Tim Benedict – Sustainable Food

Tim BenedictTim grew up in Africa and the Middle East as his parents (U of Chicago archeologists) were studying humanity’s transition from hunting/gathering to farming – the Neolithic Revolution. After years of wandering from Australia to Zimbabwe, Tim settled in the Pacific Northwest where he earned his master’s degree in environmental studies at The Evergreen State College where he worked with the Washington State Bioenergy Team. Not being able to sit still very long, Tim’s work has included bioremediation research, mycology, waste-to-fuel projects, environmental education, jaguar tracking and indigenous advocacy. As a curriculum designer for USDA projects, he developed an open-source course on sustainable agriculture, freely downloadable at agenergyia.org. Having maintained his parent’s interest in the evolution of agriculture, Tim now lives on the old family farm west of Chicago where he is developing a permaculture farm, beekeeping and burning his pant legs off trying to restore prairie habitat for a heard of newly reintroduced wild bison. Tim works as the sustainability director for a small Chicagoland company and loves to discuss ecology, sustainability, food and the cosmos …especially with inquisitive UIC students.


“We are what we eat” is not only true for our physical wellbeing but it also applies to the health and resilience of our communities and natural environment. This class will explore the ecological, social and economic consequences of our rapidly evolving food system. We will consider the pros and cons of industrial-scale agriculture and the need to provide for the Earth’s growing population while still sustaining its resources. Alternative approaches will be examined, including sustainability efforts in and around Chicago. Issues of discussion will include agricultural practices, environmental impacts, energy use, social equity, food deserts, GMO labeling and community empowerment. This will be an interactive discussion so please review the suggested readings and bring your questions and viewpoints to class.


Pre-Reading Assignment:

A manifesto for solving the global food crisis: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/food-blog/2014/oct/16/world-food-day-manifesto-global-food-crisis

We’ve Missed the Entire Point About GMO Food — A Farmer Explains Why: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/forrest-pritchard/weve-missed-the-entire-point-about-gmo-food—-a-farmer-explains-why_b_8153978.html

Additional Resources:

Sustainable City: Chicago Community Gardens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_NMcS__h5Y

Will Allen, Growing Power: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EpTWQWx1MQ

EAT to LIVE Englewood: http://everythinggoode2l.org/

Wes Jackson radio interview: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113766846