Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Global Studies Program


Dr. Patrice Franko

Second Advisor

Dr. Nadia El-Shaarawi


In this thesis I argue that improving diet in communities depends on building nutritional knowledge. In examining the role of community level organizations, I look specifically at how knowledge is conveyed through agriculture and gastronomy. This project analyzes how civil society organizations work to reintegrate individuals into food systems, compelling consumers to take agency over their diets and pursue better livelihoods. The industrialization of food systems has fundamentally changed the way humans connect with food and diet. In Colombia, internal displacements and urban migration have accelerated a loss of connection with the land and food processes. At the same time, Colombia and countries around the world suffer from epidemic rates of obesity and non-communicable disease. The education processes and community initiatives introduced by organizations seek to build nutritional knowledge and connect people to food systems. Through interviews with community members and civil society leaders, I paint a picture of what knowledge-based diet interventions look like in Medellín and Bogotá. The actions of organizations at the community level represent one tool in a landscape of interventions needed to reverse diet-related disease. Interventions range from policy changes at the government level to broad changes across corporate food systems. This project focuses specifically on the unique positioning of civil society. In creating my argument for how dietary changes can serve as a vector for social change, I also unpack the historical context shaping the current food and nutrition landscape and the implications that history has for current interventions. In contrast to humanitarian efforts aimed at providing temporary solutions to endemic issues of poverty and malnutrition, I look at the ways organizations foster agency through education and community building.


NGOs, Nutrition, Colombia, Food, health interventions, social mobility