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Mary Hendrickson

Associate Professor of Rural Sociology, University of Missouri-Columbia

I’m a rural sociologist whose passion is making the world a better place through food. The way we produce and consume food had been changing rapidly over the past few decades for both consumers and producers. For me, food and agriculture are at the nexus of critical 21st century issues of climate change, water scarcity, hunger and energy use.

I seek to contribute to the robust discussion among scholars, policy-makers and citizens about the positive and negative implications of food system changes for farmers, rural communities, the overall environment, and for the health of our population. My scholarship focuses on the social and economic organization of different types of food systems, the social, ecological and economic impacts of that organization, and options for changing how we organize the food system. I’m really interested in how sustainable food systems can make all of our lives better and make us more resilient in the face of our changing climate.

I spent 15 years working to create local food systems in the state of Missouri through University of Missouri Extension where I gained valuable on the ground experience in transforming food systems. I worked extensively with community groups to increase the amount of fresh, flavorful and nutritious food available by providing technical assistance on marketing, business planning, feasibility studies, policy, food safety and consumer preferences to farmers and community groups.

I studied the Kansas City Food Circle in its early stages, helped write grants for cooperatives, and was involved in the creation of the Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition. In 2012, I moved to research and teaching full-time. I currently teach courses on sustainable food and farming systems at MU.