Abstract: Transformative change in food systems is needed to meet globally agreed-upon sustainability goals. While these agreements, like the Sustainable Development Goals, provide excellent targets, they say little about pathways to achieve them. In the same way, the degree of change that is required is very context dependent: in some cases transformation is needed, in others gradual change, in others the ability to keep options open to cope or adapt. Global modeling for sustainability rarely imagines or accounts for the type of changes needed to build a more resilient food system: transforming diets and production systems that can thrive in a changing world. Understanding how local successes, vulnerabilities and capacities for change at a global scale come together helps focus our attention on the kind of change needed in different contexts.