Crisis Could Result in a More Sustainable Food System

The food system, from supply to distribution and consumption, is undergoing a rapid transformation. Community supported agriculture could potentially benefit.

May 12, 2020, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Urban Agriculture

Alice Henneman / Flickr

"From California to Maine, the movement known as community supported agriculture (CSA) is booming," according to an article by Eric Westervelt. 

A soundbite puts an exclamation on this point:

"In all the time that we've worked with CSAs, which is several decades, we've never seen a surge as quickly as we have of the last few weeks," said Evan Wiig with the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, which supports and lobbies on behalf of CSAs across California.

Westervelt's coverage of the growth of CSAs contracts other narratives about risks emerging in the food system, both in terms of supply and distribution, that have emerged during the pandemic. The headline for an article by Kevin Rector, for instance, reads as follows: "Rotting food. Hungry masses. Chaotic supply chains. Coronavirus upends the U.S. food system."

Another article, by Adam Clark Estes for Recode, explains why the American meat shortage is much more serious than Wendy's asking, "where's the beef?" (the jokes on Twitter wrote themselves when news of a meat shortage at the fast food chain made the rounds earlier this month). The effects of the coronavirus on the U.S. food system could have lasting impacts for years, writes Estes:

This context should put your missing hamburger into perspective. The plight of these workers is just the starting point in a chain of crises the coronavirus is creating in America’s food supply. The shuttered meatpacking plants have created a bottleneck in the system through which most meat in the United States must flow in order to get ground beef to Wendy’s, chicken breasts to your local grocery stores, bacon to the nearby diner now trying to run a takeout business, and so on.

With such dire warnings and near-panic seeping from most stories about the U.S. food system, a "heydey for CSAs," as it's called in Westervelt's article, could be considered a silver lining.

Sunday, May 10, 2020 in NPR

A conceptual rendering of three high-speed rail trains. The middle train is orange; the other two are black.

The California High-Speed Rail Project Illustrates America’s Transit Issues

Slow progress and a bloated budget have plagued the High-Speed Rail project linking San Francisco to Los Angeles, exposing deeper issues with American transit projects.

May 22, 2022 - Eric Carlson

Parent and child walking, holding hands on mixed-use trail with trees

What Role Does Health Care Play in Community Development?

Cities are economically diverse and require accessible health care systems, but this can be challenging to implement. Urban developers are working alongside health professionals to create affordable care for city residents.

May 18, 2022 - Devin Partida

Multi-Family Development

Density and Driving: A Second Look

A common argument against more compact housing is that increased population density will only reduce vehicle miles traveled at moderate levels of density, as opposed to very low-density and very high-density areas. But this might not be so.

May 22, 2022 - Michael Lewyn

Multi-Family Housing

Zoning Reform Works, but Is No Magic Bullet

Improving housing affordability and boosting housing production requires more than just eliminating single-family zoning.

4 hours ago - Bloomberg CityLab

Transit Oriented Development

Feds to Award $13 Million for Transit Oriented Development Planning

A newly bolstered competitive grant program administered by the Federal Transit Administration has announced a new round of funding.

5 hours ago - Federal Transit Administration

Lafayette BART

Bay Area Transit Stations To Feature Local Writers

A contest in the San Francisco Bay Area will select 30 short stories that will be available at special vending kiosks at transit stations.

6 hours ago - Bloomberg CityLab

HUD’s 2022 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Expanding HUD’s Eviction Protection Grant Program

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.