What would it take for urban dwellers to sort food waste?

What would it take for households to pre-sort their waste so it can be properly managed? A literature review published in the Journal of Cleaner Production delves into the many social factors that contribute to successful waste management in urban areas. It provides a useful guide for any city willing to improve its food waste management policies.

What we (don’t) know about the sustainability of short food chains

Short food chains are central in the collective imagination of local food activists and supporting them is the backbone of many local food policies. However, what does scientific literature actually say about their impacts? In a paper published in Sustainability, Yuna Chiffoleau and Tara Dourian, from INRAE (France), show that despite these supply chains playing a major role in the local food discourse, a lot is yet to understand about their actual impacts

What can we do with foodshed analysis?

Since the late 1970s, foodshed analysis has been used to estimate and examine links between rural food production and urban consumption. A recent paper published in Environmental Research Letters reviews existing research and provides recommendations to improve methodologies and better integrate such studies in urban food policies. Why do we need such studies? Are they comparable? What could be done to improve them?

Navigating the sinuous path of urban food strategies

Toronto is one of the star cities in urban food policies. What can other cities learn from their elder sister? In an article published in the Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, Alessandra Manganelli compares Toronto’s long path with Brussels’ more recent one. She shows that developing urban food policies is a constant re-adjustment process, where food actors need to re-invent themselves, recast their values, or bring in new narratives as the movement develops. However, this should not only be seen as a burden. It can also be an opportunity for urban food movements to become reflexive and widen the scope of their action.

What would it take to protect farming close to cities?

Peri-urban farmland is under constant pressure from urbanisation. And it is disappearing at worrying rates. What would it take to protect it? And what can we learn from countries that have tried to do so? In a review article published in Land, researchers from the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment look more closely at success and failure factors for farmland protection policies in developed countries.

Are food Commons the next innovation pathway for urban food policies?

The concept of “commons” is one of these ideas that is difficult to pin down: what exactly are commons? And what do they have to do with food? In the “Routledge Handbook of Food as a Commons”, engaged scholars and activists from different backgrounds introduce us to this notion and give us a peak into what food policies relying on the premise that food is a commons could look like.

The two sides of participation in urban food policy

In many countries around the globe, urban food policies were born in an era of increased public participation in local policymaking. However, food raises specific questions when it comes to participation. Indeed, how do you foster participation around a topic that is new to local actors? A topic you, as a municipality, are not yet an expert in? An article published in Politics and Governance analyses participation at the onset of local food policy in the city of Ede, in the Netherlands. Researchers looked at the way local civil servants in charge of developing food policy viewed both their role and that of non-governmental actors. They unveiled a tension between two very different ways to see what participation is about.

What do your policy documents reveal about your urban food action?

As more and more cities around the world are adopting formal food policy strategies, researchers are looking in more details into what cities say they’ll be doing, and how. Two papers have recently analysed closely these policy documents. They looked at what is in them, but also what is not. Indeed, looking at policy documents reveals interesting gaps in current urban food policies.

What should the next generation of urban food policies look like?

In the 2000’s, food was a stranger to urban policy. Twenty years later, it is now a hot topic. It is a great time, then, to take stock and think about the next generation of urban food policies. A Special Issue of the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development gathers insights from the implementation of local food policies across the United States and Canada. It shows that local governments cannot rest on their laurels, as we still have a long way to go to achieve fair and sustainable food systems.