The food system is currently in the midst of a transformation in which health and sustainability are emerging as the dominant desired characteristics of how we grow, produce, and distribute food. There is also a growing recognition among many stakeholders throughout the food and agricultural value chain that there is a need to think “beyond sustainability” toward designing and implementing a food system that is not only able to sustain itself over time, but is also focused on regenerative strategies that improve our natural and human ecosystems. Additionally, we are seeing a growing awareness that the food system is not merely the sum of its parts, but that all parts of the system relate to and affect one another in complex and sometimes indirect ways. The statistics that define our current food production system are sobering. We have a food system that uses more water and land than any other industry. The United Nations estimates that, at our current rate of soil degradation, we have approximately 60 years of topsoil remaining — and it takes 1,000 years to generate 3 centimeters. There are now more adults who are obese than underweight, according to researchers at Imperial College London, although the number of underweight individuals has risen by over 100 million in the last forty years. There’s widespread recognition that this state of play is untenable and unconscionable, and that we must think in radically different ways about how we grow, produce, and distribute food. The good news is that this transition toward a new food system is already underway, and is taking place in cities and communities, in boardrooms and universities around the world. To understand how we arrived at this moment in time, we need to look back at the evolution of our food systems. FS6 has been quoted and written about widely for our perspective on this evolution, since it provides an important framework for how systems evolve. To summarize, we believe that the food system is a very complex and highly interconnected set of industries and trajectories - ranging from inputs and food production, to processing, distribution, retail, and through to human health - all of which influence each other as we move through time. This holistic/systems view is important, as it puts the emphasis on the overall system, and the elements of the industry that are greater than the sum of its parts, rather than focusing on the narrower view of each specific sector as separate and unaffected by the others. The FS6 theory is built around the idea that we’ve transitioned through five different food systems throughout human history. Our first food system, FS1, goes back as far as our species - hundreds of thousands of years, at least. This hunter/gatherer system served us well until about 10,000 years ago, when we were driven to move away from a nomadic lifestyle to one of settlement and development of agriculture, which we identify as the next food system, FS2. Over time, based on the need for “better” food, we learned that we could select for desirable traits in both plants and animals. This allowed us to optimize for flavor, adapt to varying climates, protect against pests, and maximize yield. Selecting for flavor was actually quite important because human taste buds are one of the best sensors of nutrients. This advanced system is what we refer to as Food System 3, and is best represented by the work of Gregor Mendel in the mid-nineteenth century. Following the end of World War II, we had the need to repurpose the large ammonia production plants that had previously been used to produce explosives. We also found enormous efficiencies in petroleum-based agriculture - both to produce fertilizers and pesticides, as well as to produce huge labor efficiencies with petroleum-based farm equipment. It was in this period that we selected for yield, including pest resistance, and no longer for flavor. This was our next food system (FS4). Finally, and only in the last thirty to forty years, based on the need for better efficiency, have we shifted to a food system that is optimized for shelf life, logistics, and maximizing the economics (primarily for market participants who have the power to drive the system in their favor). In this, Food System 5, produce is selected to look cosmetically good while flavor is often an added element introduced at the processing stage. Because flavor is managed separately from food production, the nutrients that produce the flavor, which our taste buds evolved to detect, have been largely ignored. This is why many foods today lack the nutrients humans need to thrive. The primary consumer value that FS5 is optimized for is convenience. Maybe more than any other country on earth, we in the US are infatuated with convenience not to mention the many pressures and stresses around making time for everything we want to do, and, for many people, for working multiple jobs. Convenience does play well with cost efficiency in the supply chain, but the nutrient density and general healthfulness of food ends up being severely compromised. While each of the aforementioned food systems still exist somewhere in the world, the Fifth Food System is the dominant one in the US today. It is also the predominant system being exported to other countries. Due to this, identifying opportunities to improve the operating system in the US has significant implications for other countries. Similarly, as the focus on greater transparency and knowledge about supply chains increases, it will be vital to consider the impacts of certain kinds of production systems around the world and to lift up the ones focused on the characteristics we envision within Food System 6. It is at this point that we approach the idea of Food System 6. Our world is poised for another transformation and we believe that there’s an opportunity now to usher in new food system that is built to improve environmental, physical and social health. In order to do this, we need to both invest in those disrupting the entire paradigm of FS5, while also working closely with the leaders of FS5 who are leaning into the positive transformation of our food system. As a collaborative and innovative community, we have the power to increase the overall health and wellbeing of people and communities around the world.