The production, supply, manufacture, retailing and final consumption of food represents one of the most significant spheres for the regulation of capitalist economies both in the North and the South. It also holds profound implications for the environment. This chapter, serving as a preface to case studies concerning sugar production in two regions, examines the particular contribution studies of food are making to the understanding of regulation and environmental sustainability. In particular, following on from chapter 3 it will ask how specific modes of social regulation have developed, and how these then begin to engender types of development which are unsustainable. The struggle to incorporate food into the wider study of modern capitalist development has been a major feature of recent rural and agrarian sociology. In doing so much of the work has attempted to apply aspects of regulation theory, and to a lesser extent, realist ontology. Part of the work of this study has been to trace the resulting trends.