Food is essential to the survival of humanity. Our ability to live healthy, peaceful, and dignified lives, to express ourselves, to sustain our cultures, and to care for our communities now and in the future requires that food be produced, processed, distributed, and consumed sustainably and equitably. The current food system, however, is far from reaching these goals. In fact, we are facing a global food crisis, with almost one billion people suffering from hunger and two billion struggling with malnutrition linked to nutrient deficiencies and obesity.
This crisis is environmental, political, economic, social, and cultural. While climate change, soil erosion, ocean acidification, water shortages, and other forms of environmental degradation threaten food production, the contemporary high-input industrial food system also contributes to these threats. This system has been shaped by political and economic factors that have encouraged monoculture and overfishing, promoted trade liberalization, and empowered transnational corporations at the expense of small farmers, fishers, producers, retailers, and consumers. As urbanization continues to rise globally, food consumption has become increasingly disconnected from production, eradicating the cultural knowledge, traditional practices, and local livelihoods that hold invaluable insight for a more equitable and sustainable food system.
The purpose of the BFF Center is to support interdisciplinary research to inform better food futures. Specifically, we aim to encourage action-oriented research that investigates both the scientific underpinnings and social viability of low-input solutions to increase food security, support food livelihoods, and reduce the environmental footprint of food.
Our focus is primarily on community-based, local, and regional solutions that promote environmental sustainability and foster food sovereignty. Given our unique location on the US-Mexico border, the center’s activities will focus primarily on projects taking place in urban, rural, and coastal areas on both sides of the border and involving Indigenous and immigrant communities in the region.
The mission of the BFF Center is to support interdisciplinary collaborative research to promote food security, sovereignty, and sustainability, with a focus on the US/Mexico border region. We seek to advance the understanding of diverse food, agricultural, and fishing practices and their potential for building more sustainable and equitable regional food systems in which all people have access to healthy, affordable, and sustainably grown food. Through research, outreach, and engagement, we provide high-impact learning opportunities for students and support food practitioners and community leaders in adopting solutions for better food futures.
The San Diego-Tijuana border region (including core urban areas, coastal waters, and farmlands) is home to a great variety of agricultural and fishing activities, ranging from small scale operations to large-scale export-oriented exploitations. In San Diego County alone, more than one out of ten jobs are found in food and agriculture industries. Yet, this economically vibrant and culturally rich food landscape is threatened by environmental pressure and struggling to ensure food security and decent working conditions for all.
As a recognized leader in driving innovation, engagement, collaboration, and scholarship, San Diego State University is becoming a forerunner in generating and disseminating transformational research that would help our region transition towards more sustainable and equitable food and agricultural practice that protect our valuable resources, support diverse food livelihoods, and improve access to healthy, affordable, sustainable, and culturally appropriate food for all. The BFF Center will help realize this vision by serving as a catalyst for research collaborations between SDSU faculty and students and our community partners and communicating our findings to a broad audience of practitioners and policymakers via publications, public events, and conferences.