Local Food, Growing Cities: Philadelphia
The rapid growth of the economy over the last century has changed the structure of the food system. Processing and distribution centers have replaced local food networks, making eating locally a challenge for people living in urban areas. Environmental problems such as deforestation, ground and water pollution, biodiversity loss, and depleted croplands can all be attributed to this shift in food production. Social problems such as diseases related to diet have also become more prominent in developed countries. Returning to localized food systems is believed to be a solution.
Local can have varying definitions. A 100 mile radius around a point (the “100 mile diet”) is a common measure; the USDA uses a 400 mile radius, and many states simply use their own boundaries. The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program at the University of California defines a local food system as “a collaborative effort to build more locally based, self-reliant food economies - one in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution and consumption is integrated to enhance the economic, environmental, and social health of a particular place.”
The distribution of food in Philadelphia is not quite regular, as it is neither continuous nor round. 84% of the food comes from within Pennsylvania, while 42% of the farms are from only two counties. On average, food in PA travels 61 miles. To combat this high mileage, the local food movement mainly targets middle and high-income areas; urban and community gardening projects are filling in the gaps for low-income areas. GIS was used to determine which places (results show approximately 7600 acres) in the inner city would be suitable for gardens. These results suggest that, using conservative figures, over 9.9 million pounds of food could be grown truly locally for PA in a year.
Kremer, Peleg, and Tracey DeLiberty. "Local Food Practices and Growing Potential: Mapping the Case of Philadelphia." Aplied Geography 31 (2011): 1252-261. Web.