Meet affiliated faculty Chrissie Bausch

Julia( Chrissie) Bausch in front of Agave

The Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems focuses on innovative ideas and solutions to the many challenges of current food systems. In this series, we’re sitting down with the Swette Center affiliated faculty to catch up on food systems, innovation and what makes a good meal. See the rest of the series on our Food Systems Profiles page.

Read on for an interview with Julia (Chrissie) Bausch, postdoctoral scholar with the Kyl Center for Water Policy at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

Question: How did you get interested in food systems issues?

Answer: As an undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, I worked on a project at the MesoAmerican Research Center to document biodiversity on traditional Maya farms in Belize and Guatemala. I got to spend a lot of time with the farmers, and I was just blown away at how complex their work is, and how diverse and interdisciplinary their knowledges and skill sets are.

I developed a real respect for farmers, and concern for the challenges that farmers and our food systems face. This led me to the School of Sustainability to study the intersections among rural development, conservation and food security. I have been doing research on agriculture and sustainability ever since!

Q: Share a glimpse of your current research and how it applies to food systems transformation.

A: In peri-urban Mexico City, I am researching how conservation incentives (payments for ecosystem services) affect land-use decisions in agrarian communities (ejidos, comunidades) whose lands are under urbanization pressure. It applies to food systems transformation in that it explores how policies for sustainability unrelated to food (e.g., water, environmental quality) can undermine local food systems by supporting land use and livelihood activities (e.g., ecotourism, forest restoration) that encourage a transition away from agriculture.

Q: What’s an innovation in the food systems world that you’re excited about?

A: I am excited that composting is being practiced more widely and getting more policy support! Food waste is such an important issue that touches on so many other dimensions of the food system, and one that we already have a lot of knowledge and tools to address.

Q: What is the best meal you’ve ever had?

A: I have been so lucky to have enjoyed a lot of incredible food, but a meal that really stands out was during one of my first research visits to Mexico. On a weekend, my PhD advisor Hallie Eakin took me to Puebla to visit the family that she had stayed with during her dissertation fieldwork. They prepared this incredible feast with handmade tortillas, squash flower quesadillas, beans, salsa, and on and on. It was simple food that was so expertly and deliciously prepared, shared with great company!

Courses taught related to food systems:
SOS 327 (Sustainable Food and Farms)

Featured Publications:
Bausch, J.C., Eakin, H., & Lerner, A. M. (2018). Adaptation for Whom to What? Challenges and opportunities in agriculture-urban collaboration for climate change adaptation. In S. Hughes, E. Chu, & S. Mason (Eds.), Urban Climate Change Governance: A Global Perspective on Innovative Approaches (pp. 299-324): Springer International Publishing. DOI 978-3-319-65003-6_15

Bausch, J.C., Eakin, H., Smith-Heisters, S., White, D.D., York, A.M, Rubiños, C., & Aggarwal, R.M. (2015). Development pathways at the agriculture-urban interface: the case of Central Arizona. Agriculture and Human Values. 32(4), 743-759. DOI 10.1007/s10460-015-9589-8