Weaving disciplines to conceptualize a regenerative food system





Food Systems, Biomimicry, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Arid Regions, Indigenous Knowledge


Traditional and Indigenous practices worldwide have aimed to create sustainable and regenerative food systems guided by nature and based on reciprocal relationships between humans and nonhumans. Unfortunately, not all sustainable food system approaches, while striving for less harm rather than a net-positive impact, have considered indigenous knowledge or justice for small-scale producers and their communities. This paper contextualizes and conceptualizes a regenerative food system that addresses harm to the planet and people while creating a net positive impact by integrating a different research and practice framework. First, we offer a positionality statement, followed by our definition and characterization of a regenerative food system; then we compare and contrast conventional and sustainable approaches, making a case for the need to create space for a regenerative food system. Next, we provide a framework of 13 principles for a regenerative food system by weaving the nature-inspired biomimicry framework of Life’s Principles (LPs) with Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) principles, while verifying these practices as they are used among small-scale Indigenous producers from selected arid regions, primarily the U.S. Southwest.


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Author Biographies

Sara El-Sayed, Arizona State University

Post-doctoral Scholar, School for the Future of Innovation in Society

Scott Cloutier, Arizona State University

Assistant Professor, School of Sustainability



How to Cite

El-Sayed, S., & Cloutier, S. (2022). Weaving disciplines to conceptualize a regenerative food system. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 11(2), 23–51. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2022.112.003

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