Can Cities Help Solve Global Food Challenges?

With growing populations demanding more food and growing borders requiring more land, cities are one of the primary challenges to feeding the world's hunger problem. Can they also be the solution?

Summarizing issues raised at the recent “Feeding Cities” conference at the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Urban Research, Neal Peirce looks at the quandaries and opportunities raised by the relationship between food and cities.

"Cities themselves set up the problem," he explains. "They’re growing, both in population and the land they consume, at amazing speed, devouring often-fertile farmlands on their periphery. The population’s food demands are requiring a dramatic expansion of farmed territory. Drawn by the hope of better incomes, youth are moving to the cities, leaving agriculture to large-scale, intensive, corporate-driven farming systems and food distribution channels."

"On top of all those trends, Heather Grady of the Rockefeller Foundation noted in a keynote address, there is climate change, triggering either extreme heat or excessive rainfall and thus either drought or floods. One likely impact: price spikes, first hitting the poor who spend a large portion of their income on food."

However, by addressing two key areas - getting rid of waste in the processing, delivery and sales processes and conserving land for agriculture in, and around, urban environs - we can make significant progress towards being able to feed the 9 billion people who will inhabit the planet by 2050.

"To date, city-produced foods account for a tiny share of urban food needs," concludes Peirce. "But one is led to wonder: If city food demand is a top 21st-century concern, perhaps city ingenuity – and spirit – can also help to forge answers."

Full Story: Cities and Food: Quandary, Opportunity


Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

The Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs is the only comprehensive ranking and listing of graduate urban planning programs available.
Starting at $24.95

City Map Posters are in!

Available in 9 different cities.
Book cover of Where Things Are from Near to Far

Where Things Are From Near to Far

This engaging children's book about planning illustrates that "every building has its place."