative, which aims to join on-campus and off-campus organizations in efforts to further food system research and enhance linkages to the work on the ground in Vermont and beyond.

Last modified December 14 2016 10:40 AM