Students graduating with a Food Systems degree at the University of Minnesota understand the social, economic and environmental components of food systems, and what drives food system change in our communities. While every student should understand the broader picture of the food systems they work with, there is also value in having expertise in a field. That is why students must choose a track that provides expertise in at least one body of food systems knowledge and teaches them to use discipline-specific tools to help solve problems.

See the requirements for this major, and specific sub-plans, in the University Catalog. Below are descriptions of each possible sub-plan.

Two working with plants

Organic and Local Food Production

In this track students focus on how to grow food organically, what that means, and how to market the products. This track helps students understand organic farming from the ground to market not just through traditional courses, but through a hands-on course that lets students get experience at Cornercopia, the on-campus student organic farm.

Some examples of courses taken by students on this track include: What Does It Mean to Be Green? Growing Organic; Agricultural Biochemistry; Food in History.

Woman bending down to care for saplings in field


Agroecology focuses on the interaction of food plants and their environment. This approach to the whole system can lead to the development of new systems that address problems faced in both conventional and organic farming. A variety of cutting-edge classes allow students to explore less conventional growing systems, such as aquaponics.

Some examples of courses taken by students on this track include: Plant Physiology; Basic Soil Science; Ecology of Managed Systems; Edible Landscapes.

Child holding up an apple

Consumers and Markets

Food systems don’t end after food is harvested from the ground. Through this track students can learn more about food safety, nutrition, and the business aspects of food marketing and finance management. Community partnerships give you the opportunity to work with local businesses to solve problems they face in these areas.

Examples of courses taken by students on this track include: A Food Systems Approach to Cooking; Business Economics & Strategy; Food Safety Risk and Technology.

Man squatting in a field of tall grasses

Individualized Studies

The relationship between the earth, the food we grow, and the people who eat it is changing all the time, and we realize that sometimes your studies take you in a different direction than the tracks laid out here. That’s why the Food Systems major has the option to create your own focus in food systems.

You'll work closely with a faculty advisor to talk about your goals for the future, figure out the courses that work best to achieve your goals, and create an approved course plan to follow during your time at the University of Minnesota.