The A to Z of urban food 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

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.

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.

What do we know exactly about urban agriculture’s environmental impacts?

A team of researchers from the Technical University of Denmark and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reviewed existing scientific evidence on the main forms of urban agriculture in northern climates. They found that given the great diversity of urban agriculture, scientific evidence about its environmental benefits remains patchy. It does, however, reveal that the method used to cultivate plants, the product and the location are the three components of the equation cities should take into account to develop environmentally sound urban agriculture policies.

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.

When urban agriculture meets food justice…

Urban agriculture is fashionable in developed countries and its boasts a rather positive image of community development. But how do these promises hold? In order to answer the question, researchers from Portland State University and the University of Michigan carried out a review of existing evidence in the United States and Canada.

The diversity of food sharing in the city

With the rise in awareness of food waste and its environmental implications as well as emerging discourses around a “sharing economy”, there has been renewed interest in food sharing practices. Researchers from the SHARECITY project have developed a typology of food sharing initiatives that shows that it goes beyond merely sharing food and it can take a variety of forms. Their work can inspire cities to develop a food-sharing ecosystem.

And so cities stopped caring about food…

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.