Critical food systems education (CFSE): educating for food sovereignty

David Meek, Rebecca Tarlau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Food systems education can help individuals and communities transition to more sustainable food systems. Despite the growing scholarship on food systems education, there is a paucity of critical perspectives on its pedagogical methods, learning outcomes, and overarching objectives. This article addresses this gap by integrating insights from critical pedagogy, food justice, food sovereignty, and agroecology, developing a new synthetic area of study and research entitled critical food systems education (CFSE). CFSE is composed of a tripartite perspective, consisting of praxis, policy, and pedagogy. This framework is guided by the following overarching question: How can food systems education prepare individuals and teachers to transform the food system, and help communities attain food sovereignty? Following a review of the food systems education literature, we highlight the constraints of the depoliticized approach by drawing attention to its race and class-based assumptions. We then construct a definition of CFSE, and articulate the theoretical and practical cornerstones of this perspective, which are drawn from critical pedagogy, food justice, food sovereignty, and agroecology. A case study of a seed sovereignty project at a vocational high school associated with Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement is used to exemplify how CFSE can contribute to educating for food sovereignty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-260
Number of pages24
JournalAgroecology and Sustainable Food Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 15 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Development
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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