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.
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.
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.
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.
When cities try to relocalise food production, they should keep in mind that it is not only the number of hectares of land that is relocalised that counts. They also need to take into account the quality of that land. More widely, they need to familiarize themselves more with the farming sector in order to provide suitable conditions for farms to come back close to the cities.
Why every city should care about the impact of global urbanisation on cropland
Is local better than global? A European research project explored the question. The conclusion of the project is that, well, nothing is clear-cut. And cities should rather focus on bringing anyone – local and global food chains actors – on the path to sustainability.
Urban and peri-urban agriculture can be very diverse. What are the main differences? How should we account for them in food policies?
If urban farms are to be maintained or even developed further, they will need to be economically viable in the long run.