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UW Extension Releases Three Bulletins in Its ‘The Sustainable Diet Series’

April 6, 2022
multi-colored corn
Indian corn grown on the Wind River Indian Reservation is being dried for storage. A new series of bulletin publications from UW Extension and other partners highlights various aspects of sustainable food systems and diets. (UW Extension Photo)

University of Wyoming Extension recently released three bulletin publications in its “The Sustainable Diet Series” that focus on dietary diversity, biodiversity in the food system and food sovereignty.

“I would stress that these three topics -- biodiversity, dietary diversity and food sovereignty -- are important parts of considering sustainable food systems and sustainable diets,” says Selena Gerace, a research scientist in the UW School of Energy Resources. “The way we grow our food, the food we choose to eat and our relationship to food have an impact on our health and the health of our ecosystems. There are important choices that we each make every day -- as individuals and as members of organizations -- that can impact overall health and well-being for ourselves and others.”

Dietary diversity is the variety of foods and food groups in a person’s or household’s diet. Dietary diversity is one way to assess the nutritional quality or adequacy of diets and reflects access to a variety of foods.

Biodiversity, or biological diversity, is the variety of living things in the world or in a particular ecosystem, including agro-ecosystems such as farms and fisheries. Within the food system, biodiversity includes all of the plants, animals and microorganisms at the genetic, species and landscape levels where food is procured and produced.

Food sovereignty has a strong focus on localizing food systems where food providers have control over their resources and put into question issues of control and social justice.

“Food sovereignty is about having the right to healthy and culturally appropriate food, and it focuses on localizing food systems. So, food sovereignty is an important concept for all of us that participate in the food system,” Gerace says. “For people in Laramie, that could include growing our own food in a backyard garden; purchasing local produce from the farmers market; or just being able to afford and access a variety of healthy, sustainably grown foods from the store.”

The bulletins are a collaboration among Montana State University’s Food and Health Lab, UW Extension and the extension program at Salish Kootenai College, a private, tribal land-grant community college in Pablo, Mont. The partnership came about through the WAFERx Project, a National Science Foundation Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)-funded project that is almost complete.

The project focuses on evaluating the implications of adopting bioenergy with carbon capture and storage in the Upper Missouri River Basin to mitigate climate change. One portion of the project examined the potential trade-offs bioenergy production could pose to food production and, as part of that, the importance of sustainable food systems, Gerace says.

To read the “Dietary Diversity” bulletin, go to www.wyoextension.org/agpubs/pubs/B-1378-1-dietary-diversity-web.pdf.

To read the “Biodiversity in the Food System” bulletin, go to www.wyoextension.org/agpubs/pubs/B-1378-2-biodiversity-web.pdf

To read the “Food Sovereignty” bulletin, go to www.wyoextension.org/agpubs/pubs/B-1378-3-food-sovereignty-web.pdf.

For more information, call Gerace at (307) 766-6816 or email sgerace@uwyo.edu.

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