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Welcome to Sustainable Food Processing at Iowa State University

three circles graphic representing sustainable food initiatiativeAbout this Initiative

In October of 2011 the global population exceeded 7 billion persons.  Global population continues to rise, as does purchasing power (due to political and economic changes over the last several decades).  During the past 50 years alone, the global economy has increased five-fold, the world’s population has doubled, and world energy use has more than tripled.   Consumer expectations and demands are also increasing, and consumption of disposable, durable, and industrial goods are all growing at escalating rates.

Arguably, the most critical needs for the coming century are increasing demands for food, water, and energy, all of which are intimately linked.

Increased production, processing, transportation, and consumption of food and other goods have local, regional, and global effects, including air, water, and soil pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, and other adverse climate impacts.

As we plan for humanity’s future, we must develop technologies and approaches that can meet our growing needs, will enable us to sustain and improve the environment, and are economically viable.

This initiative has been established pursue research, education, and outreach focused on improving sustainability in the food supply chain, with a special emphasis on food processing.  Additionally we will serve as an online resource for information about sustainability in food systems.

Research Objectives

Some of the research that we pursue includes:

  • Understanding and improving environmental performance throughout the food supply chain, from agricultural production all the way through the consumer to the end of life for various food products.
  • Improving efficiencies throughout the food supply chain.
  • Life cycle assessments and techno-economic analyses of various segments of the food supply chain.
  • Assessing the carbon and energy footprints of food delivery logistics.
Sustainable, Healthy, & Resilient Food Systems


Educational Objectives

In addition to research, we also have several educational activities, including:

  • Long-term study mobility for upper division US undergraduate students and French graduate students through internships of 2 to 6 months.
  • Short-term study mobility for US undergraduate and graduate students through a Study Abroad Program.
  • Development of a distance education curriculum focused on sustainable food technologies that preserve the nutritional quality of foods, by offering online workshops and a proposed online Certificate in Nutrition and Sustainability of Food and Biological Processing.
  • Research collaborations including the mobility of scientists, PhD students, post-doctoral research associates, and faculty members.
  • Use of video conferencing technologies to enhance cross-institution faculty and student interactions, which will contribute to increased international perspectives.