Food Systems

RESEARCH OVERVIEW

Urban food systems extend well beyond the administrative boundaries of cities. In the US, on average, food travels some 1200 miles before it reaches the end consumer. There is an increasing recognition that the actions that cities take with respect to food policy-e.g. nutrition policy, food access efforts, local production, food waste management-have the power to reduce the environmental impact of the food system overall.

The network’s research in this area is concerned with understanding the degree to which, and under what conditions, it is advisable to localize a city’s food system, meaning that a city produces a substantial amount of food locally, within city boundaries, or sources a substantial amount of food from the region immediately surrounding an urban area. As a strategy for localization, there is increasing interest in the potential of urban agriculture to contribute to community-scale food resilience and equity.

The network’s research efforts on urban food systems are concerned with understanding the full extent of the environmental impact of food systems by understanding urban food footprints-or the greenhouse gases, water, and land resources used in the production, transportation, storage, and sale of food consumed in cities, in addition to the disposal and management of food waste in cities.

Research efforts also focus on understanding the motivations and corresponding best messaging efforts to promote changes in household diets and purchasing behaviors toward local products that support urban or regional local agriculture. Social actor research on the topic of urban food systems is aimed at developing a better understanding of neighborhood-scale challenges, in terms of local ordinances, community perceptions, and business development challenges around issues of increasing the penetration of local food into retail markets.

OUR PRODUCTS

Science-Policy Dialogue Report No. 1- Distributed and Localized Infrastructure in Cities

  • September 2018
  • Report
  • Author: Multiple

The localization and decentralization of key infrastructure systems has emerged as a potential strategy for helping cities achieve multiple sustainability outcomes spanning environment, economy, health, wellbeing, and equity. Examples of … Read more

Can Local Food Production Meet Household Demand? A Look at 377 US Metros

  • August 2018
  • Journal Brief
  • Author: Peter Nixon and Anu Ramaswami

What food is already being produced in and around cities in the United States? How does current food production in a given metropolitan area compare to household demand for key … Read more

City-level Action to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Food Systems

  • May 2018
  • Journal Brief
  • Author: Dana Boyer and Anu Ramaswami

How do city-level actions related to food production, consumption, and food waste management affect the greenhouse gas (GHG), water and land impacts of the larger food system? Footprints of urban … Read more

Evaluating Urban Food Systems

  • February 2018
  • Video
  • Author: Dana Boyer

It is projected that about two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. Making sure that cities can handle the influx of people means considering more … Read more

Considerations for Reducing Food System Energy Demand while Scaling Up Urban Agriculture

  • December 2017
  • Peer-Reviewed Articles
  • Author: Multiple

Mohareb, E., Heller, M., Novak, P., Goldstein, B., Fonoll, X., & L. Raskin. (2017). “Considerations for Reducing Food System Energy Demand while Scaling Up Urban Agriculture.” Environmental Research Letters, 12(12).  ABSTRACT: There … Read more

What Is the Contribution of City-Scale Actions to the Overall Food System’s Environmental Impacts?: Assessing Water, Greenhouse Gas, and Land Impacts of Future Urban Food Scenarios

  • September 2017
  • Peer-Reviewed Articles
  • Author: Multiple

Boyer, D., & Ramaswami, A. (2017). “What Is the Contribution of City-Scale Actions to the Overall Food System’s Environmental Impacts?: Assessing Water, Greenhouse Gas, and Land Impacts of Future Urban … Read more

An urban systems framework to assess the trans-boundary food-energy-water nexus: implementation in Delhi, India

  • February 2017
  • Peer-Reviewed Articles
  • Author: Multiple

Ramaswami, A., Boyer, D., Nagpure, A. S., Fang, A., Bogra, S., Bakshi, B., Cohen, E. & Rao-Ghorpade, A. (2017). “An urban systems framework to assess the trans-boundary food-energy-water nexus: implementation in … Read more

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