Special Issue "Local Food Initiatives in the World’s Cities"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 December 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Daniel N. Warshawsky
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Public and International Affairs, Wright State University, Fairborn, OH 45435, USA
Interests: geography; urban studies; food studies; African studies; international development
Dr. Robert O. Vos
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Spatial Sciences Institute, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Interests: sustainability science; life cycle assessment; environmental justice; urban metabolism

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue comprises papers on the theme of “Local Food Initiatives in the World’s Cities.” The problem of sustainably providing food in cities is bifurcated by class, both within and between the world’s cities. On the one hand, in affluent contexts, it is a problem of consumption of too much of the wrong sorts of unhealthy foods, many of which damage ecosystems in production. On the other hand, it is a problem of food insecurity and malnutrition, especially in lower-income regions and in particular populations and neighborhoods of cities in high-income regions, where the pace and nature of urbanization has contributed to the rise of poverty in cities. Research on urban food systems has increased significantly, as scholars have studied the production, distribution, acquisition, consumption, and waste of food in the world’s cities. However, key research gaps persist, as it remains unclear how urban food systems are governed, what approaches and technologies reduce impacts on ecosystems, and the roles that different institutions play to ensure that cities are sustainable and healthy. In particular, while local food and food waste initiatives have emerged as important alternatives to extended commodity-networks as the basis for urban food systems, their impact in solving the simultaneous problems of over- and under-consumption is poorly understood. This is due to inadequate theorization of their institutional roles, governance structures, and robust analysis of social and environmental impacts. The purpose of this Special Issue is to engage in both theoretical debates and real-world analysis revolving around local food initiatives in the world’s cities. Papers in this special journal issue will examine a range of conceptual and empirical challenges related to local food initiatives in a divergent set of urban contexts across the planet. Such papers will reflect a diversity of methodological approaches, and might include life cycle assessment (LCA) or especially social life cycle assessment (S-LCA), institutional analysis, political ecology, urban metabolism, and spatial modeling. Papers selected for this Special Issue will be subjected to a rigorous peer-review process with the aim of rapid publication in this journal for wide dissemination.

Dr. Daniel N. Warshawsky
Dr. Robert O. Vos
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Sustainability
  • Urban governance
  • Local
  • Cities
  • Urban
  • Food

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Governing at Scale: Successful Local Food Initiatives in the World’s Cities
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 7226; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11247226 - 16 Dec 2019
Abstract
To introduce the special issue on local food initiatives in the world’s cities, this editorial examines the role of scale and the governance of local food initiatives in cities. The seven papers in this issue focus variously on food system governance at the [...] Read more.
To introduce the special issue on local food initiatives in the world’s cities, this editorial examines the role of scale and the governance of local food initiatives in cities. The seven papers in this issue focus variously on food system governance at the scales of metropolitan regions, neighborhoods, households, and individual consumers. Although local food initiatives must work to overcome structural challenges operating at global and national scales, as delineated in key literature on food systems, taken together, the seven articles suggest that more sustainable outcomes are possible if local initiatives embrace change across multiple scales. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local Food Initiatives in the World’s Cities)

Research

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Open AccessArticle
Strengthening Food Security Near the Arctic Circle: Case Study of Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2722; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102722 - 14 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Reliable food supply is a central concern for residents of cities located in remote locations with extreme climate conditions. The purpose of this article is to examine how stake-holders in such northern cities ensure a high level of food security. We examine a [...] Read more.
Reliable food supply is a central concern for residents of cities located in remote locations with extreme climate conditions. The purpose of this article is to examine how stake-holders in such northern cities ensure a high level of food security. We examine a case study of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska, which is located in the interior of the state near the Arctic Circle. Borough policymakers are seeking to address community concerns through a collaborative, multi-stakeholder process of working with local farmers, distributors, consumers, activists, and academics. We examine the effectiveness of this process through participant-observation and process tracing of the initial results of the newly established Fairbanks North Star Borough sustainability commission. The new commission has adopted a sustainability plan drawing upon the input of community stakeholders, but it remains to be seen how the plan will be implemented and if it will meet the needs of diverse groups within the community. This analysis makes a contribution by examining the hypothesis that university-based teams and public input can improve public policy outputs in the area of food security by organizing their work around a focus on data. Specifically, the article examines the most effective mechanisms for collaboration among academics and policymakers to incorporate public input into food security policies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local Food Initiatives in the World’s Cities)
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Open AccessArticle
The Challenge of Food Waste Governance in Cities: Case Study of Consumer Perspectives in Los Angeles
Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 847; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030847 - 06 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Food waste has been linked with food insecurity, environmental degradation, and economic inefficiency. Although research on food waste has increased recently, food waste tends to be poorly conceptualized and is often disproportionality focused on local consumer decisions. For this reason, this paper critically [...] Read more.
Food waste has been linked with food insecurity, environmental degradation, and economic inefficiency. Although research on food waste has increased recently, food waste tends to be poorly conceptualized and is often disproportionality focused on local consumer decisions. For this reason, this paper critically analyzes perspectives on food waste in Los Angeles (LA) as a case study in order to understand the structural challenges of food waste governance in cities. To achieve this goal, this study uses content analysis of interview data of key stakeholders in LA’s food system and descriptive statistical analysis of survey data of university undergraduate students in LA. Findings in this paper suggest that students purchase, consume, and waste food in line with broader national trends in the U.S. Additionally, students indicated that the causes and solutions of food waste management lies with more responsible individual decisions and sustainable local food practices. While students noted that they may have acted differently towards food waste reduction if structural opportunities existed, results from the survey reveal that the role of corporations, global food system flows, and the political economy of food production remain relatively unrecognized by students in their perceptions of food waste. Although responsible consumer practices are clearly an important aspect of food waste reduction, findings in this paper suggest that food waste governance may be limited by a narrow local consumer focus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local Food Initiatives in the World’s Cities)
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Open AccessArticle
Exploring the Role of Mountain Origin and Autochthonous Breed on Urban Consumers’ Acceptability
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4423; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124423 - 26 Nov 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
In the last decades, the European Union (EU) agricultural policy has encouraged extensive livestock farming systems as a sustainable way of production, while more recently, voluntary certification schemes on mountain origin and autochthonous breeds have been put in place to further contribute to [...] Read more.
In the last decades, the European Union (EU) agricultural policy has encouraged extensive livestock farming systems as a sustainable way of production, while more recently, voluntary certification schemes on mountain origin and autochthonous breeds have been put in place to further contribute to the preservation of biodiversity and economic activity in mountainous areas. The aim of this study is twofold: first, to investigate the role of the mountain origin and local autochthonous breed certification on urban consumer’s acceptability; and second, to compare consumer’s overall acceptability at central location versus home-based. These two specific objectives are designed to better ascertain the suitability of these voluntary certifications as a marketing tool that helps to bridge the gap between urban consumers’ beef choices and rural sustainability. Main methods of analysis included internal preference mapping and cluster analysis. Findings suggested that both claims, mountain origin (Pyrenean in particular) and autochthonous breed conveyed relevant information to consumers at the moment of testing, while the former played a stronger role on hedonic valuations. We have found that the environmental setting significantly influences acceptability with higher ratings obtained in the home test. A small niche market for Pyrenean cattle breeders was also detected, while reaching the larger and more product involved segment of urban consumers would require further marketing actions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local Food Initiatives in the World’s Cities)
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Open AccessArticle
Every City a Food Growing City? What Food Growing Schools London Reveals about City Strategies for Food System Sustainability
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2924; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082924 - 17 Aug 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Cities have emerged as leaders in food system innovation and transformation, but their potential can be limited by the absence of supportive governance arrangements. This study examined the value of Food Growing Schools London (FGSL) as a programme seeking city-wide change through focusing [...] Read more.
Cities have emerged as leaders in food system innovation and transformation, but their potential can be limited by the absence of supportive governance arrangements. This study examined the value of Food Growing Schools London (FGSL) as a programme seeking city-wide change through focusing on one dimension of the food system. Mixed methods case study research sought to identify high-level success factors and challenges. Findings demonstrate FGSL’s success in promoting food growing by connecting and amplifying formerly isolated activities. Schools valued the programme’s expertise and networking opportunities, whilst strategic engagement facilitated new partnerships linking food growing to other policy priorities. Challenges included food growing’s marginality amongst priorities that direct school and borough activity. Progress depended on support from individual local actors so varied across the city. London-wide progress was limited by the absence of policy levers at the city level. Experience from FGSL highlights how city food strategies remain constrained by national policy contexts, but suggests they may gain traction through focusing on well-delineated, straightforward activities that hold public appeal. Sustainability outcomes might then be extended through a staged approach using this as a platform from which to address other food issues. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local Food Initiatives in the World’s Cities)
Open AccessArticle
The Small World of the Alternative Food Network
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2921; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082921 - 17 Aug 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
This research offers the first use of graph theory mathematics in social network analysis to explore relationships built through an alternative food network. The local food system is visualized using geo-social data from 110 farms and 224 markets around Baltimore County, Maryland, with [...] Read more.
This research offers the first use of graph theory mathematics in social network analysis to explore relationships built through an alternative food network. The local food system is visualized using geo-social data from 110 farms and 224 markets around Baltimore County, Maryland, with 699 connections between them. Network behavior is explored through policy document review and interviews. The findings revealed a small-world architecture, with system resiliency built-in by diversified marketing practices at central nodes. This robust network design helps to explain the long-term survival of local food systems despite the meteoric rise of global industrial food supply chains. Modern alternative food networks are an example of a movement that seeks to reorient economic power structures in response to a variety of food system-related issues not limited to consumer health but including environmental impacts. Uncovering the underlying network architecture of this sustainability-oriented social movement helps reveal how it weaves systemic change more broadly. The methods used in this study demonstrate how social values, social networks, markets, and governance systems embed to transform both physical landscapes and human bodies. Network actors crafted informal policy reports, which were directly incorporated in state and local official land-use and economic planning documents. Community governance over land-use policy suggests a powerful mechanism for further localizing food systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local Food Initiatives in the World’s Cities)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Connecting Urban Food Plans to the Countryside: Leveraging Denver’s Food Vision to Explore Meaningful Rural–Urban Linkages
Sustainability 2019, 11(7), 2022; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11072022 - 04 Apr 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Cities are increasingly turning to food policy plans to support goals related to food access, food security, the environment, and economic development. This paper investigates ways that rural farmers, communities, and economies can both support and be supported by metropolitan food-focused initiatives. Specifically, [...] Read more.
Cities are increasingly turning to food policy plans to support goals related to food access, food security, the environment, and economic development. This paper investigates ways that rural farmers, communities, and economies can both support and be supported by metropolitan food-focused initiatives. Specifically, our research question asked what opportunities and barriers exist to developing food policies that support urban food goals, particularly related to local procurement, as well as rural economic development. To address this question, we described and analyzed a meeting of urban stakeholders and larger-scale rural producers related to Colorado’s Denver Food Vision and Plan. We documented and explored “findings” gleaned from a supply chain diagraming and data compilation process that were then used to inform an event that brought together diverse supply chain partners. Three findings stand out. First, facilitating dialog between urban food policymakers and rural producers to understand potential tensions, mitigate such tensions, and capitalize on opportunities is essential. Second, perceptions and expectations surrounding “good food” are nuanced—a timely finding given the number of preferred procurement programs emerging across the county. Third, critical evaluation is needed across a diverse set of value chain strategies (e.g., conventional and alternative distribution) if food policy intends to support heterogeneous producers, their communities, and urban food policy goals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local Food Initiatives in the World’s Cities)
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Open AccessReview
Does Urban Agriculture Improve Food Security? Examining the Nexus of Food Access and Distribution of Urban Produced Foods in the United States: A Systematic Review
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 2988; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10092988 - 22 Aug 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
The aim of our review is to critically analyze the urban agriculture and urban food systems literature in order to understand the impact of urban-produced foods on community food security. We examine the role of city planning, food policy, and civic engagement in [...] Read more.
The aim of our review is to critically analyze the urban agriculture and urban food systems literature in order to understand the impact of urban-produced foods on community food security. We examine the role of city planning, food policy, and civic engagement in creating spaces for urban agriculture in cities across the United States, and whether (and how) these spaces promote food justice and food security. Bringing together multidisciplinary literature on access to urban agriculture and the distribution of urban-produced foods in a thematic, systematic review, we point out gaps in the academic research that would benefit from further study. The review integrates academic literature generated from Web of Science searches with gray literature identified through Google Alerts. We find that while there is a strong focus on elucidating the multiple benefits of urban agriculture, there are few studies that robustly measure the impact of urban farms on improving food security in low-income communities. Much of the literature is theoretical, focused on the production potential of urban agriculture, while more work is needed to understand and overcome barriers to access and distribution among communities in need. We conclude with a set of recommendations for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers who seek to create spaces in cities for food justice, equity, access, and sovereignty. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Local Food Initiatives in the World’s Cities)
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