Sustainable consumption: Reworking the Western Diet

TED Studies, created in collaboration with Wiley, are curated video collections — supplemented by rich educational materials — for students, educators and self-guided learners. In Reworking the Western Diet, speakers examine how that diet — processed, high in refined sugars, and heavy in corn, soy, meat and dairy — is making us and the environment sick. These TED Talks blaze the trail to sustainable farming and a more sensible diet. Relevant areas of interest, study and coursework include: sustainable agriculture, agricultural policy, food history, food science, environmental science, nutrition, culinary arts and horticulture.

Learning outcomes

TED's Reworking the Western Diet will provide learners with a deeper understanding of:

  • The historical, social, economic, and political forces that have played a role in shaping our modern food system
  • The environmental, economic, social and medical consequences of the Western diet
  • Specific ways of engaging with food that can counter the excesses of the industrial food system
  • Differing perspectives on sustainability and the most advisable approaches to a more sustainable food system
  • Alternative forms of agriculture like vertical farms and lab-grown animal proteins, and the extent to which these may contribute to greater food security
  • How thinking about food in a new way can lead to better personal and global health.

Relevant talks

Introductory essay

Begin Reworking the Western Diet with a fascinating read that gives context and clarity to the material.

About the educators

TED Studies professor: Amy Bentley

Amy Bentley is an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, New York University. Her co-authors, Michael Bulger, Boaz Hillebrand, Allison Mountjoy, and Stephanie Rogus, are 2013 graduates of the NYU food studies program, with a concentration in food systems.

About TED Studies

TED Studies created in partnership with
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Each TED Study offers a curated and sequenced set of TED Talks, along with specially commissioned materials for teaching and self-guided learning. Created by world class experts, they cover topics ranging from "Understanding Happiness" to "Covering World News" to "Ecofying Cities." An abbreviated version of TED Studies is offered here; the full curricula — including special modules on each talk with questions, assignments, key terms and recommended reading — are available for licensing to academic institutions, ministries of education, and media companies worldwide.

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