Table of Contents

Elgar Companion to Sustainable Cities

Elgar Companion to Sustainable Cities

Strategies, Methods and Outlook

Elgar original reference

Edited by Daniel A. Mazmanian and Hilda Blanco

Against a backdrop of unprecedented levels of urbanization, 21st century cities across the globe share concerns for the challenges they face. This Companion provides a framework for understanding the city as a critical building block for a more sustainable future within broader subnational, national and continental contexts, and ultimately, within a global systems context. It discusses the sustainable strategies being devised, as well as the methods and tools for achieving them. Examples of social, economic, political and environmental sustainable policy strategies are presented and the extent to which they actually increase sustainability is analyzed.

Chapter 4: Urban food systems strategies

Nevin Cohen

Subjects: economics and finance, regional economics, environment, environmental sociology, geography, cities, urban and regional studies, cities, urban studies


For much of the last century, food remained largely off the agenda of city planners and policy makers. Municipal officials viewed food production as a rural issue and food availability a private sector concern (Pothukuchi and Kaufman 1999). With the exception of conventional planning functions like the location of terminal markets or food production facilities, the planning literature ignored food and planners had neither the mandate nor the academic training to address urban food issues (Pothukuchi and Kaufman 2000). Within the past several years, this has changed rather dramatically as cities have engaged in food systems planning and policy making. While the objectives, scope and design of food plans, policies and programs vary from place to place, officials no longer ignore the food system because it is increasingly understood as essential to public health, social equity, economic development and environmental sustainability. Cities are attempting to connect municipal domains that are related to food but which have traditionally been divided into discrete administrative agencies that have not considered food to be their responsibility (Wiskerke 2009). A number have reached beyond municipal boundaries with policies to procure food from regional producers and develop processing and distribution infrastructure to support regional farmers. Others have targeted particular policy issues, such as modifying zoning ordinances to accommodate urban agriculture (Hodgson et al. 2011; American Planning Association 2007; Pothukuchi 2009) or creating incentives for the sale of fruits and vegetables in low-income neighborhoods (Mukherji and Morales 2010; Hodgson 2012).

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