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.
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.
For a long time, urban and regional planning was not much concerned with food. Since the 2000’s, however, food has become a topic planners discuss about. In a book called Integrating Food into Urban Planning, published in 2018, Yves Cabannes and Cecilia Marochinno gathered insights from various cities around the world about what planning can do to contribute to sustainable urban food systems.
New York is one of the pioneering cities for urban food policies. However, to date, there had been no systematic effort to look at the full picture of what these policies had achieved. This is done in a research report from CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute.
In a recent article in Sustainability, a group of researchers from New Zealand, Denmark and France discusses the advantages and limits of two main categories of food sustainability assessments: indicators-based and value-based. They provide valuable insights for any city willing to track progress of its food policy.
What can city networks achieve? The experience of climate change networks provides useful insights for food ones.
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.
Who can precisely define local food? Food miles is only part of the picture. Moving away from dualistic thinking about local and global, Swiss researchers have identified the different criteria that can be assessed in order to capture the localness of a product.
Is the city level the right level to act upon the food system? A methodology from the University of Minnesota compares the impact of local actions and that of actions taken at another scale.