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
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?
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.