Why do we keep losing agricultural land to the city?

Urbanisation raises very salient questions for food security and agriculture next to the cities. What are the main factors explaining urban sprawl, and what can we do about it? In a paper published in Land Use Policy, researchers from France-based think-tank IDDRI and research centre CIRED review all the factors discussed in scientific literature.

Untangling the web of food environment studies

Food environment

Is there a link between food accessibility and people’s health? Publications about food environment have blossomed in the last 10 years. In a chapter from the second edition of Neighbourhoods and Health, researchers from Harvard Medical School review this scientific literature. Their work reflects the difficulty to capture such a phenomenon and highlight that access to healthy food is necessary but not sufficient to improve people’s diets.

Rediscovering urban food trees

Our cities host a great number of fruit and nuts trees, with potentially interesting implications for food security. Somehow, however, they fell off the radar of both local authorities and urban food advocates. A good reason to keep investigating and to learn from the few cities that have rediscovered urban food trees.

The A to Z of urban food analysis

urban food system analysis

FAO and RUAF have published a very comprehensive Toolkit called “Assessing and planning sustainable city region food systems”. This is the result of a 3 years journey with 7 cities to develop a methodology to analyse urban city food systems that any city around the world can apply.

The limits of a “copy and paste” approach to urban agriculture

With urban agriculture becoming fashionable in developed countries, a small number of iconic examples, from New York to Berlin, are now widely shared at the international level.
A paper published in Landscape and Urban Planning earlier this year by Autria-, UK- and Columbia-based scholars invites us to reflect upon the limits of such “ready-to-use” references when they are mobilised by policies or projects irrespective of the local contexts.

Unnoticed, yet happening: food foraging in the city

Who forages and why? A team of researchers across a variety of Baltimore-based organisations carried out an exhaustive survey to identify what, why, and, for the first time, how much people foraged in the city. This study puts this activity on the radar of urban planners and raises questions regarding the health and sustainability risks and benefits of foraging.

Exploring urban regions’ food self-sufficiency

Is it feasible to source all the food a city needs from its surroundings? The quick answer is no. And two recent academic papers demonstrate it while setting out a methodology that any urban region can use to assess its existing level of food self-sufficiency and the way this would evolve under different policy options.