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The Role of Agricultural Systems in Teaching Kitchens: An Integrative Review and Thoughts for the Future

Authors: Cole, A., Pethan, J., & Evans, J. (2023)


Diet-related chronic disease is a public health epidemic in the United States. Concurrently, conventional agricultural and food production methods deplete the nutritional content of many foods, sever connections between people and the origin of their food, and play a significant role in climate change. Paradoxically, despite an abundance of available food in the US, many households are unable to afford or attain a healthful diet. The linkages between agriculture, health, and nutrition are undeniable, yet conventional agriculture and healthcare systems tend to operate in silos, compounding these pressing challenges. Operating teaching kitchens in collaboration with local agriculture, including farms, community gardens, vertical farms, and urban agriculture, has the potential to catalyze a movement that emphasizes the role of the food system in promoting human and planetary health, building resilient communities, and encouraging cross-disciplinary collaboration. This paper reviews the current state of agricultural systems, food is medicine, consumer behavior, and the roles within these sectors. This is followed by a series of case studies that fill the gaps between TKs and agriculture. The authors summarize opportunities to combine the knowledge and resources of teaching kitchens and agriculture programs, as well as challenges that may arise along the way.


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