Food: Sustainability and Security

DISCOVER What's New in the Job Market

Food Sustainability: The term ''sustainable agriculture'' means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will over the long-term: 

  • Satisfy human food and fiber needs. 
  • Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculture economy depends. 
  • Make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls. 
  • Sustain the economic viability of farm operations. 
  • Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole. 

  -National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA

Food Security: The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. Commonly, the concept of food security is defined as including both physical and economic access to food that meets people's dietary needs as well as their food preferences. -World Health Organization



Sustainable Futures: Taylor Shellfish Farm (6:41) Examines the challenges and rewards of sustainable aquaculture through interviews with the Farm Manager and Public Affairs Manager of Washington State's Taylor Shellfish Farm.


Global Food Security (4:27) Narrated by Matt Damon and produced by Goodspot in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State, this video takes a breath-catching look at how global food security affects us all.





  • 10 Top Careers in the Organic Industry: Examining careers such as Organic Handler, Organic Niche Retailer, and Organic Restaurateur, this article by Jennifer Chait explores the top 10 jobs in this emerging industry.


ENGAGE With Cal Poly Connections

Programs and Courses

  • POLS 333, World Food Systems - Integrated, interdisciplinary study of the technologies of global food production, environmental and social issues related to the application of those technologies, and moral and ethical issues associated with global food production and distribution. Prerequisites: Junior standing and completion of GE Area B, or consent of instructor. 
  • AG 315, Organic Agriculture - Origins, application, regulation and technology of organic agriculture. Theoretical and practical issues surrounding organic agriculture from a cross-disciplinary perspective. Topics include the history of the organic movement; current regulation and certification; and field management practices and technologies. Prerequisites: Junior standing and completion of GE Area B. 
  • Cal Poly Real Food Collaborative - The Real Food Collaborative is a group of students who are passionate about working with, learning about, and improving our food system, specifically at Cal Poly. We see strong potential at Cal Poly to increase both demand and availability of real food on campus.  
  • Cal Poly Irrigation Training and Research Center (ITRC) - A center of excellence for irrigation research, training and direct technical assistance housed within the Cal Poly BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department. 
  • Cal Poly Center for Sustainability - The Center is a vital auxiliary unit within the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) that fosters initiatives for sustainability. Using a holistic approach to today’s challenges and opportunities in agriculture and the management of natural resources, the Center seeks to strengthen synergistic linkages across disciplines to provide a robust framework supporting 'Agriculture for Tomorrow.'


Local Community Connections

  • City Farm SLO - a 501(c)3 non-profit based in San Luis Obispo, this organization works to build local, sustainable and fair food systems by connecting community members to the abundance of local food and farming in the County. CCG strives to bridge the gap between what people eat and where it comes from and in doing so, to strengthen the food culture and relationship people have with their food.  
  • SLO County Food System Coalition - a community group working to create a sustainable food system that is equitable, profitable, resilient, and health-promoting. 
  • GleanSLO - Through the act of harvesting and sharing food, GleanSLO seeks to connect and nourish the community to build stronger relationships and a deeper appreciation for food.


ENHANCE Your Involvment in the Field

Professional Connections

  • Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture - The mission of the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to increase food security and reduce hunger in partnership with cooperating organizations by providing children and needy people access to food, a healthful diet, and nutrition education in a manner that supports American agriculture and inspires public confidence. 
  • Food & Water Watch - Works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainably produced. Follow this link to find out more about jobs and internships with Food & Water Watch. 
  • Sustainable Agriculture Education Association (SAEA) - Is dedicated to promoting the teaching and learning of sustainable agriculture. This organization also provides links to job listing sites for general sustainable agriculture jobs, academic positions, government jobs, and farm internships/apprenticeships. 
  • Green Restaurant Network - This LinkedIn group is a network of food and restaurant professionals interested in sustainability and sharing their knowledge, successes, and failures as they "green" their restaurants.   
  • Food Security - LinkedIn group for food security professionals and students.


Internship Opportunities

  • Cal Poly Sustainable Stewards - The Sustainable Stewardship interns work with faculty and staff, the Agricultural Operations Department and University Facilities Services, to conserve water, energy, and resources and protect the environment. The program offers many possibilities for students to become involved in assessing, implementing and monitoring improvements designed to enhance the sustainability of Cal Poly's vast natural and physical resources. 
  • Food Research and Action Center Internship Program - The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) is the leading national organization working to improve public policy to eradicate hunger and under-nutrition in the United States. FRAC engages in research, analysis, training, technical assistance, advocacy, and public education to improve public nutrition programs and broaden their reach. 
  • ATTRA Sustainable Farming Internships and Apprenticeships - This directory of on-the-job learning opportunities in sustainable and organic agriculture has been published since 1989 as a tool to help farmers and apprentices connect with each other. It is available for farms in the U.S and its territories.


ACHIEVE Career Success

Example Job Titles

  • Agronomist 
  • Crop Scout 
  • Crop Specialist 
  • Environmental Specialist 
  • Farm Management Specialist 
  • Field Representative 
  • Land Use Specialist 
  • Plant Breeder 
  • Plant Geneticist 
  • Principal Scientist/Apiologist 
  • Researcher 
  • Resource Economist Consultant 
  • Soil Conservationist 
  • Soil Scientist 
  • Soil Surveyor


Job Listing Links

Related Content