Area of Concentration:

Food & Foodsheds

Over the last few years, food has emerged as a major issue in the mainstream press and planning circles. Since World War II, a global system of food production and consumption has emerged that has focused on cheapness (low cost to consumers, high profit margins for corporations) and convenience (easy to store and cook for consumers, easy to grow and transport for corporations). It has increasingly been recognized that other values, especially health, taste and the environment, have been sacrificed in the pursuit of cheapness and convenience: a realization not only made by policy advocates but by the public at large. Influential contributions in this area include Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, Morgan Spurlock’s documentary “Super Size Me”; Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma; and Gottlieb and Joshi’s Food Justice (one of the volumes in the MIT Press series on Food, Health, and the Environment).

Overview article in English and Spanish: Food Justice: Industrial Agriculture and the Quest for Alternative Food Systems.pdf.  Resources with an emphasis on science: Science Journalism Workshop.pdf

Call for Papers: Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development

Poverty and food security (copied from the UN Report on the World Social Situation 2011)

The effects of the current financial and economic crisis were compounded by food price hikes in 2007 and 2008. With global food production growing more slowly and food stuffs increasingly used to produce animal feed and biofuels, it is highly unlikely that, there will be an early return to the earlier period of declining food prices. Recent supply problems attributed to weather, fires and foods have also exacerbated uncertainties. The food price hikes were partly due to speculation in the commodities markets as financial investors fled traditional financial markets. Clearly, higher food prices have adversely affected efforts to reduce poverty and hunger.
Fundamental problems in the global food production and trading system must be addressed to ensure sustained food security. Developing countries need to shift from predominantly export-oriented agricultural policies in order to strengthen domestic food production to better meet local needs for affordable food and to cushion the impact of international price shocks. Such a shift presupposes a stronger supportive role for the State, improved international cooperation and greater investment in food and agricultural development, with priority for small farming and sustainable environmental resource management. (p. 10)

There is a movement within planning and among community-based organizations to promote environmentally sensitive cultivation practices and healthier and better tasting food, preferably grown locally. Foodshed is one of the concepts that have emerged out of this movement. The foodshed concept underscores the importance of urban-rural interdependencies and the hidden value of ecosystem services in a bioregional context.

Creating a sustainable foodshed will require establishing mutually reinforcing relationships among growers, food buyers, skilled cooks, and consumers who enjoy food made from whole foods. If, for instance, a school wanted to feed its students healthy food made from local ingredients, it would need (a) to convince local farmers capable of growing whole foods that it is dedicated enough to buy its products (for the farmer would be at financial risk if the school changed its mind), (b) to train its cooks how to cook something other than highly processed foods, (c) construct kitchens that had the right equipment and (d) get the kids to eat it -  and find the money to do all these things.

While there is a growing realization of the importance of crafting sustainable foodsheds for our city-regions, we still have a poor sense of the resource flows involved in feeding people. Challenges for research include gaining a “big picture” view of where the food consumed locally comes from nor where the crops grown locally are consumed.

For an article that places food planning in the context of sustainable city-region planning see:

Donald, Betsy. 2008. “Food Systems Planning and Sustainable Cities and Regions: The Role of the Firm in Sustainable Food Capitalism.” Regional Studies 42:1251 - 1262.

[Excerpt from the Introduction]: Over the last few years there has been an explosion of interest in the field of food system planning (sometimes called community food planning) as scholars, planners,  policy-makers, activists, dieticians and others point to the possibilities for sustainable development through the lens of new directions in everyday food practices. In particular, these writers refer to innovative developments in sustainable food production, preparation, processing,  distribution, consumption, and waste management, in dynamic and evolving cities, towns, and regions across North America. Examples include the growth of community gardens, community-shared agriculture programmes (CSAs), farmers markets, and institutional buying programmes. For many active in food-system planning these examples are seen as part of a new food system for sustaining the environment through better waste, air and water management;  adding value to local economies; preserving prime farmland; addressing food access and issues of hunger;  tackling obesity and other diet-related health issues; and improving rural and urban connections. As a result, the public policy environment is starting to change – especially at the local level – as more and more cities and regions adopt formalized food system planning approaches (KAUFMAN, 2006; XUEREB and DESJARDINS, 2005). These approaches aim to relocalize the food system for overall economic, social and environmental health. Transforming the current food system is seen as one of the most comprehensive and effective ways to reducing a region’s ecological footprint, addressing issues of hunger, and providing more local jobs; thus ultimately moving toward a more sustainable region in keeping with the three classic pillars of sustainability (GIBSON, 2001; PRETTY and HINE, 2001).

For an article that speaks to the job creation potential and planning aspects of food systems, see:

Dixon, Jane et al. 2007. The Health Equity Dimensions of Urban food Systems. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine. 84(1)118-129.

“In many cities, thousands of positions of paid employment could be created through the establishment of sustainable and self-sufficient local food systems, including urban agriculture and food processing initiatives, food distribution centers, healthy food market services and urban planning that provides for multiple modes of transport to food outlets.”  [quote cited in Zajfen, Vanessa 2008. “Fresh Food Distribution Models for the Greater Los Angeles Region: Barriers and Opportunities to Facilitate and Scale Up the Distribution of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.  Findings from an Action Research Project of the Center for Food & Justice, a division of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, Occidental College. December 2006-March 2008.”, Los Angeles.]

Additional References

Literature wtih a Practical/Applied Focus:

Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (JAFSCD).

Growing Power Conference, Sept. 10-12, 2010, Wisconsin State Park Fair
Building the Good Food Revolution   National-International, Urban and Small Farm
Lead organizer: Will Allen
Photos :

Key Academic Journals:

Agricultural Systems, Agriculture and Human Values, Ecology of Food and Nutrition, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment, Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition, Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, and Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems.

The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (JAFSCD)

“The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development! JAFSCD is an international, online, peer-reviewed journal that focuses on agriculture and food systems and bridges the interests of development professionals (including activist farmers and businesspeople), educators, consultants, and the academic community. While kindred journals focus on critical sustainable food production practices, community food security, and the sociology and political economy of food and agriculture, there has not been a journal supporting the community of practice that is rapidly integrating and evolving around these issues.”

New Food System Principles Emphasize Health Benefits —December 21, 2010
“Efforts to improve the health and sustainability of the food system—from the local to global levels—was bolstered today with the release of the Principles of a Healthy, Sustainable Food System. The principles were written by a new coalition bringing together the American Planning Association (APA), the American Dietetic Association (ADA), American Nurses Association (ANA) and the American Public Health Association (APHA). For the first time, national leaders in the nursing, nutrition, planning, and public health professions worked collaboratively to create a shared platform for systems-wide food policy change.”

Food Justice Forum, UC San Diego, April 16, 2011
Final program: Food_Justice_Program_April 16 2011.pdf

Food Justice: Robert Gottlieb from Food First on Vimeo.




Sustainable food planning conference

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on September 02, 2011 at 12:27 AM

USDA Launches Online Food Hub Resource

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on August 26, 2011 at 11:23 PM

Food Justice Conference

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on August 10, 2011 at 12:07 AM

Food Planning and Sustainable Places

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on August 09, 2011 at 11:36 PM

Agrifood Agreements

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on August 08, 2011 at 11:00 PM

Capitalism on shaky ground?

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on June 16, 2011 at 10:32 AM

San Diego Urban-Rural Roundtable Recommendations

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on June 11, 2011 at 08:32 AM

Perfect storm

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on May 31, 2011 at 07:23 PM

Integrating Public Health into the Sustainable Comprehensive Plan

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on May 17, 2011 at 02:47 PM

New Report: Green Jobs in a Sustainable Food System

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on May 14, 2011 at 07:45 PM

Initiative Launched to Advance Sustainable Food and Agriculture Policies Worldwide

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on May 12, 2011 at 03:44 PM

Food Justice Forum a Success

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on April 21, 2011 at 04:05 PM

Sign up for the Food Justice Forum

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on April 01, 2011 at 04:14 PM

Food systems assessment

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on February 26, 2011 at 06:44 PM

UN concerned about food riots

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on February 18, 2011 at 07:16 PM

Food Systems Planning event

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on January 24, 2011 at 09:32 PM

Food prices

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on January 15, 2011 at 02:31 PM

New Food System Principles Emphasize Health Benefits

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on December 22, 2010 at 11:38 AM

New biology applied to plants

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on December 03, 2010 at 10:04 PM

Call for papers:  Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on December 03, 2010 at 07:29 PM

Action Research Books

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on November 05, 2010 at 02:50 PM

Food Justice

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on November 05, 2010 at 02:34 PM

Visioning a just and sustainable food system

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on October 31, 2010 at 10:14 PM

Innovative ways to green the economy in North America.

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on October 28, 2010 at 12:01 AM

Ecotrust’s Food & Farms Program

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on October 13, 2010 at 11:50 PM

Integrating Food Systems into the Planning Process

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on September 22, 2010 at 05:46 AM

Sustainable Rural Development

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on September 21, 2010 at 05:57 PM

Re-regionalizing the Food System?

Posted by Keith Pezzoli on September 21, 2010 at 05:48 PM

Call for Papers

Sustainability: Science, Practice, and Policy

Special Issue on
"Sustainable Food Consumption: Current Trends, Policy Approaches, and Future Scenarios"


As past and current trends make clear, food consumption today must be regarded as unsustainable and the scope of the problem is far-reaching and complex. With respect to growing world population and demographic changes, prevailing conditions are predicted to become even more serious in the future. The reasons for this unsustainable development include the industrialization and globalization of agriculture and food processing; the prevalence of consumption practices that are shifting toward more dietary animal protein; the diffusion of modern food styles that favor fast and prepared food; the paradoxical coexistence of food abundance and food insecurity; and the continuously growing gap between rich and poor on both a worldwide scale and within national societies.

Food is a major issue in the politics of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) because of its impact on the environment, health, social cohesion, and the economy. Achieving sustainable food consumption requires the design and implementation of policies that tackle the problems of both over- and under-consumption, together with food-safety issues in affluent societies, and food-security considerations in the poorer regions of the planet.

At present, there are many different ways to approach the challenges of "sustainable food consumption" across Europe and the rest of the world. A review of current European food strategies and action plans reveals the following major goals (in order of priority): lowering obesity levels and increasing healthfulness, expanding the consumption of organic food, decreasing greenhouse-gas emissions, and, reducing the volume of food waste. However, current strategies focus mainly on single issues. There is a currently need for comprehensive analyses of the challenges of sustainable food consumption as well as in-depth characterization of policies that tackle the full range of drivers of unsustainability within the contemporary food system.

Aims of the Special Issue

This special issue will focus on food consumption in the context of unsustainable environmental, health, social, and economic trends, although relevant supply-side issues will not be neglected. In particular, we welcome contributions that:

·         Investigate existing trends toward sustainable food consumption (such as food waste, food and greenhouse-gas emissions, impacts of consuming animal-based products, food packaging, food preparation in households and institutions, organic food, functional food, etc.).

  • Address consumer and behavioral aspects of sustainable food consumption, especially in relation to policy formulation and choice design.
  • Analyze policy instruments oriented to the demand side of the food system and their potential for transferability to other countries.
  • Assess the combined effects of (food and other) policy instruments on the way towards more integrated food policies and enhanced policy coherence.
  • Examine the role of future scenarios and foresight studies in food-policy planning.

Guest Editors: Lucia Reisch (Copenhagen Business School); Gerd Scholl (Institute for Ecological Economy Research); Michal Sedlacko (Vienna University of Economics and Business):


San Diego Resources

Final report presentation of the urban-rural roundtable advocating the creation of a regional food hub in support of local ag:

Food Justice Forum at UCSD, Bob Gottlieb was our key note speaker;

Carbon footprint study: locally sourcing organic oranges

Source 44, UC San Diego and The Global ARC Carbon Footprint Study MP4 Video

News Release, Source 44 and UC-San Diego Establish Regional Sustainability, Partnership, Bringing “Science Into the Service of Society” (pdf)

Survey of vacant lots (for possible use as community gardens) in Southeast San Diego

Alternative Food Systems

Seeding the City: Land Use Policies to Promote Urban Agriculture. A publication of Public Health Law and Policy:

Michael Pollan: The omnivore's next dilemma

Other videos featuring Michael Pollan:

Other UCSD-TV programs of interest:

TEDxDirigo - Roger Doiron - A Subversive Plot: How to Grow a Revolution in Your Own Backyard:

Agripedians Wanted for Food System Wiki!

The local food movement is growing dramatically, and with it is emerging new lingo and jargon. The Food System Wiki - a collaboration of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Wisconsin Madison and the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development - is designed as a user-friendly and evolving repository of food system lexicon. This is a place where you can contribute new words and definitions, show how the terms are used, and fine-tune those of existing words. See the wiki at


Soil Testing for Community Gardens

Urban Farms, Urban Agriculture, Urban Garden and Soils