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Despite producing an unprecedented quantity of food worldwide, industrial agricultural systems also exacerbate biodiversity loss, soil and water degradation, and climate change. University of Michigan experts are examining the nexus between modern food systems and greenhouse gas emissions, and identifying more sustainable production approaches based on agroecology. Key to this work are researchers at the Sustainable Food Systems Initiative and the Center for Sustainable Systems who are advancing the scientific basis for sustainable and resilient food systems.

News and Impact

University of Michigan researchers, including Tim Fairley-Wax, a research lab specialist associate, are working on a new biodigester that converts organic solid waste from trash and wastewater into renewable methane. The digester mirrors the ability of a cow’s stomach to efficiently break down substances. Photo: Robert Coelius/Michigan Engineering
Energy from waste: $6.8 million for cow-inspired biodigesters
Andrew Gayle, a graduate student research assistant, and Alexander Hill, a graduate student instructor, monitor a new reactor designed to produce ammonia for fertilizer without relying on fossil fuels. Image credit: Robert Coelius, Michigan Engineering
$2M to replace fossil fuels with solar power in fertilizer production
food samples
Small changes in diet could help you live healthier, more sustainably
In the journal Nature Food, researchers from the University of Michigan and Tulane University present a “water scarcity footprint” that measures the water-use impacts of U.S. diets, taking into account regional variations in water scarcity. Image credit: Dave Brenner, U-M School for Environment and Sustainability
Water scarcity footprint reveals impacts of individual dietary choices in US
Alyssa Paredes
All signs point to bananas
diagram demonstrating the different analysis areas of the president's commission on carbon neutrality
U-M carbon neutrality commission submits final recommendations
solar panels on an arid terrain
U-M Carbon Neutrality Acceleration Program awards $1.75M in grants to seven research projects
Several cows in a barn
Air pollution impacts on Latinx communities in California caused by beef production
Ajay Varadharajan
Tracking the carbon footprint of food
Campus Farm team taking a walk to plan the week and learn about pests and diseases affecting the plants.
Group analyzing U-M food’s role in greenhouse gas reduction
Author and activist Anna Lappé in front of a screen with a slide indicating the increase in global pesticide use
Island Earth: Chemicals, Climate, and the Future of Eating
Illustration of a bowl of rice with chopsticks, an avocado, lettuce, and a tomato
Lower-carbon diets aren’t just good for the planet, they’re also healthier
Carrots, walnuts, greens, raspberries, and tomatoes
Greenhouse gas emissions and energy use associated with production of individual self-selected US diets