Urban food, energy and water: connecting the dots

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.

Is self-sufficiency the ideal goal for urban food policy?

Many scientific studies have looked into cities’ food self-sufficiency potential. An article published in the Journal of Cleaner Production reviews this literature and shows that, on the one hand, that it is very difficult to compare such studies, and, on the other, that cities should focus on circular and sustainable practices rather than sufficiency.

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.

The three pillars of urban food resilience

Urban food resilience

Food, energy and water resources are closely interwoven. But what does it concretely mean for a city’s food system? And how does understanding these relationships help plan a more resilient food system? Researchers from New York University have developed a framework that helps cities map, and act upon, the links between food, energy, and water.

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 subtle equation of sustainable urban food logistics

urban food logistics

Why is it so difficult for farmers operating just outside the city of Chicago to sell to people living there? This was the question that led a team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison (United States) to explore urban food logistics.
Their work, published in a report entitled Regional Food Freight: Lessons from the Chicago Region, unveils the historical trends that led to the consolidation of long distance supply chains at the expense of shorter ones, and the limits of the current food freight system. It calls for a more careful integration of food diversity into urban logistics.