Food has been at the core of cities’ strategies from the Antique times onwards. Only with the rise of the national state and industrialisation have cities lost their grip on food issues. History casts an interesting a light on the power relationship between cities, states and rural areas.
We do not really think about how our food gets to our urban plates. Nor do we have a clear picture of what would happen if the supply chain was disrupted. Here is an overview of key steps any city can follow to assess its own food system resilience based on Baltimore's experience.
When cities try to relocalise food production, they should keep in mind that it is not only the number of hectares of land that is relocalised that counts. They also need to take into account the quality of that land. More widely, they need to familiarize themselves more with the farming sector in order to provide suitable conditions for farms to come back close to the cities.
Some cities around the world have pioneered local food action. Two pieces of work published this year present insights from these pioneers. Here is an overview of key advice for any city willing to embark on a food policy.
Why every city should care about the impact of global urbanisation on cropland
Is local better than global? A European research project explored the question. The conclusion of the project is that, well, nothing is clear-cut. And cities should rather focus on bringing anyone – local and global food chains actors – on the path to sustainability.
Food policy councils are developing at a very fast pace across the world. In the United States and Canada, the Food Policy Networks project, from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, carries out an annual survey of Councils to better understand who they are, what they do, and what they need.
What if households started growing half of the vegetables they need in their home gardens? What impacts would it have on climate change?
Urban and peri-urban agriculture can be very diverse. What are the main differences? How should we account for them in food policies?
If urban farms are to be maintained or even developed further, they will need to be economically viable in the long run.