From our summer intern, Isabela:
This week, avocados at my local market are being sold for $1.59 each, but do we know the real cost to our community? Environmental, economic and health care costs are just some factors of this equation.
According to Peter Ladner´s 2011 book published by New Society Publishers Limited, our food system is currently under several risks, such as:
Our dependence on very few big suppliers
Increasing vulnerability of plant species, possibly leading to a threatened food supply
Exhaustive, unsustainable use of resources like soil and water (i.e. the Ogallala Aquifer on the Great Plains on the United Sates is the source of irrigation to 20% of America´s farmland and it´s being overdrawn by 3.1 trillion gallons a year).
Dependence on oil in all the stages of our food system contributes directly to CO2 emissions and climate change. These same climate changes from mass manufacturing of food have an impact on food production in the form of floods, droughts and high temperatures. Another problem is the lack of farmers willing to work full time to produce food, and without farmers, there is no food. Flaws in our current food system lead to increases in health complications, especially as we consume foods high in salt, fat, and sugar.
To change that situation, Ladner suggests collaboration between the government and community to develop programs to improve nutrition and to change the current food system. An important first step is the focus on our own actions. As we change, so will our institutions, food corporations and public policies. It is possible to work toward more local, fresh and sustainable food.
As example actions already being taken in some cities around the world, Lander points out the importance of:
Preserving rural land for agriculture and transform urban areas in lands for growing food
Invest in technologies like hydroponic, greenhouse, earthboxes, aquaponics, and vertical growing to increase productivity in a sustainable way
Invest in farmers markets and community supported agriculture (CSA) to stimulate and facilitate local products consumption
Decrease rates of obesity and chronicle diseases through improvement of school lunch infrastructure and programs like Farm to school in schools and universities
Work towards the end of food deserts
Supporting community gardening, community kitchens and composting programs
You can get a copy of The Urban Food Revolution: Changing the Way We Feed Cities online. Read more about Pete Ladner on his blog.