A Planner’s Guide to the Urban Food System

Published by Arly Cassidy and Bowen Patterson

Why should planners care about the food system in their area? How can planners help shape a healthy food system? This guide sets forth a vision for an urban food system and describes the interlocking aspects of planning and the food system.

“Food affects the economic, environmental, and social well being of every place, yet food choices and the issues that surround them are rarely part of the urban planner’s agenda. With issues such as pollution, food safety, hunger, obesity, landfill capacity, and others rising on the planning agenda, planners can no longer ignore the potential of their intervention in the food system.”

“Urban life is affected by food system activities such as agriculture, grocery stores, farmers markets, landfills, and gardens. Food systems represent a large part of local economies, including retail and industrial jobs and a variety of entrepreneurial opportunities. A city’s transportation system not only distributes food and waste products, but also determines the accessibility of food distribution outlets (e.g. restaurants, grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks) for many residents. Finally, food is an integral part of cultural identity as a product of tradition, religion, climate, ethnicity, and art.”

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