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.
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.
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.
Food is a powerful medium as spaces for intercultural dialogue and integration of migrants. The Food Relations project brought a diverse set of food-based integration projects together for the first time, allowing them to trade ideas and practices, as well as challenges and resolutions. ). A recent report from die Agronauten sums up key take-away from the project and gives recommendations for practitioners in existing and future projects.
Over the last two decades, food movements have gained prominence in the Global North, advocating for a more sustainable and a fairer food system. Are they making a difference? And if so, how? In a book called Civil Society and Social Movements in Food System Governance, scholars give us a peek into social movements’ strategies for food system change. The book will help food movements better position their action to make an impact. It will also be useful for local authorities willing to work with them.
Short food supply chain logistics are a key area for innovation. In a paper published in Sustainability, researchers from the Serbian University of Novi Sad reflect upon new food distribution options that would bring together sustainability and innovations in logistics. Their research will help food producers imagine new ways to distribute their food in the future.
A UK-based team gathering a researcher and practitioners (Cardiff University, UK Sustainable Food Cities network) developed a toolbox that captures cities’ progress towards sustainable food. Their work shows that evaluation is not only about gathering data: it also means building a common narrative that inspires action.
Researchers developed a Local Food Systems Toolkit to evaluate the economic impact of local food systems policies, programming and initiatives, with the hopes of making the evaluation of impacts more standardized and accessible to policymakers and funders.
Researchers looked into the effect of a Mayor's political support on a local food policy groups (such as 'food policy councils' and 'food partnerships'). They showed that the Mayor’s support can be a great asset, but can also be, in some instances, detrimental. Their work will help local food policy groups find the right way to work with local elected representatives.
If the food system needs water and energy, then food policy should pay attention to these resources. Research into the interconnections, and possible trade-offs, between the three basic resources for human activities has boomed over the last few years. Time to take stock and look at what lessons cities can draw out of them. A recent article published in Resources, Conservation and Recycling by a Beijing (China) and Michigan (USA)-based team, reviews existing literature on the topic.