Do You Want Fries With That? Exploring the Intricacies of Food Systems Planning

Food systems expert Maggi Adamek talks with The Planning Commission Podcast about the complexities of food policy, from local zoning ordinances to international trade agreements.

2 minute read

June 9, 2023, 5:00 AM PDT

By Don Kostelec

Graphic of Maggi Adamek superimposed over green field and image of hands holding tabletfor The Planning Commission Podcast

The Planning Commission Podcast / Maggi Adamek on The Planning Commission Podcast

You’ve probably heard of missing middle housing. But have you heard of missing middle farming?

That’s what food systems expert Maggi Adamek of Minneapolis-based Terra Soma wants planners to consider as they work to create healthier communities. In this episode of The Planning Commission Podcast, Adamek discusses the ways in which food systems and farming dramatically changed after World War II to make growing food more efficient and preparing food more convenient.

This is when the United States moved away from localized food production. Instead, food markets were pushed to the edges, dominated on one end by industrial farming with small-scale, rural, and community food systems intact but unable to feed urbanized population clusters. Thus, missing middle farming.

“Ag policy from the Nixon Administration moved farmers away from producing things that people would eat to growing things like corn and soybeans used for biofuels and feeding livestock,” Adamek said. “You would really have to hunt to get a healthy option outside of your own home. It got to the point where obesity and related dietary diseases rates proliferated.”

That’s when the planning profession started to hear the cry from health professionals. “The planning community, as a whole, really felt a call to action around embedding thinking about access and healthy eating as core components to community design,” Adamek shared.

Planners began asking questions like: How are people going to have access to a grocery store? How are we going to support our farmers’ markets? How do we plan and zone for community gardening space? How do we support the kinds of positive activity that will improve people’s access to affordable healthy food?

These planning approaches, as well as the external influences on food production and food distribution, are discussed throughout the episode.   

The Planning Commission is a spirited debate by planners, for planners. This independent outlet for all things planning explores the serious and lighter sides of the profession, poses probing and creative questions to guests, and always pairs the episode guest and topic with a choice libation. Listen to the podcast for a special offer from Planetizen.

Monday, June 5, 2023 in The Planning Commission Podcast

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