Local Foods and Sustainable Agriculture

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Interest in local foods and sustainable agriculture is growing rapidly across the country. President Obama and the First Lady have developed new initiatives focused on healthy eating and obesity prevention through activities like the White House Garden.  Activity in North Carolina is no exception to this trend. Research at UNC and at the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention is addressing local foods issues and their connection to public health outcomes.


Experts from HPDP are called upon regularly to serve on key national, state and regional committees and taskforces.  For example, Dr. Alice Ammerman, Center Director and professor of Nutrition, was appointed to serve on the North Carolina Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council.  Dr. Ammerman leads collaborative initiatives across the country working with academic and public health researchers to address policy barriers and opportunities to helping people access more fresh fruits and vegetables.


Dr. Molly De Marco, PhD, MPH, is a Research Fellow and Project Director with HPDP working in our Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Unit and engaged as key staff on the Community Academic Resources for Engaged Scholarship (CARES) Program of the North Carolina Translational Research and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute, home of UNC’s Clinical and Translational Science (CTSA) Award. Her primary area of research is the local food system and it’s link to food access for low-income populations. She is a co-investigator on the Faith, Farming, and the Future (R21) grant examining the role of gardening and food system education on health outcomes for rural, African American youth with her community research partners in Warren County, North
Carolina. She co-developed and teaches each Spring term Nutrition 245, Sustainable, Local Food Systems – Intersection of Local Foods and Public Health, a service learning course. With TraCS CARES, she facilitates linkages between community members and academics with similar research interests. She is also co-investigator and lead evaluator for the current Administrative Supplement to UNC’s Clinical and Translational Science (CTSA) Award that is developing and piloting the CBPR charrettes and the Community Review Boards in partnership with Vanderbilt University. She is a co-investigator on the Center to Reduce CVD Disparities: Genes, Clinics and Communities (P-50) assessing the role of neighborhood context and social determinants of health on cardiovascular disease risk.

Community Engagement

Researchers at the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention continue to support community-based organizations working on sustainable food systems.  For example, HPDP provides consultation and internship management to the Carrboro Farmers Market as well as other direct market venues.  In addition, marketing experts consult to farmers and farm-based businesses on developing viable marketing plans.